The literature of polar exploration

Page 2 of 3 Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Guest on Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:34 pm

Now I wish I didn't have to wait (I can't borrow books yet because last books I borrowed I returned them later than I should)

Unsung Hero also sounds good. Tom Crean took part in both, Scott's and Shackleton's failed expeditions Shocked

I prefer Shackleton's (without having read any book) in part because he failed but it isn't as tragic as Scott's... since nobody died.
The one that seems harder to the mind is the one about Franklin's expedition to the northern pole.


I'm recovering the enthusiasm I had about the southern pole hehe. I remember I saw some documentaries about it, maybe ten years ago, and wanted to go there.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Guest on Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:58 pm

Want a job?

MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY, SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL, HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS

ERNEST SHACKLETON


But is this newspaper announcement fake or not?

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  pinhedz on Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:07 am

It appeals to a certain personality type:


pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat

Posts : 11694
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : DC

http://www.balalaika.org/

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:25 am

Vera Cruz wrote:I prefer Shackleton's (without having read any book) in part because he failed but it isn't as tragic as Scott's... since nobody died.

To qualify this slightly: it's true that nobody died under Shackleton's immediate command, but his Endurance expedition plan was for a transantarctic link-up with a second party travelling along Scott's old route from the opposite side of the continent- and there were fatalities among Shackleton's "forgotten men" in this second party.

The Franklin expedition is the polar horror story to end all polar horror stories: shipwreck, a death march, starvation, cannibalism, the sheer scale of the disaster. Paradoxically, it was reading accounts of the sufferings of Franklin's men that inspired Amundsen to become a polar explorer.


eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Guest on Sat Dec 03, 2011 6:09 am

I downloaded this documentary. Liked it. Maybe there's a too pro Shackleton expert.

The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition (2001)




(1 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/qrjiODxJC2g

(2 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/ff_0nhx-10I

(3 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/oDQEsQa5TyQ

(4 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/rqpITVsy2cU

(5 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/MiFIymkmBbA

(6 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/07ftLbb0CDI

(7 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/GHBFhi4K4UA

(8 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/WuY8_SVaVSw

(9 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/xloKsz2Kl8I

(10 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/WSAE09AKkLU

(11 of 11)
http://www.youtube.com/v/28rqRrWLP94

Edit: Fuck, you can't see it from here you have to go to youtube. I'll leave just the links.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:28 am



A century before the makers of Frozen Planet, the photographer Herbert Ponting travelled with Captain Scott to Antarctica. The British Antarctica Expedition, 1910-1913, was to become a tragedy when Scott and his party died after reaching the South Pole second to their rival Roald Amundsen. Yet before they set out for the centre of the frozen continent they explored, and photographed, its spectacular sights. Ponting took powerful, touching shots of penguins, seals and the expedition's dogs and horses. This picture – Grotto in an Iceberg – taken from an ice cave, is Ponting's most famous shot. Scott’s ship is in the distance; Ponting, deep in the ice grotto, sees its swirling serpentine contours and ovoid aperture. It is like the frozen eye of a frost giant spying on the explorers. That frozen giant would get them. This photograph is one of the most beautiful ever taken of Antarctica, but it is forever tinged by death. In festive terms, this is In the Bleak Midwinter

Photographer: Herbert Ponting/The Royal Collection/HM Queen Elizabeth II

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:18 pm

Winter reads: The Terror by Dan Simmons

A chilling speculation on the fate of Franklin's ill-fated expedition to the Northwest Passage, with added horror to thoroughly freeze your blood

Alison Flood

guardian.co.uk, Friday 2 December 2011 10.40 GMT


The end of the Franklin Expedition to the Northwest Passage. Engraving from a painting by W Thomas Smith. Illustration: Unknown/Bettmann/Corbis

There are a lot of Dan Simmons books in our house, but they are not mine. My husband adores Hyperion, Endymion and all his hard science fiction: I haven't got on with it, so when he brought home The Terror a few years ago, I didn't hold out high hopes. A few days later, I emerged from the novel, shivering, terrified and Arctic-obsessed. What better read for a winter weekend than a book about people even colder than you?


