Sponsors: The Antarctic Circle and The Fram Museum


Complete the following in 600 words or less: Amundsen sat on the sledge at the South Pole and wrote up a letter to leave in the tent for Captain Scott to find, if he ever made it that far. He signed his name, then paused and thought a bit. After reflection, he scrunched up the letter and began again. What did that first letter say? Serious. Comical. Whatever.

Entry 1

My Dear Captain Scott,

It seems that I have won the Race. The Pole is mine. Polheim is for Norway.

To make sure of this I have put markers some distance from what I calculate to be the 'true Pole'. I am leaving no room for dispute when you arrive. I have your Mister Hinks to thank for that. Yes, I saw him two years ago, at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Very interesting. English and Norwegians, we like to be so accurate and each of us believes he is correct.

But Captain Scott, where are you?

I half-expected to see you here, raising your King's flag, so smug as you English often are. I wished to see you, to meet the mighty Robert Scott. To give you a big hug, Viking style. But ja! You, I know, would offer me your hand and we would stand here in the middle of nowhere shaking hands as if we'd met at a formal supper party. Yes, I am disappointed—hug or handshake. I am here, the victor with no-one to share my great achievement with.

I will wait.

You know Captain Robert Scott, I have had a thought just now. I have beaten you, taken away your wild dream. Suddenly the victory leaves a sour taste in my mouth. How will I go down in history? I will be Roald Amundsen, the scallywag who stole the Pole. Where is the glory in that? Fy Faen!

I was headed North and I changed my mind. North! I live in the North. I can go there anytime I want. But South. Now that is a challenge. You made it one. You lured me Captain Scott and I couldn't resist. I wanted a race, something to set my heart on fire. You made me do it. What better place to meet another madman eager to conquer the unknown?

I raced like we do back in Norway. I used tough dogs, full of spirit, and doomed to die to allow others carry on. That is our way. You English are sentimental over dogs, too sentimental. We Norwegians respect and honour our dogs but we work them and then it is over. A short life but good life. Is it not better than a bored pampered pet who sits at your feet waiting for your attention?

Ja! I get off the subject. I am disappointed now. I have waited for you. My men are ready to go. We are all irritable with each other. We argued over a dog. Can you believe that!? Helvete!

I wanted to meet you but you are not here. So, I am leaving this goddamn place.

Please deliver the letter in the tent and make good use of the supplies for your journey back. Maybe one day we will meet to exchange our stories. And no hard feelings.

Yours sincerely

Roald Amundsen

I re-read this rubbish. The cold makes men crazy.

Entry 2

Dear Captain Scott,

We welcome you to this unique and special spot and trust your journey here has been all that you hoped for.
    For us, we are of course in high spirits, being the first ever to arrive here. Our journey has been wonderfully successful.

But we received news on the voyage south that you may not have heard. And I feel I should relay it to you.
    It seems there is a third team having the aim of reaching this spot. I was amazed to hear such a thing. Particularly as I was informed that it too, is from Great Britain.
    I must say that what follows is unconfirmed, but is from an impeccable source, as far as I know.

It is a small team, only three men, (sounds impossible I agree), and equipped with the most advanced gear imagineable. I scarcely believe it, but their clothing weighs only ounces, their sledges only a few pounds, and their food is of secret formulations such that just a few kilos per man provides all that is necessary for strenuous work, for a whole week.
    Personally I doubt this is true and hesitate in informing you. But the source is reliable so I pass the news on.
    I have no information on their expected arrival date.

We know the world is advancing at an ever more amazing rate, and that only a few years ago even the journey I have just undertaken, and your journey, would have been unimagineable. I am full of doubt, but pass the news on, and am intrigued what I shall learn when I return to inhabited lands.

Finally, I think it worth mentioning, I admire beyond measure your expedition's dedication to scientific work. It will surely benefit mankind an immense amount. We, of course, do not undertake any such work. But on a personal and private level I do have an interest in one of the world's unexplained mysteries and have been studying the terrains through which we have travelled, in the hope of finding evidence that may help explain the question. I know a lot of English people are also interested in this subject so thought I would report my observations.
    I think that we, and no doubt your team, can confirm there are no trees on the continent of Antarctica. It follows therefore that there can be no industry here that manufactures wooden toys. So the search for the home of the person you know as 'Father Christmas', and his family, must continue. Perhaps those heading north will have more luck.

PS. My Dear Con. We have just found a scribbled note wedged in our supplies as we started our return journey. I don't understand any of this but think perhaps we have been the object of what Englishmen call 'a practical joke'. It says that this other team will head straight to the North Pole after departing this place. What bounders! And is led by one Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes!
    I know that English family names are the most eccentric in the world. Indeed I am proud to be acquainted with both the Featherstonhaughs and the Cholmondeleys, wonderful friends. But I think the name on this note gives us the clue that this is indeed a practical joke of the English variety. It even mentions cricket for heaven's sake, which they are determined to play here on arrival!
    So I shall destroy this letter to you and feed it to the dogs. But mention it here just in case you find it. Stranger things have happened.

Safe Return.


Entry 3

Dear Captain Scott,

Great joy and huge ice
await here a cold short time
wish your safe return

Yours truly,

Roald Amundsen

Entry 4

My dear Scott,

Now we know that at least one of us has made it to the South Pole. And as of today, one has not.

And neither of us has survived the return journey to our respective bases. Yet.

And only time will tell whether you or I, or both, or neither, will return to civilization with the Pole in hand, and our fortunes assured.

Tonight, I rest assured that regardless of whatever our separate fates may prove to be, my own has been to be the first to visit this place, and plant the flag of my nation upon that Pole.

The flag of Norway.

In the event of my meeting with fatal accident on my return, I trust you will bear this truth homeward. That when your British Union flew above this place, it was not the first to do so.

Please make use of whatever fittings and supplies that we have been compelled to leave here. We have brought more than we can possibly use, which will only be a burden to our dogs as we proceed homeward.