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Who got to the North Pole first? Tom Avery's latest book attempts to settle the debate

6th April 2009

A century ago today, an American named Robert Peary and a companion either stepped foot on the frozen North Pole, or they didn't. The debate over whether Peary became the first person to reach the pole on April 6, 1909 has raged for decades.

Sceptics say Peary lacked evidence to back up his claim that he reached the pole from the northernmost reaches of Greenland in just 37 days of sledding over a mostly frozen ocean, across 413 nautical miles (about 500 miles).

A new book aims to settle the debate. In 2005, British explorer Tom Avery recreated Peary's trip, using methods similar to Peary's, and beat his time by a few hours. He describes his journey in his latest book "To the End of the Earth: Our Epic Journey to the North Pole and the Legend of Peary and Henson."

Tom is one of only a handful of people to reach both poles on foot. Since carrying out the expedition using similar techniques to Peary, Tom is convinced, that Peary reached the pole. "We used the same kind of dogsleds, the same breed of dogs, we navigated the same way he did. The crux of the debate was the speed, and we have shown that it is very possible."

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