Explorer Roald Amundsen was a hero twice over! He was the first person ever to reach the South Pole. And he died during a brave, risky quest to rescue a friend.

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Explorer Roald Amundsen was a hero twice over! He was the first person ever to reach the South Pole. And he died during a brave, risky quest to rescue a friend.


Amundsen was born in Norway in 1872. After studying medicine in college, he joined the Norwegian navy and went to sea.


Amundsen led his first expedition beginning in 1903. For three years he voyaged through the Northwest Passage, an east-west sea route north of Canada. He was the first explorer to successfully cross the passage.

During the trip, Amundsen made surveys and studied the weather. He also studied how the Inuit people of northern Canada survived in the harsh Arctic environment.


Amundsen put his knowledge of freezing conditions to good use on his next expedition. This time, he went to Antarctica, with hopes of reaching the South Pole.

Amundsen spent more than a year camped out on the eastern edge of Antarctica. He took scientific measurements and made careful plans. From the far north, he brought Inuit husky dogs to pull sleds packed with equipment.

With the sleds fully loaded, Amundsen led his men toward the South Pole. They arrived at the pole on December 14, 1911, becoming the first people ever to get there. They planted a Norwegian flag in the ice and began their return trip.

Amundsen reached the South Pole just five weeks before his great rival, British explorer Robert Scott. Scott and his entire expedition party died on their return journey.


Amundsen became very famous. This helped him raise money for his next expedition. In 1918, Amundsen set off on a pioneering voyage through freezing seas close to the North Pole. The expedition failed, as did a second one in 1922.

In 1926, Amundsen flew over the North Pole in an airship called the Norge. At that time, air travel was very dangerous. The airship was designed and piloted by Umberto Nobile, an Italian engineer who became Amundsen’s friend.

After the flight, Amundsen and Nobile quarreled. Each man wanted to claim credit for his own country for crossing the North Pole first.

In 1928, a second airship flown by Nobile disappeared close to the North Pole. Amundsen volunteered to search for his friend. Nobile was eventually rescued, but Amundsen and his search crew were killed when their airplane crashed.

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