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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Talk Show Review: Roald Amundsen on SecretBuilders

Joebar's Talk Show guest today was Roald Amundsen - the first explorer to reach the South Pole. He is one of the greatest figures in the history of polar exploration.

A lot of the people in the audience weren't familiar with is name, so he had to introduce himself. He said he was born on July 16, 1872, in Borge, near Oslo, Norway. He was born to a family of Norwegian ship owners and captains. The fourth son in the family, his mother chose to keep him out of the maritime industry of the family and pressured him to become a doctor - a promise that he kept until his mother died when he was 21. Then he quit university for a life at sea.

Mr. Amundsen shared that his lifelong desire was inspired by Fridtjof Nansen's crossing of Greenland in 1888 and by the doomed Franklin expedition. As a result, he decided on a life of intense exploration. To prepare for his exploratory trips, he studied sailing techniques, steam navigation, scientific navigation, and terrestrial magnetism, and he also trained himself to endure bitter cold and long travel.

Joebar asked the guest to tell more about his expeditions, and he did. It turned out that after being a mate on an Antarctic expedition, at 25 Roald Amundsen began to plan his own expedition. His goals were to attain the Northwest Passage and make magnetic observations near the North Magnetic Pole. His ship, the Gjoa, left Christiania harbor on June 16, 1903. He completed this voyage in 1906 by reaching the Pacific Ocean. He was the first to sail through the Northwest Passage. With that he had completed the first portion of his Arctic polar cap circumnavigation.

Robert E. Peary's attainment of the North Pole on April 06, 1909, convinced Amundsen that he should try to reach the South Pole. He resolved to reach the pole before the British expedition led by Robert F. Scott. After the establishment of three supply depots, on October 29, 1911, he began the final dash to the pole with four companions and four sleds. On December 14 the Norwegian flag was flying at the South Pole. His competitor Scott and his party did not arrive until a month later. On December 17 they began the return journey, completing 1860 miles in 99 days.

But that wasn't all! In 1918 he left Norway in his ship Maud; his objective was to drift across the north polar sea from Asia to North America, but the polar ice pack made this impossible. He did reach Alaska, however, via the Siberian coast in 1920 and thus completed the Northeast Passage. This was the second portion of his circumnavigation of the world within the Arctic Circle.

The last phase of Roald Amundsen's life was spent in new feats of polar exploration involving air travel. These were novel projects, more sensational than scientific in nature. In the spring of 1925 he flew in an airplane from Spitsbergen to within 150 of the North Pole. The next spring he, together with the American aviator Lincoln Ellsworth, and the Italian colonel Umberto Nobile used the dirigible Norge on the trans-Arctic flight from Spitsbergen to Teller in Alaska. The Norge passed over the North Pole on May 12, 1926.

After he finished his story, Mr. Amundsen was nice enough to answer several questions from the audience. It was obvious that he had sparked interest in everyone who attended, and from a fairly unknown guest, he turned into a very interesting one.

Curious who's coming to SecretBuilders next week? It is the great Italian painter and architect Raphael! Don't miss the Talk Show - Wednesday, 10:30am PST and 4:00pm PST.

See you there,
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