Roald Amundsen | International Antarctic Centre

Roald Amundsen

On the 14th of December, 1911, an intrepid Norwegian explorer took humanity to the South Pole.

The first man to arrive at the South Pole was renowned for his keen intellect and ruthless efficiency. You don’t travel through the world’s most testing environment to arrive at this point by accident. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had spent years planning and dreaming of his moment.

Previously he had travelled into the Antarctic as first mate on another mission in 1897. After that he led the first journey to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

He left Norway in August 1910 with provisions for two years. He was confident in his mission, having previously explored parts of the Arctic and Antarctic. He was also well prepared, relying more heavily on huskies when compared to his competitors. In all he had close to 100 dogs with him.

After setting up base in the Bay of Whales the expedition began setting up supply depots before taking shelter over winter and preparing for the big journey. While delays and dark days affected morale five men and 52 dogs eventually left the base on 19 October, 1911, setting off for the pole.

The use of huskies was an advantage Amundsen had over his rivals (who relied predominantly on manpower for the journey). Not all the dogs would return as the group used many some for food during the journey.

Amundsen’s arrival at the pole before Christmas was the culmination of years of dreams and plans, many months at sea and many more across the ice.

At the time his feat would be both lauded and maligned. But he’d beaten Captain Scott by five weeks to the pole and survived to tell his tale. In 1926 he would lead the first expedition by air to the North Pole, making him the first explorer to ever reach both poles and further cementing his place in history as one of our great explorers.

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