Fridtjof Nansen


Fridtjof Nansen : biography

10 October 1861 – 13 May 1930

Rescue and return

On 17 June, during a stop for repairs after the kayaks had been attacked by a walrus, Nansen thought he heard sounds of a dog barking, and of voices. He went to investigate, and a few minutes later saw the figure of a man approaching.Fleming, pp. 261–262 It was the British explorer Frederick Jackson, who was leading an expedition to Franz Josef Land and was camped at Cape Flora on the nearby Northbrook Island. The two were equally astonished by their encounter; after some awkward hesitation Jackson asked: "You are Nansen, aren’t you?", and received the reply "Yes, I am Nansen."Jackson, pp. 165–166 Johansen was soon picked up, and the pair were taken to Cape Flora where, during the following weeks, they recuperated from their ordeal. Nansen later wrote that he could "still scarcely grasp" the sudden change of fortune;Nansen (1897), Vol. II p. 456 had it not been for the walrus attack that caused the delay, the two parties might have been unaware of each other’s existence. On 7 August Nansen and Johansen boarded Jackson’s supply ship Windward, and sailed for Vardø where they arrived on the 13th. They were greeted by Hans Mohn, the originator of the polar drift theory, who was in the town by chance.Nansen (1897), Vol. II, pp. 506–507 The world was quickly informed by telegram of Nansen’s safe return,Huntford, pp. 433–434 but as yet there was no news of Fram. Taking the weekly mail steamer south, Nansen and Johansen reached Hammerfest on 18 August, where they learned that Fram had been sighted. She had emerged from the ice north and west of Spitsbergen, as Nansen had predicted, and was now on her way to Tromsø. She had not passed over the pole, nor exceeded Nansen’s northern mark.Huntford, pp. 435–436 Without delay Nansen and Johansen sailed for Tromsø, where they were reunited with their comrades.Fleming, pp. 264–265

The homeward voyage to Christiania was a series of triumphant receptions at every port. On 9 September Fram was escorted into Christiania’s harbour and welcomed by the largest crowds the city had ever seen.Huntford, p. 438 The crew were received by King Oscar, and Nansen, reunited with family, remained at the palace for several days as a special guest. Tributes arrived from all over the world; typical was that from the British mountaineer Edward Whymper, who wrote that Nansen had made "almost as great an advance as has been accomplished by all other voyages in the nineteenth century put together".


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