Men began to explore the Arctic as early as 1553, but it was not until 6 April 1909 that the Pole itself was reached. Three and a half centuries of effort and courage ended with an American, Robert E. Peary ‘nailing the Stars and Stripes to the North Pole’. The quest for the South Pole began much later, the first landing in Antarctica being as late as 1895. In 1910 a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, sailed for the Arctic in Nansen’s ship the Fram. Hardly had he started, however, than he heard of Peary’s success. He at once put his ship about and sailed south. On 20 October 1911, from his base in the Antarctic, he set off for the South Pole. The going was difficult; fog and blizzards slowed the men down. They reached their goal on 14 December and raised the Norwegian flag over the estimated position of the Pole. It was still flying when a month later Captain Robert Scott arrived with four other Englishmen, only to discovered that they had been beaten by Amundsen. On their return to base, Scott and his men perished in a blizzard.
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