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 thought 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 for second his findings from the state was towards the North Pole and it was not said the state would let him travel to the south. It was not until the Cap Horn he told his crew and Wisting along them the new plans. On 14 December 1911 along with Amundsen, Wisting planted the Norwegian flag on the Geographic South Pole, just 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 12 May 1926. The previous claims to have arrived at the North Pole—by Frederick Cook in 1908 and Robert Peary in 1909 (same expeditions 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 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 5 December 1936 Wisting was found dead from heart attack in his old bunk on board the Fram, a few days before the 25th anniversary of the successful South Pole expedition.