Framheim was used as a wintering hut in Antarctica from 28 January 1911 to 30 January 1912. The hut was established on the ice shelf in the Bay of Whales, but disappeared into the sea sometime around 1960 after this part of the ice shelf calved off.
Uranienborg in summer 1910
Framheim was designed by Jørgen Stubberud, who together with his brothers Harald and Hans and members of the expedition, erected the hut outside Amundsen’s home at Svartskog in the summer of 1910. By assembling the hut before departure, they had the opportunity to put the various parts together before loading them onto the Fram. This allowed them to establish it more quickly when they arrived in Antarctica.
Framheim was 8 metres long, 4 metres wide and 3 metres high at the apex. The materials came from the Skedsmo Dampsag & Høvleri yard in Kristiania (Oslo).
Framheim was a “lemhytte”, a prefabricated hut designed to be disassembled, transported and reassembled easily. The walls consisted of three-inch thick boards with air in between, put together as panels. It was also insulated with fibreboard. The floors and ceiling in the rooms were double-skin, while the ceiling was single-skin. The panel walls were covered with tar, and the roof was covered with tar-board. To retain the heat, both doors and windows were made extra thick. The window in the largest room was triple-glazed, while the kitchen window was double-glazed.
Bay of Whales 1911–1912
After Fram arrived at the Bay of Whales in January 1911, Framheim was established 4 kilometres from the ice front, at approx. 78° 38ʹ S, 163° 40ʹ W. It took Olav Bjaaland and Jørgen Stubberud 10 days to set Framheim up, with Kristian Prestrud providing the name itself.
No expedition had previously erected a hut on the ice shelf. In case the ice should break or they otherwise needed to evacuate, the crew had one of the lifeboats from Fram lying on the ice. Fourteen large tents were also erected around Framheim and used to house the dogs, provisions and litter.
Framheim’s mascot was a wind-up doll named Olava. According to Amundsen, she had a face like an angry old maid, with light brownish yellow hair, drooping lower jaw and a lovesick look.
Framheim consisted of two rooms; a larger living room with a long table and bunks along the wall, and a small kitchen. Later, an annex was built on outside the kitchen.
The long table in the large living room was designed so that it could be hoisted up to the ceiling to clean the floor. Linoleum was laid on the floor, and Lindstrøm painted the ceiling white to brighten the room. All cups, plates, knives, forks, spoons, jugs and glasses were marked with Fram. The lux lamp in the ceiling (model AB Lux 200) provided both warmth and light, while the gramophone (Deutsche Grammophon AG, Monarch II), which was at the bottom of the long table, created a good atmosphere. On the wall at the far left hung three cut-out portraits of the royal family.
The kitchen was Lindstrøm’s space. Throughout the winter, he served hotcakes with jams, freshly baked wholemeal bread, seal meat, canned fruit, pie or pudding and coffee. He was always first up in the morning and most often first to bed in the evening.
The kitchen was also used for teaching English throughout the winter. Prestrud was the teacher, and the students were Wisting, Hanssen, Bjaaland and Stubberud. After graduating, they were able to read the English books of Scott and Shackleton, which were part of Framheim’s library.
Daily routines were quickly established, and one of the regular rituals in the morning was that everyone estimate the temperature outside. After four months of guessing, Hjalmar Johansen was named the best. As a prize, he received a pair of binoculars. In the evenings, a dart throwing competition was arranged. A small target was hung inside the kitchen door, and the throwing took place from the end of the table, about 3 metres away. Lindstrøm never participated, but instead took out the deck and played solitaire. Hassel, Amundsen and Wisting most often hit the kitchen door, Bjaaland used to sneak closer, and Johansen, Prestrud and Hassel were good. But no one was as good as Stubberud, who walked away with the overall victory when spring came. Amid great excitement and cheers, he was presented with a gold watch as a prize.
Saturdays were for cutting, shaving and steam washing. Saturday night included a toddy and cigar. Sundays were kept quiet, often with a gramophone concert in the evening.
In addition to equipment improvements and preparations for the sledge journey to the South Pole, meteorological observations were carried out during the winter in Framheim. Chef Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm was appointed deputy manager at “Framheim meteorological station”. Inside the kitchen hung several instruments, and they built their own station outside. The observations were later recorded in notebooks that are currently in the National Library.
A weather-vane marked “1911” was made by Knut Sundbeck on board Fram. It had its place next to the Stevenson meteorological screen outside Framheim. The weather-vane was one of the few objects Amundsen took home to Svartskog from Framheim. He had it mounted on top of the flagpole at Uranienborg. Below you can explore the 3D model of it.
When Framheim was covered in snow through the winter, the opportunity arose to expand the living space. First, a passage was dug around the cabin to provide access to clean snow and more space to store food, then more passages were dug and caves excavated. Eventually they had established an entire small village under the snow.
Farewell to Framheim
After the Pole Party headed south on October 20 and the East Party left on November 7, Lindstrøm was left alone in Framheim until mid-December, when the East Party returned. In January, the South Pole Party also returned, and on January 30, they were all on board Fram and beginning their journey towards Hobart and civilization.
On departure, Amundsen wrote in his diary:
“It was very hard to leave Framheim. A more splendid and cozy winter home was had by no one. When we left, L. had cleaned it from inside to out and it looked radiant. We should not get disorder and mischief, if anyone should come there to see it.“ 📜
After Lindstrøm cleaned the place up, Framheim was never again visited or reported seen. From 1928 to the 1950s, the area was visited several times by the American Richard E. Byrd. He established a series of wintering stations – named Little America – just north of where Framheim was located, but he never described seeing Framheim or any trace of it.
It is therefore likely that Framheim was buried permanently by snow before Byrd arrived. Between 1957 and 1962, what Amundsen had feared but was confident enough to risk finally happened – the ice on which Framheim stood broke off. This led to both Framheim and Byrd’s bases drifting out to sea and disappearing forever.
In 2011, a full-scale reconstruction of Framheim was erected at Finse on Hardangervidda.📜