One hundred years ago, on December 14, 1911, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team became the first people to reach the Geographic South Pole. The Geographic South Pole is the southernmost point on Earth. It is located on the ice-covered continent of Antarctica. In the early 1900s, the South Pole was one of the last unexplored places on Earth.
Amundsen was in a hurry to start the long journey to the South Pole. He was in a race against British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Both Amundsen and Scott wanted to be the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen and his team set out on September 8, 1911, when it was still winter in the Southern Hemisphere. The extremely cold temperatures forced them to turn back. Winter temperatures in Antarctica can be as cold as -80ºF.
On October 19, 1911, Amundsen tried again. He and his team traveled on skis. They carried their supplies on four sleds, each pulled by 13 dogs. For almost two months, they traveled more than 800 miles over rugged, unmapped land. They crossed the ice-covered Queen Maud Mountains and faced some of the harshest weather on Earth. In mid-December, Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole and planted the Norwegian flag. Amundsen had won the race. He and his team arrived more than 30 days before Scott.
Today, people continue to be inspired by the adventures of Roald Amundsen and other Antarctic explorers. In November 2011, 16-year-old Amelia Hempleman-Adams began her own adventure to the South Pole. She traveled to Antarctica with her father, British explorer David Hempleman-Adams. They started their 14-day ski trip 97 miles from the South Pole. On December 9, Amelia became the youngest person ever to ski to the South Pole. There, she and her father took a tour of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, a scientific research station named for the famous explorers.
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- Amundsen, Race to the South Pole – Photo Gallery
Learn more about Amundsen’s race to the South Pole through photographs of his expedition.
- Amelia Hempleman-Adams – South Pole Expedition
Read Amelia’s online journal about her South Pole adventure.