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Roald Amundsen becomes first explorer to reach the South Pole

Roald Amundsen becomes first explorer to reach the South Pole

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Norwegian Roald Amundsen becomes the first explorer to reach the South Pole, beating his British rival, Robert Falcon Scott.

Amundsen, born in Borge, near Oslo, in 1872, was one of the great figures in polar exploration. In 1897, he was first mate on a Belgian expedition that was the first ever to winter in the Antarctic. In 1903, he guided the 47-ton sloop Gjöa through the Northwest Passage and around the Canadian coast, the first navigator to accomplish the treacherous journey. Amundsen planned to be the first man to the North Pole, and he was about to embark in 1909 when he learned that the American Robert Peary had achieved the feat.

READ MORE: The Treacherous Race to the South Pole

Amundsen completed his preparations and in June 1910 sailed instead for Antarctica, where the English explorer Robert F. Scott was also headed with the aim of reaching the South Pole. In early 1911, Amundsen sailed his ship into Antarctica’s Bay of Whales and set up base camp 60 miles closer to the pole than Scott. In October, both explorers set off—Amundsen using sleigh dogs, and Scott employing Siberian motor sledges, Siberian ponies, and dogs. On December 14, 1911, Amundsen’s expedition won the race to the Pole and returned safely to base camp in late January.

Scott’s expedition was less fortunate. The motor sleds broke down, the ponies had to be shot, and the dog teams were sent back as Scott and four companions continued on foot. On January 18, 1912, they reached the pole only to find that Amundsen had preceded them by over a month. Weather on the return journey was exceptionally bad—two members perished—and a storm later trapped Scott and the other two survivors in their tent only 11 miles from their base camp. Scott’s frozen body was found later that year.

After his historic Antarctic journey, Amundsen established a successful shipping business. He later made attempts to become the first explorer to fly over the North Pole. In 1925, in an airplane, he flew within 150 miles of the goal. In 1926, he passed over the North Pole in a dirigible just three days after American explorer Richard E. Byrd had apparently done so in an aircraft. In 1996, a diary that Byrd had kept on the flight was found that seemed to suggest that the he had turned back 150 miles short of its goal because of an oil leak, making Amundsen’s dirigible expedition the first flight over the North Pole.

In 1928, Amundsen lost his life while trying to rescue a fellow explorer whose dirigible had crashed at sea near Spitsbergen, Norway.

Roald Engebreth Gravning Amundsen was born in 1872 at Borge, Norway. At an early age, he became fascinated by polar exploration, sleeping with his bedroom windows open during the worst Norwegian winters to help condition himself for his future career. He even quit university to head to sea with Arctic whaling skippers.

Amundsen's father was a ship owner, and he came from a family of pepole connected to the sea. His mother had wanted him to be a doctor, a career he began to study for until her death, when he focused his attention on his true interestexploration.

On This Day: Roald Amundsen Becomes First Man to Reach South Pole

Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer who in 1898 was part of the first expedition to winter in Antarctica and in 1903 became the first man to sail through the Northwest Passage, had been planning an expedition to the North Pole in September 1910, but he lost interest when he heard that Americans Robert Peary and Frederick Cook had each achieved the feat in April 1909.

Amundsen secretly began planning to travel to the South Pole instead. In October, he sent a telegram notifying British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who was a preparing a South Pole exploration, of his intentions. &ldquoBeg leave inform you proceeding Antarctic. Amundsen,&rdquo the telegram read.

Thus began the race to the South Pole. Each party arrived in Antarctica in January 1911 Scott established base camp at McMurdo Sound, while Amundsen set up his camp, called Framheim, at the Bay of Whales on the Ross Ice Shelf, located 60 miles closer to the pole.

The two parties prepared for the journey to the pole by making expeditions south and establishing supply depots along their intended paths. The Amundsen party, which relied on sled dogs, reached farther south than the Scott party, whose Siberian ponies were less equipped for the conditions.

Amundsen set off for the pole with seven men in September, the start of the Antarctic spring. Just days into their trip, the weather turned cold, and they retreated back to Framheim. Hjalmer Johansen criticized Amundsen&rsquos leadership and was expelled from the traveling party the humiliated Johansen would later commit suicide upon his return to Norway.

Amundsen began his second push for the pole on Oct. 20, accompanied by four men and more than 50 dogs. Scott and his 13 men set off from their camp on Nov. 1 with dogs, ponies and motor sledges.

The Scott party was slowed by many setbacks: the motor sledges did not work reliably in the cold and the ponies could not manage the journey. The explorers had to abandon the sledges and they eventually killed all the ponies for food.

Traveling much lighter, the Amundsen team had few difficulties. On the afternoon of Dec. 14, the five explorers&mdashAmundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Olav Bjaaland, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting&mdashbecame the first men to ever reach the South Pole.

Amundsen later wrote: &ldquoAfter we had halted we collected and congratulated each other. &hellip After this we proceeded to the greatest and most solemn act of the whole journey&mdashthe planting of our flag. &hellip I had determined that the act of planting it&mdashthe historic event&mdashshould be equally divided among us all. It was not for one man to do this it was for all who had staked their lives in the struggle, and held together through thick and thin.&rdquo

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Bjaaland took pictures of his four fellow explorers as they posed near the flag. Before the group left the pole on Dec. 16, Amundsen left for Scott supplies and a note asking him to tell Norwegian King Haakon VII of his accomplishment. The group arrived safely back at Framheim on Jan. 25, 99 days and 1,860 miles after their departure.

Scott, meanwhile, did not reach the South Pole until Jan. 17, 33 days after Amundsen. He and the four other men chosen to make the final push&mdash Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans&mdashwere suffering from malnourishment, frostbite, hypothermia and likely scurvy. They were disheartened to find the Norwegian flag waiting for them.

Scott wrote in his diary, &ldquoThe Pole. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected. We have had a horrible day&mdashadd to our disappointment a head wind 4 to 5, with a temperature -22 degrees, and companions labouring on with cold feet and hands. &hellip Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority.&rdquo

On the return trip, Evans fell in a crevasse and suffered a head injury, contributing to his death 15 days later. Captain Oates decided to end his life as he walked out of his tent to certain death, he told his comrades, &ldquoI am just going outside and may be some time.&rdquo The remaining three men died only a few days later.

'Amundsen' Explores the Life of the First Man to Reach the South Pole

He beat the British to the South Pole, then studied the ocean streams in the Arctic Ocean for nearly five years. He’s one of the most daring, prolific explorers in modern history, and he's finally getting the film he deserves.

Written by Ravn Lanesskog and directed by Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Amundsen follows famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen as he makes history by becoming the first person to travel to the South Pole, along with his rocky life stemming from the traumatic death of his parents to his final exploration.

The story's origins started with a stroll around a museum in Norway.

“I have always been intrigued by Amundsen,” Sandberg says. “I learned about him in school and live close to the museum.” Sandberg recalls walking around the museum with his kids and being intrigued by spectacular expositions and the imagery of it all. Like any curious filmmaker, he started reading more about the life of Roald Amundsen and found a mystery he had to solve.

“Even though he accomplished so much in his life, he was angry and frustrated at the end of it. There was something strange going on,” Sandberg says, adding that he wanted to determine why this meticulous explorer’s life ended the way it did. “Why did the man known for being so prepared, go on a strange mission without preparation?”

Telling Amundsen's story

Considering Amundsen has a museum dedicated to his life, there was plenty of material to dive into. Cutting it down to a two-hour film was a task unto itself.

Sandberg spent two-to-three years working with screenwriter Lanesskog (The Last King) to sort out the material, which included countless books, museum artifacts and material, and the translated diaries from all of the people on the expeditions.

“It took a while to crack what we wanted to say, which was so much, and then finding the ideal structure for it. We went back and forth a bit before ending up where we did,” Sandberg explains.

For Sandberg and Lanesskog, they found the emotional through-line between his love interest, Bess (Katherine Waterston), and his brother, Leon (Christian Rubeck). It starts with Leon reading that his brother has gone missing and, when he walks to Roald’s house, finds Bess there. As we learn about Roald’s life from their perspectives, we see two different versions appear.

Sandberg states, “When we started figuring out the movie, the brother was not so prominent. It was more a story about Roald (played by Pål Sverre Hagen in the film). Then we quickly realized that the brother was an interesting way in and also that telling the story in a linear way from beginning to end was a little too ‘boring’.”

Leon became an interesting tool in the telling of the story because he knew his brother in a unique way. That uncertain period in Roald’s life when he went missing was also an emotional time for Leon, motivating him to talk to someone so who better than Bess?

Having these two characters discuss who Roald was and giving them the capacity to jump to all the highlights of his life allowed the filmmakers to play with the structure of the film.

Lessons in filmmaking

Sandberg has always taken everything he’s learned on previous films into his current projects.

“You have to keep exploring and keep challenging yourself, and even though the script is written and there, you can make it better,” Sandberg shares, adding, “And this goes with the edits and everything.”

He also found that he works best when he keeps the writer close and in the process, so they can work the ins and outs of every character and talk it through with everyone. “When you get to be more experienced, you learn a lot of writing and directing from editing,” he says.

Sandberg’s directing career has taken him from intimate true stories to franchised pirate adventures, but there isn’t one he prefers over the other. Both present different challenges. In the case of creating the true story, he recognizes that you have to fictionalize a lot of little things in the story to make it work.

Overall, it’s about the characters and seeing why people do the things they do — the biopic genre really highlights that.

“It’s really about trying to find the one thing about that character that makes or breaks them – that’s really what it’s about.”

For Roald Amundsen, we can see his success and hear about it from the surrounding family, friends, colleagues and adversaries. One lesson we learn from Amundsen is that the price of success is almost always paid by others.

Sandberg relates to this in his own life, as his directing career means traveling the world at the cost of the people around him.

So maybe a viewer can take away from the film this lesson: Not everyone is Amundsen though, and success doesn’t always mean neglecting those you love. Remember, the origins of this particular story started with a busy director strolling around a museum with his family.

Amundsen is now available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime.

Steven Hartman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College and had internships at Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Village Roadshow Pictures, where he was the assistant to the director of development. His screenplays have placed in a variety of competitions including 'Fatty Arbuckle', which was a Top 5 Finalist in Big Break’s Historical Category in 2019. Steve is a full-time writer and creative video producer by day and a screenwriter and novelist by night.

