Although renowned explorer Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in December 1911, there was no way for him to tell the world about his accomplishment at the time. This was before satellites, cell phones or Antarctic research bases, so he had to get all the way back to civilization before the public would know of his accomplishment.
The polar trek wasn’t Amundsen’s first exploit, and it wouldn’t be his last. The Norway native had already traveled to Antarctica with a Belgian team that got stuck in sea ice for a whole winter. He had spent three years exploring the Northwest Passage across Canada. There, the native people taught him cold-weather survival skills, including using sled dogs and wearing animal skins, that would come in handy on his polar explorations.
Amundsen was going to tackle the North Pole next, but upon hearing the American team of Frederick Cook and Robert Peary had already claimed the achievement, he changed course at the last minute and decided to go south instead. After two months of hard uphill travel from base camp, he arrived at the South Pole in mid-December, about a month ahead of Robert Scott, his English rival. He returned to base camp five weeks later and sailed for Hobart, Australia, where he publicly announced his feat on March 7.
Today, the U.S. polar research center is called the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in honor of the first two explorers to reach the pole. Antarctica is an increasingly popular travel destination, with a number of cruise ships heading there each year.