MNN Galleries

13 of history's greatest polar explorers

Roald Amundsen

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

6 of 15

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen is one of the most famous polar explorers. He led the first successful Antarctic expedition to the South Pole, he was the first man to fly over the North Pole, and he was the first to traverse the Northwest Passage. Although Amundsen’s voyage to the South Pole was difficult, his team was well-prepared. His team had a much smoother journey than Robert Falcon Scott and his crew, who were also attempting to be the first to reach the pole. After trekking hundreds of miles through unexplored Antarctic territory, Amundsen and his men reached the pole on Dec. 14, 1911, and named the area Polheim, or “Home at the Pole.”

Amundsen left a note for Scott that read, “Dear Captain Scott — As you probably are the first to reach this area after us, I will ask you to kindly forward this letter to King Haakon VII. If you can use any of the articles left in the tent please do not hesitate to do so. The sledge left outside may be of use to you. With kind regards I wish you a safe return.” Scott and his entire crew died during their expedition.