Norway has produced many great polar explorers and scientists. Some, like Roald Amundsen the first man to reach the South Pole are well known but there are others who have been almost forgotten - men like Carsten Borchgrevink who, almost 10 years earlier in 1899, paved the way for his more famous countryman by being the leader of the first expedition party to winter over in Antarctica at a site known as Cape Adare.
Sadly all traces of Amundsen’s base “Framheim” were lost to the elements long ago. This means that in 2011 nothing will remain to mark the centenary of his remarkable journey. Fortunately Borchgrevink’s base at Cape Adare still survives and is now Norway’s most valuable historic site in Antarctica - but this too is at risk.
Cape Adare is a desolate place but it is the site of a string of Norwegian “firsts”. It is not only the site of the first confirmed landing on the Antarctic mainland, but the first buildings to be constructed there, the first wintering over on the continent and the first grave.
The first buildings, Borchgrevink’s living and store huts were prefabricated of pine by Strømmen Trævarefabrikk. They are essential pieces of Norway’s proud Antarctic history that must be saved for future generations. This site is already recognised internationally as a significant historic site and as the result of initiatives by the Antarctic Heritage Trust it is now registered in the Antarctic Treaty System as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area - the highest level of protection available under the terms of the Treaty. If you would like to take a virtual tour of Borchgrevink's base (and the other bases under the Antarctic Heritage Trust's care) as it stands today click here.
A major professional conservation programme led by the New Zealand based charitable organisation Antarctic Heritage Trust has now begun. This project aims to save this forgotten site but the survival of this icon of Norway's polar heritage will depend on Norwegian support.
Norway must respond or this important part of its heritage will be lost.