Navigating the Northwest Passage

Roald Amundsen successfully navigated the Northwest passage in August 1905, nearly one hundred years after the failed attempt of Mary Shelley's fictional narrator, Walton.

Photograph: Carl E. Paulsen, Roald Amundsen Monument, bronze, Tønsberg.
Photo credit: Stig Rune Pedersen

"Time and time again it seemed certain we should be defeated by the shallowness of these torturous channels. Day after day, for three weeks – the longest three weeks of my life – we crept along, sounding our depth with the lead, trying here, there and everywhere to nose into a channel that would carry us clear to the known waters to the west.”
Roald Amundsen, quoted in Stephen R. Bown, The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen (Vancouver: Douglas & MacIntyre, 2012).

Here the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, recounts the final stages of his trip through Northwest passage, inching through the uncharted waters of the Simpson Strait in his ship the Gjøa. Armudsen's expedition, lasting from 1903 to 1906 and supported by the Norwegian government, was the first to navigate the passage successfully. The breakthrough occurred in August 1905, nearly one hundred years after the failed attempt of Mary Shelley's fictional narrator, Walton.