The Terror
by Dan Simmons

The Terror is Simmons's imagining of what happened on Captain Franklin's doomed 19th-century expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage. The real story is appalling enough: Franklin's two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, set off in 1845 but were trapped in the Arctic ice for years. None of the 100-plus men on the ships survived; little is known about how they died, but starvation, hypothermia, cannibalism and lead-poisoning from the canned food they took with them have all been posited.

Skilfully, horribly, Simmons details the months of darkness – the temperatures of -50F and lower; the shrieking groans of the ice; the wind; the hunger – from the multiple perspectives of the men on board the ship, and with such detail that I defy readers not to grab another jumper. He adds in another, more deliberate evil: a stalking, polar bear-like monster which tracks over the icy wastelands around the ships, picking the men off one by one. "To go out on the frozen sea in the dark now with that … thing … waiting in the jumble of pressure ridges and tall sastrugi was certain death," he writes. "Messages were passed between the ships now only during those dwindling minutes of half-light around noon. In a few days, there would be no real day at all, only arctic night. Roundtheclock night. One hundred days of night." What a horrifying thought.

The sailors realise the ice isn't going to melt enough to free their ships during the summer of 1847, that "there would be no release from this belly of the Leviathan winter this summer. No escape from the cold belly of this ice this year". When the Erebus is crushed by the ice, the remaining men eventually decide that their best bet is to take what is left of their provisions and flee south across the frozen sea. Stalked by "the thing on the ice", starving to death, they claw their way towards Canada.

At almost 1,000 pages, The Terror is no quick read. Not, previously, a Simmons fan, I'm still not quite sure why I started such a doorstopper, but I know I couldn't put it down. I am a sucker for the story of the desperate journey, of survival (or not) against great odds, of man against nature, whether fictional (come on Frodo and Sam!) or true (Graham Bowley's No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 was an excellent recent read). It's hard to imagine a more wretched situation than that faced by Franklin and his men. Simmons, with his "thing on the ice", gives it a go.

I said last week that the fireside scene in The Hundred and One Dalmatians was the cosiest, toastiest in literature. For sheer extremity-freezing, heart-stopping, unbearable wintry cold and misery, though, it has to be The Terror. It's a truly chilling horror novel, made even more terrifying when you remember that much of the horror Simmons describes is based on reality.


eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Guest on Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:20 am

eddie wrote:

A century before the makers of Frozen Planet, the photographer Herbert Ponting travelled with Captain Scott to Antarctica. The British Antarctica Expedition, 1910-1913, was to become a tragedy when Scott and his party died after reaching the South Pole second to their rival Roald Amundsen. Yet before they set out for the centre of the frozen continent they explored, and photographed, its spectacular sights. Ponting took powerful, touching shots of penguins, seals and the expedition's dogs and horses. This picture – Grotto in an Iceberg – taken from an ice cave, is Ponting's most famous shot. Scott’s ship is in the distance; Ponting, deep in the ice grotto, sees its swirling serpentine contours and ovoid aperture. It is like the frozen eye of a frost giant spying on the explorers. That frozen giant would get them. This photograph is one of the most beautiful ever taken of Antarctica, but it is forever tinged by death. In festive terms, this is In the Bleak Midwinter

Photographer: Herbert Ponting/The Royal Collection/HM Queen Elizabeth II

This is "The Great White Silence (1924), the official film record of Captain Scott's ill-fated trip to the South Pole." (Restored in 2011):

min 0:56 - looks like the same place from the other side



Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Guest on Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:23 am

I like this pic


The Freezing of the Sea, Antarctica, Herbert George Ponting, 1911

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:17 am

The following lines were stimulated by the account of one of the Antarctic expeditions (I forget which, but I think one of Shackleton's): it was related that the party of explorers, at the extremity of their strength, had the constant delusion that there was one more member than could actually be counted.
(TS ELIOT: Notes on The Wasteland.)

I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three.
(Ernest Shackleton, South; reprinted in Roland Huntford, Shackleton.)


Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?
(TS ELIOT. The Wasteland)

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:07 am


An unequal contest: 'Nelson and the Bear', by Richard Westall (1765-1836) Photo: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

7:00AM BST 24 Aug 2010
Letters page. Daily Telegraph

SIR – Spitsbergen, an island in the Svalbard archipelago, seems to have been swarming with troublesome polar bears and plucky British mariners for some time (Letters, August 23). In 1773, one of the former nearly did for one of the latter in the form of Horatio Nelson.

