Oscar Adolf Wisting was a Norwegian polar explorer. Together with Roald Amundsen, he was the first person to reach both the North and South Poles.
Oscar Wisting was born in Larvik, in Vestfold county, Norway. At the age of sixteen, he went to sea and in 1892 joined the Royal Norwegian Navy. In 1909, Roald Amundsen asked Oscar to join his forthcoming North Pole expedition. Amundsen had gotten funding from the state to reach the North Pole and equipped his ship Fram for this expedition.
However, before they could even start their expedition, they heard some bad news: an English expedition had reached the North Pole. This crashed Amundsens plans to be the first. It took him very little time to change his mind towards the South Pole – a target still unreached by any man.
It was well known that an English explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, had started an expedition to the South Pole. Amundsen wanted to keep his new intentions secret. For one, to gain the element of surprise against Scott and secondly, because his fundings from the state were towards an expedition to the North Pole. The state had never agreed to fund an expedition to the south. It was not until they reached Cape Horn he told his crew and Wisting about the new plans. On 14th of December 1911 along with Amundsen, Wisting planted the Norwegian flag on the Geographic South Pole, just a few weeks before Scott.
From 1918 to 1925 Wisting was chief officer on board the Maud in Roald Amundsen’s attempt to traverse the Northeast Passage. From 1923 to 1925 Wisting more or less acted as leader of the expedition after Amundsen left to try to fly to the pole instead.
In 1926, Wisting participated in Amundsen’s successful attempt to fly over the North Pole. In the airship Norge, they reached the pole on 12th of May 1926. The previous claims to have arrived at the North Pole—by Frederick Cook in 1908 and Robert Peary in 1909 (the same expedition that turned Amundsen towards the South Pole) are both disputed as being either dubious in accuracy or outright fraud. Therefore, it can be considered that the crew of the Norge were actually the first verified explorers to have reached the North Pole. In addition, Wisting, along with Amundsen, was one of the two first persons who had been to both the North Pole and the South Pole.
In later years Oscar Wisting was an active force behind the preparations and building of the Fram Museum in Oslo, a museum built to store and display the polar ship Fram. On 5th of December 1936 Wisting was found dead from a heart attack in his old bunk onboard the Fram, a few days before the 25th anniversary of the successful South Pole expedition.