Travel, adventures, and expeditions have taken up a lot of people’s interest in the past few years. However, do we know what started it all? Things like the first person to set foot on Mt.Everest, or the first expedition to the South Pole are known about; but do we know everything about them or how they came to be? For wanderers, these are the kind of inspirational stories that provide the kick to set on an adventurous journey of their own. We covered the inspirational story of Arunima Sinha and Nain Singh Rawat in our previous travel tales. So, today we present something new for you.
This story is about the first expedition to the South Pole. Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer was the one who spearheaded this expedition but how did he do it and what inspired him to take up such an adventure to undertake the first expedition to the South Pole? Let us know it in detail!
Roald Amundsen was born as the fourth son to Jens Amundsen and Hanna Sahlqvist in Borge, Norway. The explorer’s genes were inborn because several of his family members were involved in maritime trade and were ship-owners and captains. Thanks to growing up amidst such Mariners, Amundsen developed an interest in traveling and exploring at a young age.
Despite his interests in shipping and maritime, he enrolled at college to study medicine to honour his mother’s wish who wanted Amundsen to become a doctor. However, soon after his mother’s death, he abandoned this and signed up as a seaman aboard the sealer Magdalena for a voyage to the Arctic.
He began travelling when he was just 25-year-old. His expeditions kicked off with his first voyage from Belgium to the Antarctic. Therein, he visited the northern coast of Canada and Alaska. It was this that made him decide to breach one of the final frontiers of exploration. His initial plans were to become the first person to travel to the North Pole. However, this was crushed when Robert Peary beat him to it in April 1909.
Not the one to give up so easily, Roald Amundse decided to then take up the first expedition to the South Pole. To start off, Amundsen departed from a base camp in the Antarctic with a crew of four people, 52 sled dogs, and four sledges. Their mission was clear; to undertake and complete the journey to the furthermost south and raise enough money to clear off Amundsen’s large debts.
Amundsen had decided to let the media and everyone else think he was still going to go to the North Pole. Hence, no one knew what Amundsen and his team were attempting. He did so because he was worried the media, as well as, the government would hamper his chances of being the first one to take up the first expedition to the South Pole.
It was a long way to make the mark. After eleven long months, since they set sail from Norway in a boat called Fram, the crew of five people and 16 dogs reached the South Pole. Out of the 52 dogs who had initially been part of the expedition, only 11 made it back to the Fram in January.
The most recent and popular expedition to the South Pole was in 2013, when Prince Harry along with the team of the ‘Walking With the Wounded’ reached the South Pole. They managed to do so after more than three weeks of pulling sleds across the frozen desert.
Roald Amundsen went on to traverse the Arctic’s icy waters to reach the North Pole in 1925. During one such trip, while flying over the North Pole region for a rescue mission in 1928, his plane is believed to have crashed in the fog. He was declared to be dead along with his five crew members. However, their bodies were never located, despite the many efforts undertaken by the Norwegian Government.
Amundsen’s name and contribution inspired the names of oceans, craters on the Moon, and even famous literary characters. The most prominent ones in this include the Amundsen Sea off the coast of Antarctica, the Amundsen Gulf in the Arctic Ocean near Canada and the name of the very famous author, Roald Dahl.
For his adventures and contributions, including the first expedition to the South Pole, Amundsen was awarded the Hans Egede Medal by the Royal Danish Geographical Society in 1925. Recently, on the 105th anniversary of the first expedition to the South Pole, Google dedicated and celebrated the day by a Google Doodle.
May his legacy live long and continue to inspire many future adventurers and explorers. Did his story surprise you? Share with us in the comments below.