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Amundsen was born in Fredrikstad around 80 km from Christiania (now Oslo), Norway, in 1872, the son of a ship-owner. [3] In 1893, he abandoned his medical studies at Christiania University and signed up as a seaman aboard the sealer Magdalena for a voyage to the Arctic. After several further voyages he qualified as a second mate when not at sea, he developed his skills as a cross-country skier in the harsh environment of Norway's Hardangervidda plateau. [4] In 1896, inspired by the polar exploits of his countryman Fridtjof Nansen, Amundsen joined the Belgian Antarctic Expedition as mate, aboard Belgica under Adrien de Gerlache. [5] Early in 1898 the ship became trapped by pack ice in the Bellinghausen Sea, and was held fast for almost a year. The expedition thus became, involuntarily, the first to spend a complete winter in Antarctic waters, a period marked by depression, near-starvation, insanity, and scurvy among the crew. [6] Amundsen remained dispassionate, recording everything and using the experience as an education in all aspects of polar exploration techniques, particularly aids, clothing and diet. [7]

Belgica ' s voyage marked the beginning of what became known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, [6] and was rapidly followed by expeditions from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and France. However, on his return to Norway in 1899, Amundsen turned his attention northwards. Confident in his abilities to lead an expedition, he planned a traversal of the Northwest Passage, the then-uncharted sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the labyrinth of north Canadian islands. Having earned his master's ticket, Amundsen acquired a small sloop, Gjøa, which he adapted for Arctic travel. He secured the patronage of King Oscar of Sweden and Norway, the support of Nansen, and sufficient financial backing to set out in June 1903 with a crew of six. [8] The voyage lasted until 1906 and was wholly successful the Northwest Passage, which defeated mariners for centuries, was finally conquered. [9] At the age of 34 Amundsen became a national hero, in the first rank of polar explorers. [8]

In November 1906 the American Robert Peary returned from his latest unsuccessful quest for the North Pole, claiming a new Farthest North of 87° 6′—a record disputed by later historians. [10] He immediately began raising funds for a further attempt. [11] In July 1907 Dr Frederick Cook, a former shipmate of Amundsen's from Belgica, set off northwards on what was ostensibly a hunting trip but was rumoured to be an attempt on the North Pole. [12] A month later Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition sailed for Antarctica, while Robert Falcon Scott was preparing a further expedition should Shackleton fail. [13] Amundsen saw no reason to concede priority in the south to the British, and spoke publicly about the prospects of leading an Antarctic expedition—although his preferred goal remained the North Pole. [14]

Nansen and Fram Edit

In 1893 Nansen had driven his ship Fram into the Arctic pack ice off the northern Siberian coast and allowed it to drift in the ice towards Greenland, hoping that this route would cross the North Pole. In the event, the drift did not approach the pole, and an attempt by Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen to reach it on foot was likewise unsuccessful. [15] Nevertheless, Nansen's strategy became the basis of Amundsen's own Arctic plans. [16] He reasoned that if he entered the Arctic Ocean via the Bering Strait, well to the east of Nansen's starting point, his ship would achieve a more northerly drift and pass near or through the pole. [17]

Amundsen consulted Nansen, who insisted that Fram was the only vessel fit for such an undertaking. Fram had been designed and built in 1891–93 by Colin Archer, Norway's leading shipbuilder and naval architect, in accordance with Nansen's exacting specifications, as a vessel that would withstand prolonged exposure to the harshest of Arctic conditions. [18] The ship's most distinctive feature was its rounded hull which, according to Nansen, enabled the vessel to "slip like an eel out of the embraces of the ice". [19] For extra strength the hull was sheathed in South American greenheart, the hardest timber available, and crossbeams and braces were fitted throughout its length. [19] The ship's wide beam of 36 feet (11 m) in relation to its overall length of 128 feet (39 m) gave it a markedly stubby appearance. This shape improved its strength in the ice but affected its performance in the open sea, where it moved sluggishly and was inclined to roll most uncomfortably. [20] However, its looks, speed, and sailing qualities were secondary to the provision of a secure and warm shelter for the crew during a voyage that might extend over several years. [21]

Fram had emerged virtually unscathed from Nansen's expedition after nearly three years in the polar ice. On its return it had been refitted, [20] before spending four years under the command of Otto Sverdrup, charting and exploring 100,000 square miles (260,000 km 2 ) of uninhabited territory in the northern Canadian islands. [22] After Sverdrup's voyage ended in 1902 Fram was laid up in Christiania. [17] Although the ship was technically the property of the state, it was tacitly acknowledged that Nansen had first call on it. After his return from the Arctic in 1896 he had aspired to take Fram on an expedition to Antarctica, but by 1907 such hopes had faded. [17] Late in September of that year, Amundsen was summoned to Nansen's home and told he could have the ship. [23]

Initial steps Edit

Amundsen made his plans public on 10 November 1908, at a meeting of the Norwegian Geographical Society. He would take Fram round Cape Horn to the Pacific Ocean after provisioning in San Francisco the ship would continue northwards, through the Bering Strait to Point Barrow. From here he would set a course directly into the ice to begin a drift that would extend over four or five years. Science would be as important as geographical exploration continuous observations would, Amundsen hoped, help to explain a number of unresolved problems. [24] The plan was received enthusiastically, and the next day King Haakon [n 2] opened a subscription list with a gift of 20,000 kroner. On 6 February 1909 the Norwegian Parliament approved a grant of 75,000 kroner to refit the ship. [26] The general fundraising and business management of the expedition was placed in the hands of Amundsen's brother Leon so that the explorer could concentrate on the more practical aspects of organisation. [27]

In March 1909 it was announced that Shackleton had reached a southern latitude of 88° 23′— 97 nautical miles (180 km) from the South Pole—before turning back thus, as Amundsen observed, in the south "a little corner remained". [28] He was unreserved in his praise for Shackleton's achievement, writing that Shackleton was the south's equivalent of Nansen in the north. [29] Following this near miss, Scott immediately confirmed his intention to lead an expedition (what became the Terra Nova Expedition) that would encompass the "little corner" and claim the prize for the British Empire. [13]

Personnel Edit

Amundsen chose three naval lieutenants as his expedition's officers: Thorvald Nilsen, a navigator who would be second-in-command Hjalmar Fredrik Gjertsen, and Kristian Prestrud. [30] Gjertsen, despite lacking a medical background, was made expedition doctor, and was sent on a "lightning course" in surgery and dentistry. [31] A naval gunner, Oscar Wisting, was accepted on Prestrud's recommendation because he could turn his hand to most tasks. Although he had little previous experience of sledge dogs, Amundsen wrote that Wisting developed "a way of his own" with them, and became a useful amateur veterinarian. [32] [33]

An early choice for the party was Olav Bjaaland, a champion skier who was also a skilled carpenter and ski-maker. [34] Bjaaland was from Morgedal in the Telemark province of Norway, a region renowned for the prowess of its skiers and as the home of the pioneer of modern techniques, Sondre Norheim. [35] Amundsen shared Nansen's belief that skis and sledge dogs provided by far the most efficient method of Arctic transport, and was determined to recruit the most skilful dog drivers. Helmer Hanssen, who had proved his worth on the Gjøa expedition, agreed to travel with Amundsen again. [36] He was joined later by Sverre Hassel, an expert on dogs, and veteran of Sverdrup's 1898–1902 Fram voyage, who intended only to travel with Amundsen as far as San Francisco. [37] The carpenter Jørgen Stubberud built a portable building to serve as base for the expedition, which could be dismantled and prepared for shipment with the Fram. Stubberud asked Amundsen for permission to join the expedition, which was granted. Mindful of the value of a competent cook, Amundsen secured the services of Adolf Lindstrøm, another Sverdrup veteran who had been cook aboard Gjøa. [30]

From his experiences on board Belgica and Gjøa, Amundsen had learned the importance on a long voyages of stable and compatible companions, [32] and with these experienced personnel he felt he had the core of his expedition. He continued to recruit through 1909 the Fram party would eventually total 19. All of these except one were Amundsen's personal choices the exception was Hjalmar Johansen, who was taken on at the request of Nansen. Since his epic march with Nansen, Johansen had been unable to settle down. Despite the efforts of Nansen and others to help him, his life became a downward spiral of drink and indebtedness. [38] Nansen wished to give his former comrade a final chance to show that he was still a capable worker in the field feeling that he could not refuse Nansen's wishes, Amundsen reluctantly accepted Johansen. [32] The party contained two foreigners: a young Russian oceanographer Alexander Kuchin (or Kutchin), who was a pupil of Bjorn Helland-Hansen, and a Swedish engineer, Knut Sundbeck. [39] [40]

Change of plan Edit

In September 1909 newspapers carried reports that Cook and Peary had each reached the North Pole, Cook in April 1908 and Peary a year later. Asked to comment, Amundsen avoided an outright endorsement of either explorer, but surmised that "probably something will be left to be done". [41] While he avoided the controversy over the rival claims, [n 3] he saw immediately that his own plans would be seriously affected. Without the allure of capturing the pole, he would struggle to maintain public interest or funding. "If the expedition was to be saved . there was nothing left for me but to try and solve the last great problem—the South Pole". Thus Amundsen decided to go south the Arctic drift could wait "for a year or two" until the South Pole had been conquered. [44]

Amundsen did not publicise his change of plan. As Scott's biographer David Crane points out, the expedition's public and private funding was earmarked for scientific work in the Arctic there was no guarantee that the backers would understand or agree to the proposed volte-face. [45] Furthermore, the altered objective might cause Nansen to revoke the use of Fram, [46] or parliament to halt the expedition for fear of undermining Scott and offending the British. [47] Amundsen concealed his intentions from everyone except his brother Leon and his second-in-command, Nilsen. [48] This secrecy led to awkwardness Scott had sent Amundsen instruments to enable their two expeditions, at opposite ends of the earth, to make comparative readings. [45] When Scott, in Norway to test his motor sledges, telephoned Amundsen at home to discuss cooperation, the Norwegian refused to take the call. [49]

The privately revised expedition schedule required Fram to leave Norway in August 1910 and sail to Madeira in the Atlantic, its only port of call. From there the ship would proceed directly to the Ross Sea in Antarctica, heading for the Bay of Whales, an inlet on the Ross Ice Shelf (then known as the "Great Ice Barrier") where Amundsen intended to make his base camp. The Bay of Whales was the southernmost point in the Ross Sea to which a ship could penetrate, 60 nautical miles (110 km) closer to the Pole than Scott's intended base at McMurdo Sound. [48] In 1907–09 Shackleton had considered the ice in the Bay of Whales to be unstable, but from his studies of Shackleton's records Amundsen decided that the Barrier here was grounded on shoals or skerries, and would support a safe and secure base. [48] [n 4] After landing the shore party, Fram was to carry out oceanographic work in the Atlantic before picking up the shore party early in the following year. [48]

