|A bust of Roald Amundsen in
the center of Ny Ålesund. Amundsen was the
first man to reach the South Pole in 1911. He
reached the North Pole in May 1926 by the airship
Norge N1 that left from here.
When he first set off on the expedition that was to
reach the South Pole, he had in fact had the North
as his goal but received a message that Frederick
Cook had claimed that he had reached the Pole, so
his expedition set off southwards instead.
This claim by Cook and another similar one by Robert
Edwin Peary shortly afterwards are now not widely
accepted (they were either fanciful in the case of
Cook or mistaken in the case of Peary).
A flight over the pole by Americans Richard E. Byrd
and Floyd Bennett just three days before Amundsen's
airship took off leaving from and returning to
Spitsbergen is also not proven though accepted at
The flight in the semi-rigid airship Norge N1 that
had a total of 16 crew is regarded as the first
universally agreed expedition to reach the North
Pole as it left from Spitsbergen and landed in
It may be therefore that Amundsen was not only the
first man to reach the South Pole but also one of
the first group to reach the North too. The truth
will probably never be known.
was killed in 1928 on a flight from Norway by seaplane to help in the rescue
of Nobile who was attempting to repeat this North
Pole trip in another airship, the Italia though had
crashed on the way back. Amundsen was never seen again after taking off
for from Trømso, wreckage of the aircraft was
found but his body was never recovered.
78° 55' N 11° 56' E
copyright Paul Ward