October 20 – Roald Amundsen

Exploration has long been a fast-paced, dangerous game. Whenever a new arena is found, there is a race to be the first to explore it and claim it. From Columbus finding the Americas to the Space Race, man has a natural desire to be the first. Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, was no different. On October 20, 1911, he set off with a team of explorers to find the South Pole. Despite the desolate landscape, Amundsen and his team were not the only ones seeking the fame of finding the South Pole. At least, four other teams of explorers were all heading towards the same goal. However, Amundsen was with the group that made it. After almost two months of trekking through snow and ice in bitterly cold temperatures, Amundsen made it to the South Pole. He had valuable experience in these cold temperatures, because five years earlier, he had won fame for sailing the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. After hearing that another explorer had already claimed the North Pole, Amundsen quietly changed his focus to exploring the South Pole. However, the expedition proved harder than even Amundsen expected. Threatened by news of Scott heading to the South Pole, Amundsen started his mission in September before the polar springtime brought less dangerous temperatures. Amundsen lost many valuable dogs and had to wait for his men’s feet to heal from the frostbite. But, in October of 1911, he started again with his men. Once he made it to the South Pole, he was quick to wire back the news of his success. However, it took until March of 1912 for the news to finally reach Europe. He had beaten out the other four teams, though one team also received notoriety. An explorer named Robert Falcon Scott was the favorite to reach the South Pole. In fact, Amundsen was keenly aware of Scott’s movements, which influenced Amundsen’s hasty start. Scott, however, reached the South Pole in January of 1912 to find that he was second. What made his voyage historic was that his entire expedition party perished on the way back. His death was not know until almost a year later. At that point, Amundsen had published a full account of his expedition and received accolades for his exploration.

Sources:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/south-pole-discovered-december-14-1911/

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/amundsen/alexander-text

https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2011/dec/14/archive-1911-amundsen-south-pole

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