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Friday, December 14, 2007

The South Pole

Although a lot of focus is on the North Pole at this time of year, it was the South Pole that was discovered on December 14, 1911. Norwegian Roald Amundsen with four companions and 52 sled dogs located and visited the pole and returned safely to base camp.

The next explorers to the South Pole were led by British explorer Robert F. Scott. Scott and four companions met a tragic fate. Between the time Scott knew his death was inevitable but before he became too weak to write, Scott managed a last entry in his diary and 12 complete letters to family, friends and others. He wrote a message to the public which read, in part: “but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past ... Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman … .”

These are the facts of the trip but, as always, there’s more to the stories. Some refer to Roald Amundsen’s last minute exploration of the pole as sneaky. He left without much fanfare, some say, in order to beat Scott to the pole. He did beat him by a mere month. Some say Scott made mistakes, and it was not just the blizzards that sealed his fate.

To read more about these two adventurers and other stories of Antarctic exploration you can read the following books:

Race to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen

The Last Great Quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic Sacrifice by Dr. Max Jones

Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen by David Thomson

The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition by Susan Solomon

Do you have an opinion on these long ago explorers? Let us know.

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