- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
9

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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FROM NORWAY TO THE KARA SEA
9
then Ritscher went on alone in the middle of winter,
with no sleeping-bag and with only a sack on his back,
the whole long way over the mountain and across the
Ice Fjord, where he fell through the new ice and was
nearly drowned, and so reached Advent Bay at the last
gasp, with one foot so badly frost-bitten that it had to
be amputated. And he was not a practised ski-runner !
One cannot help admiring the tenacity and strength of
will that had kept him alive through all this. And he
told his story with such engaging modesty.
Four of those who had been left behind during the
march came back safely to the ship in Treurenberg
Bay, while the fifth was lost on the way ; one man had
died of the three who had stayed on board the vessel,
and Schroder-Stranz with his three companions, who
had left the ship earlier, had also disappeared, and must
have perished. A tragic expedition.
I asked him whether it was really possible, as I had
read in the paper, that when Schroder-Stranz, the
leader of the expedition, with three others left the ship
in the ice to the north of North-East Land to make for
that island, the arrangement was that the ship should
wait for them at Spitsbergen till as late as December 15 ?
I imagined it might be a misprint for September 15.
" No," he said ; " the arrangement was December
15." I then asked him if they did not see that this
was an impossible date for returning from Spitsbergen,
as the sea was covered with ice at that time, and besides
it was dark winter with no daylight.
"Oh no," he said ; "it must seem strange to you,
but none of us knew anything about it, for, you see, wc
had no experience ; it is only now, when it is over,
that I can see how foolish it all was."
He made a frank and winning impression, and
seemed to be a keen and capable seaman. His one

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