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Roald Amundsen
Amundsen in fur skins.jpg
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen

(1872-07-16)16 July 1872
Disappeared 18 June 1928 (aged 55)
Barents Sea
Nationality Norwegian
Occupation Explorer
Known for
  • Jens Amundsen
  • Hanna Sahlqvist
  • Hubbard Medal (1907)
  • Charles P. Daly Medal (1912)
  • Vega Medal (1913)
Roald Amundsen Signature.svg

Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who focused on the poles. He led the first expedition to reach the South Pole and the first that could prove it made it to the North Pole. Amundsen was also the first man known to travel the Northwest Passage.


Amundsen in his childhood, 1875
Portrett av Roald Amundsen crop
Amundsen, aged 27, in 1899

Amundsen was born into a family of Norwegian shipowners and captains in Borge. His parents were Jens Amundsen and Hanna Sahlqvist. Roald was the fourth son in the family.

When Amundsen was young, he decided he would use his life to explore the wilderness. He was inspired by the lives of Fridtjof Nansen and John Franklin. However, his mother wanted him to avoid the family maritime trade and encouraged him to become a doctor, a promise that Amundsen kept until his mother died when he was aged 21. He promptly quit university for a life at sea.

In 1897, he went on the Belgian Antarctic Expedition as first mate. This was the first expedition to stay over winter at Antartica, since their ship got stuck in the ice preventing them from leaving.

In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to make it through the Northwest Passage.

In October 1911, he began his expedition to Antarctica with four other men in attempt to be the first man to reach the South Pole. Robert Falcon Scott, an explorer from Britain, arrived in Antarctica with his own team only days after Amundsen. Both explorers raced to the South Pole, but Amundsen and his men used skis and dog sleds for transportation. This was more efficient. On 14 December 1911, Amundsen successfully became the first man to reach the South Pole.

In 1926, Amundsen and his men made it to the North Pole. Three other expeditions claimed to make it before then, but their claims have not been verified. Two of them have been considered fraud. This may make Amundsen and his men the first to reach the North Pole.

He disappeared in June 1928 while taking part in a rescue mission.

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