Robert Edwin Peary and His Arctic Adventures Quiz

Nathan Chandler

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

In the early 20th century, exploration was all the rage, and no white man had ever set foot on the North Pole. Robert Peary set out to be the first. How much do you know about the fierce explorer and his Arctic journeys?

Robert Peary is best known for his adventures in which area of the world?

Peary was an adventurer who claimed to have discovered the North Pole. He gained fame for his feats in the frigid Arctic.

Peary was one of many explorers in a time when exploring was cool. When did he say he reached the pole?

Robert sent word of his accomplishment in 1909. His accomplishment was lauded by people around the world.

He was a famous explorer of cold regions. Where did Peary spend his childhood?

Peary was born in Pennsylvania but raised in Maine, and neither place is as cold as the Arctic. But it seems that cold weather agreed with the young man.

Peary was a pretty smart guy. What level of education did he reach?

In the 1870s, many people didn't bother with advanced education, but Peary went to college and got a degree in civil engineering, which came in handy during his time in the military.

Robert wanted a life of adventure. He first served in which branch of the military?

Like so many people filled with wanderlust, Peary joined the Navy. During his service, he helped engineer the Nicaragua Canal.

Where did Peary's first Arctic adventure take him?

His first major expedition was meant to travel across Greenland using dog sleds. The Navy actually gave him leave so that he could pursue his dream.

The Greenland expedition was a rousing success.

Robert and a partner made it just 100 miles before they were forced to turn back or face starvation. The humbling experience gave him serious insights into just how taxing Arctic expeditions could be.

Who claimed to have reached the North Pole prior to Peary?

Cook claimed to have reached the pole a full year before Peary. Cook was also an avid explorer who had performed amazing feats of his own.

What happened to Cook's claims of reaching the North Pole?

Ultimately, most historians don't think Cook's data was correct, so he's mostly been discredited as the first man to the North Pole. He was also crooked ... and spent a good chunk of his later life in prison.

What was a characteristic of the "Peary system" of Arctic travel?

Peary would send out teams of men to deposit supplies, farther and farther from a starting point. Those supply caches would then support explorers after they left base camp.

How many dogs did Peary take for his 1909 North Pole expedition?

Peary was sold on the value of good sled dogs. He took 246 dogs for his huge expedition, which included 50 men and nearly 20 sleds.

The journey to the North Pole was hazardous and frightening. How many men accompanied Peary on his final push to the pole?

Just five men were with Peary on the final stretch. Three of them were Inuits. The final stretch was exciting ... and dangerous.

Peary definitely reached the North Pole.

No one can be certain, but many historians suspect that Peary came up just short of the actual pole. In spite of that, some still credit him with being first.

Peary had a constant companion and personal assistant for many of his expeditions. What was the man's name?

Peary met Matthew Henson at a clothing store and the two immediately clicked. Henson, a young black man, was one of Peary's most trusted associates.

In 1891, Frederick Cook accompanied Peary on a trip to which area?

Before the two became rivals, they were teammates. Cook was part of one of Peary's early Greenland expeditions.

In what capacity did Cook serve during the 1891 Greenland expedition?

Cook had an incredibly important job -- he was the group's doctor. The hazards of the Arctic meant that medical care was both vital … and difficult.

In 1905, Peary had a ship built to his specifications for Arctic travel. What was it named?

Peary named his ship the SS Roosevelt in honor of the famous Teddy Roosevelt, an explorer and adventurer in his own right.

Peary did a preliminary trip to the Arctic. How did his 1905 expedition end?

His team was running out of food and the weather was slowly but surely making the ice unstable. He dashed back to the ship just before the ice became incredibly dangerous.

How did Peary's men survive cold nights in the Arctic?

Peary learned the art of building igloos from the Inuit. He stopped lugging tents around the ice and instead had his men build igloos to stay warm.

Peary was almost never home because of his long expeditions. He never married.

In 1888, he did marry a woman named Josephine. They had two children together. She often went on his early Arctic expeditions.

What major tip did Peary glean from the ways of the Inuit people of the Arctic?

The Inuit used heavy furs to stay warm in the bitter cold. Peary copied their clothing and learned many other survival techniques from them, too.

How were Peary's claims of his final North Pole journey received by the public?

Peary provided enough details and data to convince most people of his triumph. Almost everyone believed that he was the first man to the pole.

When did the first widespread doubt about his accomplishment become a public matter?

It wasn't until the 1980s -- when researchers reviewed Peary's documents and matched them to modern knowledge -- that serious doubts came to light with Peary's feat.

Modern researchers think that Peary may have gotten how close to the Pole?

There's a good possibility that Peary never actually made it to the Pole. But he was tantalizingly close -- perhaps only 30 miles from his ultimate destination.

What's a complicating factor in determining who reached the Pole first?

The South Pole was easy -- it rests on solid land. But the North Pole is surrounded by floating, moving ice and the landscape is never the same.

In the first 20 or so years of his marriage, how many years was Peary actually at home with his wife?

Peary's long trips pulled him away from home for years at a time. He may have spent only about three or so years with his wife in the first two decades of marriage.

Peary was incredibly faithful to his wife in spite of the long periods of separation.

Robert struck up relationships with the Inuit women he met during his journeys. He fathered multiple children with the natives.

Of the six men in Peary's team who supposedly made it to the Pole, how many could read their primary navigational tool, the sextant?

Only Peary could read a sextant -- not even his assistant Matthew Henson knew how to use one. That means only Peary's eyes were used to confirm the party's location.

How many years did Peary train and work towards his dream of reaching the Pole?

For 23 years, Peary trained his mind and body through constant journeys, all in an effort to attain the Pole. In the end, no one really knows if he did it.

After his incredible expedition, how did Peary spend much of the rest of his life?

Peary never could totally shake the specter of Cook's claim on the Pole. He spent much of his life trying to convince people that he was first…but it seems that no one will probably ever really know.

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