Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009

Scott and Amundsen Race to Reach the South Pole

In 1911, Englishman Robert Scott and Norwegian Roald Amundsen raced to become the first person to reach the South Pole. One man would win; the other died trying. Scott, a captain in the British navy, took four compatriots with him, along with skis, food, water and a team of supply ponies. The ponies turned out to be a bad idea; one by one they died of exposure, and Scott's men were forced to drag the heavy sleds on their own. When Scott's crew finally reached the South Pole on the 78th day, they were greeted by a horrifying sight: a Norwegian flag that Amundsen had planted in the ice 33 days before. On their return journey, Scott and his disheartened party trudged across through the frozen wasteland, frostbitten and often delirious. After being trapped in a fierce blizzard, Scott and his men starved to death, 11 miles (18 km) short of their supply depot. By contrast, Amundsen's successful trek was practically uneventful, a tribute to meticulous planning and flawless execution.