Captain Robert F. Scott journaling in his cabin on October 7, 1911, shortly before setting out on the race to the South Pole
The geographic South Pole is at the southern end of the Earth’s axis, in the Continent of Antarctica, which has no full-time inhabitants or “owners.” The South Pole is approximately 300 miles South of the Ross Ice Shelf at about 9,300 feet above sea level, though it is constantly changing in the 8,850 foot thick ice sheet. Like its opposite pole, the South Pole is in darkness six months of the year and bright sunlight six months. The continent of Antarctica is 5.275 million square miles.
The respective routes of the Scott and Amundsen expeditions
Amundsen had twenty men, all good skiers, and fifty-two sled dogs aboard the Fram. Scott took about sixty men, along with ponies, dogs, and sleds in his ship the Terra Nova. They began the hunt for the South Pole from the Bay of Whales and Camp Evens respectively. Amundsen prepared very carefully for the trek—mistakes in Antarctica could prove fatal very quickly. He positioned food caches along his route ahead of time to be sure he had supplies coming and going. On October 19, 1911, Roald Amundsen set out across the ice sheets and mountains of Antarctica with four of his men and the dogs; Scott and his men left on November 1 with the ponies, on a longer but safer route than that taken by Amundsen.
Amundsen’s South Pole party, en route to the pole, November, 1911