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Early Exploration

The following table lists just some of the major events in Antarctic exploration from the 
early days, to the first crossing of the Antarctic continent, to the more recent.


John Davis in the 'Desire' discovered the Falkland Islands.

1675 Antonio de la Roche first sighted South Georgia.
1773 Captain James Cook was the first to cross the Antarctic Circle.
1790 The start of the sealing industry in South Georgia.
1820 Antarctic continent first sighted separately by Edward Bransfield and von Bellinghausen.
1841 Sir James Clark Ross in 'Erebus' and 'Terror' discover the Ross Sea, Mount Erebus and the Ross Ice Shelf.
1898 Adrien de Gerlache in the 'Belgica' became trapped in the ice and were the first to survive an Antarctic winter.
1899 Carsten Borchgrevink and the crew of the 'Southern Cross' became the first to over-winter on the Antarctic continent.
1901-1904 Robert Falcon Scott in the 'Discovery' was the first to carry out extensive exploration on the Antarctic continent.
1902 Scott, Shackleton and Wilson reached 82º south from McMurdo Sound heading south across the Ross Ice Shelf, but returned to base two months later.
1902 Otto Nordenskjöld and his crew spent 2 winters on the ice and made the first major sledge journey in Antarctica.
1907-1909 Ernest Shackleton from the 'Nimrod' led a party of 4 who sledged to within 180kms of the pole and only survived the return journey by the narrowest margin.
1909 Mawson, David and McKay reached the south magnetic pole.
1911 14 December, Roald Amundsen from 'The Fram' and 4 team members reached the South Pole.
1912 Robert Falcon Scott from the 'Terra Nova' with Wilson, Evans, Bowers and Oates reached the south pole on 17 January but all perished on the return journey. 
1915 Ernest Shackleton in the 'Endurance' became beset in ice, escaped to Elephant Island in three small boats with all 28 members of the expedition and then sailed with five others in the 'James Caird' 1450kms to South Georgia and rescue.
1916 On the fourth attempt Shackleton reached Elephant Island in a Chilean ship to rescue the 22 men left there when he sailed for help to South Georgia.
1915-1916 Joseph Stenhouse in the 'Aurora' was supposed to meet Shackleton's crossing party but was beset in Ross Sea pack ice for 10 months. Three men died.
1922 In January, on a further expedition, Shackleton died of a heart attack at the age of 48 on board the 'Quest' at South Georgia. He is buried in the whalers graveyard.
1928 Hubert Wilkins made the first flight in the Antarctic region.
1929 On 28 November Richard E Byrd and three crew become the first to fly over the South Pole.
1935 In November, Lincoln Ellsworth was the first person to fly across the Antarctic Continent. 
1957 As part of the International Geophysical Year the Amundsen-Scott Base at the South Pole was constructed by the Americans.
1957 On 24 November Sir Vivian Fuchs set out on the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, on the first crossing of the continent, about 2158 miles. The journey from the Weddell Sea, across the South Pole to the Ross Sea was completed in 99 days on 2 March 1958.
Other more recent expeditions have since crossed the Antarctic continent:
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Charles Burton and Oliver Shepard crossed Antarctica via the South Pole during their circumnavigation of the Earth via both poles. The journey took 67 days using motorised skidoos.
In 1989/90 Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs crossed the continent in 92 days hauling plastic sledges. They had only one re-supply depot en route to the South Pole.
In 1990 the fourth crossing of the continent was completed by Will Steger and party and was the first crossing to be completed using dogs.
In 1992 Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr Michael Stroud made the first unsupported crossing of Antarctica.
In 1966/67 Borg Ousland made the first unsupported solo crossing of the Antarctic continent.