First expedition to South Pole by Amundsen marked by Google doodle

14 Dec 2016

Icebergs floating in the moonlight in Antarctica. Image: Volodymyr Goinyk/Shutterstock

The first geographic expedition to the South Pole 105 years ago, which was led by Roald Amundsen, has been marked by an animated Google Doodle.

The Google Doodle shows the team camp inside a compass, with icy wind conditions whipping at their tents.

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the first expedition to the South Pole and arrived there on 14 December 1911.

This was five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott as part of the Terra Nova Expedition.

It was only on his return to base that Amundsen learned that Scott and four companions perished on their return journey from the pole.

Morale was the key

First expedition to South Pole by Amundsen marked by Google doodle

Roald Amundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting at Polheim, the tent that was erected at the South Pole on 16 December 1911. Image: Wikipedia

Amundsen’s party consisted of 19 people and a team of dogs.

Fun and morale were key to the team’s ability to reach the ‘bottom of the world’ and the dogs’ playfulness combined with guess-the-temperature games and, of course, careful preparation helped them win the race to the pole.

“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,” Google said.

105th Anniversary of First Expedition to Reach the South Pole

Known as ‘the last of the Vikings’, Amundsen was born in 1872 and studied medicine in his youth.

He began travelling when he was 25 and boarded a boat from Belgium to the Antarctic, also travelling extensively through Canada and Alaska.

His plan to become the first person to reach the North Pole was dashed when Robert Peary succeeded in April 1909.

This made him determined to be the first person to reach the South Pole – a feat that was achieved 105 years ago on this day.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years