The Race to the South Pole

February 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Antarctica was one of the last great prizes left for exploration by the late 19th century. The continent was probably first discovered by groups of seal hunters and whalers seeking a bounty, but that fleeting interest soon passed. Richer nations like America, the UK, and Germany all took the initiative to plan expeditions there. This started an international competition of sorts, with Norway and Britain at the forefront.

Robert Scott

Robert Scott had already begun travelling to the South Pole during the Discovery expedition. The government funded trip took him within 410 miles of the pole, which made him the closest explorer to reach the pole. A rivalry between him and Ernest Shackleton spurred Shackleton to form his own expedition, which shattered Scott’s “farthest South” record by over 300 miles. The expedition ended 100 miles outside of the pole, where Shackleton’s group planted the Union Jack and turned back to avoid almost certain death.

Scott versus Amundsen

Scott began organizing a return expedition with the goal of finally reaching the pole. In fact, his sights never left that fabled prize and his determination was stronger than ever. He was on his way toward Antarctica in January of 1911 when he received a telegraph from a rival Captain: Roald Amundsen. Amundsen was still licking his wounds from the disappointment of the Americans discovering the North Pole before he did. He took his expedition south, allowing his crew the opportunity to abandon the expedition. Not a single man left, and the journey continued.

Amundsen’s team would reach the pole first, and Scott would die trying. The story is one of the most harrowing and compelling narratives of human determination.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Facebook page.


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