Roald Amundsen First to Each Pole

Three Prior North Pole Claims: Each Unproven & Highly Suspect

  • In 2009 April & November (letters), Smithsonian Magazine published heartwrenching defenses of North Pole-discovery claimants Frederick Cook (1908/4/21) & Robert Peary's companion Matthew Henson (1909/4/6), respectively, stating (November) that the-controversy-continues as to whether Cook or Peary was first there.

  • This is a false choice since among explorers and scientists, it is not controversial anymore that both claims presented no proof but numerous suspicious oddities, as did airman Richard Byrd's later 1926/5/9 claim. Moreover, Cook & Peary had each committed now-obvious exploration-fraud in 1906, when Cook faked the 1st ascent of Mt.McKinley, and Peary faked his sighting of mythical “Crocker Land”, as well as his Farthest North, the latter fraud proven through the unexpected discovery by Sir Wally Herbert (1st genuine dog-sledger to the N.Pole: 1969) of a lost typescript of much of Peary's deliberately destroyed 1906 April diary.

  • Upon reading Allen Counter's November letter to SM (defending the skeptical-bullet-ridden corpse of the Peary N.Pole claim), CalTech-JPL's E.Myles Standish, senior creator of the tables of Sun, Moon, & planets used throughout the world for the last 1/4 century, commented in understandable incredulity at artificial popular prolongation of what has not been a legitimate controversy for years: “Anyone who is acquainted with the facts and has any amount of logical reasoning can not avoid the conclusion that neither Cook, nor Peary, nor Byrd reached the North Pole; and they all knew it.” Standish shortly originated a fresh approach to the controversy: just list the FACTS, e.g., of the Peary claim. This stark analysis is now published at DIO.

  • SM's presumed desire to do justice to underdogs is commendable but misplaced in this instance. The genuine underdogs here are [1] evidence-oriented, academically competent scholars of the Polar Controversy (customarily ignored by promoters, who prefer selective and/or even irrelevant data, such as race-card politicking); and, more important, [2] the 1st provable North Pole attainer, Norwegian Roald Amundsen who on 1926/5/12 arrived there in the dirigible Norge with co-commander Lincoln Ellsworth (US); also, the Norge's designer, Umberto Nobile (Italy); and Norway's Oskar Wisting. Amundsen & Wisting were also indisputably 1st at the South Pole (1911/12/14). Despite his relative obscurity in the US, it is undeniable that Amundsen's record of firsts exceeds that of all other polar explorers combined.

  • SM might assist in general and rational perception of the truth by simply supplying the URLs of all major parties to this once-serious Controversy (as is done here below), thus leading the public to a full array of relevant evidence.

  • It is notable that those skeptical of the three dubious pre-Amundsen claims constitute the party that encourages such citational evenhandedness (including citing even the most bizarre attacks on themselves), while flamekeepers (DIO 10 [2000] end-note 20 [pp.103-104]) for the three indefensible claims are fearful of sending their readers along to skeptical sites (for reasons that will quickly become clear to anyone consulting said sites' lethally conclusive evidential analyses). Particular care is taken not to let readers know of DIO, which is by far the most scientifically competent of all the vying commentators.

  • Samples of DIO's findings & documentations:

    1. Peary's diary-page, for the precise 1906/6/24 moment when he later claimed to have discovered (non-existent) “Crocker Land” on the horizon, states: “No land visible”.

    2. The hitherto-hidden precropped original of Cook's 1906/9/18 Mt.McKinley “summit” photo was recovered 90y later by librarian Rob't Bryce and 1st published by DIO (as noted at New York Times 1998/11/26 p.1). Its now-fully-visible background shows that Cook was 19 miles distant from McKinley, at barely 1/4 its 20000' height: see Bryce at DIO 7.2 [1997] ‡7 Figs.6&8 [pp.52&54], side-by-side photo-blowups designed by Keith Pickering (biographer of Ralph Plaisted, 1st surface attainer of the N.Pole: 1968); DIO 9.3 [1999] ‡5 Fig.6 [p.116].

    3. Neither Cook in 1908 nor Peary in 1909 observationally controlled the compass each claimed to have steered their dog-sledges by, to reach the Pole. (DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡4; DIO 7.1 [1997] ‡4.)

    4. Henson's 1910/7/17 account notes Peary's 1909/4/6 “disappointment” (Peary at the North Pole, Fact or Fiction? 1973 p.151) right after his sextant observations of the Sun located the “Pole” Camp. At this very moment Peary ceased writing in his diary for days (similar to Byrd's 1926 behavior) and avoided conversing with inquiring companion Henson for the rest of the trip & beyond (Henson 1910; Rawlins 1973 p.152).

