Statue of Roald Amundsen in Tromsø
In Britain Amundsen is somewhat notorious as the guy who beat Captain Scott to the South Pole. In Norway however, and especially in Tromsø, he is regarded as a national hero. His achievements came just after Norway had become independent from Sweden and helped to put the new nation on the world stage.
Amundsen succeeded where Scott failed because he better understood the polar environment and how to deal with the challenges it posed. Like the Inuit of the Arctic he wore furs rather than woollen clothing, and relied on dogs rather than horses. However our guide for a city walk in Tromsø told us that he wasn’t an easy person to work with, or for. Like many driven individuals he was overbearing and intolerant. But without those characteristics, would have achieved all that he did?
Amundsen disappeared on 18th June 1928 while flying on a mission to rescue the missing crew members from the airship Italia. His plane never returned and his body and those of his team were never found. Later a fuel tank from the plane washed up near Tromsø and is today on display in the town’s Polar Museum.