Sir James Clark Ross (1800 - 1862) was a British polar voyager and rear admiral who reached a point farther south than any explorer until the 20th century.
Ross joined the British Navy when he was 11 years old. He went on a number of Arctic expeditions, several of them with his uncle Sir John Ross, and with William Parry to study Eskimos. In 1818 he commanded the Erebus with his uncle in search of the Northwest Passage.
During an 1829-33 expedition with his uncle, he located the Magnetic North Pole on the Boothia Peninsula in Canada. With his expertise, he was the natural choice to lead an expedition south to find its counterpart the South Magnetic Pole where he was to study its magnetic effect on the earth. It was during this expedition that he achieved his greatest fame.
Commanding the historic Antarctic expedition, he took the Erebus and the Terror (commanded by Francis Crozier), and left England in 1839. On the voyage south, Ross established magnetic observatories in St. Helena, the Cape of Good Hope and Hobart, Tasmania with a stopover in the Kerguelen archipelago.
Ross became the first explorer to penetrate the southern pack ice, which was no mean feat. Soon after crossing the Antarctic circle, they hit the ice barrier, whereupon Ross decided to break through it as best as they could. On January 9th 1841, they manage to break through the ice and were rewarded with their first glimpse of the open waters of the Ross Sea. Once they got through the pack ice, Ross began naming every mountain in sight (i.e. Mount Erebus and Mount Terror) and claimed every parcel of land he could lay his eye upon for Her Majesty and His Royal Highness Prince Albert. Ross and Crozier planted a flag on Possession Island, and named the region Victoria Land.
But that wasn't why he came, it was time to push onward. Unfortunately after heading south for a few weeks through absolutely treacherous waters, they ran into an impenetrable wall of ice called the Great Ice Barrier - later renamed to The Ross Ice Shelf. After two attempts, they quit for the winter and headed to Cape Horn. The Erebus fell victim to a massive iceberg. By the talent of Ross and the determination of the crew, they managed to survive and reach The Falkland Islands and make repairs. When the weather became more "hospitable" they headed back, but finally gave up and returned to Merry Olde England.