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Amundsen First to Reach South Pole


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• Roald Amundsen
The Life of Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, sailed through much of Earth's northernmost waters and aimed at discovering the North Pole. When he heard that Robert Peary and Matthew Henson had gotten there first, Amundsen made (secret) plans to sail to the South Pole.

The expedition shoved off on August 9, 1910, with a handful of crewmen and 97 Greenland dogs aboard the Fram. Unknown to the crew, Amundsen had packed supplies for two years.

In a race with fellow explorer Robert Scott, Amundsen had passed his expedition off as an oceanographic venture until the very last minute, when he turned south and headed for Antarctica. They reached the Ross Ice Shelf on January 14, 1911, offloaded several tons of supplies, built shelters, and settled in for the winter. (Because the weather was so inhospitable during the winter, travel to the Pole was impossible for much of the year. Amundsen and his crew preferred to wait it out, even though they were still racing Scott--who had also stopped.)

When the summer months arrived and the ice began to thaw and the snow to melt, the intrepid captain and crew set off. They took it in stages, so they wouldn't lose nutrition or consciousness. Finally, on December 14, 1911, 11 months to the day after they had first reached the Ross Ice Shelf, Roald Amundsen and his men stood at the South Pole, the first such people to do so.

In his later years, Amundsen turned to flying. While on a rescue mission in 1928, he disappeared without a trace.

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday


 
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