Fridtjof Nansen

Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen is considered one of the father’s of modern polar exploration. He would be the first person to cross Greenland, and make a famed effort for the North Pole (the Fram Expedition). In doing so, he pioneered many tactics used by successful polar explorers to this day. He used skis and dogs. And he employed small teams – relying on speed and mobility. It was a far cry from the days of hundreds of men hauling sledges across the polar ice. But Nansen wasn’t just an explorer. He was a ground breaking scientist and a diplomat, and received a Nobel Prize for his humanitarian efforts later in his life.


Fridtjof Nansen – Part 1 – Adventurer and Scientist

In part one of our series, we cover Nansen’s early years, including a sealing expedition to the Arctic, and his success as a scientist. We then move on to his planning of his Greenland Expedition in 1888 – where Nansen will try and become the first man to ever cross the world’s biggest island.

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Fridtjof Nansen – Part 2 – The Greenland Expedition

In part 2 of our series, Nansen and his team set off to cross the world’s biggest island – Greenland – a feat never before accomplished in history. Nansen’s team will be small, and use skis – relying on speed and mobility.

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Fridtjof Nansen – Part 3 – The Fram Expedition

In part 3 of our Nansen series, our Norwegian explorer begins an audacious plan to reach the North Pole. He proposes to take a ship into the polar ice – and get frozen in. From there, the drift of the ice pack will take him close enough to the pole to make a run at history.

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Fridtjof Nansen – Part 4 – The Fram Expedition: Into the Ice

Fridtjof Nansen and the Fram head into the Arctic waters in their bid to reach the North Pole.

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Fridtjof Nansen – Part 5 – The Fram Expedition: Attempt on the North Pole

Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen set off with three sledges and 28 dogs in an attempt to the reach the North Pole.

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Fridtjof Nansen – Part 6 – The Fram Expedition: Return Home

Nansen and Johansen make their way from Franz Josef Land, while the Fram finds their way out of the ice and heads for Norway.

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Fridtjof Nansen – Part 7 – Scientist, Diplomat and Humanitarian

In the final part of our series, we take a look at the second half of Nansen’s life as a scientist, diplomat and humanitarian.

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Greenland Expedition, July–Oct 1888.  Planned route from Sermilik to Disko Bay. Approach and landing on July 29. Actual route to Godthaab (Nuuk), Aug 15– Oct 3. Source.
Fram Expedition routes
July 1893-September 1893: (RED) Fram’s route into the pack ice
September 1893-August 1896 (BLUE) Fram’s three-year drift to Spitsbergen 
March 1895-June 1896 (GREEN) Nansen’s overland route
August 1896 (PURPLE) Nansen’s return to Vardø
August 1896 (YELLOW) Fram’s return to Tromsø
Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia


Nansen, by Roland Huntford. This is the best English-language biography of Nansen you can find. It’s very detailed, and delves into all aspects of Nansen’s life.

The Nansen Photographs, by Geir O. Kløver. Beautiful, awarding-winning photo book that tells the story of the Fram expedition.

Farthest North Vol I and Vol 2, by Fridtjof Nansen. Nansen’s take on the Fram Expedition.

The First Crossing of Greenland, by Fridtjof Nansen. Covers Nansen’s Greenland Expedition.

Web links