Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who led the first expedition to reach the South Pole in 1911. Just two years previously Ernest Shackleton from Kilkea in Co Kildare Ireland, led an expedition which came within 180km of the Pole (88° 23′S). Though Shackleton was forced to turn back his team succeeded in reaching the South Magnetic Pole on January 16th 1909.
Prior to 1900 several expeditions to Antarctica had taken place and in 1821 American Captain John Davis is thought to have been the first person to land on the Antarctic ice shelf. During the following years exploration continued and the continent was eventually circumnavigated between 1830 and 1833. When the Belgian Antarctic Expedition took place from 1897 to 1899 one of the members was Roald Amundsen.
In 1901 the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott led an expedition which was the first attempt to find a route from the Antarctic coastline to the South Pole. Two members of the expedition, Ernest Shackleton from Kildare and Thomas Crean from Annascaul in Co Kerry were Irish. Though the expedition did reach the Polar Plateau on which the Pole is located, Scott was forced to turn back at just over 800km (82° 17′S) from the Pole. Seven further expeditions including the one led by Shackleton took place before the Roald Amundsen set out for the South Pole in 1910.
Roald Amundsen was born in Borge, Østfold near Oslo Norway on July 16th 1872. He studied medicine until he was 21 years old. He then left university for a life at sea. Amundsen made his first expedition to Antarctica as a member of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1897. This became the first expedition to spend the winter in Antarctica and led Amundsen to the decision that he was ready to lead his own expedition.
Amundsen set about being the first to reach the North Pole but everything changed when the American Robert Peary got there first on April 6th 1909. Amundsen then decided that he would try to be the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen headed for Antarctica and reached the South Pole one month before British explorer Robert Scott’s second attempt.
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the Antarctic expedition which was the first to reach the South Pole in the year 1911 On This Day.
Roald Amundsen og Helmer Hanssen gjør observasjoner på Sydpolen, 1911 by National Library of Norway on 2009-07-01 00:00:00
Roald Amundsen taler til folkemengden på kaia i Bergen ved hjemkomsten fra ferden med “Norge”, 12. juli 1926 by National Library of Norway on 2010-03-12 06:55:14
The Three Polar Stars, 1913 by National Library of Norway on 2006-08-02 15:16:20