The race for the South Pole in 1911

To conquer the journey to the South Pole was something that took place summer 1911-12 in Antarctica. Both a British and a Norwegian expedition team was battling to reach the geographical point of the South Pole, first.

Roald Amundsen led the Norwegian “Fram” expedition. To join him he had Wisting, Bjaaland, Hassel, and Helmer-Hansen in the team. Their journey started with 118 dogs. And after 57 days trailing from the base at Framheim in Bay of Whales, via the Axel Heiberg glacier and up the polar plateau, they reached the South Pole December 14, 1911.

The British Terra Nova expedition, led by Robert F. Scott, based their journey on motor-sleds, ponies, and dogs. Since their motor-sleds ran on fuel, their diesel froze and became useless. Their horses followed part of the journey but didn’t work out so well. And their dogs were left in the Cape Evans camp. After much struggle and problems, a team of 5 reached the South Pole January 17th, 1912 after 80 days. 34 days after the Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s team.

Amundsen and his men arriving December 14th, 1911

Here, they made a camp and raised the Norwegian flag. A small flag with the name FRAM, and they called the spot Framheim.

Amundsen wrote: 

“In the tent, in a small pouch, I left a letter to His Majesty the King informing him of our accomplishments. The journey home was long, and a lot could still happen, leaving us incapable to tell the story of our trip. Along with this, I left a short note to Scott, which I expected to be the first one to reach our spot. Something he did January 17th, 1912”

The letters from Amundsen were found later in the tents where Scott and his men ended their journey on their way back to the coastline.

Framheim January 25, 1912.

Roald Amundsen team 1911

Amundsen and his men came back to the coast at Framheim January 25, 1912, with 11 dogs, after traveling 99 days over the icy landscape. There, the boat FRAM returned to pick them up for journeying back to the civilization. Coming back, they were to tell the world that the South Pole had been reached.

At a later point, they were advised that their race against the English team with Scott and his men ended sadly. 18km from the last depot, exhausted and starved, they were found dead in the freezing cold.

This is part of the reason that the race for the South Pole is considered one of the most dramatic races ever done.

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