Mar 18, 2009

Racing to the Poles

(Fierce duels north and south end with triumph, tragedy and controversy) It was dual journey to the end of the earth, where all lines of longitude converge. In 1910 Robert Falcon Scott of the British navy left London and set out to become the first explorer to reach the South Pole. But on his way to the Antarctic, Scott received word that Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, was also headed for the South Pole. In October, Amundsen’s team crossed onto the Antarctic plateau on skis, with 52 dogs pulling supply sleds. Scott and his 15-man convoy started in 60 miles farther south than Amundsen. 

On Dec. 14, 1911, Amundsen’s crew arrived at the pole. Amundsen planted a Norwegian flag and left a message for Scott, who reached the pole on Jan. 17 with four men. All five died on the return, and Scott was found frozen to death in his tent, just 11 miles from safety. The other pole was involved in controversy as well. In April 1909, Robert Peary of the U.S. became the first man to reach the North Pole. His claim was disputed by another American, Frederick Cook, who said he had reached the pole a year earlier. The Eskimos he traveled with, however, testified to an international committee that Cook had turned back 20 miles from his target. 

 -source Newsweek

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