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Robert Peary

Peary and a companion on an earlier expeditionPeary and a companion on an earlier expedition American explorer Robert Peary (1856–1920), along with Matthew Henson (1866–1955) and others, made several Arctic expeditions from 1886 onwards. His early journeys gave him experience of Arctic conditions, but all attempts on the North Pole itself were beaten back by the weather, starvation and frostbite. Peary claimed that he and Henson finally made it to the Pole in April 1909, but his claims have never been wholly accepted.

Robert E. Peary (1856–1920)Robert E. Peary (1856–1920)

Peary's expedition

In 1909 Robert Peary began his eighth Arctic expedition. He was 52 and he had already lost eight of his toes through frostbite, but he was determined to reach the North Pole. Nothing else in his life mattered so much. From his base on Cape Columbia in Canada, he set out with 19 dog sledges across the shifting ice of the Arctic Ocean. Though often held up by stretches of open water, called leads, he advanced at a brisk rate of 24 kilometres (15 miles) a day. Other members of the expedition had gone ahead to leave supplies of fuel and food before turning back.

Matthew Henson (1866–1955)Matthew Henson (1866–1955)

Dash for the Pole

Matthew Henson was the first African-American to explore the Arctic. It was Henson who planted the American flag on the spot believed to be the Pole.

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