An Explorer is Born
Roald Amundsen was born on 16 July 1872, in Borge, Østfold, Norway. He was the youngest of four sons to Jens Amundsen, a shipowner, and Gustava Sahlquist, a bailiff’s daughter. His father died when Amundsen was 14 years old. Amundsen began studying medicine, in accordance with his mother's wishes, but after her death in 1893, he quit medical school and embarked on a Captains education.
Belgica and the Northwest Passage
In 1897, Amundsen commenced on his polar career. He joined the crew of the ship Belgica and followed Adrien de Gerlache’s expedition to Antarctica (1897-99). Afterwards, Amundsen purchased the fishing vessel Gjøa, which he used to lead the first expedition through the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific (1903-1906). It was after this expedition that he moved to Uranienborg.
The South Pole
Instead of relaxing after this triumph, Amundsen proceeded with his dream to conquer the Poles. He received permission from Fridtjof Nansen to borrow the polar ship Fram (Forward) in order to travel to the North Pole; but, instead of sticking with this plan, he traveled south. On 14 December 1911, Amundsen along with four of his crew were the first to reach the South Pole, 35 days ahead of Robert F. Scott.
The Northeast Passage
In 1917, Amundsen launched his own boat, Maud. His aim was to explore unknown areas of the Arctic Ocean. This expedition continued for many years and ultimately contributed to Amundsen’s bankruptcy.
The North Pole
In 1925, Amundsen attempted to reach the North Pole with the two flying boats N-24 and N-25. However, they had to make an emergency landing at 88° north and only just managed to return home after 30 days in ice. In 1926, Amundsen, along with the Italian Umberto Nobile, finally reached the North Pole with the airship Norge (Norway).
A Final Mission
Two years later, Umberto Nobile crashed during a new overflight of the North Pole in the airship Italia. Amundsen took part in the rescue operation along with five crew in the French flying boat Latham 47. On 18 June 1928, they left Tromsø, but the flying boat crashed, probably somewhere around Bear Island. Amundsen and the crew disappeared, but Nobile was later rescued.