    5. In nautical miles/day, Peary's 1909 speed over buckled, fractured ocean-ice allegedly doubled from 13 with a light sledge as pace-maker to 27 with fully loaded sledges, suddenly streaking northward at ocean-ice-record pace just as soon as he left his last qualified navigator-witness behind. This re-doubled (to over 50!) returning southward to that point, where he then suddenly slowed to 20 despite ever-lightening sledges on this non-stretched portion of the trip, from there back to land. (Southward speeds were about 5/3 higher than northward, being mostly over the freshly pickaxed and iglooed northward trail, with lighter sledges than when on the outward journey. See also DIO 10 [2000] p.5 note.)

    6. Peary altered a key datum in the foregoing connexion when reading his diary to Congress in 1911 (Peary Hearings p.301).

    7. He also (understandably!) hid from Congress the ludicrously-feeble sole explanation in the diary, for his alleged perfect steering.

    8. As to A.Counter & Matthew Henson: Counter is in much the same bind as the “biographers”: of Shakespeare: no diaries or work-mss, etc.
      DIO alone has posted Henson's entire extant handwritten legacy.

    9. The long-secret Byrd 1926 diary's 1926/5/9 sextant data both place him over 100 nautical miles south of where he later said he was. (New York Times 1996/5/9 p.1; DIO 10 [2000] §E [pp.26-32].)

    10. As 1st noted by DIO, Byrd's initial official 1926/6/22 report's sextant data were inadvertently indoor-faked waaay too precisely to have been genuinely read off his outdoor sextant: data 30 times more precise than the real sextant data he entered into his 1925-1926 diary. So (ibid §G6 [pp.39-41]) he surgically excised these give-away data from the report before distributing it to geographical societies (1926/11/24 version). Sample before-after comparison (6/22 vs 11/24) provided at ibid Fig.7 [p.34].

  • The American Geographical Society awarded medals for the considerable genuine accomplishments of Peary & Byrd, but never for their North Pole claims.

  • Partly on the basis of our findings, the New York Times, one of the Peary claim's 1909 supporters, has (both editorially [1988] and in its Science section [2009/9/8]) unloaded its early support for the Peary claim, and equally forthrightly (cited at idem) was first to publish — on 1996/5/9 — the Byrd diary's contradictions of his claim (a claim also originally backed by the NYT). The 1996 New York Times page-one story (John Wilford) was openly based upon DIO's report to the Byrd Polar Research Center (Ohio State University), the full version of which was later simultaneously co-published by the University of Cambridge and DIO vol.10 [2000].

  • The Amundsen-Ellsworth-Nobile 1926 Norge expedition produced shared sextant readings, new scientific data, and crossed the Arctic Ocean virtually straight through. The expedition's flight-chart (complete with slight course-corrections — unlike the bee-line fantasies of Cook, Peary, & Byrd — is reproduced at Rawlins 1973 p.280.

  • For balance if nothing else, Smithsonian Magazine readers would presumably appreciate being informed of these sources.

  • Various viewpoints' websites:

    Posted 2009 November.

    Addendum on the various propaganda items contained in A.Counter's November letter to Smithsonian Magazine:

    Though Counter as usual tries to imply that Peary-skeptics are Cookites, it has been decades since any non-cult Peary-doubting scholar has believed that Cook got anywhere near as close to the Pole as Peary.
    The “Navigation Foundation” report (funded by Peary's funder, National Geographic) didn't convince leading science journals (e.g., Nature & Science: see citations at DIO 2.2 [1992] n.2 [p.55]; DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 §8 n.11 [p.101]) or indeed anyone else of a scientific bent.
    As for the idea that Peary couldn't make-it without Henson, Peary's actual private remarks on Henson's 1906 & 1909 northward drive are painful to read.
    No Henson diary survives, assuming such ever existed.
    Counter is not (as SM-billed) “Director The Harvard Foundation” but head of a particular Harvard foundation, that particularly lives to fan racial obsessions. Which is presumably why he continually goes on about how (back 100y ago) Henson was utterly ignored, so that an injustice needs to be rectified & rectified & rectified. Well, in truth, Henson's accounts were repeatedly and prominently published 1910-1912, including a long, illustrated article by him in then-widely-read World's Work (1910 April). His book was published with Peary's help in 1912, while only one other assistant on Peary's 1909 expedition was allowed to publish a book at the time (Geo.Borup's 1911 charmer, aimed at the kiddie market). For ethnic not scientific reasons, he is today promoted enormously more than any other assistant in the entire history of exploration (if not the whole span of human civilization): much more, ironically, than scientifically-gifted 1909 expedition-leader Peary, who — even when his occasional exaggerations are set aside — was the greatest of US arctic explorers. He and Henson will always be remembered together for their 1900/5/13 discovery of the northernmost point of land on Earth, Greenland's Cape Jesup, the impregnable documentation for which is, however, entirely due to Peary. His original chart of the discovery (reproduced at Rawlins Polar Notes 10:24-54 [Dartmouth 1970] Fig.7) typically marks observed compass variations throughout the region, the exact opposite of his career's unique blank on such observations in 1909, when he needed such steering-data more than on any other expedition of his career.