Roald Amundsen

Norwegian explorer; first person to reach the South Pole

Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who focused on the poles. He led the first expedition to reach the South Pole and the first that could prove it made it to the North Pole. Amundsen was also the first man known to travel the Northwest Passage.

Roald Amundsen
Amundsen in fur skins.jpg
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen

(1872-07-16)16 July 1872[1]
Disappeared18 June 1928 (aged 55)
Barents Sea
Known for
  • Jens Amundsen
  • Hanna Sahlqvist
Roald Amundsen Signature.svg


When Amundsen was young, he decided he would use his life to explore the wilderness. He was inspired by the lives of Fridtjof Nansen and John Franklin.[2] While his mother was alive he did not go to sea, to keep a promise to her. After her death, he quit university to begin exploring the world at 21 years old.[3]

In 1897, he went on the Belgian Antarctic Expedition as first mate. This was the first expedition to stay over winter at Antartica, since their ship got stuck in the ice preventing them from leaving.

In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to make it through the Northwest Passage.[4]

In October 1911, he began his expedition to Antarctica with four other men in attempt to be the first man to reach the South Pole.[5] Robert Falcon Scott, an explorer from Britain, arrived in Antarctica with his own team only days after Amundsen. Both explorers raced to the South Pole, but Amundsen and his men used skis and dog sleds for transportation. This was more efficient. On 14 December 1911, Amundsen successfully became the first man to reach the South Pole.[6]

In 1926, Amundsen and his men made it to the North Pole.[7] Three other expeditions claimed to make it before then, but their claims have not been verified. Two of them have been considered fraud.[8] This may make Amundsen and his men the first to reach the North Pole.

He disappeared in June 1928 while taking part in a rescue mission.



  1. "Østfold county, Borge in Borge, Parish register (official) nr. I 6 (1861–1874), Birth and baptism records 1872, page 114". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  2. Amundsen, Roald (1927). My Life as an Explorer. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & company.
  3. Thomas, Henry; Dana Lee Thomas (1972). Living Adventures in Science. Ayer Publishing. pp. 196–201. ISBN 978-0-8369-2573-9.
  4. Roald Amundsen and the Exploration of the Northwest Passage. Oslo: Fram Museum. 2008. pp. 63–65. ISBN 9788282350013.
  5. Huntford, Roland (1985). The Last Place on Earth. London and Sydney: Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-28816-4.
  6. Amundsen, Roald; Nilsen, Thorvald; Prestrud, Kristian (1976) [1912]. The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian expedition in the Fram, 1910–12 (Volumes I and II). Translated by Chater, A.G. London: C. Hurst & Company. ISBN 0-903983-47-8.
  7. Tierney, John (7 September 2009). "Who Was First at the North Pole?". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  8. Rawlins, Dennis (January 2000). "Byrd's Heroic 1926 Flight & Its Faked Last Leg" (PDF). DIO, the International Journal of Scientific History. 10: 69–76, also pages 54, 84–88, 99, 105. ISSN 1041-5440. Retrieved 13 July 2007.

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