In July 1893, Fridtjof Nansen left Norway with 12 companions aboard the Fram (‘Forward’), which was especially built at the expense of the Norwegian Government, and which was bound for the North Pole. In his farewell speech, he said, “We do not set forth to seek for the mathematical spot which forms the northern end of the earth’s axis; to reach this particular spot is not, in itself, a matter of great moment. What we want to do is to investigate the great unknown regions which surround the Pole or pass some distance from it.”
The Fram eventually became stuck in the ice and did not reach the North Pole. Nansen and his companion Lieutenant FH Johansen (an expert dog-driver) left the Fram and set off on foot with a team of dogs. In April 1895, they reached 86 degrees 14 minutes north, the closest to the Pole a human being had ever been. This map shows the approximate route of the Fram, and of Nansen and Johansen’s journey on foot.