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THE NORWEGIAN SOUTH POLE EXPEDITION, 1910-1912
Amundsen sailed from Norway on 9 August 1910, ostensibly for the North Pole. His plans had however changed as soon as Peary and Cook emerged from the Arctic in September 1909, each claiming to have reached the North Pole. Amundsen went to Copenhagen to see Cook and used the visit to negotiate the purchase of 100 huskies from Greenland through the Danish Government 'to be used in an attempt on the South Pole'. He ordered the dogs and returned to Christiania only to receive the news that Scott would lead a British attempt on the South Pole. Amundsen, worried about upsetting his sponsors and aware of Scott's proprietorial attitude to the South, was forced to conceal his plans and it was only when the Fram arrived at Madeira that he announced the change in the expedition's goal, to the unanimous approval of his men. A telegram was sent to Scott ('Beg leave to inform you proceeding Antarctic') and he wrote of the news to the King of Norway and Nansen.
The Fram moored alongside the Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales on 14 January 1911, just a week after Scott had moored at McMurdo Sound. He prepared to overwinter at Framheim, a base set up on the Ice Shelf for his 8 companions and 116 dogs, and deposited supplies at latitudes 80°, 81° and 82° for the southern journey the following season. Amundsen left Framheim on 20 October 1911 with Helmer Hanssen, his dog trainer, Sverre Hassell, his sledge driver, Olav Bjaaland, a ski champion, and Oscar Wisting. a petty officer in the Norwegian navy, and twelve dogs for each of the three sledges. They made good progress, sledging 13 nautical miles a day and reaching the mountain range at 85°S on 17 November, leaving them the ascent of Axel Heilberg Glacier, riddled with glaciers, before the plateau. At the top of the glacier Amundsen kept just 6 dogs for each sledge, slaughtering the remainder for food, and pushed on, reaching the mythical 90° on 14 December. They spent three days at the Pole, checking their position carefully, left a letter for Scott and arrived back at Framheim, victorious, on 25 January 1912, after a return journey of just ninety-six days.