Humans Reach South Pole – 1911
The first humans to reach the South Pole (in recorded history) are Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his party of four companions, Hanssen, Hassel, Wisting, and Bjaaland. (They also had 17 sled dogs!)
Are you wondering why they traveled to such a frosty-cold place in the middle of winter?
Think about it...
Of course, the South Pole is in Southern Hemisphere, so December is part of its summer!
There was a bit of a “race” to the geographic pole (the southern point of the axis on which the Earth rotates). British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who had come about 100 miles away from the pole in an earlier attempt, was leading one expedition, and Amundsen (pictured here) led another.
Of course, you know that the Norwegian team won that race. Amundsen and his party left a small tent and a letter, stating their accomplishment, in case they didn't get back to base camp.
Scott's team reached the South Pole on January 17, 1912, just 34 days after Amundsen.
All five of the Norwegians safely reached base camp to announce their success. (Only 11 of the 17 dogs made it back.) Tragically, all five of the British team died of starvation and cold on the return trip to the base camp. Although Amundsen proved to be a very careful planner and a good leader, the main reason that the Scott party died is because they experienced exceptionally and unseasonably severe weather.
- Go to Zoom School to explore more about Antarctica and the South Pole.
- Learn about life under Antarctic ice!
This is what the South Pole looks like now: