The North and South Poles are considered to be the deadliest places on earth, thanks to subzero freezing temperatures, unpredictable storms and lack of basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter and even vegetation. This is probably a lot of expeditions to these areas were considered doomed even before they started, or created quite a stir to become world known controversies. Here are 5 such doomed and controversial expeditions to these areas that are worth knowing about.
Controversy over Discovery
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The year 1909 saw a bitter battle between two American explorers, Robert E. Peary and Frederick A. Cook, each of whom claimed to have reached the North Pole on foot first. The controversy started when Cook and his team of explorers claimed to have reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908. Cook revealed that bad weather had forced his team to dwell in a cave for the winter.
A week after his announcement, Peary made an announcement of reaching the North Pole first, providing a date that was a week behind that of the date announced by Cook. This led to a war of words and accusations between both parties who claimed to have reached the North Pole first. While Cook was able to back his claim with documents pertaining to his travel, Peary did not have any official record of his trip, thus making his reports suspicious.
Hitler’s Hideaway in the South Pole
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The claim that Hitler did not commit suicide and instead, fled with a troop of German soldiers to another country or perhaps another part of the world is a controversy that has been around since the end of World War II. Some rumors went as far as to claim that Hitler had found the entrance to the inner earth in the South Pole and had fled there in a submarine. Reports also suggested that he planned to create another Nazi army powerful enough to take over the entire world by using futuristic technology like round flying vehicles (ahem UFOs).
The Trip of a Lifetime gone bad
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In April 2013, an amateur explorer called Philip Goodeve Docker embarked on a trek across the Greenland ice cap with his friends. The 442 mile trek would take about 35 days to complete. No sooner than they had started their trip, the team ran into a blizzard that ripped away their tent. Their calls for help were answered and the men were rescued. However, Docker fell fatally sick from the cold and finally succumbed to his illness. He was 31 years old when he died.
Accidental Death at the Antarctic
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Wolf V. Vishniac was the brains behind the Wolf Trap, one among the four biological tests that was sent by NASA to Mars aboard the Viking Probe. Wolf got the grant from NASA in 1959 to build the Wolf Trap, a prototype system to test for signs of life on other planets, namely Mars. Sadly, while performing tests on the prototype in Antarctica (the climatic conditions in the region are closest to those on Mars) in 1973, Wolf fell into a crevice while trying to retrieve some equipment and died.
The Doomed Terra Nova Expedition
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Robert Falcon Scott, a navel cadet from England, wanted to be the first man to reach the South Pole. He set off on his journey with his crew aboard the Terra Nova whaling vessel in 1910. Landing in Antarctica, the crew found out that the climatic conditions in the region were not favorable for the horses, dogs and sleds they had brought along. So the men decided to continue their expedition to the South Pole on foot only in vain.
A Hungarian team beat them to the South Pole by 34 days. Heartbroken, the team started its way back to the Terra Nova. Sadly, no one came back alive, with each member falling prey to frostbite one after the other. Scott’s diary and the bodies of the crew members were found only after eight months.
The North and South poles are considered the most dangerous places on earth. This is probably why many expeditions to the area ended up in either death or controversy.