Thursday, December 16, 2010

Saluting Roald Amundsen

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of Roald Amundsen, and his team, becoming the first men to reach the South Pole. Back in 1911, the Norwegian explorer was locked in a heated battle with other explorers, who were also looking to declare themselves the winner in this race, which at the time was viewed as a matter of national pride. Amundsen won that race because he elected to use sled dogs to reach the Pole, edging out rival Robert Falcon Scott by just a few weeks.

The journey to 90ºS was a tough one. The team faced -70ºF temperatures, ranging blizzards, and low supplies. Yet they persevered, and like true explorers of the time, planted their flag in the name of Norway. A dejected Scott would later find that flag upon his arrival to the Pole, which surely was the start of his downward spiral that ultimately led to his demise.

But Amundsen survived his trek to the South Pole and went on to become the first man to reach both the North and South Pole as well. He also was the first to complete a crossing of the Northwest Passage, adding another milestone to his cold weather adventures, and cementing his status as the greatest polar explorer of all time.

In 1928, Amundsen disappeared somewhere over the Arctic Ocean, when he was helping to conduct a rescue mission of other missing polar explorers. I have no evidence to back up my theory, but my guess is that that was exactly the way he would have liked to have gone.

So, on this date, I want to salute Roald Amundsen. One of the greatest explorers of all time.