My friend Sam up in Hudson had a dinner this week celebrating the 100th anniversary of Amundsen’s discovery of the South Pole. I wasn’t there, maybe because I wasn’t invited and I’m not Norwegian!
I don’t know anyone else who was there but by coincidence I had dinner that night with four Norwegians, two live in LA and are in the movie business and the other two I didn’t know but are popular singers and musicians in Norway.
Embarrassingly none of them mentioned the auspicious occasion until I brought it up. there was an editorial in the New York Times marking the date.
The story is really one of amazing courage, strength and determination. Amundsen was racing the English team led by Scott. Amundsen arrived first and claimed the pole by among other things leaving a planted Norwegian flag and a letter to the King of Norway. Scott arrived to find these and other things and was greatly discouraged to not be there first.
Amundsen left a letter to Scott saying that if he Amundsen were not to survive the return trip, he requested that Scott get the letter to the King. Sadly Scott was the one who along with his men died on the return trip.
Scott had come unprepared for the trip while Amundsen had taken great efforts to plan every phase of his daunting journey from the dogs to the sleds to the outposts along the way. He had also successfully navigated the Northwest Passage earlier.
I may say that this is the greatest factor—the way in which the expedition is equipped—the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.