Transport, equipment and supplies Edit

Amundsen did not understand the apparent aversion of British explorers to dogs: "Can it be that the dog has not understood its master? Or is it the master who has not understood the dog?" he later wrote. [52] Following his decision to go south he ordered 100 North Greenland sledge dogs—the best and strongest available. [53]

The party's ski boots, specially designed by Amundsen, were the product of two years' testing and modification in search of perfection. [54] The party's polar clothing included suits of sealskin from Northern Greenland, and clothes fashioned after the style of the Netsilik Inuit from reindeer skins, wolf skin, Burberry cloth and gabardine. [55] The sledges were constructed from Norwegian ash with steel-shod runners made from American hickory. Skis, also fashioned from hickory, were extra long to reduce the likelihood of slipping into crevasses. [56] The tents—"the strongest and most practical that have ever been used" [57] —had built-in floors and required a single pole. For cooking on the march, Amundsen chose the Swedish Primus stove rather than the special cooker devised by Nansen, because he felt the latter took up too much space. [58]

From his experiences on Belgica, Amundsen was aware of the dangers of scurvy. Although the true cause of the disease, vitamin C deficiency, was not understood at the time, it was generally known that the disease could be countered by eating fresh raw meat. [59] To neutralise the danger, Amundsen planned to supplement sledging rations with regular helpings of seal meat. [60] He also ordered a special kind of pemmican which included vegetables and oatmeal: "a more stimulating, nourishing and appetising food it would be impossible to find". [61] The expedition was well supplied with wines and spirits, for use as medicine and on festive or social occasions. Mindful of the loss of morale on Belgica, Amundsen provided for leisure time with a library of around 3,000 books, a gramophone, a large quantity of records and a range of musical instruments. [62]

Departure Edit

In the months before departure, funds for the expedition became harder to acquire. Because of limited public interest, newspaper deals were cancelled and parliament refused a request for a further 25,000 kroner. Amundsen mortgaged his house to keep the expedition afloat heavily in debt, he was now wholly dependent on the expedition's success to avoid personal financial ruin. [63]

After a month's trial cruise in the northern Atlantic, Fram sailed to Kristiansand in late July 1910 to take the dogs on board and to make final preparations for departure. [64] While at Kristiansand, Amundsen received an offer of help from Peter "Don Pedro" Christophersen, a Norwegian expatriate whose brother was Norway's Minister in Buenos Aires. Christophersen would provide fuel and other provisions to Fram at either Montevideo or Buenos Aires, an offer which Amundsen gratefully accepted. [65] Just before Fram sailed on 9 August, Amundsen revealed the expedition's true destination to the two junior officers, Prestrud and Gjertsen. On the four-week voyage to Funchal in Madeira, a mood of uncertainty developed among the crew, who could not make sense of some of the preparations and whose questions were met with evasive answers from their officers. This, says Amundsen's biographer Roland Huntford, was "enough to generate suspicion and low spirits". [66]

Fram reached Funchal on 6 September. [67] Three days later Amundsen informed the crew of the revised plan. He told them he intended to make "a detour" to the South Pole on the way to the North Pole, which was still his ultimate destination, but would have to wait for a while. [68] After Amundsen outlined his new proposals, each man was asked whether he was willing to go on, and all responded positively. [67] Amundsen wrote a lengthy letter of explanation to Nansen, stressing how the North Pole claims of Cook and Peary had dealt a "death blow" to his original plans. He felt he had been forced into this action by necessity, asked for forgiveness and expressed the hope that his achievements would ultimately atone for any offence. [69]

Before leaving Funchal on 9 September Amundsen sent a cable to Scott, to inform him of the change of plan. Scott's ship Terra Nova had left Cardiff amid much publicity on 15 June, and was due to arrive in Australia early in October. It was to Melbourne that Amundsen sent his telegram, containing the bare information that he was proceeding southwards. [70] [n 5] No indication was given of the Norwegian's plans or his destination in Antarctica Scott wrote to the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) secretary, John Scott Keltie: "We shall know in due course I suppose". News of Amundsen's revised plans reached Norway early in October and provoked a generally hostile response. Although Nansen gave his blessing and warm approval, [71] Amundsen's actions were with few exceptions condemned by press and public, and funding dried up almost completely. [72] Reactions in Britain were predictably adverse an initial disbelief expressed by Keltie soon turned to anger and scorn. "I have sent full details of Amundsen's underhand conduct to Scott . If I was Scott I would not let them land", wrote Sir Clements Markham, the influential former RGS president. [73] Unaware of the world's reactions, Fram sailed south for four months. The first icebergs were sighted on New Year's Day 1911 the Barrier itself came into view on 11 January, and on 14 January Fram was in the Bay of Whales. [74]

Framheim Edit

After Fram was anchored to ice in an inlet in the south-eastern corner of the Bay, Amundsen selected a site for the expedition's main hut, 2.2 nautical miles (4.1 km) from the ship. [75] Six teams of dogs were used to move supplies to the site, as work on erecting the hut began. Bjaaland and Stubberud laid the foundations deep into the ice, levelling the sloping ground. Because the prevailing winds came from the east, the hut was erected on an east–west axis, with the door facing west in this way the wind caught only the shorter eastern wall. [76] The roof was in place by 21 January, and six days later the hut was complete. [77] By then a large supply of meat—including 200 seals—had been brought to the base, for use by the shore party and to be laid in depots before the journey to the pole. [78] The base was dubbed Framheim, "the home of Fram". [79]

Early on the morning of 3 February, Terra Nova arrived unexpectedly in the Bay of Whales. She had sailed from New Zealand on 29 November 1910 and had arrived in McMurdo Sound early in January. After landing Scott and his main party there, Terra Nova had taken a party of six men, led by Victor Campbell, eastward to King Edward VII Land. This group intended to explore this then-unknown territory, but had been prevented by sea ice from approaching the shore. The ship was sailing westward along the Barrier edge in search of a possible landing place when it encountered Fram. [80] Scott had previously speculated that Amundsen might make his base in the Weddell Sea area, on the opposite side of the continent [81] this proof that the Norwegians would be starting the race for the pole with a 60 nautical mile advantage was an alarming prospect for the British. [82] The two groups behaved civilly towards each other Campbell and his officers Harry Pennell and George Murray Levick breakfasted aboard Fram, and reciprocated with lunch on the Terra Nova. [83] Amundsen was relieved to learn that Terra Nova had no wireless radio, since that might have imperilled his strategy to be first with the news of a polar victory. [84] He was worried, however, by a remark of Campbell's that implied that Scott's motorised sledges were working well. [85] Nevertheless, he offered the British party a site alongside Framheim as a base for the exploration of King Edward VII Land. Campbell turned the offer down, and sailed for McMurdo Sound to inform Scott of Amundsen's whereabouts. [86]

Depot journeys Edit

In early February Amundsen began organising the depot-laying journeys across the Barrier, in preparation for the following summer's assault on the pole. Supply depots laid in advance at regular intervals on the projected route would limit the amount of food and fuel that the South Pole party would have to carry. The depot journeys would be the first true tests of equipment, dogs and men. For the first journey, to begin on 10 February, Amundsen chose Prestrud, Helmer Hanssen and Johansen to accompany him 18 dogs would pull three sledges. [87] Before leaving, Amundsen left instructions with Nilsen regarding Fram. The ship was to sail to Buenos Aires for reprovisioning, before undertaking a programme of oceanographic work in the Southern Ocean and then returning to the Barrier as early as possible in 1912. [88] [n 6]

When the four men began their journey south, their only knowledge of the Barrier was from books previous explorers had published, and they anticipated difficult travelling conditions. They were surprised to find the Barrier surface was much like that of a conventional glacier they covered 15 nautical miles (28 km) on the first day. [90] Amundsen noted how well his dogs were performing in these conditions, and wondered at the English aversion to the use of dogs on the Barrier. [91] The party reached 80° S on 14 February, and after laying the depot turned for home, reaching Framheim on 16 February. [92]

The second depot-laying party left Framheim on 22 February, with eight men, seven sledges and forty-two dogs. [93] Conditions on the Barrier had deteriorated sharply average temperatures had dropped by 9 °C (16 °F), [94] and rough snow had drifted across the previously smooth ice surface. In temperatures sometimes as low as −40 °C (−40 °F), on 3 March the party reached 81° S, where they established a second depot. [95] Amundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Prestrud, Johansen and Wisting then continued with the strongest dogs, hoping to reach 83° S, but in difficult conditions they halted at 82° S on 8 March. [95] Amundsen could see that the dogs were exhausted [96] the party turned for home, and with light sledges travelled swiftly to reach Framheim on 22 March. [97] Amundsen wanted more supplies taken south before the impending polar night made travel impossible, and on 31 March a party of seven men led by Johansen left Framheim for the 80° S depot with six slaughtered seals—2,400 pounds (1,100 kg) of meat. [98] The party returned on 11 April—three days later than expected—after they strayed into a field of crevasses. [99]

Overall, the depot-laying journeys established three depots containing 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg) of supplies, which included 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of seal meat and 40 imperial gallons (180 L) of paraffin oil. [97] Amundsen learned much from the journeys, especially on the second, when the dogs struggled with sledges that were too heavy. He decided to increase the number of dogs for the polar journey, if necessary at the expense of the number of men. [100] The journeys revealed some disunity among the men, particularly between Johansen and Amundsen. During the second depot journey, Johansen openly complained about the unsatisfactory nature of the equipment Amundsen believed that his authority had been challenged. [101] [102]

Winter Edit

The sun set over Framheim on 21 April, not to reappear for four months. [103] Amundsen was mindful of the boredom and loss of morale that had blighted the Belgica expedition's winter in the ice, and although there was no possibility of sledging he ensured that the shore party kept busy. [104] One urgent task was to improve the sledges, which had not worked well during the depot journeys. In addition to those chosen specifically for the expedition, Amundsen had brought along several sledges from Sverdrup's 1898–1902 Fram expedition, which he now thought would be better suited to the task ahead. Bjaaland reduced the weight of these older sledges by almost a third by planing down the timber, and also constructed three sledges of his own from some spare hickory wood. The adapted sledges were to be used to cross the Barrier, while Bjaaland's new set would be used in the final stages of the journey, across the polar plateau itself. [105] Johansen prepared the sledging rations (42,000 biscuits, 1,320 tins of pemmican and about 220 pounds (100 kg) of chocolate), [106] while other men worked on improving the boots, cooking equipment, goggles, skis and tents. [107] To combat the dangers of scurvy, twice a day the men ate seal meat that had been collected and frozen in quantities before the onset of winter. The cook, Lindstrøm, supplemented the vitamin C intake with bottled cloudberries and blueberries, and provided wholemeal bread made with fresh yeast, rich in B vitamins. [108] [109]

