First in Antarctica

Фаддей Беллинсгаузен и Михаил Лазарев. Портреты:
Фаддей Беллинсгаузен и Михаил Лазарев. Портреты:

Antarctica is a nature reserve which territory does not belong to any state in the world. It`s a place for penguins to live, and for scientists to work; but ordinary people do not frequent here, and, as a rule, are new to the history of the continent. Do you know who discovered Antarctica? Who was the first to land on the continent? Who founded the first station? You can learn about all this and more  in the article of the "Historian" magazine.


Russian sailors - of the expedition of Thaddeus Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on the “Vostok” and “Mirny” sloops - were the first to approach the Antarctic glaciers . The discovery of the sixth continent took place on January 16th (28th), 1820. Bellingshausen called the discovered land the "continent of ice." The trip was described in two volumes - “The voyage of Captain Bellingshausen to the Antarctic seas 1819-1821”- with an atlas of maps and views, which were published in St. Petersburg in 1831.


The first to map the outlines of the eastern coast of the Earth, which he called the Antarctic part of the world, was the American navigator, Charles Wilkes. His expedition, which sailed the waters of the Pacific Ocean, at the beginning of 1840 approached the shores of Antarctica. Wilkes' crew managed to cover almost 2800 km along its coast in a sector between 97° and 158° east longitude.


The first person to set foot on the shore of the Southern continent was the Norwegian polar explorer, Carsten Borchgrevink. This happened at the end of January 1895. Together with several members of the expedition, who arrived in the southern latitudes on the “Antarctic” whaling vessel, he made the first documented landing on the coast of Antarctica near Cape Adare.


Южное сияние. Акварель Павла Михайлова
Южное сияние. Акварель Павла Михайлова


The first station in Antarctica was opened by members of the British expedition, which arrived at Cape Adair on the ship "Southern Cross". There, in the Ridley camp founded by Carsten Borchgrevink, in March 1899 10 polar explorers stayed for the winter. From this odyssey, it is customary to count down the heroic development of the icy continent. The wooden house of the first Antarctic wintering people has survived to the present day and has become one of the main tourist attractions of Antarctica.

Stone building

The first stone building in Antarctica appeared in 1903. On the Laurie Island (South Orkney Islands), members of a Scottish expedition led by William Speirs Bruce, built a house called the Omond House  in honor of Robert Omond, director of the Royal Edinburgh Observatory. The construction became a refuge for researchers who began regular meteorological observations on the island. "Given that we did not have mortars and tools for stone work, this is a wonderful and very durable house," one of them wrote. The "Scottish mansion", until the 1950s, remained the only stone building in the high southern latitudes.

South Pole

The first to reach the South Pole was a Norwegian expedition led by Roald Amundsen, which also included Oscar Wisting, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Olav Bjaaland. This happened on December 14th, 1911. The path to one of the most inaccessible places on Earth was exhausting, but by the end of January, the Amundsen crew, who had visited the pole, returned safely to the base. Almost simultaneously, the expedition of the British traveler Robert Scott rushed to the same goal. Its participants reached the coveted milestone a month later, on January 17th, 1912, and on the way back they all died in the ice from exhaustion, cold and hunger.


Первая антарктическая экспедиция Австралии. Фото: State Library of New South Wales
Первая антарктическая экспедиция Австралии. Фото: State Library of New South Wales


The first South Pole air expedition was organized by the American pilot, George Hubert Wilkins . Aviators and their aircraft were delivered to the Deception Island (the South Shetland Islands) by the steamship "Hektoria". On November 16th, 1928, a test flight took place - the first in Antarctica. Later, Wilkins and his partner, Carl Ben Eielson, conducted aerial exploration of Graham Land. Before them, no one penetrated the interior of this peninsula of Antarctica.

Pole of inaccessibility

The first to reach the South Pole of Inaccessibility - the point farthest from the coastline of Antarctica – was the Soviet expedition, led by hydrometeorologist, Yevgeny Tolstikov. There, on December 14th, 1958, a temporary station was founded. A group of 14 people led by Vitaly Babarykin worked in it for 12 days, carried out meteorological, glaciological and geomagnetic observations. In a preserved form, the station has survived to the present day. On the roof of a snow-covered house is a bust of Vladimir Lenin installed by Soviet polar explorers.


The first child born on the icy continent was the Argentinean Emilio Marcos Palma. Antarctica is the only continent on the planet that does not have permanent residents. For a long time, the natives of Antarctica did not exist. But on January 7th, 1978, a boy was born at the Esperanza Base, weighing 3.4 kg. His father, captain Jorge Emilio Palma, commanded an army detachment working at this station. The captain’s wife was delivered there on a seventh month of pregnancy by a special flight. The birth of a person on the harshest continent of the Earth - an event related to Argentina's claims to the Antarctic territories - received a wide response, it was celebrated  at all the South Pole stations. Since then, 10 more people have been born in Antarctica.