Roald Amundsen Reaches The South Pole – 12/14/1911

World History |


Beating his British rival Robert Falcon Scott, Ronald Amundsen from Norway succeeds in being first explorer to make it to the South Pole. Before Amundsen became one of the great symbols regarding polar exploration, he was born in 1872 in Borge, which is close to Oslo. He would later become first mate to a Belgian expedition that had never been in the Antarctic during winter until now in 1897. Later, he embarked on another exploration when he controlled the 47-ton sloop Gjoa down the Northwest Passage while traveling around the Canadian coast in 1903. 

He would become known as the original navigator to be successful on the dangerous trek. His next goal was to be the first individual to reach the North Pole and in 1909 was getting ready to set forth on his quest when he discovered that his goal had already been achieved by the American explorer Robert Peary.

Roald decided to make preparations for a different exploration and was ready to sail in June of 1910 to Antarctica with the goal of reaching the South Pole first; he was facing competition from English explorer Robert F. Scott who also was going to the South Pole. Roald traveled on his vessel into Antarctica’s Bay of Whales in early 1911 and established a base camp 60 miles than Scott was to the pole. In October, the race had begun with Scott using Siberian dogs, Siberian motor sledges and ponies while Amundsen made use of sleigh dogs. Eventually, the winner of the race was Amundsen’s expedition on December 14th, 1911 and in late January; his group arrived at base camp.

Sadly, the expedition led by Scott ended tragically as the ponies had to be killed, the motor sleds ceased to work and the teams of dogs had to retreat back while Scott and his four team-members trekked on foot. They finally reached the pole on January 18th, 1912 only to discover that Roald had arrived first a month prior. The return back to base camp was hampered by exceptionally terrible weather as two members died while a later storm confined Scott and his remaining companions to their tent; they were a mere 11 miles away from base camp. Later that year, Scott’s frozen body was discovered.

Roald created a thriving shipping business after his legendary journey in Antarctic. Later on, he tried to succeed as the first explorer to fly over the North Pole. Using an airplane, he flew within 150 miles of his destination in 1925. Finally, he flew over the North Pole in 1926 using a dirigible. 

However, American explorer Richard E. Byrd had accomplished this three-days prior in an aircraft. Ironically, Byrd’s diary that he used on his journey was discovered in 1996 that appeared to indicate that he was forced to retreat back 150 miles short of his target due to an oil leak; this now made Amundsen’s flight using a dirigible journey the original flight over the North Pole.

Amundsen’s life was lost in 1928 while attempting to save a mutual explorer who had crashed a dirigible at sea close to Spitsbergen, Norway.

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