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Mos­sel­buk­ta: Pol­hem

Pol­hem is situa­ted on a long, nar­row, flat pen­in­su­la in Mos­sel­buk­ta on the north coast of Spits­ber­gen, just under 80 degrees north. The Swe­dish polar explo­rer Adolf Erik Nor­dens­kiöld built a base for his expe­di­ti­on here in 1872. The idea was to win­ter the­re and to make a dash to the North Pole in the fol­lowing spring of 1873. The­se plans whe­re, howe­ver, soon cripp­led: first, the rein­de­er who were sup­po­sed to pull the sled­ges on the jour­ney to the North Pole took to their heels on the first oppor­tu­ni­ty which came with a storm ear­ly in the win­ter. Second­ly, both the expe­di­ti­on ship and several sealing boats were trap­ped in the ice which came ear­ly in the sea­son and quick­ly. This went hard over Nordenskiöld’s pro­vi­si­ons for his own expe­di­ti­on. In the end, he deci­ded to aban­don his North Pole ide­as in favour for a long sledge expe­di­ti­on to Nord­aus­t­land. He tra­vel­led all the way north to Sjuøya­ne and made a long over­land jour­ney on Nord­aus­t­land, the very first one in this area, the second-lar­gest island in the Sval­bard archi­pe­la­go. The results were sci­en­ti­fi­cal­ly most likely much more inte­res­ting than tho­se that might have been obtai­ned during an attempt to reach 90 degrees north.

Not much is left, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, of Nordenskiöld’s expe­di­ti­on house Pol­hem. Not only the many years and wind and wea­ther con­tri­bu­t­ed to the dest­ruc­tion of Pol­hem, but also trap­pers and expe­di­tio­ners who sto­le mate­ri­als and did gre­at dama­ge by careless beha­viour. This inclu­ded mem­bers of the ill-fated Ger­man Schrö­der-Stranz expe­di­ti­on in 1912-13.

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last modification: 2019-03-26 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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