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Monday 30 September 2019

Review: Amundsen's Way: The Race To The South Pole

This novelisation of Amundsen’s race to reach the South Pole before Captain Robert Scott showcases the brutality, adventure and tactics of polar exploration. Amundsen created the deception of travelling to the arctic just so he could fool Scott.

Not sure if he has angered the Norwegian Parliament and the King of Norway by his deception, Amundsen believes his only chance is to successfully reach the South Pole. But it’s not just about who reaches the pole first, but who makes it back to civilisation first with the news.

Assembling his team which includes Fatty his cook, National ski champion Olav Bjaaland and a number of fellow adventurers including Wisting, Hassel, Hansen, Stubberud and Prestrud – Amundsen sets up the race.

After sending a telegram to Captain Scott notifying him of his intentions – the race is on. Sailing through the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties, they make it round the southern tip of Africa.

Captain Scott accepts the challenge and sets forth to set up a base in McMurdo Sound, complete with motorised sleds. Amundsen’s goal is closer, The Great Ice Frontier (now known as the Ross Ice Shelf), while not much of an advantage, with your ultimate goal over 1000 kilometres away, any advantage must be taken.

Courage, determination and the chance of fame galvanise the men in their quest to reach the South Pole.

The scale of the adventure meant dogs were brought from Norway, including a hut built in Amundsen’s garden for the base camp. Skis, dog sleds, sewing machines all are considered essentials to survival as the gear cannot fail. Amundsen caters for the worst scenarios and prepares his crew accordingly. 

Reinforced tents, reindeer sleeping bags, 250kg of equipment per sled, over 100 dogs and still Amundsen knows they will face harsh conditions.

Throughout their journey to the South Pole, Amundsen’s adventurers experience plummeting temperatures of minus 39 degrees, frostbite, starvation, emaciated dogs, crevasse fields and much more all in their quest. In total it takes them 99 days and travelling 3,000 kilometres to accomplish their quest.

While we all know how the race ends, this story delves behind the facts and reveals the hardships, passions and the reality of what it was like to dream and accomplish polar exploration.

Title: Amundsen’s Way: The Race To The South Pole
Author: Joanna Grochowicz
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $16.99
Publication Date: 6 May 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760637668
For ages: 10 - 14
Type: Middle Grade Fiction