Roald Amundsen

“Roald Amundsen,” The Northwest Passage: Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the ship, Gjőa, 1903-1907, 1908, From The Library at The Mariners’ Museum, G650.1903.A5.

Roald Amundsen

1872 CE - 1928 CE

Norway

Primary Goal:

To map the arctic regions, to find the magnetic as well as the geographic North Pole, and the geographic South Pole.

Achievement:

He was the first explorer to sail the Northwest Passage, and the first to reach the South Pole.


Roald Amundsen was born in Sarpsborg, Norway in 1872. As a youth he was an avid cross-country skier, but began studying medicine due to his parent’s encouragement. After his parents died though, he turned his thoughts from medicine to the exploration of the Arctic. Amundsen then studied for his Mate’s license and went to sea on a sealing ship in 1895.

Two years later he was appointed second mate on the Antarctic expedition aboard the Belgica. The expedition leader was Lieutenant Adrien de Garlache de Gomery, who had no experience in polar exploration. The expedition was to explore and map the Antarctic Peninsula and islands. During the winter, they became trapped in pack ice in the Bellingshausen Sea and drifted for thirteen months. The crew began to develop scurvy and one crewman died. The ice finally broke in March 1899, and Amundsen headed home not only with valuable experience, but had learned what to avoid on a polar expedition.