While Amundsen was confident in his men and equipment, he was, Hassel recorded, tormented by thoughts of Scott's motor sledges and the fear that these would carry the British party to success. [110] With this in mind Amundsen planned to begin the polar journey as soon as the sun rose in late August, though Johansen warned that it would be too cold on the Barrier so early in the season. Amundsen overruled him, and at sunrise on 24 August seven sledges were made ready. [111] Johansen's concerns seemed justified, as harsh conditions for the next two weeks—temperatures as low as −58 °C (−72 °F)—prevented the men from leaving. [112] On 8 September 1911, when the temperature rose to −27 °C (−17 °F), Amundsen decided he could wait no longer, and the party of eight set off Lindstrøm remained alone at Framheim. [111]

False start Edit

The party made good initial progress, travelling around 15 nautical miles (28 km) each day. The dogs ran so hard that several from the strongest teams were detached from the traces and secured onto the sledges to act as ballast. [113] In their wolf-skin and reindeer-skin clothing the men could cope with the freezing temperatures while they kept moving, but when they stopped they suffered, and barely slept at night. The dogs' paws became frostbitten. [111] On 12 September, with temperatures down to −56 °C (−69 °F), the party halted after only 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) and built igloos for shelter. [113] Amundsen now recognised that they had started the march too early in the season, and decided they should return to Framheim. He would not risk the lives of men and dogs for reasons of stubbornness. [114] Johansen, in his diary, wrote of the foolishness of starting prematurely on such a long and historic journey, and of the dangers of an obsession with beating the English. [115]

On 14 September, on their way back to Framheim, they left most of their equipment at the 80° S depot, to lighten the sledges. Next day, in freezing temperatures with a strong headwind, several dogs froze to death while others, too weak to continue, were placed upon the sledges. [116] On 16 September, 40 nautical miles (74 km) from Framheim, Amundsen ordered his men to push for home as quickly as possible. Not having a sledge of his own, he leapt onto Wisting's, and with Helmer Hanssen and his team raced away, leaving the rest behind. The three arrived back at Framheim after nine hours, followed by Stubberud and Bjaaland two hours later and Hassel shortly after. [117] Johansen and Prestrud were still out on the ice, without food or fuel Prestrud's dogs had failed, and his heels were badly frostbitten. They reached Framheim after midnight, more than seventeen hours after they had turned for home. [118]

Next day, Amundsen asked Johansen why he and Prestrud had been so late. Johansen answered angrily that he felt they had been abandoned, and castigated the leader for leaving his men behind. [119] Amundsen would later inform Nansen that Johansen had been "violently insubordinate" as a result, he was excluded from the polar party, which Amundsen now reduced to five. [120] Johansen was placed under the command of Prestrud, much his junior as an explorer, in a party that would explore King Edward VII Land. Stubberud was persuaded to join them, leaving Amundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Bjaaland, Hassel and Wisting as the revised South Pole party. [121]

South Pole journey Edit

Barrier and mountains Edit

Despite his excitement to start out again, Amundsen waited until mid-October and the first hints of spring. He was ready to leave on 15 October, but was held up by the weather for a few more days. [122] On 19 October 1911 the five men, with four sledges and fifty-two dogs, began their journey. [123] The weather quickly worsened, and in heavy fog the party strayed into the field of crevasses that Johansen's depot party had discovered the previous autumn. [124] Wisting later recalled how his sledge, with Amundsen aboard, nearly disappeared down a crevasse when the snow bridge broke underneath it. [124]

Despite this near mishap they were covering more than 15 nautical miles (28 km) a day, and reached their 82° S depot on 5 November. They marked their route by a line of cairns, built of snow blocks, at three-mile intervals. [125] [126] On 17 November they reached the edge of the Barrier and faced the Transantarctic Mountains. Unlike Scott, who would be following the Beardmore Glacier route pioneered by Shackleton, Amundsen had to find his own route through the mountains. After probing the foothills for several days and climbing to around 1,500 feet (460 m), the party found what appeared to be a clear route, a steep glacier 30 nautical miles (56 km) long leading upwards to the plateau. Amundsen named this the Axel Heiberg Glacier, after one of his chief financial backers. [127] [n 7] It was a harder ascent than the team had anticipated, made much longer by the need to take detours, and by the deep, soft snow. After three days of difficult climbing the party reached the glacier summit. [127] Amundsen was full of praise for his dogs, and scorned the idea that they could not work in such conditions on 21 November the party travelled 17 miles (27 km) and climbed 5,000 feet (1,500 m). [128]

March to the pole Edit

Upon reaching 10,600 feet (3,200 m) at the summit of the glacier, at 85° 36′ S, Amundsen prepared for the final stage of the journey. Of the 45 dogs who had made the ascent (7 had perished during the Barrier stage), only 18 would go forward the remainder were to be killed for food. Each of the sledge-drivers killed dogs from his own team, skinned them, and divided the meat between dogs and men. "We called the place the Butchers' Shop", Amundsen recalled. "[T]here was depression and sadness in the air we had grown so fond of our dogs". [129] Regrets did not prevent the team from enjoying the plentiful food Wisting proved particularly skillful in his preparation and presentation of the meat. [130]

The party loaded up three sledges with supplies for a march of up to 60 days, leaving the remaining provisions and dog carcasses in a depot. Bad weather prevented their departure until 25 November, when they set off cautiously over the unknown ground in persistent fog. [131] They were travelling over an icy surface broken by frequent crevasses, which together with the poor visibility slowed their progress. Amundsen called this area the "Devil's Glacier". On 4 December they came to an area where the crevasses were concealed under layers of snow and ice with a space between, which gave what Amundsen called an "unpleasantly hollow" sound as the party passed over it. He christened this area "The Devil's Ballroom." When later that day they emerged on to more solid ground, they had reached 87° S. [132]

On 8 December the Norwegians passed Shackleton's Farthest South record of 88° 23′. [133] As they neared the pole, they looked for any break in the landscape that might indicate another expedition had got there ahead of them. While camped on 12 December they were momentarily alarmed by a black object that appeared on the horizon, but this proved to be their own dogs' droppings off in the distance, magnified by mirage. [134] Next day they camped at 89° 45′ S, 15 nautical miles (28 km) from the pole. [135] On the following day, 14 December 1911, with the concurrence of his comrades Amundsen travelled in front of the sledges, and at around 3 pm the party reached the vicinity of the South Pole. [136] They planted the Norwegian flag and named the polar plateau "King Haakon VII's Plateau". [137] Amundsen later reflected on the irony of his achievement: "Never has a man achieved a goal so diametrically opposed to his wishes. The area around the North Pole—devil take it—had fascinated me since childhood, and now here I was at the South Pole. Could anything be more crazy?" [138]

For the next three days the men worked to fix the exact position of the pole after the conflicting and disputed claims of Cook and Peary in the north, Amundsen wanted to leave unmistakable markers for Scott. [139] After taking several sextant readings at different times of day, Bjaaland, Wisting and Hassel skied out in different directions to "box" the pole Amundsen reasoned that between them they would bracket the exact point. [140] Finally the party pitched a tent, which they called Polheim, as near as possible to the actual pole as they could calculate by their observations. In the tent Amundsen left equipment for Scott, and a letter addressed to King Haakon which he requested Scott to deliver. [140]

Return to Framheim Edit

On 18 December, the party began the journey back to Framheim. [141] Amundsen was determined to return to civilisation before Scott, and be first with the news. [142] Nevertheless, he limited their daily distances to 15 nautical miles (28 km), to preserve the strength of dogs and men. In the 24-hour daylight the party travelled during the notional night, to keep the sun at their backs and thus reduce the danger of snow-blindness. Guided by the snow cairns built on their outward journey, they reached the Butchers' Shop on 4 January 1912, and began the descent to the Barrier. [143] The men on skis "went whizzing down", but for the sledge drivers—Helmer Hanssen and Wisting—the descent was precarious the sledges were hard to manoeuvre, and brakes were added to the runners to enable rapid stops when crevasses were encountered. [144]

On 7 January, the party reached the first of their depots on the Barrier. [145] Amundsen now felt their pace could be increased, and the men adopted a routine of travelling 15 nautical miles (28 km), stopping for six hours, then resuming the march. [146] Under this regime they covered around 30 nautical miles (56 km) a day, and on 25 January, at 4 am, they reached Framheim. Of the 52 dogs that had started in October, 11 had survived, pulling 2 sledges. The journey to the pole and back had taken 99 days—10 fewer than scheduled—and they had covered about 1,860 nautical miles (3,440 km). [147]

Informing the world Edit

On his return to Framheim, Amundsen lost no time in winding up the expedition. After a farewell dinner in the hut, the party loaded the surviving dogs and the more valuable equipment aboard Fram, which departed the Bay of Whales late on 30 January 1912. The destination was Hobart in Tasmania. During the five-week voyage Amundsen prepared his telegrams and drafted the first report that he would give to the press. [148] On 7 March, Fram reached Hobart, where Amundsen quickly learned there was as yet no news from Scott. He immediately sent telegrams to his brother Leon, to Nansen and to King Haakon, briefly informing them of his success. The next day he cabled the first full account of the story to London's Daily Chronicle, to which he had sold exclusive rights. [149] Fram remained in Hobart for two weeks while there she was joined by Douglas Mawson's ship Aurora, which was in service with the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. Amundsen presented them with a gift of his 11 surviving dogs. [150]

Other expedition achievements Edit

Eastern party Edit

On 8 November 1911, Prestrud, Stubberud and Johansen had departed for King Edward VII Land. [151] The search for the point at which the solid ice of the Barrier became ice-covered land proved difficult. On 1 December the party had their first sighting of what was indubitably dry land, a nunatak which had been recorded by Scott during the Discovery expedition in 1902. [152] After reaching this point they collected geological specimens and samples of mosses, and briefly explored their surroundings before returning to Framheim on 16 December. [153] They were the first men to set foot on King Edward VII Land. [154]

Fram and Kainan Maru Edit

After leaving the Bay of Whales on 15 February 1911, Fram sailed for Buenos Aires where she arrived on 17 April. [155] Here, Nilsen learned that the expedition's funds were exhausted a sum supposedly set aside for the ship's needs had not materialised. Fortunately, Amundsen's friend Don Pedro Christopherson was at hand to fulfil his earlier promises to provide supplies and fuel. [156] Fram departed in June for an oceanographic cruise between South America and Africa, which occupied the next three months. [157] The ship returned to Buenos Aires in September for final refitting and re-provisioning, before sailing south on 5 October. Strong winds and stormy seas prolonged the voyage, but the ship arrived at the Bay of Whales on 9 January 1912. [158] On 17 January the men in Framheim were surprised by the appearance of a second ship it was the Kainan Maru, carrying the Japanese Antarctic Expedition led by Nobu Shirase. [159] Communication between the two expeditions was limited by language difficulties, though the Norwegians gathered that the Japanese were heading for King Edward VII Land. [160] Kainan Maru departed the next day, and on 26 January she landed a party on King Edward VII Land. This was the first landing on this shore from the sea attempts by Discovery (1902), Nimrod (1908) and Terra Nova (1911) had all failed. [161]

