Fridtjof Nansen – the first man to cross Greenland’s ice cap
Get to know some of our most famous polar explorers! In previous newsletters, we have written about Willem Barents och Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld and their great adventures. This time, we will tell you more about Fridtjof Nansen – the first man to cross Greenland’s ice cap
Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen was born in Oslo in 1861 and was an oceanographer, zoologist and diplomat. He was also a professor at the University of Oslo and ambassador in London. In 1922, he was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts and commitment to refugees, as well as the initiative for the so-called Nansen Passports. Still, he is most famous for his expeditions and great adventures as a Polar explorer.
In 1888, Nansen crossed Greenland on skis to investigate whether the ice sheet stretched all the way from east to west. This was history's first documented crossing of Greenland. In October they reached Nuuk, but had to stay throughout the winter as the last ship of the season already had left the harbor. Here, Nansen took the chance to study the Inuits and learned a lot about kayaking, rowing and survival in extreme conditions. After the expedition, he wrote two books, Skis over Greenland (1890) and Eskimoliv (1891).
In 1893, Nansen sailed towards the Arctic with the ship Fram to make an attempt to reach the North Pole. The plan was to let the ship freeze into the ice and then drift all the way to the North Pole. When Nansen and his companion, Hjalmar Johansson, two years later realised that this plan would not succeed they abandoned the ship. They moved across the ice on skis and with dog sleds and reached 86 degrees north latitude on 7th of April 1895. This was further north than anyone ever had been. Nevertheless, they had to face the fact that they would not be able get back before the Arctic winter would begin, and therefore decided to return home.