An Amundsen PilgrimageeBook - 2015
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Jay Ruzesky recalls a childhood of snow caves, literary ambitions, and a fascination with polar exploration that was ignited by the genes he shares with famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. As a boy, Ruzesky was captivated by Amundsen's diaries: an Antarctic exploration aboard Belgica when Amundsen was a twenty-five-year-old mate bent on earning his stripes; his historic navigation of the Northwest Passage from 1903 to 1906 where he intentionally froze in with his ship Gjoa over the winters to drift with the pack ice; and his triumph onboard his ship Fram to be the first to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911.
Now a poet and teacher of English at a small university on Vancouver Island, Ruzesky became motivated by the approaching centennial of Amundsen's South Pole accomplishment to pursue his own quest to Antarctica—not only as a following of Amundsen's footsteps, but also a pilgrimage to a near-mythical place where heroes were made and died. He books his voyage aboard a 71-metre ice-strengthened research vessel, Polar Pioneer, bound for Antarctica.
Ruzesky skilfully interweaves three stories creatively extrapolated from Amundsen's experiences on both Belgica and Fram, and his own observations leading up to and during his voyage on Polar Pioneer. In the tradition of Bruce Chatwin and with a poet's heart, Ruzesky offers a historically accurate tale while traversing both time and place—paralleling a century of explorers' dreams from Pole to Pole with stops in Canada, Norway, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Antarctica.
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