I bet you aren’t surprised that there are no direct flights from San Francisco or Washington DC to the North Pole. It may surprise you however to find out that it takes 5 plane flights and 1 helicopter ride to reach our starting point of the 89th parallel on the ice. To break up the 17 hours spent on the first four flights we decided to stop in Oslo for 2 days to explore the city and recover from changing 9 time zones from San Francisco.
With over a million people Oslo is a large city with an incredible amount of history dating back a thousand years to the time of the Vikings. We got a taste for some of this history by visiting a few museums in and around the city: Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, The Viking Ship Museum, and the Fram.
The highlight was the Fram, which is dedicated to a ship of the same name that made some of the first attempts to reach the North Pole. The explorers would wedge the wooden ship in the ice and wait for years (!) while the ice shifted, hopefully pulling them closer to the pole, leaving a much shorter distance to travel across the ice. Previous ships had been crushed by the ice and the Fram was revolutionary for it’s 3 layer walls and curved design. This curved design meant that when the pressure got too great the ship would be pushed up and out of danger (like pinching a marble between two fingers).
These early explorers have some of the most incredible stories as they competed to be the first to reach many of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Many of these early explorers died as they struggled to survive the harsh temperatures and long distances. I am incredibly grateful for the advances in modern technologies which allow me and my family to safely visit the pole without dedicated our lives to the endeavor.