Roald Amundsen was born in Borge, Norway on July 16, 1872. His family had been mariners but his mother made him promise to become a doctor which he studied to become. When she died when he was 21 he quit school to go to sea. He led the first successful South Pole expedition, beating Robert Scott in 1911. He was also the first person to navigate through the Northwest Passage (1903-1906). After his South Pole exploits, Amundsen turned to air exploration and, in fact, disappeared in an effort to rescue his colleague Umberto Nobile who had crashed his dirigible.. .