An 18 year struggle to reach the Pole
When Peary finally realized one could not simply walk, ski, or dog sledge to the Pole he had to engineered a large scale "assault" in which teams of men with dog teams pulling sledges shuttled food, fuel (for stoves to melt ice into drinking water) and other supplies while building a trail across the frozen ocean to a series of base camps. As each team finished their section they returned to the safety of land. Peary & Henson came up last, picked the best dogs to pull the final group of sledges. Then they dashed the last 133 miles with 4 skilled Eskimos to the Pole.

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Why it took 18 years
3 not 8

Notice that Peary & Henson made 3 polar expeditions; 1902, 1906, and 1909. It is a common mistake in history books to say Peary tried 7 or even 8 times to reach the Pole. The other expeditions involved mapping unknown regions of Greenland and recovery of the world's largest meteorites.
!986 US postal stamp honors Peary & Henson President Eisenhower with Henson.
Henson hand built the sledges that Peary designed based on years of field experience. This style is still in use today, but now made from aluminum alloy. Henson planed the sides from hickory planks. Walrus hide lashings hold it together and steel runners protect from the sharp ice.
Reaching the Pole spanned 18 years (18911909) of expeditions with Peary's loyal field assistant and trail leader Matthew Henson, progressively trying and failing, learning and mastering numerous skills.

It demanded courage & determination few men can match; the resolve to try and try again year after year in the face of defeat.

They proved there was no land bridge via Greenland to the Pole and they learned to travel in -50 cold, work with native people and master native methods of travel with dog sledges.

Searched the Arctic ocean around Northern Greenland/Ellesmere Island for a way to the Pole, learning the difficult techniques of hauling supplies over the Arctic Ocean with its pressure ridges and deadly open leads of  water.

Mastered the ability to cross dangerous, rubbery "young ice" that terrified others; understanding the ocean currents/drift, tidal and lunar effects.

Designed, financed, and constructed a ship capable of crushing through the summer ice along the west coast of Greenland to the most northerly point for a ship to spend the winter. This was essential to position sufficient men & supplies for the assault in the late winter/early spring. They tried increasingly larger expeditions starting from Cape Columbia, the most northern point of land.

Transported an Eskimo community on their ship with over 200 Huskies up into the Arctic Ocean, allowing it to be frozen in. Then they put everyone to work in factory like production, working through the Arctic night, to produce fur clothing, dog harnesses, hand crafted sledges,  tin fuel cans & stoves.

Executed Peary's elaborate support team plan with 24 men, 19 sledges of supplies hauled by 130 Huskies. They pushed on day after day over pressure ridges, crossing leads, building igloo camps.

At 133 nautical miles from the Pole Peary and Henson left the last support team. Their own elite team of 6 dashed towards the Pole with the best dogs and lightly loaded sledges. The weather held good, allowing them to sprint 25-30 miles/day until Henson figured they had gone far enough. Peary confirmed with a sextant reading, on April 6, 1909 and on April 7 with additional checks that they were at the North Pole.
With the weather holding good they dashed back for land in fear for their lives. Being 400 miles out on the ocean meant death if a storm blew in to strand them from land with open water, or drift the ice sheets hundreds of miles. Henson set a pace that exhausted the dogs and daily they fed the weaker ones to the others.

When they arrived back on the Roosevelt Henson collapsed to his bed to recover for days. Peary's diary records the terror that followed him. Every night, for weeks as he began to fall asleep, he found himself drowning in the Arctic ocean and woke up with a start.

But history had been made and the goal of centuries finally achieved by Peary and his team.

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