Map showing the routes taken by Amundsen & Scott. ©Getty Images

Map showing the routes taken by Amundsen & Scott. ©Getty Images

There was a great desire among explorers to be the first to reach the South Pole and raise their country's flag. Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, and Englishman Robert Falcon Scott led expeditions that set out at the same time, determined to beat each other to the Pole, so their efforts became known as the race to the South Pole.

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole.  He was not the first person to reach the North Pole, but was the first to see both Poles, the first to fly over the North Pole in an airship, and the first person to sail around the world through the Northeast and Northwest passages from the Atlantic to the Pacific (in 1905).

Amundsen at the South Pole, where he raised the Norwegian flag. ©Getty Images

Amundsen at the South Pole, where he raised the Norwegian flag. ©Getty Images

In 1910, Amundsen sailed for Antarctica, intending to be the first person to reach the South Pole. He set up a base camp at the Bay of Wales (by the Ross Ice Shelf).

Amundsen's expedition travelled by dog sleds and reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911. They raised the Norwegian flag . They arrived back at their base camp on 25 January 1912, having covered about 2,800 km in 99 days.

Amundsen  died in a plane crash in 1928, while attempting to rescue his friend Nobile, who had been lost in a dirigible (airship) crash in the Arctic. Nobile was found by another search crew. 

Read about Amundsen's other explorations.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/ice/peopleevents/pandeAMEX87.html

Robert Falcon Scott ©Getty Images

Robert Falcon Scott ©Getty Images

Robert Falcon Scott

Robert Falcon Scott was a British Antarctic explorer. He also tried to be the first to the South Pole, but Amundsen beat him there by just a few weeks. Scott led two expeditions to attempt to reach the South Pole, and died on the second trip, along with his crew.

 Scott's first Antarctic expedition was in 1901-1904 on the ship HMS Discovery. They sailed along northern Ross Island to Mt Terror, and Scott named this new area King Edward VI Land.  He went up in a hot air balloon on February 4, 1902, making the first flight in Antarctica.

They spent the winter on Ross Island. Scott and two others tried to cross the Ross Ice shelf by dog sled (November 1902 - January 1903). They became ill with scurvy, which is caused by a lack of vitamin C, and returned. Most of the expedition returned to England in March, but Scott remained with some others to continue exploring the area until September 1904. On his return, Scott wrote a popular book about his expedition.  

Scott and his team at the South Pole- standing L-R Oates, Scott, Evans; sitting L-R Bowers, Wilson ©Getty Images

Scott and his team at the South Pole- standing L-R Oates, Scott, Evans; sitting L-R Bowers, Wilson ©Getty Images

Scott set out for Antarctica again on 1 June 1910, on the ship Terra Nova, intent on beating Amundsen to the Pole. His expedition reached Ross Island on 4 January 1911, and set off for the South Pole on dog sleds, ponies, and motorized vehicles on 1 November 1911.  The motorised vehicles and ponies were abandoned in a few days, being found to be useless in the snow.  It has been said that had Scott used dog sleds like Amundsen did the outcome may have been quite different.  Scott's team reached the South Pole on 18 January 1912, to find Amundsen's Norwegian flag already flying there.

Postcard commemorating the courage of Scott and his party. ©Getty Images

Postcard commemorating the courage of Scott and his party. ©Getty Images

The disappointed team, exhausted and suffering from scurvy, began their return trip, which ended in tragedy.  One by one, crew members died, and the remaining ones set up their last camp on  11 March. They were only a few kilometres from One Ton Depot, where there were supplies, but a raging blizzard prevented them from reaching it. The rest of the crew were found dead in their sleeping bags by a rescue party on 12 November 1912. They were buried under where their tent had stood, and a cairn (pile of rocks serving as a marker) was built on top.

Read more about Scott's expedition here.

http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/History/Robert-Falcon-Scott3.php

Read other kidcyber pages about exploration of the South Pole and Antarctica