Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen (Norwegian pronunciation: ; 16 July 1872 – c. 18 June 1928) was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions. He led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole between 1910 and 1912. He was the first person to reach both the North and South Poles. He is also known as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage. He disappeared in June 1928 while taking part in a rescue mission. Amundsen, along with Douglas Mawson, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton, was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
Amundsen was born to a family of Norwegian shipowners and captains in Borge, between the towns Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg. His father was Jens Amundsen. The fourth son in the family, his mother chose to keep him out of the maritime industry of the family and pressured him to become a doctor, a promise that Amundsen kept until his mother died when he was aged 21, then quitting university for a life at sea. Amundsen had hidden a lifelong desire inspired by Fridtjof Nansen's crossing of Greenland in 1888 and the doomed Franklin expedition. As a result, he decided on a life of intense exploration.
He was a member of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition (1897–99) as first mate. This expedition, led by Adrien de Gerlache using the ship the Belgica, became the first expedition to winter in Antarctica. The Belgica, whether by mistake or design, became locked in the sea ice at 70°30'S off Alexander Island, west of the Antarctic Peninsula. The crew then endured a winter for which the expedition was poorly prepared. By Amundsen's own estimation, the doctor for the expedition, American Frederick Cook, probably saved the crew from scurvy by hunting for animals and feeding the crew fresh meat, an important lesson for Amundsen's future expeditions.