Contemporary reactions Edit

In Hobart, Amundsen received congratulatory telegrams from, among others, former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and King George V of the United Kingdom. The king expressed particular pleasure that Amundsen's first port of call on his return had been on soil of the British Empire. In Norway, which only six years earlier had become an independent country after 500 years of Danish and Swedish supremacy, the news was proclaimed in banner headlines, and the national flag was flown throughout the country. All the expedition's participants received the Norwegian South Pole medal (Sydpolsmedaljen), established by King Haakon to commemorate the expedition. [162] However, Amundsen's biographer Roland Huntford refers to "the chill underneath the cheers" there remained a residue of unease over Amundsen's tactics. One Norwegian newspaper expressed relief that Amundsen had found a new route, and had not intruded on Scott's path from McMurdo Sound. [163]

In Britain, press reaction to Amundsen's victory was restrained but generally positive. Apart from the enthusiastic reports in the Daily Chronicle and the Illustrated London News—which each had a financial stake in Amundsen's success—the Manchester Guardian remarked that any cause for reproach was wiped out by the Norwegians' courage and determination. Readers of Young England were exhorted not to grudge "the brave Norseman" the honour he had earned, and The Boy's Own Paper suggested that every British boy should read Amundsen's expedition account. [164] The Times correspondent offered a mild rebuke to Amundsen for his failure to inform Scott until it was too late for the latter to respond, "all the more unnecessary, for no one would have welcomed co-operation in the work of South Polar exploration more than Captain Scott . Still, no one who knows Captain Amundsen can have any doubt of his integrity, and since he states he has reached the Pole we are bound to believe him". [165]

Senior figures at the RGS expressed more hostile sentiments, at least privately. To them, Amundsen's feat was the result of "a dirty trick". Markham hinted that Amundsen's claim might be fraudulent: "We must wait for the truth until the return of the Terra Nova". [163] When later in 1912 Amundsen addressed the RGS he felt slighted after Lord Curzon, the Society's president, jocularly called for "three cheers for the dogs". [166] Shackleton did not join in denigrating Amundsen's victory, and called him "perhaps the greatest polar explorer of today". [167] Before she heard the news of her husband's death, Kathleen Scott conceded that Amundsen's journey "was a very fine feat . in spite of one's irritation one has to admire it". [167]

Scott tragedy Edit

Amundsen left Hobart to undertake a lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand. He then went to Buenos Aires where he finished writing his expedition account. Back in Norway he supervised the publication of the book, then visited Britain before embarking on a long lecture tour of the United States. [168] In February 1913, while in Madison, Wisconsin, he received the news that Scott and four comrades had reached the pole on 17 January 1912, but had all perished by 29 March, during their return journey. The bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers had been discovered in November 1912, after the end of the Antarctic winter. In his initial response, Amundsen called the news "Horrible, horrible". [169] His more formal tribute followed: "Captain Scott left a record, for honesty, for sincerity, for bravery, for everything that makes a man". [170]

According to Huntford, the news of Scott's death meant that "Amundsen the victor was eclipsed . by Scott the martyr". [171] In the United Kingdom a myth quickly developed in which Scott was portrayed as one who had behaved nobly and played the game fairly. He had been defeated because, by contrast, Amundsen was a mere glory-seeker who had concealed his true intentions, had used dogs rather than relying on honest man-hauling and had slaughtered these same dogs for food. Furthermore, he was considered a "professional" which, in the mindset of upper-class Britain of that time, diminished anything he might have accomplished. [172] This narrative was heavily reinforced with the publication of Scott's journals and his "Message to the Public". Huntford points out that "[Scott's] literary talent was his trump. It was as if he had reached out from his buried tent and taken revenge." [171] Even so, among explorers Amundsen's name continued to be respected. In his account of the Terra Nova expedition written a few years later, Scott's comrade Apsley Cherry-Garrard wrote that the primary reason for Amundsen's success was "the very remarkable qualities of the man", specifically his courage in choosing to discover a new route rather than follow the known path. [173]

Historical perspective Edit

The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 delayed the start of Amundsen's northern polar drift—to which the South Pole expedition had been intended as a preliminary—until July 1918. He then set off in a specially-constructed vessel, Maud, which remained in Arctic waters for the next seven years. The ship did not drift over the North Pole, although in the course of the expedition it became the fourth ship to traverse the North-East Passage, after Nordenskiöld's Vega and the Russian icebreakers Taymyr and Vaygach. [174] Amundsen left the expedition in 1923 the remaining years of his life were largely devoted to polar exploration by air. On 12 May 1926, aboard the airship Norge with Lincoln Ellsworth and Umberto Nobile, Amundsen flew over the North Pole. He and Wisting, also on the airship, were the first men to see both poles. [175] In 1928, while attempting to rescue a later Nobile expedition, Amundsen disappeared with his aircraft in the seas between Norway and Spitsbergen. [176]

The four men who had stood at the pole with Amundsen were all asked to accompany their leader on the Maud drift. Bjaaland and Hassel declined neither participated in any further polar ventures. [177] [178] Helmer Hanssen and Wisting both joined Maud the latter took over the leadership when Amundsen left the expedition. In 1936 Wisting captained Fram on the ship's final voyage to Oslo, where it became a museum. [179] Johansen, who had been unable to settle back into normal life on his return from Antarctica, became withdrawn and uncommunicative. He refused to discuss his experiences or his dispute with Amundsen, and retreated into a life of depression and poverty. On 4 January 1913 he shot himself in his Oslo lodgings. [180]

The Scott myth lasted until the final quarter of the 20th century, when it was replaced by one that characterised him as a "heroic bungler" whose failure was largely the result of his own mistakes. This portrayal, the cultural historian Stephanie Barczewski asserts, is as fallacious as the earlier one in which he was considered beyond criticism. [172] In the early 21st century, writers have suggested more reasoned explanations for the Scott tragedy than his incompetence, and his reputation has to some extent been rescued. [181] [182] The renewed spotlight on Scott has also highlighted Amundsen's achievements: Barczewski writes that "Amundsen and his men reached the pole due to a combination of superb planning, long experience with sledge-dogs and skis and impressive physical stamina". [172] In her account of Scott's expedition, Diana Preston is equally specific in identifying the basis of Amundsen's success. He was focused on the single goal of reaching the pole, whereas Scott had to reconcile the competing claims of geographical exploration and scientific knowledge. "A practical and experienced professional, [Amundsen] planned carefully and applied all the lessons he had learned in the Arctic . [H]e relied exclusively on the well-tried means of transport and unsentimentally exploited their food potential. He was similarly efficient and unsentimental in his management of his men". [183] The United States' scientific base at the South Pole, founded in 1957, is named the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, to honour the memories of both polar pioneers. [184]

Modern research Edit

In a paper published 100 years after the Amundsen expedition, researchers claimed that the tent and flags are buried under 17 m (56 ft) of ice and about a minute of latitude north of the South Pole, [185] or about one nautical mile.

