Jacek Proniewicz travel blog

picture and movies from my travel

Posts tagged ‘Winter’

The historic North pole flight, Roald Amundsen

The North Pole Flight. The great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who gained world-wide fame as leader of the first expedition to reach the South Pole, was among the first to pioneer the use of aircraft in polar exploration. After some brief exploratory flights from the northern coast of Alaska in 1923, Amundsen teamed with American adventurer Lincoln Ellsworth to fly in two Dornier Wal flying boats from Kings Bay, on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago, to nearly 88ºN, a record farthest north by air. The following year, in May, 1926, two more flights were preparing to depart from Kings Bay for the North Pole. On May 9, American Richard Byrd made the questionable claim of having flown to the North Pole and back in the Fokker tri-motor Josephine Ford. Five days later, the Amundsen-Ellsworth-Nobile expedition in the airship Norge flew from Kings Bay to Teller, Alaska by way of the North Pole. Following the flight a bitter dispute, played out in the world press, broke out between Amundsen and the Norge’s designer and pilot, Italian Umberto Nobile. As a result, in 1928, Nobile returned to Kings Bay as sole leader of his own expedition in the airship Italia. On May 21, 1928, the Italia crashed on the ice north-east of Spitsbergen on the return from a claimed attainment of the North Pole.
The Italia carried a crew of 16. At the time of the crash, nine crewmembers–including Nobile–were in the main cabin gondola and were thrown onto the ice. One additional crewmember was in the rear engine gondola and was also thrown to the ice, but was found dead. Six crewmembers were inside the envelope and disappeared when the envelope, relieved of the weight of the gondola, floated away in free-flight. Their remains were never found. Remark-ably, a number of supplies, including a radio and a tent, were also thrown to the ice. The radio eventually allowed survivors to establish contact with the outside world. Survivors used a red dye to paint red stripes on the tent to make it more visible from the air and the site became known in the extensive press coverage as the Red Tent.

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20130404-180630.jpgAirship Italia.
The Italia crash sparked the first massive air-sea rescue operation in the Far North. Ultimately five countries sent planes, pilots, and ships to the Svalbard area to aid in the search. But in reality no one was in charge and there was little, if any, coordination of activities. The Italian ship Città di Milano, in the harbor at Kings Bay, served as the expedition’s base ship and carried a small contingent of Alpini soldiers proficient in mountaineering; otherwise, there were no advance preparations for the possibility of a disaster. There were no airplanes in Spitsbergen at the time.

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20130404-183710.jpgJune 18 Roald Amundsen disappears on a flight to Spitsbergen to aid in
rescue operations.
Once radio contact was established with Italia survivors and rescue operations were underway, the focus shifted to a search for Roald Amundsen who with five others in a French Latham seaplane had disappeared on a flight from Tromsø in northern Norway to Spitsbergen. At this point France joined five other countries already in the Svalbard area in sending ships and planes to take part in the search.
The Search for Amundsen. The often-repeated phrase that Amundsen lost his life searching for his bitter rival Nobile, has a heroic ring but is not entirely accurate. At first, when word reached Oslo that the Italia was long over-due in Kings Bay and presumed down, Amundsen volunteered his services. However Italy rejected a Norwegian proposal that the Italian government supply two Dornier Wal flying boats, one of which was to carry Amundsen and to be flown by Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen, Amundsen’s pilot on the 1925 flight to 88ºN and the second-in-command and navigator on the 1926 Norge flight. After an unsuccessful attempt to purchase a Dornier Wal in Germany, Amundsen finally obtained the use of a French Latham seaplane and crew. In the meantime, Riiser-Larsen had departed for Spitsbergen to fly a Norwegian Navy Air Force seaplane in the search operations.
It is highly unlikely that Amundsen was going solely to the aid of Nobile. By the time Amundsen finally departed Tromsø in northern Norway on 18 June bound for Spitsbergen, radio contact had already been established with Italia survivors on the ice floe, their position was known and Nobile was removed on 23 June. A more plausible explanation is that Amundsen intended to search for Italia crewmembers who were left inside the envelope when it floated away and for the missing three-man party that had begun a trek to land from the Red Tent ice floe. One of the three was the renowned Swedish meteorologist Dr. Finn Malmgren who was a veteran not only of the 1926 Norge flight but also of Amundsen’s Maud drift in the Arctic Ocean. The ice-breaker Krassin rescued two of the three from a small ice floe on 12 July before proceeding to the Red Tent ice floe, but Malmgren had died earlier under mysterious circumstances on an undetermined date.
The search for Amundsen and the Latham crew continued throughout the summer of 1928. When world reached Tromsø that Amundsen was missing Louise Boyd, who had chartered the Norwegian sealer Hobby for a summer excursion, immediately placed herself and the Hobby and its crew at the disposal of the Norwegian government. Despite an exhaustive search that covered approximately 10,000 miles and ranged from Franz Josef Land in the east to Greenland in the west, Amundsen’s remains were never found. Boyd received the Chevalier Cross of the Order of Saint Olav from King Haakon VII of Norway for conducting the search. Boyd went on to lead five more expeditions to the Arctic and in 1954, she chartered an airplane to fly her over the North Pole to become the first woman to travel to the Geographic North Pole.
It is now presumed that the Latham went down in fog between Tromsø and Bear Island. The Norwegian government officially discontinued the search in September when fishermen found a pontoon later identified as having come from the Latham. On 14 December, 1928, the anniversary of the date Amundsen had reached the South Pole 17 years earlier, Norway observed a national day of mourning for Amundsen and the Latham crew.

