South Pole Centennial Events

keep on groomed trails

Tuesday, 14 December 2011, the centennial day (well, maybe just a bit more on that later), the Norwegian Prime Minister's first significant activity was to head north...he went out to ski the last 3-4 miles of Amundsen's route to Pole...accompanied by Norwegian polar explorers Børge Ousland, Jan-Gunnar Winther and Stein P. Aasheim. From left here: Stein, Jan, the PM, and Børge (SMK).

Jan (director of the Norwegian Polar Institute) and Stein had traveled toward Pole along Amundsen's route as part of the Norwegian Polar Institute's Nansen-Amundsen Year expedition, South Pole 1911-2011...but they had run into delays and been flown the last 25 miles to Pole to be in time for the ceremonies. Børge had led the "Jubilee Last Degree Expedition" which had just barely arrived that morning.

it's a long way to the Pole
The skiers are underway...(SMK)
did Amundsen leave this shiny thing here?
And here they are at the Ceremonial Pole...from left: Stein P. Aasheim, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, Jan-Gunnar Winther and Børge Ousland (SMK).
standing room only
Next...at 1600 SP time the crowd gathered at the Ceremonial Pole for the main event (APL/PR).
some cool music
The ceremony began with the Norwegian national anthem "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" ("Yes, We Love This Country") ...oh, it was -28°F or about -44° with wind chill. (CA)
no, it didn't freeze to her tongue
This was a solo performance, by Zondra Skertich on flute. It sounded great! (ZS, this photo by Norwegian photographer/ journalist Ole Mathismoen)
100 years ago and a mile away



Next, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg delivered a brief speech (KJ).
commemorative address
Another view (CA)...

In the speech (which was in English), the PM noted that Amundsen's attainment of the South Pole in 1911 was one of the most outstanding achievements of mankind...and that it had helped form the national identity of the then-new independent nation of Norway. He also acknowledged the courage and determination of Scott and his party in reaching one of the most inhospitable places on earth. He also noted the importance of Antarctica in the study of global warming, and he mentioned the Norwegian Troll Station where significant research is being conducted.Here is the official government press release about the occasion, and here is the text of the speech.

an ice bit of sculpture
At the end of his address, with a cry of "That's the man!" Jens Stoltenberg unveiled an ice sculpture...a bust of Roald Amundsen created by Oslo sculptor Håkon Anton Fagerås (APL/SJ).
coming soon to an ice tunnel near you
A bit more on the sculpture: Håkon actually created a mold (he was not at Pole himself)...the PM's team had to get some help from the station to provide water for the bust...actually there were two busts created...and the mold is still around (SMK).
NSF rep
Simon Stephenson, the NSF representative for the centennial event, also spoke briefly (SMK).
capture the flag
At the conclusion, the Prime Minister presented the Norwegian flag to Pole area manager Bill Coughran (SMK).

Among the videos of the events are these two (with thanks to Zondra!):

First, this one from SMK:

...and this one which features Zondra's flute music as soundtrack to historical dog-sledding footage:

NSF rep
Simon Stephenson, the NSF representative for the centennial event, also spoke briefly at the ceremony (SMK).
and of a long walk
Another speaker seen here...Jan-Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute. He gave an excellent speech...he'd just skied most of the way to Pole as part of the institute's venture to retrace Amundsen's route (ZS).
capture the flag
At the end of the ceremony, the Prime Minister presented the Norwegian flag to Pole area manager Bill Coughran (SMK).
watch the birdie


Did I mention that there was lots of media representation? (KK).
cool drinks
And there were libations as well (KK).
fur fashion


And fashion. This is Norwegian physician Asle T. Johansen, a member of the "South Pole-100 years after Amundsen" expedition that followed most of Amundsen's route to Pole using authentic replica clothing and gear (ZS).
do you hear me now?
Well, mostly authentic (DR).
stake your pole position


The surveyors had convieniently marked the location of the actual Pole, which was about 30 feet away from the 1 January location (EG).
hot sounds
Behind the scenes, there was sound...here's Daniel Leussler on the boards (KK).
lights action camera


And, at -25°F, there was video as well, here's Dave Benson (KK).


...more to come...the reception...dinner...and early morning ceremonial gathering!

Credits... photos are from (SMK), the Office of the Norwegian Prime Minister; (ZS), from Zondra Skertich; (CA), Carla Appel; (KK), Kiell Kosberg; (DR), Dave Renfroe; (EG), Ethan Good;(APL), the Antarctic Photo Library, taken by Scot Jackson (SJ) or Peter Rejcek (PR).