Roald Amundsen's "The North West Passage"; Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship "Gjöa", 1903-1907


Attempts to find the Northwest Passage—a water route from Europe to Asia through the Arctic archipelago north of the Canadian mainland—began as far back as the late-15th century. After numerous failures, many involving disaster and great loss of life, the Northwest Passage finally was successfully navigated in 1903–6 by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (1872–1928). Amundsen and a small crew of six left Christiania (present-day Oslo, Norway) in the converted 47-ton fishing boat Gjöa on June 16, 1903. They proceeded to the west coast of Greenland, across Baffin Bay, and on to King William Island, where they spent nearly two years, conducting scientific experiments and carrying out a sledge expedition of almost 1,300 kilometers to uncharted regions to the north. The Gjöa finally left King William Island on August 13, 1905 and headed west, before stopping for the winter at King Point on the northern coast of the Yukon Territory, in northwest Canada. After their third winter in the Arctic, Amundsen and his crew resumed their journey on July 2, 1906. They arrived in Nome, Alaska, on August 31, having completed the first successful navigation of the Northwest Passage. This book, first published in Norwegian in 1907, is Amundsen’s account of the voyage. It includes much detailed information about the Eskimo tribes that Amundsen came to know and from whom he learned many Arctic survival skills. Presented here is an English-language edition of the book published in 1908. Amundsen later became, on December 4, 1911, the first man to reach the South Pole.

Last updated: January 10, 2014