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Zakopane and Chocholow

Occupying a valley between the fearsome Tatra mountains and the hillside settlement of Gubałówka the town of Zakopane owes its status to one man – Tytus Chalubinski. Visiting for the first time in 1873 our protagonist was knocked out by the mountain scenery, crisp air, strange jodhpur-wearing local chaps and picture book beauty. He returned to Warsaw full of the glories of the Zakopane, and couldn’t wait to let the cat out of the bag. Within years what had been an obscure sheep-rearing community had been transformed into Poland’s favourite mountain spa – the first wave of visitors were looking to cure their breathing ailments, and they were swiftly followed by artists and authors searching for inspiration of both a spiritual and liquid kind. Composers Szymankowski and Monuiszko and literary figures like Tetmajer and Witkacy all kept quarters here, as did a pre-revolutionary Lenin, adding to the avant-garde legend that was growing around the town. By the outbreak of WWII it had become one of Poland’s most high-profile destinations, and it’s a reputation that it still enjoys. The year round population of the resort stands at 28,000, but the three million visitors who arrive annually do a good job of making it feel there’s a couple of zeroes missing from the figure.
The best ski-runs in the country can be viewed from your hotel room, and as such this place often finds itself labeled ‘Poland’s winter capital’. But it’s much more than that; there’s no such thing as an off-season in Zakopane, and the warmer months see the streets sink under the weight of an endless torrent of human flotsam. Bearing the brunt of this tourist assault squad is Krupówki, the principal thoroughfare that cuts through town. At times you can almost feel the cobbles wobbling under their burden, and you can’t help but think if all the break-dancing teams, jugglers, puppet masters and bongo drum players were part of Chalubinski’s masterplan. Thankfully, peer behind the trashy discos and endless stalls selling inflatable aliens and you’ll discover a town that fully justifies the white knuckle bus journey to reach it. Stray off Krupówki and the casual tourist is rewarded with postcard wooden architecture, a handful of great museums and superb cooking that will leave you needing an airlift back to bed. It soon becomes clear why so many people choose Zakopane as their holiday destination – do the booze and dance moves by night, of course, but don’t forget to get adventurous. Take to the hills in the company of eagles, chamois and marmots, take to the year round ski slope, take to museums and take to the forgotten timber-clad streets. Within a flash you’ll be taking to Zakopane, and planning your next trip before you’ve even left.

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CHOCHOLOW

The village of Chochołów in the region of Podhale has a rich history beginning early in the 16th century. The first known document containing reference to the village is the 1592 privilege issued by King Sigismund III of the Vasa dynasty, granting Bartłomiej Chochołowski hereditarily the post of village administrator for his participation in the expedition against Muscovy. Chochołów is evidently an old village, with a long record of engagement in important historic events. Besides Bartłomiej, quite a few Chochołów village administrators distinguished themselves by their courage in the royal army. During the 1655–56 Swedish invasion known as the Deluge, the Chochołów villagers fought valiantly in the war under the command of Krzysztof Żegocki the starosta [a kind of royal sheriff] of Babimost. Successive Polish kings confirmed the Chochołów village administrators’ rights and privileges. The people of Chochołów also had their share in the 1768–72 Confederation of Bar.
The village owes its fame in the region of Podhale to the Chochołów Uprising of 1846, which was a short-lived armed action against Austria during the Cracow revolution preceding the 1848 revolution called the Springtime of the Nations. The 1846 events had taken a long time to mature; not without meaning was the 1832 visit to the region of Podhale of the poet Seweryn Goszczyński, who had lived in hiding since after the November Uprising of 1830/31. He was founder of the clandestine Association of the Polish Nation set up in Cracow, which operated in all three zones of divided Poland with a view to rising against the partitioning powers. Also important was the Association activists’ campaigning. The plan to engage Chochołów in an uprising against Austria was born as a result of the local conspirators’ contacts with the emissaries arriving in the region of Podhale. These had got in touch with the local patriotic activists, teacher and organist Jan Kanty Andrusikiewicz, RC priest Leopold Kmietowicz of Chochołów, and another RC priest, Michał Głowacki, ‘Światopełk’, of Poronin, all of whom were later leaders of the Chochołów Uprising.
The date of the outbreak of the uprising against Austria was fixed by the National Government in Cracow: it was to start on 21 February. The Austrian authorities had learnt about the plan and the Austrian troops entered Cracow on 18 February. Members of the National Government were hesitant as to whether call off the uprising but the news had not reached Chochołów, which was a long way away. On the evening of 21 February, armed insurgents under Andrusikiewicz and Father Kmietowicz’s command attacked the post of the Austrian Frontier Guards in Chochołów. After disarming the guards, Andrusikiewicz declared the outbreak of an uprising. The insurgents proceeded to Sucha Góra across the Galician-Hungarian border, planning to come by resources for the needs of the movement in the local customs house that they easily seized. One of the guards even joined the insurgents. The next day was spent on recruiting volunteers and getting the weapons ready. On the evening of 22 February, about five hundred peasants recruited in the neighbouring villages of Witów, Dzianisz and Ciche gathered in Chochołów. About midnight, they faced an unexpected assault launched by the customs guards under the command of Romuald Fiutowski the officer of the finance guards of Nowy Targ, aided by villagers of Czarny Dunajec misled into joining them by the Austrians. The insurgent leaders Father Kmietowicz and Andrusikiewicz were wounded in the skirmish. Further resistance was pointless because of the approach of reinforcements to suppress the uprising. The Chochołów Uprising leaders and participants suffered severe punishment. Many of them were imprisoned in Spielberg, Kufstein and Wiśnicz. Father Kmietowicz was sentenced to death, which sentence was later changed to many years in prison. Andrusikiewicz and others were captured and sentenced to close confinement. All were freed during the 1848 revolution.

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