ROALD AMUNDSEN ARTY POSTER
Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions. As the leader of the Antarctic expedition of 1910–12, which was the first to reach the South Pole, on 14 December 1911, he was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. In 1926, he was the first expedition leader for the air expedition to the North Pole, making him the first person, without dispute, to reach both poles. He is also known as having the first expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage.
In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse Canada’s Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He planned a small expedition of six men in a 45-ton fishing vessel, Gjøa, in order to have flexibility. His ship had relatively shallow draft. His technique was to use a small ship and hug the coast. Amundsen had the ship outfitted with a small gasoline engine. They traveled via Baffin Bay, the Parry Channel and then south through Peel Sound, James Ross Strait, Simpson Strait and Rae Strait. They spent two winters (1903–04 and 1904–05) at King William Island in the harbor of what is today Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, Canada. During this time, Amundsen and the crew learned from the local Netsilik Inuit people about Arctic survival skills, which he found invaluable in his later expedition to the South Pole. For example, he learned to use sled dogs for transportation of goods and to wear animal skins in lieu of heavy, woolen parkas, which could not deter cold when wet.
Leaving Gjoa Haven, he sailed west and passed Cambridge Bay, which had been reached from the west by Richard Collinson in 1852. Continuing to the south of Victoria Island, the ship cleared the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on 17 August 1905. It had to stop for the winter before going on to Nome on the Alaska District’s Pacific coast. Five hundred miles (800 km) away, Eagle City, Alaska, had a telegraph station; Amundsen traveled there (and back) overland to wire a success message (collect) on 5 December 1905. His team reached Nome in 1906. Because the water along the route was sometimes as shallow as 3 ft (0.91 m), a larger ship could not have made the voyage.
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