Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen (16 July 1872 – c. 18 June 1928) was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions. He led the Antarctic expedition (1910–12) to become the first men to reach the South Pole in December 1911. In 1926, he was the first expedition leader to be recognized without dispute as having reached the North Pole. He is also known as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage (1903–06). He disappeared in June 1928 while taking part in a rescue mission. Amundsen,Douglas Mawson, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton were key expedition leaders during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
Amundsen was born to a family of Norwegian shipowners and captains in Borge, between the towns Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg. His parents were Jens Amundsen and Hanna Sahlqvist. His mother wanted him to avoid the family maritime trade and encouraged him to become a doctor, a promise that Amundsen kept until his mother died when he was aged 21. He promptly quit university for a life at sea. Amundsen had hidden a lifelong desire inspired by Fridtjof Nansen's crossing of Greenland in 1888 and Franklin's lost expedition. He decided on a life of intense exploration of wilderness places.
Amundsen joined the Belgian Antarctic Expedition (1897–99) as first mate. This expedition, led by Adrien de Gerlache using the ship the Belgica, became the first expedition to winter in Antarctica. The Belgica, whether by mistake or design, became locked in the sea ice at 70°30′S off Alexander Island, west of the Antarctic Peninsula. In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse Canada's Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
South Pole Achievement
On 14 December 1911, he, along with the team of four, with 16 dogs, arrived at the Pole (90° 0′ S). They arrived 33–34 days before Scott’s group. Amundsen named their South Pole camp Polheim, "Home on the Pole." Amundsen renamed the Antarctic Plateau as King Haakon VII’s Plateau. They left a small tent and letter stating their accomplishment, in case they did not return safely to Framheim.
North Pole Achievement
In 1925, accompanied by Lincoln Ellsworth, pilot Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen, and three other team members, Amundsen took two Dornier Do J flying boats, the N-24 and N-25, to 87° 44′ north. It was the northernmost latitude reached by plane up to that time. The aircraft landed a few miles apart without radio contact, yet the crews managed to reunite. Amundsen and his crew worked for over three weeks to clean up an airstrip to take off from ice. They shovelled 600 tons of ice while consuming only one pound (400 g) of daily food rations. In the end, six crew members were packed into the N-25. In a remarkable feat, Riiser-Larsen took off, and they barely became airborne over the cracking ice. They returned triumphant when everyone thought they had been lost forever.