After several failed attempts, 23 years of effort, and a lifetime of obsession with the Arctic, Admiral Robert Peary led in April 1909 what was then believed to be the first successful expedition to the North Pole. His stalwart crew, pictured here, included Inuits Ooqeah, Ootah, Egingwah, and Seeglo and fellow American Matthew Henson. Later studies claimed that Peary was actually 30 to 60 miles (50 to 100 kilometers) short of the Pole.

Photograph by Admiral Robert E. Peary, National Geographic
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    On April 6, 1909, American explorers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson claimed to reach the North Pole. Peary was supported and funded by the National Geographic Society, which verified his claim. It has been in dispute ever since.
    Peary never made his navigational records available for review, and other members of the expedition could not verify the route. Skeptics have noted the remarkable speed with which the expedition traveled once Capt. Bob Bartlett, the only other navigator besides Peary, left the crew. Peary reported more than doubling the amount of territory covered daily as soon as Bartlett left the expedition.
    Nonetheless, many explorers support Peary's claims. National Geographic conducted extensive studies of the photographs Peary took, and concluded they were taken within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of the pole. Depth soundings taken by Peary and Henson also seem to support their claim.
    Perhaps the most important support for Peary's claim came from British explorer Tom Avery's polar expedition of 2005. Avery mimicked Peary's supposed route, using sled dog teams. The expedition successfully reached the North Pole. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Arctic Noun

    region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Arctic
    claim Verb

    to state as the truth.

    dispute Noun

    debate or argument.

    Eskimo Noun

    people and culture native to the Arctic region of eastern Russia, the U.S. state of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.

    expedition Noun

    journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

    explorer Noun

    person who studies unknown areas.

    extensive Adjective

    very large.

    mimic Verb

    to copy another organism's appearance or behavior.

    National Geographic Society Noun

    (1888) organization whose mission is "Inspiring people to care about the planet."

    navigate Verb

    to plan and direct the course of a journey.

    North Pole Noun

    fixed point that, along with the South Pole, forms the axis on which the Earth spins.

    Encyclopedic Entry: North Pole
    remarkable Adjective

    unusual and dramatic.

    route Noun

    path or way.

    skeptic Noun

    person who doubts the truth or authenticity of something.

    sounding Noun

    measurement of the depth of a body of water in a specific area.

    territory Noun

    land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.

    verify Verb

    to prove as true.