  1. ^ Some sources give the date as 15 December. Since the western and eastern hemispheres—and the International Date Line—are conjoined at the South Pole, both dates can be considered as correct, though Amundsen gives 14 December, both in his first telegraphed report on arrival in Hobart, and in his fuller account The South Pole. [1][2]
  2. ^ Norway had separated from Sweden in 1905. King Oscar of Sweden relinquished the Norwegian throne and Prince Carl of Denmark became King Haakon VII of Norway. [25]
  3. ^ Peary quickly denounced Cook's claim as false, and subsequent investigations cast serious doubts on the latter's records. Peary's data, though challenged by Cook, were accepted without question by the National Geographic Society (which had sponsored his expedition). Public support for Cook quickly faded, although he retained some support, including that of Amundsen. Peary was generally accepted as the conqueror of the North Pole until late 20th century research, particularly that of the explorer Wally Herbert, indicated that Peary did not in fact reach the North Pole. [42][43]
  4. ^ Amundsen's theory about grounded ice was eventually proved wrong, although the ice in the vicinity of his camp did not break away significantly until 1987 and 2000. [50]
  5. ^ The exact wording of this telegram has been differently reported. Crane and Preston, p. 127, record the wording as "Am going south" Jones, p. 78, and Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 299, give a longer text: "Beg leave to inform you Fram proceeding Antarctica".
  6. ^ Amundsen had divided the expedition into sea and shore parties. The sea party, under Nilsen, sailed with Fram the nine-man shore party consisted of Amundsen, Prestrud, Johansen, Helmer Hanssen, Hassel, Bjaaland, Stubberud, Wisting and Lindstrøm. In The South Pole, Vol. I, p. 179, Amundsen omits Wisting from the shore party. [89]
  7. ^ Other features encountered in this area and roughly mapped for the first time were named by Amundsen and his companions, mostly after themselves and those that had backed the expedition. These features included: the Queen Maud Mountains, the Prince Olav Mountains, Mount Fridtjof Nansen, Mount Don Pedro Christophersen, Mount Wilhelm Christophersen, Mount Hanssen, Mount Wisting, Mount Hassel, Mount Bjaaland, Mount Engelstad, the Liv Glacier, and the Nilsen Plateau.
  1. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 511.
  2. ^Amundsen, p. xvii, Vol. I.
  3. ^Langner, pp. 25–26.
  4. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 43–57.
  5. ^Langner, p. 41.
  6. ^ abCrane, pp. 74–75.
  7. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 64–74.
  8. ^ abLangner, pp. 78–80.
  9. ^Maxtone-Graham, pp. 230–36.
  10. ^Herbert, pp. 191–201.
  11. ^Fleming, pp. 348–49.
  12. ^Fleming, p. 351.
  13. ^ abBarczewski, pp. 60–62.
  14. ^Langner, pp. 82–83.
  15. ^ See Scott, J.M., pp. 140–94 for a summary account of Nansen's Fram expedition.
  16. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 194.
  17. ^ abcHuntford 2001, pp. 547–49.
  18. ^Huntford 2001, pp. 183–86.
  19. ^ abNansen, pp. 62–68, Vol. I.
  20. ^ abThe Fram Museum.
  21. ^Fleming, p. 240.
  22. ^Fairley, pp. 260–61.
  23. ^Scott, J.M., pp. 244–45.
  24. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 197–200.
  25. ^Scott, J.M., pp. 200–02.
  26. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 205.
  27. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 204–06.
  28. ^Amundsen, pp. 36–41, Vol. I.
  29. ^Riffenburgh, p. 300.
  30. ^ abHuntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 205–07.
  31. ^Amundsen, p. 72, Vol. I.
  32. ^ abcHuntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 247–51.
  33. ^Amundsen, p. 102, Vol. I.
  34. ^Amundsen, pp. 137–38, Vol. I.
  35. ^Weinstock, J. "Sondre Norheim: Folk Hero to Immigrant".
  36. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 90 and 248.
  37. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 276–77.
  38. ^Huntford 2001, pp. 518–19, 542.
  39. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 286.
  40. ^Barr 1985.
  41. ^The New York Times, 8 September 1909.
  42. ^Fleming, pp. 365–89.
  43. ^Herbert, pp. 273–329.
  44. ^Amundsen, pp. 42–43, Vol. I.
  45. ^ abCrane, pp. 425–26.
  46. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 214.
  47. ^Barczewski, p. 62.
  48. ^ abcdAmundsen, pp. 45–7, Vol. I.
  49. ^Jones, pp. 78–79.
  50. ^Solomon, pp. 94–95.
  51. ^Amundsen, pp. 62–64, Vol. I.
  52. ^Amundsen, p. 58, Vol. I.
  53. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 210.
  54. ^Solomon, p. 163.
  55. ^Amundsen, pp. 78–79, Vol. I.
  56. ^Amundsen, p. 76, Vol. I.
  57. ^Amundsen, p. 77, Vol. I.
  58. ^Amundsen, pp. 85–86, Vol. I.
  59. ^Preston, p. 219.
  60. ^Amundsen, p. 51, Vol. I.
  61. ^Amundsen, p. 55, Vol. I.
  62. ^Amundsen, pp. 68–70, Vol. I.
  63. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 244–45.
  64. ^Roald Amundsen's Dog Farm
  65. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 275.
  66. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 277–78.
  67. ^ abAmundsen, pp. 125–31, Vol. I.
  68. ^Langner, p. 115.
  69. ^ From text of Amundsen's letter, quoted in Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 279–80.
  70. ^Crane, p. 423.
  71. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 300–01.
  72. ^Barczewski, pp. 65–66.
  73. ^Crane, p. 428.
  74. ^Amundsen, pp. 138–68, Vol. I.
  75. ^Huntford 1979, pp. 335–38.
  76. ^Amundsen, pp. 181–82, Vol. I.
  77. ^Turley, pp. 73–74.
  78. ^Langner, p. 124.
  79. ^Amundsen, p. 194, Vol. I.
  80. ^MacPhee, p. 87.
  81. ^Huntford 1979, p. 368.
  82. ^Solomon, p. 93.
  83. ^Cherry-Garrard, p. 135.
  84. ^MacPhee, pp. 89–92.
  85. ^Langner, p. 132.
  86. ^Huntford 1979, pp. 344–45.
  87. ^Langner, pp. 144–45.
  88. ^Huntford 1979, p. 346.
  89. ^Amundsen, p. 179, Vol. I.
  90. ^Huntford 1979, p. 347.
  91. ^Langner, p. 145.
  92. ^MacPhee, p. 105.
  93. ^Turley, p. 79.
  94. ^Huntford 1979, p. 350.
  95. ^ abHuntford 1979, p. 352.
  96. ^Langner, p. 149.
  97. ^ abMacPhee, p. 106.
  98. ^Amundsen, p. 254, Vol. I.
  99. ^Huntford 1979, pp. 357–58.
  100. ^Langner, p. 151.
  101. ^Langner, pp. 149–50.
  102. ^Huntford 1979, pp. 355–56.
  103. ^Huntford 1979, p. 379.
  104. ^Langner, p. 159.
  105. ^Huntford 1979, pp. 382–83.
  106. ^Huntford 1979, p. 390.
  107. ^Langner, p. 160.
  108. ^MacPhee, pp. 120–21.
  109. ^Langner, pp. 160–61.
  110. ^Langner, p. 161.
  111. ^ abcLangner, p. 170.
  112. ^MacPhee, p. 123.
  113. ^ abHuntford 1979, p. 407.
  114. ^Langner, p. 172.
  115. ^Huntford 1979, p. 408.
  116. ^Langner, pp. 172–73.
  117. ^Huntford 1979, p. 409.
  118. ^Langner, pp. 174–75.
  119. ^Langner, p. 175.
  120. ^Huntford 2001, p. 571.
  121. ^MacPhee, p. 131.
  122. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 386.
  123. ^Turley, p. 86.
  124. ^ abLangner, p. 178.
  125. ^Langner, p. 179.
  126. ^Huntford 1979, pp. 430–37.
  127. ^ abMacPhee, p. 143.
  128. ^Huntford 1979, p. 450.
  129. ^Amundsen, pp. 63–66, Vol. II.
  130. ^Langner, pp. 184–85.
  131. ^Amundsen, pp. 67–73, Vol. II.
  132. ^Amundsen, pp. 105–07, Vol. II.
  133. ^Huntford 1979, p. 459.
  134. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 451–52.
  135. ^Langner, p. 193.
  136. ^Huntford 1979, p. 487.
  137. ^Amundsen, p. 122, Vol. II.
  138. ^Langner, pp. 195–96.
  139. ^Huntford 1979, p. 491.
  140. ^ abMacPhee, p. 155.
  141. ^Huntford 1979, pp. 494–95.
  142. ^MacPhee, p. 169.
  143. ^Turley, pp. 118–19.
  144. ^Amundsen, p. 157, Vol. II.
  145. ^Langner, p. 206.
  146. ^Turley, p. 120.
  147. ^Amundsen, pp. 173–74, Vol. II.
  148. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 493–97.
  149. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 510–11.
  150. ^Amundsen, p. 352, Vol. II.
  151. ^Amundsen, p. 216, Vol. II.
  152. ^Amundsen, pp. 240 and 246, Vol. II.
  153. ^Amundsen, pp. 249–61, Vol. II.
  154. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 493.
  155. ^Amundsen, p. 316, Vol. II.
  156. ^Amundsen, pp. 328–31, Vol. II.
  157. ^Amundsen, pp. 316–28, Vol. II.
  158. ^Amundsen, pp. 331–46, Vol. II.
  159. ^Hamre, p. 417.
  160. ^Amundsen, pp. 271–72, Vol. II.
  161. ^Huntford 1979, p. 527.
  162. ^Sydpolsmedaljen (Norway's South Polar medal).
  163. ^ abHuntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 511–16.
  164. ^Jones, pp. 89–90.
  165. ^The Times, 9 March 1912, p. 5.
  166. ^Barczewski, p. 121.
  167. ^ abHuntford (Shackleton) 1985, p. 344.
  168. ^Huntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, p. 525.
  169. ^Preston, p. 242.
  170. ^Jones, p. 248.
  171. ^ abHuntford (The Last Place on Earth) 1985, pp. 525–26.
  172. ^ abcBarczewski, pp. 1–2.
  173. ^Cherry-Garrard, p. 607.
  174. ^ Barr, William. "Review of 'The Last Viking. The Life of Roald Amundsen ' " (PDF) . Retrieved 2020-11-22 .
  175. ^Fleming, pp. 411–14.
  176. ^Fleming, p. 420.
  177. ^Huntford 1979, p. 496.
  178. ^Sverre Helge Hassel.
  179. ^Oscar Wisting.
  180. ^Huntford 1979, p. 529.
  181. ^The Daily Telegraph, 19 December 2004.
  182. ^
  183. Gray, Richard (31 December 2012). "Scott of the Antarctic could have been saved if his orders had been followed, say scientists". The Telegraph . Retrieved 27 March 2013 .
  184. ^Preston, p. 221.
  185. ^National Science Foundation, 27 April 2009.
  186. ^
  187. Orheim, Olav (21 January 2011). "The present location of the tent that Roald Amundsen left behind at the South Pole in December 1911". Polar Record. 47 (3): 268–270. doi:10.1017/S0032247410000719.

Books Edit

  • Amundsen, Roald Nilsen, Thorvald Prestrud, Kristian (1976) [1912]. The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian expedition in the Fram, 1910–12 (Volumes I and II) . Translated by Chater, A.G. London: C. Hurst & Company. ISBN0-903983-47-8 . First published in 1912 by John Murray, London.
  • Barczewski, Stephanie (2007). Antarctic Destinies: Scott, Shackleton and the Changing Face of Heroism. London and New York: Hambledon Continuum. ISBN978-1-84725-192-3 .
  • Cherry-Garrard, Apsley (1970) [1922]. The Worst Journey in the World. London: Penguin Books. ISBN0-14-009501-2 . First published in 1922 by Chatto and Windus, London.
  • Crane, David (2005). Scott of the Antarctic. London: HarperCollins. ISBN978-0-00-715068-7 .
  • Fairley, T.C. (1959). Sverdrup's Arctic Adventures. London: Longmans. OCLC732299190.
  • Fleming, Fergus (2002). Ninety Degrees North. London: Granta Books. ISBN1-86207-535-2 .
  • Hamre, Ivar (November 1933). "The Japanese South Polar Expedition of 1911–1912: A Little-Known Episode in Antarctic Exploration". The Geographical Journal. 82 (5): 411–423. doi:10.2307/1786962. JSTOR1786962. (subscription required)
  • Herbert, Wally (1989). The Noose of Laurels. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN0-340-41276-3 .
  • Huntford, Roland (1979). Scott and Amundsen. London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN0-340-19565-7 .
  • Huntford, Roland (1985). The Last Place on Earth. London and Sydney: Pan Books. ISBN0-330-28816-4 .
  • Huntford, Roland (1985). Shackleton. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN0-340-25007-0 .
  • Huntford, Roland (2001). Nansen. London: Abacus. ISBN0-349-11492-7 .
  • Jones, Max (2003). The Last Great Quest . Oxford (UK): Oxford University Press. ISBN0-19-280483-9 .
  • Langner, Rainer-K. (2007). Scott and Amundsen: Duel in the Ice. Translated by Beech, Timothy. London: Haus Publishing. ISBN978-1-905791-08-8 .
  • MacPhee, Ross (2010). Race to the end: Amundsen, Scott, and the attainment of the South Pole. New York and London: Sterling Innovation. ISBN978-1-4027-7029-6 .
  • Maxtone-Graham, John (2000). Safe Return Doubtful: The Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. London: Constable. ISBN0-09-480330-7 .
  • Nansen, Fridtjof (1897). Farthest North, Volume I . London: Archibald Constable & Co. OCLC499726131.
  • Preston, Diana (1999). A First Rate Tragedy. London: Constable. ISBN0-09-479530-4 .
  • Riffenburgh, Beau (2005). "Nimrod": the Extraordinary Story of Shackleton's First Expedition. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN0-7475-7253-4 .
  • Scott, J.M. (1971). Fridtjof Nansen. Sheridan, Oregon: Heron Books. OCLC143929.
  • Solomon, Susan (2001). The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition . New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. ISBN0-300-09921-5 .
  • Turley, Charles (1935). Roald Amundsen, explorer. London: Methuen. OCLC3331281.

