On October 19, 1911, Amundsen led four sleds, each pulled by 13 dogs, into the icy wilderness of Antarctica. Amundsen had spent many years in the frigid regions of the earth and had learned to wear the clothing of Eskimos.
He also followed a simple but harsh belief: “Don’t treat your men like dogs or your dogs like men.” To conserve food, he shot the weaker dogs as the journey lengthened and used the meat to feed both his men and the animals.
The party spent an agonizing number of days pulling the sleds over the Queen Maud mountain range. But with the mountains behind them, the worst of the trip was over. Nearly two months after leaving the base camp, the expedition had reached the southernmost spot reached by another explorer, and only 97 miles remained.
“I had the same feeling that I can remember as a little boy on the night before Christmas Eve, an intense expectation of what was going to happen,” wrote Amundsen later. At 3 P.M., December 14, the jubilant party recorded that they were at 90 degrees South Latitude, the South Pole.
For four days, they took measurements. Before leaving, they raised a Norwegian flag and left a note for the English party, which they were sure would be arriving soon.
Slightly more than a month later, Amundsen and his men were back safely aboard the Fram. They had won the race.