May 11, 1926
The Norge’s keel resembles a warehouse as we ascend, piled with sleds and skis, tents and snowshoes. We lack only the dogs to make ourselves an Eskimo village.
Byrd’s cursed Fokker gallingly flew alongside us for a quarter-hour this morning, as though to say to Amundsen “no matter what you do today, you shall not be first.” I expected this to set off more wrangling between the leaders, but they abstained.
I am ever fascinated watching the Norge‘s shadow gliding over the frozen tundra.
A chilling fog has closed in, glazing the airship with ice. Nobile has taken us above the cloud. Bitter cold.
Ellsworth and Amundsen were silent as we passed over 87° 43″N where just last year they were forced to abandon their attempt, nearly dying in the process.
A doom-like pall pervades the cabin. I pray we overcome it.
One of the port motors has stalled.
I have been reading about the hyper-competitive egomaniacal polar exploration that took place in the first part of the twentieth century. Many well-heeled adventurers sought to claim discovery of the North Pole, but this was hard to accomplish and easy to dispute. Peary laid claim to it first, but this was hotly argued for a decade. When air travel became more reliable, Byrd flew a tri-motor Fokker airplane over what he claimed was the definitive pole. The next day, famed South Pole explorer Roald Amundsen set out in an Italian dirigible to drop Norwegian and American flags on the spot. It turned out that this was the easy part of the journey. The subsequent decision to fly to Nome almost cost the party their lives.