Online Edit

  • "Amundsen Would Compare" (PDF) . The New York Times. 8 September 1909 . Retrieved 15 October 2011 .
  • "Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station". Office of Polar Programs. National Science Foundation. 27 April 2009 . Retrieved 16 October 2011 .
  • Barr, William (1985). "Aleksandr Stepanovich Kuchin: The Russian who went South with Amundsen". Polar Record. Cambridge University Press. 22 (139): 401–412. doi:10.1017/S0032247400005647.
  • "Captain Amundsen's Achievement. Work of Previous Explorers". The Times. London. 9 March 1912. p. 5. (subscription required)
  • Rees, Jasper (19 December 2004). "Ice in our Hearts". The Daily Telegraph. London . Retrieved 14 October 2011 .
  • "The Polar Ship Fram". The Fram Museum. Archived from the original on 10 October 2011 . Retrieved 16 October 2011 .
  • "Sverre Helge Hassel". The Fram Museum. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015 . Retrieved 11 November 2011 . (in Norwegian)
  • "Oscar Wisting". The Fram Museum. Archived from the original on 16 September 2011 . Retrieved 11 November 2011 . (in Norwegian)
  • Weinstock, John. "Sondre Norheim: Folk Hero to Immigrant". The Norwegian-American Historical Association . Retrieved 16 October 2011 .
  • "Sydpolsmedaljen". Store Norske Leksikon . Retrieved 11 November 2011 . (in Norwegian)
    from The Fram Museum (Frammuseet) (archive link) at Internet Archive and Google Books (scanned books original editions color illustrated) (Roald Amundsen's diary from his South Pole Expedition) at Sorpolen 1911–2011 (in Norwegian)

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American Experience

Roald Amundsen

Roald Engebreth Gravning Amundsen of Norway took pride in being referred to as "the last of the Vikings." A powerfully built man of over six feet in height, Amundsen was born into a family of merchant sea captains and prosperous ship owners in 1872. As a youth he insisted on sleeping with the windows open even during the frigid Norwegian winters to help condition himself for a life of polar exploration. Amundsen developed a fascination with Antarctica from the time he first glimpsed its frozen terrain in 1897. Antarctica, a continent the size of Europe and Australia combined, had not yet been traversed by humans. Amundsen aimed to be the first.

In 1903 he established himself as a sailor and explorer of the first order when he successfully led a 70-foot fishing boat through the entire length of the Northwest Passage, a treacherous ice-bound route that wound between the northern Canadian mainland and Canada's Arctic islands. The arduous journey took three years to complete as Amundsen and his crew had to wait while the frozen sea around them thawed enough to allow for navigation. Soon after his return to Norway, he learned that Englishman Ernest Shackleton was setting out of an attempt to reach the South Pole. Shackleton would be forced to abandon his quest a mere 97 miles short of the Pole. Amundsen studied all he could of Shackleton's attempt and began the long process of preparing for his own. He was as highly regarded for his skills in organization and planning as he was for his expertise as an explorer. Amundsen, who was thought to be "taciturn under the best of circumstances," took special measures to be sure members of his crew possessed personalities suitable to long polar voyages. Crew members onboard his ships knew he was firm but fair, and affectionately referred to him as "the chief."

By August of 1910, Amundsen was ready to make his own attempt to reach the South Pole, although all the world thought he was headed in the complete opposite direction. He had secretly ruled out attempting to reach the North Pole, because Americans Robert Peary and Frederick Cook had already laid claim to that feat. Amundsen even kept his plans for a South Pole expedition a secret from officials within the Norwegian government. He feared that government officials would be hesitant to challenge Great Britain, upon whom they were highly dependent, in a race to the Pole. It was not until Amundsen's ship, "Fram", was well off the coast of Morocco that he announced to his crew that they were headed for the South, not the North, Pole.

Crucial to Amundsen's success in reaching the South Pole was his use of carefully selected sled dogs. Amundsen's canine crew members had been superbly equipped by centuries of natural selection for survival in the Arctic. He referred to them as "our children," and revealed, "The dogs are the most important thing for us. The whole outcome of the expedition depends on them." On October 18, 1911 Amundsen's entourage set out from the Bay of Whales, on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, for their final drive toward the pole. His British counterpart, Robert Scott, dependent on Siberian ponies rather than on dogs, began his trip three weeks later. Aided by exceptionally cooperative weather conditions, Amundsen's party, passed the point where Shackleton was forced to turn back on December 7. At approximately 3pm on December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen raised the flag of Norway at the South Pole, and naming the spot Polheim -- "Pole Home." He and his crew returned to their base camp on January 25, 1912, 99 days and 1,860 miles after their departure.

Robert Scott's journey, on the other hand, was marred by tragedy. Scott wrote, "Our luck in weather is preposterous." From December 4 to December 8, 1911, Scott and his party were confined to their tents, forced to wait out a series of howling blizzards. As they ate away their precious rations, time slipped through their hands. By the time Scott's party reached the Pole on January 17, 1912, the Norwegians had come and gone. Scott's log records: "This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have labored to it without reward of priority." Scott and his men had lost crucial time in reaching the pole and now faced the grim prospect of heading back to their base camp during the increasingly frigid Antarctic autumn. It was a journey they would never complete. On March 29, 1912, having endured blizzards and temperatures that fell to 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, Scott crawled into a tent with his two surviving party members and put down his final words: "For God's sake look after our people." Eight months later a search party found the frozen corpses of Scott and his men. They were only 11 miles away from a food and fuel depot they had left on their trek out.

Roald Amundsen lived to experience other polar adventures, including flying over the North Pole in a dirigible in 1926. But the Arctic would eventually claim his life, too. While flying on a rescue mission in 1928, Amundsen was killed when his plane crashed into the Arctic Ocean. That same year, speaking to a journalist about his love of the icy Arctic, Amundsen said, "If only you knew how splendid it is up there, that's where I want to die."

Richard E. Byrd:

Richard E. Byrd

When Richard E. Byrd contemplated the vast unexplored regions of the South Pole and the Antarctic, a land thought only to be bleak, barren, and forbidding to most, he saw a place of promise. Byrd envisioned a spot that "God had set aside as man's future -- an inexhaustible reservoir of natural resources." Byrd himself could rightly be described as an inexhaustible reservoir of ambition and complexity. Alternately viewed by those who worked with him as part scientist and part showman, part hero and part egomaniac, Richard Byrd was driven by a desire to forge new paths and to constantly set himself apart as a man of bold accomplishment.

Byrd's lofty goals were thought by many to have been inbred. He hailed from a family noted for producing citizens of distinction. Born in 1888 to a family of Virginian aristocracy, Richard Byrd could trace his lineage back to Renaissance Europe. In the New World, the Byrds of Virginia founded newspapers and went on to become wealthy landowners. The family's prestige suffered a setback when they lost nearly all they had during the Civil War. Byrd's mother, Eleanor Bolling, a gracious Southern belle, encouraged her three sons, Tom, Dick, and Harry, to restore the luster to the family name. Byrd's father, also named Richard, was known as a brilliant prosecutor, but an aloof and demanding father figure who fought a losing battle with alcoholism.

A sense of adventure marked Richard Byrd from an early age. When he was only 11, he traveled alone halfway around the world to visit a relative in the Philippines. His dispatches along the way were published in local newspapers. As his brother Harry set out to build a political dynasty in Virginia, Richard chose the military as his path to accomplishment. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1912, and by 1916 had become a naval aviator, despite an unease about flying. During World War I, Byrd commanded U.S. air forces in Canada. During flight training in Pensacola, Florida, Byrd struck up a friendship with a man who would be pivotal to his future success, pilot Floyd Bennett.

Byrd's fascination with polar exploration had been fueled during a Navy reconnaissance cruise to the coast of Greenland. After establishing himself as a naval aviator, Byrd concluded that he could use his knowledge of flight to help him realize his Arctic dreams. He took part in several unsuccessful Navy attempts to fly to the North Pole, and in the summer of 1925 decided to embark on an air expedition of his own. His initial attempt failed as his plane's landing skis collapsed just before take off. Adding to his frustration was his knowledge that he was locked in a competition to be the first to fly over the North Pole. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the first man ever to reach the South Pole, had set his sights on crossing over the North Pole in a dirigible. On May 9, 1926, Byrd made another attempt. Flying with Floyd Bennett in the "Josephine Ford", named after the daughter of a major contributor to his expedition, the 38-year-old Byrd this time met with success. According to Byrd, he and Bennett flew over the North Pole, despite having developed a dangerous oil leak. When he arrived back at the Spitsbergen airfield much earlier than expected and announced his feat, skeptics voiced their doubts. Those doubts would linger for decades. In spite of the naysayers, Richard Byrd had attained the status of American Hero. To maintain his momentum he turned his attention to the opposite end of the globe and announced his intention of flying over and claiming for America the vast uncharted spaces of Antarctica.

In the fall of 1928, Byrd's Antarctic expedition was poised to get underway. Four ships were loaded down with three planes, 95 dogs, 650 tons of supplies, and 42 men headed for a place as unknown and treacherous as the far reaches of outer space. The expedition took two months to reach its destination. Upon arrival there was little time for celebration, as Byrd and his men had to work quickly to establish a base camp before the total blackness of winter descended. Expedition members, outfitted in kangaroo hide boots, caribou gloves, and fur parkas set up their base at a spot nine miles inland. Byrd christened it Little America. It was from this point that Byrd and bernt Balchen, the man whom Byrd chose as his pilot after the death of Floyd Bennett, made their successful, first-ever flight over the South Pole on November 29, 1928. After 14 months on the ice, Byrd and his men headed for home. Upon arrival, Byrd was once again given a hero's welcome. The Navy promoted him to the rank of Admiral. To millions of Americans, Byrd was now known as the Admiral of the Antarctic. But Byrd was not ready to rest.

