World

The race to the South Pole

By Adam Hagy, Special to CNN

Updated 4:18 AM ET, Thu December 15, 2016
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On December 14, 1911, a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen became the first explorers to reach the South Pole. Thirty-four days later, a British team led by Robert Falcon Scott arrived, only to find out it was second. Bettmann Archive/Getty images
Scott was a captain in the Royal Navy who had previously led an expedition into Antarctica and returned a hero. Here, he writes in his journal in October 1911. Scott Polar Research Institute/University of Cambridge/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Amundsen had spent most of his life exploring polar regions and was the first person to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage, the part of the Arctic Ocean that connects the Atlantic and Pacific. Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Amundsen and his team travel to Antarctica on a ship called the Fram. Both teams reached the Antarctic in January 1911. Amundsen's base camp was in the Bay of Whales, about 60 miles closer to the South Pole than Scott's camp at Cape Evans on Ross Island. Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Scott's ship, the Terra Nova, is anchored in Cape Evans. For months, the two teams established their base camps and made preparations to head to the South Pole. Amundsen made his first attempt in September but was thwarted by the weather and had to wait until October 19 to make his push to the pole. Scott waited until November 1 to start his trek. Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Amundsen and his men, seen here, were much more experienced with dog sledding, and they were also excellent skiers who had an easier time traversing the harsh Antarctic terrain. Scott's team wasn't as skilled with dogs or skis, and by the end of their trip the men were pushing their sledges themselves. Even the teams' clothing style was different. Scott and his men wore woolen undergarments and windproof outer layers to stay warm, but the material didn't breathe well. This allowed sweat to be trapped and freeze on their bodies when they stopped. Amundsen's men wore loose furs, allowing sweat to escape. Photo12/UIG/Getty Images
Scott's team started the trip to the South Pole with ponies, dogs and motorized sledges. The motorized sledges broke down early in the trip. The ponies had to be put down, and the dogs were eventually sent back to the base camp. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Thomas Clissold makes pies at Scott's base camp in January 1912. But when it came to food, Amundsen's team was more prepared. They had actually gained weight by the end of their journey. Herbert Ponting/Scott Polar Research Institute/University of Cambridge/Getty Images
The Terra Nova is seen in the background near Scott's base camp in January 1911. Herbert Ponting/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images
Photographer Herbert Ponting, who traveled to Antarctica with Scott's team, is attacked by an angry penguin on Ross Island. Herbert Ponting/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images
Some of Amundsen's dogs rest at a supply depot. Prior to the final journey, each team had made long treks along their intended paths to drop off supplies at regular intervals. Amundsen's supply depots were stocked with much more food and fuel, and the intervals were more consistent. They were also easier to find because black flags were placed on both sides of the depot along with distance and directions to the depot -- just in case the team got a little off-track and needed to adjust course. Scott's depots had only one flag. Photo12/UIG/Getty Images
Weather was also a factor for both teams. Scott spent much time deliberating the start of his journey but ended up walking right into unfavorable conditions. Amundsen, having left much earlier, had better luck with the weather. Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Amundsen's team of five safely returned to its base on January 25, 1912. Amundsen, the first man to successfully reach both the North and South Poles, went on to start his own shipping business. Photo12/UIG/Getty Images
Scott's team, seen here around the Norwegian flag, did not survive its return trip. Edgar Evans died in a fall on February 17, 1912. Scott, E.A. Wilson, H.R. Bowers and L.E.G. Oates perished the next month after getting caught in a blizzard. "Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift," Scott wrote in his final diary entry on March 29, 1912. "We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more." Their bodies were found in November 1912, and Scott's wife was awarded a knighthood that would have been his had he survived. Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images