Roald Amundsen

As a child in Norway, Roald Amundsen dreamed of being a polar explorer. At 26, he was one of the first people to spend the long, dark winter in Antarctica. By his 30s, he was the first person to sail a ship through the Northwest Passage in the Arctic. In 1910, he wanted to reach the North Pole first. But when the Americans did it, he turned to the South Pole--launching a race with the British team. In December 1911, he claimed the prize.

Lived: 1872-1928
Hometown: Christiania (now Oslo), Norway
Known for: Led the Norwegian team that became the first to reach the South Pole.
Polar Adventures: Amundsen and Fram teammate Oscar Wisting were the first two people to visit both the North and South Poles.
Cool Fact: As a boy, Amundsen used to sleep with his window open, even during winter! He did it to harden himself to freezing temperatures.

Image credits: main image, © AGE Fotostock; Roald Amundsen: © AGE Fotostock; Roald Amundsen: © AGE Fotostock.