Discovery of the South Pole
The South Pole was discovered exactly 102 years ago today, on December 14th, 1911. Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his party became the first humans to reach the Geographic South Pole. The first attempt to find a route from the Antarctic coastline to the South Pole was made by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott on the Discovery Expedition from 1901 to 1904. He was accompanied by Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson. The group reached as far as 82 degrees 16′ South on December 31st, 1902. Shackleton later made another attempt at the Pole with the British Antarctic Expedition (Nimrod Expedition). This bid made it to 88 degrees 23′ South – 112 statue miles from the Pole – on January 9th, 1909 before being forced to turn back. At the time Amundsen reached the Pole, Scott was also back for a second attempt, the Terra Nova Expedition, in a race against the Norwegians. Scott reached the Pole on January 17th, 1912, thirty-four days behind Amundsen. Unfortunately, on the return trip, Scott and all four of his companions died of starvation and extreme cold.
In 1914, Ernest Shackleton returned with his Imperial Trans-Arctic Expedition, with the new goal of crossing Antarctic via the South Pole. Tragedy struck though when his ship, Endurance, was stuck in pack ice and eventually sank eleven months later. The overland journey was thus never made.
Humans did not again set foot on the South Pole until October 31st, 1956, when a party led by U.S. Navy Admiral George J. Dufek landed there. The US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was established by air between 1956 and 1957 for the International Geophysical Year and has been continuously staffed ever since.
If you would like to learn more about the South Pole, the library has numerous options available, including audiobooks, biographies and children’s material. Consider these picks: