If you’re wondering what Google’s doodle is all about today, it’s exactly 105 years since the first expedition to successfully reach the South Pole.
On December 14, 1911, a Norwegian expedition, led by Roald Amundsen, and three more men arrived at the South Pole. And they didn’t even take a selfie to post on Facebook on share on WhatsApp!
Who was Roald Amundsen?
Known to friends and colleagues as “the last of the Vikings,” Amundsen was a born explorer. He originally set his sights on being the first to reach the Arctic Pole. But when his rival American explorers Robert E. Peary and Frederick Cook both claimed to have already reached the North Pole in 1909, Amundsen made a shift in plans.
He began to prepare an expedition of 19 members and over 100 Greenland sled dogs to conquer the South Pole. Except they didn’t know about it until they were halfway there! Worried about being pipped to the post or losing the support of his backers, the expedition was kept a secret. The crew were not informed of their destination until leaving their last port of call from the Portuguese territory of Madeira.
The Race to the Bottom of the Word
Perhaps it was the secrecy of the mission, or the strong comradery of the team that led them successfully to the pole some five weeks before British explorer, Robert Falcon Scott. But Amundsen’s strong team and backbone were to be tested to their limits in treacherous conditions in the race to the bottom of the world.
Amundsen and the small sub-team that realized the trek made it safely back to base, but sadly Scott and his crew lost their lives upon their return. A bitter blow that somewhat overshadowed Amundsen’s victorious achievement.
While some British scientists were unable to accept that the Norwegian explorer had been the first to reach the pole, recent historians have recognized the group’s courage and achievement. Amundsen’s name is in permanent place on the scientist base at the pole, along with Scott’s.
The accompanying members of Amundsen’s South Pole expedition in December 1911 were Helmer Hanssen, Oscar Wisting and Sverre Hassel.
They maintained that a strong team spirit and playfulness were key elements to their success, as well as the use of hardened sled dogs and skis to cross perilous terrain.
105 Years On
More than a century after this remarkable achievement, take a moment to think about the men who arrived at the South Pole, with a compass and unbreakable spirit. What would Amundsen make of GPS, digital recordings and Google’s doodle in his name?