It's the centennial today, Dec. 14, 1911. And, aside from a kerosene heater or two, Amundsen did it all with Upper Paleolithic technology - with the help of a lot of prior preparation and an indispensable co-evolved species known as the dog.
Scott, perhaps better known through his tragedy, was beaten to the pole by a good five weeks. It's hard to understand how Scott considered the use of sled dogs bad sportsmanship. Somehow, the use of gasoline powered tractors and ponies was not. I suppose incompetence and poor planning made up for any unacknowledged "cheating", especially once the tractors broke down and the ponies died of exposure, and Scott was forced to use Lower Paleolithic technology, pulling the sledges by hand.
It's kind of weird to think of how things have changed and not changed over the course of one hundred years. If I look around my place and subtract all the things that were not around one hundred years ago, the place would be quite threadbare. Lamps, I guess, would be there. A telephone, seeing as I am quite possibly the last man on earth with a landline. But the TV, the VCR/DVD player, the computer, the clock radio, the electric stove, the refrigerator, not only all in the future, but many of the components still in the future. (If you wonder about the appalling sparseness of current shit, well no, I am not a Luddite. I'm a late adopter. I prefer you get the metaphorical cell-phone shaped tumor on the side of your head, and then when that kink is gotten out of that piece of technology, I'll get it).
Then again, would someone from 1911 feel at his ease in my home. Of course. Most of the stuff unfamiliar to him would still be conceptually familiar. Why, even the computer, would be understandable and predictable. True, something of a marvel, but still something understandable.
What wouldn't be? Oh, well, I'd be a lot stinkier back then, with bad skin, bad breath and missing teeth, and probably smallpox scars. Probably a tapeworm, or if I lived south of the Mason-Dixon line, "seasoned" by malaria. I'd be threatened with diphtheria, scarlet fever, tetanus, tuberculosis, just to name a short few of the many diseases. 1911 is just at the end of the completion of many US sanitary projects, so I would just now be able to drink water that did not have someone else's shit in it.
Oh, and, I'd be ten years past the average life span and probably dying of stomach cancer (now practically non-existent).
So, that's all working out pretty well.