24th January 1895 - A Norwegian first!
The first confirmed landing on the Antarctic continent was almost certainly a Norwegian. But who?
Numerous Norwegian sealing and whaling expeditions ventured into the southern oceans during the 1800’s but it was not until the end of the century that ships began to penetrate the pack ice and come closer to the Antarctic mainland. The first sightings of the continent had been claimed as early as 1819 but many of these were disputed. Some claims were also made of landings on the mainland but these have never been confirmed.
In Melbourne he hired a young Norwegian, Carsten Egeberg Borchgrevink as a general hand. Borchgrevink was clearly ambitious and eager to demonstrate his abilities and as a result the relationship between him and Captain Kristensen became somewhat strained.
In the course of their search for whales the “Antarctic” penetrated the pack ice to enter the Ross Sea and after an almost fruitless search for whales they returned northwards along the South Victoria Land Coast. On 24th January 1895 conditions were good and they were able to take the ship close to the shore at what is now known as Cape Adare. A boat was lowered and 6 men along with the expedition manager Henrik Bull made a landing. It remains a matter of debate as to was actually first to touch land but there is general agreement that it was either Borchgrevink or Kristensen.
Borchgrevink left the ship when it returned to Melbourne and by the time Kristensen got back to Norway claiming that he had been first ashore he found that Borchgrevink had made the same claim much sooner. Borchgrevink’s claim had by then been widely published so this became the generally accepted one. Who was in fact first will never be known but it was certainly a Norwegian and they all landed within seconds of each other.