Google Celebrates First Expedition to the South Pole

Google Celebrates First Expedition to the South Pole

Over a century ago Roald Amundsen approached the southern-most place on Earth. With dozens of dogs and a handful of people, Amundsen finally reached the South Pole in December 1911.

Today marks the 105th anniversary of that journey, which Google is celebrating with a Doodle.

"In honour of that achievement, today's Doodle depicts the crew at the finish line, taking a moment to bask in the glory while the Antarctic wind whips outside their tent," said Google.

Who was Roald Amundsen?

Born in the summer of 1872, Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who became the first person to reach the South Pole.

Having studied medicine in his youth, Amundsen began travelling when he was 25 when he boarded a boat from Belgium to the Antarctic. He visited the northern coast of Canada and Alaska before deciding to breach one of the final frontiers of exploration.

He initially had plans to be the first person to travel to the North Pole, but Robert Peary beat him to it in April 1909. So in 1911 Amundsen determined that he would become the first person to reach the South Pole.

How did he get to the South Pole?

In October 1911, Amundsen departed a base camp in the Antarctic for the South Pole with a crew of four people, 52 sled dogs and four sledges. Their mission: to be the first to journey that far south and in doing so raise enough money to wipe Amundsen's large debts.

No one knew what the team was attempting, given that Amundsen had decided to let them think he was still going to go the North Pole. He was worried the media and government could hamper his chances of getting there first or tell him not to try.

Who else has visited the South Pole?

Just over a month after Amundsen and his crew reached the South Pole, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott arrived in the spot where the Norwegian flag already stood.

Having been unaware of Amundsen's rival mission, Captain Scott and his team of four other men planted their flag in January 1912, but tragically died of starvation and extreme cold on the return journey.

Despite other attempts and a flyover, it wasn't until October 1956 that an expedition reached the South Pole again. In that year, the US Navy landed at the South Pole and constructed the US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Since then, there has been a continued human presence of support and research staff. But only a handful of people have trekked to the station on foot, including Edmund Hillary and Vivian Fuchs in 1958. The first group of women made it to the South Pole in 1969.