Caroline Mikkelsen

Caroline Mikkelsen (20 November 1906[1] – 15 September 1998,[2] later married Mandel) was a Danish-Norwegian explorer who on 20 February 1935 was the first woman to set foot on Antarctica,[3] although whether this was on the mainland or an island is a matter of dispute.

Caroline Mikkelsen
Caroline Mikkelsen in 1935.jpg
Caroline Mikkelsen raising the flag of Norway at a cairn on the Antarctic Tryne Islands, 1935.
NationalityDenmark, Norway
Known forFirst woman on an Antarctic island

Antarctic explorationEdit

Caroline Mikkelsen was born 1906[2][1] in Denmark, later she married her first husband Norwegian Captain Klarius Mikkelsen and moved to Norway.

In the winter of 1934-1935, Mikkelsen accompanied her Norwegian husband Klarius on an Antarctic expedition sponsored by Lars Christensen, on the resupply vessel M/S Thorshavn with instructions to look for Antarctic lands that could be annexed for Norway.[4][5] Mount Caroline Mikkelsen is named for her.[6]

On 20 February 1935, the expedition made landfall somewhere on the Antarctic continental shelf.[7] Mikkelsen left the ship and participated in raising the Norwegian flag and in building a memorial cairn.[8] Mikkelsen never made any recorded claims to have landed on the mainland, but was initially thought to have landed on the Vestfold Hills not far from the present Davis Station.[3] She did not publicly speak about her Antarctic voyage until sixty years after her landing in 1995 when she spoke about her journey to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten having been contacted by Davis Station Leader Diana Patterson.[9][10]

In 1941[9] her husband Klarius died[10] and in 1944 she married Johan Mandel from Tønsberg. Mikkelsen-Mandel died in 1998.[1][2]

In 1998 and 2002, Australian researchers published historical articles in the Polar Record concluding that the landing party from the Thorshavn—and thus Mikkelsen—landed on the Tryne Islands where a marker at Mikkelsen's Cairn can still be seen today.[11][12][13][14] The landing site is an approximately five kilometres from the Antarctic mainland. No alternative mainland landing site for the Mikkelsen party has been discovered, in spite of years of searching by Davis Station workers.[15][16]

Consequently, Mikkelsen is regarded as the first woman to set foot on an Antarctic island,[citation needed] and Ingrid Christensen as the first to stand on the Antarctic mainland.


  1. ^ a b c "Dødsfall i Norge 1945-2001" (in Norwegian). Arkivverket Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Reported deaths in Norway (1947) 1995-April 2001". Digitalarkivet Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Women in Antarctica: Sharing this Life-Changing Experience", transcript of speech by Robin Burns, given at the 4th Annual Phillip Law Lecture; Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; 18 June 2005. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Famous firsts Long list of accomplishments by women in Antarctica". The Antarctic Sun. 13 November 2009.
  5. ^ Blackadder, Jesse (2015). "Frozen voices: Women, silence and Antarctica" (PDF). ANU Press.
  6. ^ "Antarctic Gazetteer". Antarctic Gazetteer. Australian Antarctic Data Centre. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  7. ^ Dean, Cornelia (10 November 1998). "After a Struggle, Women Win A Place 'on the Ice'; In Labs and in the Field, a New Outlook". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  8. ^ ANNEX B MEASURES Measure I (1996) Revised Description and Management Plan for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Archived 8 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine, by the Antarctic Treaty System; archived at the University of Canterbury; published 1996; retrieved 20 April 2014
  9. ^ a b "Abenteurerin: Der eisige Tag der Caroline Mikkelsen" [Adventurer: The icy day of Caroline Mikkelsen]. (in German). Frankfurter Rundshau. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Die erste Frau in der Antarktis - 80. Jubiläum" (in German). Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  11. ^ "HSM-72". Area Protection and Management. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  12. ^ "List of Historic Sites and Monuments approved by the ATCM (2012)" (PDF). Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  13. ^ Klarius Mikkelsen's 1935 landing in the Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica: some fiction and some facts , in the Polar Record, Volume 34 / Issue 191 / October 1998, pp 293-304, from Cambridge University Press
  14. ^ Norman, F.I.; Gibson, J.A.E.; Jones, R.T.; Burgess, J.S. (1 October 2002). "Klarius Mikkelsen's landing site: some further notes on the 1935 Norwegian visit to the Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica". Polar Record. 38 (207): 323–328. doi:10.1017/S0032247400018015. ISSN 1475-3057.
  15. ^ Jesse, Blackadder (2013). "Illuminations : casting light upon the earliest female travellers to Antarctica": 59–60. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ Crary, M (1978). "It's about time!". Newsletter of the Antarctican Society (3–7).