The Adventures of Roald Amundsen
Since the day I was born, I had the dream of being a polar explorer, unlike other boys who wanted to be pirates! But, I didn’t know where and what I should explore. I thought of some place that was deserted – a place where no one has ever set foot on, or ever dreamed of going to – Antarctica. This is the story of me, Roald Amundsen, and my explorations.
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My name is Roald Engelbregt Grauning Amundsen, and I was born in Borge, near Oslo on July 16, 1872. My parents wanted me to become a doctor when I was old enough. But, in 1894 I left that job, and entered the Norwegian navy. There I spent the following nine years studying science. All I wanted to do was to become an explorer, and most important of all, explore Antarctica.
So, in 1897, I went on the "Belgica" – a Belgian-financed Antarctic expedition led by the polar explorer Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery. This voyage was actually meant to investigate the coast of Antarctica, but the ship froze into ice near Peter I’s island. We all waited anxiously for thirteen months before the "Belgica" entered open water. During this time, almost all the expedition members had developed scurvy. The ship was under my command when it finally broke out of the ice in March 1899. Our expedition was the first ever, to stay the winter in the Antarctic.
THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE
The Northwest Passage was another place that I wanted to explore. The vessel that I chose, the "Gjøa", set out from Christiana (now called Oslo) in June 1903. We first crossed the North Atlantic, and then hugged the West Coast of Greenland. After this, we crossed to the northern end of Baffin Island. My expedition went on like this, nosing its way through all different islands. In August 1905, the "Gjøa" had successfully navigated the Northwest Passage – becoming the first vessel ever to do so.
A CHANGE OF PLANS
By now, I was a world known explorer. I really didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I decided to find the North Pole. My Northwest Passage expedition is what made me famous. People heard of me wanting to explore the Arctic, and therefore gathered funds for me. Well, thank you, Northwest Passage!
But, sometime in April 1909, I came across really bad news – Robert Peary, an American explorer, had reached the North Pole. I couldn’t believe it! My plans were shattered!
There was no time for me sulking, though. I quickly reversed my plans – changing my destination from the North Pole to the South Pole. Luckily I still had the funded money to help support the trip. The English explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, was also working on his second attempt to reach the South Pole – I knew I had to hurry. So, in the summer of 1910, I told the world where I was heading. Just as Scott’s expedition was leaving New Zealand, the news reached him. The race was on!
During my trip through the Northwest Passage, I came across the Eskimos. There, I took a mental note of the dogs that they used for pulling their sledges, and the warm clothes they wore. This is the reason why I used 48 dogs for pulling my four sledges. Scott was using motor sleighs and ponies for travelling. I knew that the motors in his sleighs would break down in the fierce cold, but I guessed that the ponies were all right. Four men, Bjaaland, Hansse, Hassel, and Wisting accompanied me on this trip.
On December 14, 1911, the Pole was reached by my expedition. I was so afraid that Scott had beaten me to the South Pole, but just the thought of how fast our progress was, made me realize that we were the first people, ever, to reach the South Pole. It had taken us 99 days to travel 3000 kilometers across the snow. I was a hero when I reached home! Apparently, Scott died travelling across the snow on his way back home, but today, he is remembered as the hero - not me.
THE NORTH POLE
Even though Robert Peary was the first man to reach the North Pole, it still didn’t stop me from going there. I still wanted to explore the arctic, but my ship kept on freezing in the ice because of the cold weather. I never had the chance to explore the place I’ve always wanted to. I had an interest in aviation, though, and in May 1925, I became the first person to fly over the North Pole.
I then thought of another venture. "It might just be possible to fly from continent to continent in an airship", I said to myself. People funded this new venture of mine. On May 11, 1926 I left Spitsbergen aboard the airship "Norge". Lincoln Ellsworth and Umberto Nobile, the people who had constructed the vessel and flew it, went with me. There was a crew of 12 in total.
The flight took 16 hours, and we were able to drop the Norwegian, Italian, and American flags over the North Pole. On May 14, 1926, the "Norge" landed in Alaska. We had covered 5,456 kilometers in 72 hours, and we were the first men to have flown from Europe to America.
Umberto Nobile constructed a new airship, the "Italia", and in June 1928, I heard that it had crashed in the Arctic. Of course, without hesitation, I took part in a rescue team. But three hours after my plane took off, I lost control of it, and it crashed. I died on June 18, 1928, immediately after that crash. Even today, the aircraft still hasn’t been found.
Works Cited List
Amundsen.html(Sep. 29, 2000)
http://www.south-pole.com/p0000101.htm (Sep. 29, 2000)
CD-ROM. n.p. no place of publication: Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1996