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The Arctic lost to time: Amazing archive photos chart a daring 19th-century attempt to reach the North Pole

The Nansen Photographs tells the story of how 12 men set off from Norway in 1893 in a ship called Fram. The expedition was led by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who loaded Fram with 3,000 bottles of beer. 'The expedition proved the theory of a current running across the Polar Sea from east to west,' the author says. Many of the diary entries that appear in the book have been translated into English for the very first time.

Amid much celebration, the Fram expedition set off from Kristiania (modern-day Oslo) on June 24, 1893, making four stops in Norway in Bergen, Trondheim, Tromso and Vardo, before arriving at Khabarova in Russia. Its next stop was Cape Tsjeljuskin in Russia, after which they continued east before heading north and allowing the ship to get locked in the drifting pack ice. This picture shows the moment that Nansen (pictured with a hat in his hand centre right) and the crew, standing aboard Fram, waved goodbye to onlookers in Bergen on July 2, 1893. The two days preceding this moment were filled with social events for the team of explorers - 'parties, music, speeches and dance'. The author says: 'The free flow of Champagne was especially appreciated by some of the crew'


It's an extraordinary tale of derring-do told in a mesmerising new book via fascinating archive pictures – and worthy of a Hollywood movie too.

The Nansen Photographs by Geir O Klover, published by Teneues, tells the story of 12 intrepid men, led by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who set off from Norway in June 1893 with the aim of reaching the North Pole.

They sailed in a wooden ship called Fram - packed with skis, kayaks, very woolly jumpers and 3,000 bottles of beer - and braved attacks from polar bears and walruses.

During the ends-of-the-earth expedition, which lasted until August 1896, Nansen put to the test a theory that there was a current running from east to west across the Arctic Ocean. He hoped to reach the North Pole by allowing Fram to get trapped by the pack ice north of Siberia and drift across the ocean. The adventurer was disappointed when he discovered that the drifting Fram did not approach the North Pole, so together with his colleague, Fredrik Hjalmar Johansen, he left the ship and his crew and set out for their intended destination on skis. Though they never made it to the North Pole, Nansen reached a record northern latitude of 86 degrees and 14 minutes.

Throughout the expedition, along with his crew, he carried out a wealth of research into the Arctic and 'painstakingly measured depths to almost 4,000 metres (13,123ft)'. The author notes: 'The expedition proved the theory of a current running across the Polar Sea from east to west and that the earth's rotation probably influences the sea currents, which was later proved and named the Ekman Spiral.'

Every single recovered photograph taken during the expedition appears in the tome, and many of the diary entries that feature have been translated into English for the very first time. 'They illustrate in a touching, sometimes dismaying way how the participants went about their daily lives and carried out their research; what conflicts they fought out and how they ultimately brought the daring undertaking to a good end,' the publisher says. Scroll down to see 10 remarkable archival photographs that appear in the tome, brilliantly illustrating the daring mission undertaken by Nansen and his men...