Home History Library Museum Contact Site Map

Roald Amundsen (1872-1928)

Roald Engebreth Gravning Amundsen enjoyed being referred to as the last of the Vikings. He is now considered by some as the greatest polar explorer of all times, having bridged the gap between the eras of traditional and machine based polar exploration by mastering a combination of the best of the so called "primitive" techniques of the Eskimo with a dash of modern technology. He was well aware that when it came to surviving in the polar regions, a few hundred years of European technology could not out-do the Eskimo's ten thousand years of experience. His unique mixture of technical skills, thorough planning and leadership skills are unequaled in exploration history.

Amundsen was, however, plagued by an almost complete disregard for monetary issues. He was in heavy personal debt at the eve of departure for almost all of his expeditions, and was constantly mortgaging his house or borrowing money from family and friends. Upon returning from the unkown his writings and lectures always made the deed sound too easy. He expected his achievments to speak for themselves, and so supressed the difficulties he encountered, and his thorough planning and leadership resulted in an all-around lack of suffering that the press and public did not appreciate. They crave drama, desparation and screw ups. Amundsen's screw ups usually resulted in loss of income, rather than some sort of fight for survival. Amundsen was almost too good at what he did!

Amundsen is probably most famous for his journey to the South Pole in 1911-12. Indeed, this was probably the greatest snow journey of all time. However, his early years in training and the planning and execution his other expeditions are also fascinating topics that should interest any student of polar history. Please use the links below to follow this remarkable man on his journies to some of the most remote points on our little globe:

  • Young Amundsen, 1872-1895; Training for an adolescent dream.
  • The Belgica expedition, 1896-1899; An example of how not to run an expedition, and internship with the enigmatic Dr. Frederick A. Cook.
  • The Northwest passage, 1903-1906; Amundsens first contribution to science, and another internship, this time with the Netsilik eskimos.
  • The Big Nail, 1907-1909; Amundsen is a "closet" pole seeker. Who isn't?
  • The third voyage of the Fram, 1909-1912; a brief diversion to the south pole!
  • Why did Amundsen win the race with Scott?
  • The Maud Expedition, 1918-1925; Science, ethnography, a foray into air travel and more unsuccseful pole seeking.
  • Norge; A crash landing at 88°, and then finally over the North Pole.
  • The North Pole; Who really got there first?????
  • Epilogue; A suitable final resting place for Captain Amundsen.
  • Glossary; Some geographic names have changed since the age of exploration.
  • Bibliography.
  • Annotated Web Links.

  • Copyright © 2000 Jan Reimers; about framheim; about the author