Yesterday, Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his party landed at South Pole Station, just in time for lunch. The galley was packed full of people, craning, trying to look like they weren’t looking, trying not to choke on their sandwiches.
Tomorrow, Mr. Stoltenberg and his party will ride out to twenty or so miles off station to spend a night with their countrymen, the Norwegians who have skied in from the coast, and they will, on the Centennial itself, ski back in together following Amundsen’s footsteps.
He gave a speech at dinner last night, trying to put words to the grave and joyous importance for Norway as a country in 1911 to arrive first to the South Pole in an era where parts of the world such as Antarctica were still unexplored. He thanked us for a warm welcome, and congratulated us on the work we do here (now, I’m not sure he was referring specifically to shoveling or inventory, but I’m being liberal with my interpretation).
It was quite sweet, really.
After dinner he went out to the geographic South Pole to take a photo with most of the station population. We were able to meet him and take a few photos.
Here are the Norwegians walking out to the Pole:
Daniel and I with Mr. Jens Stoltenberg:
As you may know, the ice shelf drifts constantly because of the geography of the continent. What that means is that the geographic South Pole shifts something like 30 meters in relation to the station every year. On New Year’s Day, there is a ceremony in which the Pole marker is changed to a new design and the whole Pole gets plucked out of the ice and moved to the actual location. It is not New Year’s Day yet, and so we currently have three Poles: the Ceremonial Pole, with the barbershop red and white stripes and the silver garden ball on top, surrounded by the flags of the original treaty nations; the 2011 Geographic Pole, with the artist-cast Pole marker (which unfortunately gets missed by many distracted tourists); and the actual, current Geographic Pole which has been determined by the surveyors:
I’m not joking: that’s the real deal! The stick with the orange surveyor tape is the southernmost point on our planet. Here’s the Prime Minister (center) with the real-deal South Pole:
It’s humble, but also awesome.
We all came in to some special Norwegian mulled wine, the spelling of which I can’t remember for the life of me (glůgg? glŏvvig? I’m going to stop trying). It was delicious, hot and spiced with slivered almonds and raisins plopped in to the bottom.
A good way to end a cold night.