By 1933, Byrd had secured the funding for a second Antarctic expedition. This time he enlisted the help of corporate America, as well as the expanding mass media. The CBS radio network sent a correspondent as part of the expedition, while sponsors like General Foods proudly hitched their wagon to Byrd's star. Byrd felt he would have to out-do himself on this expedition to make it worthwhile. While his public plans included aerial mapping and scientific investigation, privately Byrd had decided on making a bolder statement. He would attempt to spend the winter in Antarctica's remote interior, and he would do it alone. This exploit nearly cost him his life. Suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, and barely coherent, Bird had to be rescued by a Little American crew that was nearly unable to make the 123 mile trek to his 9' by 13' hut. Byrd returned to Little America a weakened, discouraged man.

When he returned to the U.S. six months after being rescued, the 47-year-old Byrd was said to have aged considerably. Despite having made huge contributions to the exploration and understanding of Antarctica, Byrd was haunted by his failure to complete his mission of solitary confinement. Before his death in 1957 at age 68, he would lead four more Antarctic expeditions. But these journeys, under the auspices of the U.S. government, lacked the wonder of his private expeditions. He would recall for audiences how during this time spent alone on the ice he had come close to attaining transcendent insights: "And here I was, near the axis of the world, in the darkness where the stars make a circle in the sky. At that moment the conviction came to me that the harmony and rhythm were too perfect to be a symbol of blind chance or an accidental offshoot of the cosmic process and I knew that a Beneficent Intelligence pervaded the whole. It was a feeling that transcended reason that went to the heart of a man's despair and found it groundless."

Lincoln Ellsworth:

Lincoln Ellsworth

Chicago-born Lincoln Ellsworth had experienced his share of adventure — exploring the Peruvian Andes, mapping the rugged Canadian wilderness, and surveying the towering Rockies -- when he became captivated by what he called the "gleam of the Northern Lights over the silent snow fields."

An expert aviator, Ellsworth teamed up with Norwegian Roald Amundsen in an unsuccessful 1925 attempt to fly over the North Pole. A year later, he achieved greater results when he and Italian aviator Umberto Nobile soared over the North Pole in a dirigible called the "Norge" Ellsworth did not limit his means of adventure travel to flying machines, however. In 1931, he was part of a team seeking to reach to North Pole by submarine. They did not succeed.

As he reached his mid-50s, Ellsworth was just hitting his stride. In 1935, at age 55, Ellsworth became the first man to have flown over both poles when he flew across the entire continent of Antarctica. During his final visit to the Antarctic, Ellsworth discovered two uncharted mountain ranges and established a base — called American Highland — on the little-known-of Indian Ocean coast.

Roald Amundsen becomes first explorer to reach the South Pole - HISTORY

Wikimedia Commons Roald Amundsen after his South Pole expedition.

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station stands at the southernmost point on the planet, marking the spot that its two namesakes raced toward in an epic fight for glory in 1911. It stands as a research station, but also as a commemoration of the journeys embarked upon by Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott, the man who reached the South Pole for the first time and the man who died trying.

In June of 1910, Norwegian adventurer Roald Amundsen set off for the North Pole. His crew was excited for no one had ever set out for the location, and should they be the first to succeed, their names would go down in infamy.

However, before they got far, Amundsen made an announcement. He had received word a few weeks prior that another expedition by two separate Americans, had reached the North Pole already. Without telling anyone, he had planned an entirely new expedition, the same as the Arctic one, but heading to a slightly different location.

Rather than the North Pole, they would take on the South Pole.

The only flaw in Amundsen’s plan was that another expedition was in the works. A British national named Robert Scott was planning his own expedition to the South Pole that was already underway.

The resulting competition would be one for the record books. It was riddled with controversy at first, as both Scott and some of Amundsen’s crew felt misled, but eventually, it turned into a battle for glory. The ensuing race for victory would go down as one of the most exciting competitions in the historic age of Antarctic exploration.

It would also end in death for one of them.

Wikimedia Commons
Amundsen and his crew at their South Pole camp, the first one ever built on the continent.

It took Amundsen and his crew six months to reach the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf in their single ship. The shelf was then known as the Great Ice Barrier and was known to Amundsen from his research on the journey of Ernest Shackleton. Dressed in Inuit-inspired furs and skins, the team left their ship in the Bay of Whales and continued toward the South Pole on foot, with the occasional aid of a dogsled.

The first attempt proved a failure, as the men were unprepared for the extreme temperatures and the high amounts of food they would have to consume to make up for the cold. They returned, angry and downtrodden, to the ship.

The second attempt was successful. Amundsen himself accompanied his crew, insisting upon the use of more dogsleds. After four days, five men and 16 dogs made it to the South Pole. Roald Amundsen named his camp Polheim or “Home on the Pole.”

To his delight, Scott’s team didn’t arrive for another 33 days, making Roald Amundsen the first man to reach the pole.

For Scott, the disappointment wasn’t even the worst of it. While Amundsen marked his camp, then returned safely to Norway, Scott’s entire expedition was lost on their way home.

The news of Scott’s death overshadowed the success of Amundsen’s crew upon their arrival home, but Amundsen didn’t mind. He had achieved his goal and would soon achieve more.

Roughly ten years later, Amundsen would become the first man to reach the North Pole by flight. As it turned out, there was doubt over the two Americans’ claim of reaching the location first, leaving the title of the first man at the North Pole thoroughly unclaimed. Roald Amundsen jumped at the chance, joining Lincoln Ellsworth on his expedition north.

Along with two pilots, the two explorers flew to the northernmost latitude ever reached by aircraft, making Amundsen and Ellsworth the first men to get that far as well. In 1926, 14 years after becoming the first man to reach the South Pole, Roald Amundsen found himself at the North one as well, making him the first person to reach both.

Wikimedia Commons Amundsen and an airplane, shortly before his death in one similar.

Unfortunately, just a few years later the explorer’s life would be cut tragically short before he could break any more exploratory records. During a rescue mission for his fellow explorer Umberto Nobile, Roald Amundsen disappeared. He was aboard a plane that was attempting to locate Nobile’s dirigible, which likely became disoriented by fog and found itself lost at sea.

To this day, however, despite several Naval searches, no wreckage from the fateful Amundsen flight has ever been found.

Though tragic, a mysterious disappearance while on a rescue exploration seemed like a fitting way for Roald Amundsen to go. His life and his work was later memorialized, along with Scott’s, in the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, which serves as a reminder of the two men who fought to the death to claim the rights to the exciting, unexplored territory.

After learning about explorer and adventurer Roald Amundsen, read about Peter Freuchen, another Arctic explorer and the real most interesting man in the world. Then, check out these photos that show what a deserted frozen wasteland Antarctica really is.

14. The Details

The journey to the South Pole was no leisurely stroll through the snow. From Amundsen’s base camp on the Ross Ice Shelf, it took him and his crew of four men, with four sleds and 52 dogs, two agonizing months to get to the South Pole. They returned to base camp another month later with no human casualties, but only 11 dogs remaining.

Wikimedia Commons

Arctic Circle, parallel, or line of latitude around the Earth, at approximately 66°30′ N. Because of the Earth’s inclination of about 23 1/2° to the vertical, it marks the southern limit of the area within which, for one day or more each year, the Sun does not set (about June 21) or rise (about December 21).

The Arctic is the northernmost region of Earth. Most scientists define the Arctic as the area within the Arctic Circle, a line of latitude about 66.5° north of the Equator. The Arctic is almost entirely covered by water, much of it frozen. Some frozen features, such as glaciers and icebergs, are frozen freshwater.

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen piloting his ship
Source: Lomen Bros.
  • Occupation: Explorer
  • Born: July 16, 1872 in Borge, Norway
  • Died: June 18, 1928 during a rescue attempt
  • Best known for: First man to visit the South Pole

Roald Amundsen (1872 - 1928) was an explorer of the North and South Poles. He led the first expedition to reach the South Pole and was the first person to visit both the North and South Pole.

Where did Roald grow up?

Roald was born in Borge, Norway on July 16, 1872. He grew up in Norway with his three brothers. His father, who was involved with the shipping industry, died when Roald was just 14 years old. Roald had dreamt of becoming an explorer, but his mother wanted him to become a doctor. He followed his mother's wishes until she died when he was 21 years old. Then he left school to pursue his dream of exploring.

Roald became a crewmember on various ships traveling to the Arctic. In 1887 he was first mate on a ship named the Belgica. It became the first expedition to survive the winter on the Arctic. Roald learned valuable lessons of survival during these early trips that would help him later on. One was that fresh seal meat had vitamin C which would help in curing scurvy. Another was to use animal skins rather than wool coats to keep warm.

In 1903 Roald commanded his own expedition on his ship the Gjoa. He traveled to the magnetic North Pole and was the first to discover the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This passage had been searched for over many centuries. Roald's ability to navigate and survive this trip was a great accomplishment.

His ship the Gjoa
Photo by Unknown

Roald next planned an expedition to reach the North Pole. However, when he heard that Robert Peary claimed to have already reached the North Pole, he made last minute plans and decided to pursue the South Pole. He kept this a secret until the last minute. He was in a race with British explorer Robert Scott to be the first to the South Pole.

On January 14, 1911 Amundsen's ship, the Fram, arrived at the Bay of Whales in Antarctica. They set up camp there and prepared for the trip to the South Pole. Roald made sure that the dogs were well fed. One of the crew, a carpenter named Olav Bjaaland, redesigned the sleds they would use. He lowered the weight from 195 pounds to 50 pounds. This lower weight would be crucial in saving energy during the trip.

Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition
Source: Illustrated London News

They set out to reach the South Pole ten months after arriving on Antarctica on October 20th. There were five men, 52 dogs, and four sleds. At first they traveled quickly, but soon they had to pass over mountains and avoid dangerous crevasses. Finally, after nearly two months of hard traveling, they reached their destination. On December 14, 1911 Roald Amundsen planted the Norwegian Flag at the South Pole.

All five of Amundsen's crew returned safely to base camp, but only 11 dogs made it back alive. The expedition took 99 days and traveled over 1,800 miles.

Amundsen and the Norwegian Flag at the South Pole
Source: National Library of Norway

Robert Scott's British expedition reached the South Pole 35 days after Amundsen. Unfortunately, they did not make it back alive, but were found frozen to death months later.

Amundsen still had the goal of reaching the North Pole. In 1926 he joined an expedition with Umberto Nobile aboard the airship Norge. They flew over the North Pole in May in what was is considered to be the first undisputed (many people dispute Robert Peary's claim) visit to the North Pole.

Roald died in a plane crash during a rescue attempt on June 18, 1928. He was trying to save some of the crew of one of Nobile's airships that had crashed.

Watch the video: Antarktis 2019 mit Roald Amundsen (May 2022).


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