Nelson, a midshipman not yet 15, had joined a ship attempting to find a north-east passage, like the Austro-Hungarian expedition 99 years later. With the ship balked by ice north of Spitsbergen, young Nelson set off across the ice to shoot a polar bear. His musket misfired, and he attempted to belabour the beast with the butt end.

Fortunately, he and the bear were separated by a break in the ice. Had the bear been able to engage more closely, we might now be speaking French.

Philip Wood
London W11

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:42 am

Scott of the Antarctic: the lies that doomed his race to the pole

Far from being a heroic amateur as he's so often portrayed the explorer championed science and, as Robin McKie reveals, was a victim of cruel luck – and deception

Robin McKie

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 24 September 2011 19.55 BST


Frozen in time: the five members of Scott’s expedition who made it to the South Pole in 1912, but died on the return. From left: Oates, Bowers, Scott, Wilson and Evans. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

On 12 November 1912, a party of British explorers was crossing the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica when one of the team, Charles Wright, noticed "a small object projecting above the surface". He halted and discovered the tip of a tent. "It was a great shock," he recalled.

With his companions, Wright had been searching for Captain Robert Falcon Scott who, with four colleagues, had set off to reach the South Pole the previous year. The team, from the Scott expedition base camp, knew their comrades were dead: their provisions would have run out long ago. But how and where had Scott perished?

Wright had found the answer. "I tried to signal my party to stop as I considered it would be a sort of sacrilege to make a noise," he said later. The men began digging and revealed a tent, perfectly pitched, as Scott would have insisted. He was lying at its centre with Lieutenant Henry Bowers and Dr Edward Wilson on either side. His companions appeared at peace but Scott looked agitated, as if he had struggled to the last. Of his other men, diaries showed that Petty Officer Edgar Evans had suffered concussion after a fall and died a few weeks after the group began trudging back from the pole, while Captain Lawrence Oates had walked out of their tent to his death because he felt that he was holding back his comrades. Those diaries also showed that Scott had been beaten to the Pole by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen.

The cold had turned the skin of Scott, Wilson and Bowers yellow and glassy. "That scene can never leave my memory," recalled Apsley Cherry-Garrard, another search-party member. "We never moved them. We took the bamboos of the tent away and the tent itself covered them. Over them we built the cairn." The party's leader, Edward Atkinson, read the lesson for the burial service from Corinthians.

It took three more months for the expedition's survivors to reach New Zealand and to cable Britain. Four days after the news arrived, a memorial service was held at St Paul's, attended by the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the elite of British society. More than 10,000 people gathered outside. Just as it did when Princess Diana died, Britain reacted with an outpouring of national grief.

Over the following century, Scott's death provided Britain with a powerful legend imbued with heroism, sacrifice – and a noble defeat that will be the focus of considerable attention when, on 14 December, the 100th anniversary of the South Pole's conquest is commemorated. On that day, at exactly 3pm, Amundsen and his four companions reached the planet's most desolate, inhospitable spot. Amundsen noted in his diary: "We had a celebration dinner: a small piece of seal meat each." Thirty four days later, Scott arrived and found that his greatest fear – to be beaten to the pole by the Norwegian – had come true. "Great God! this is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without reward of priority," he wrote.

Amundsen's victory and Scott's defeat have acquired a mythic status over the years: a battle between cold, Scandinavian efficiency and British have-a-go pluck and cheery amateurishness. The victory of the former was therefore assured, it is assumed, while the latter was doomed from the start.


'A chain of events – and lies – put Amundsen there. He should have been at the other pole.' Scott in his naval uniform and Roald Amundsen. Photograph: Getty

In fact, the arrival of Amundsen at the South Pole that day was by no means a certainty, a point that remains one of the least appreciated aspects of the Scott-Amundsen story. Indeed, it had taken an extraordinary chain of events – and lies – to place Amundsen there. By rights, he should have been standing on our planet's other pole that year. From this perspective, Scott was a victim, not simply of bad luck but of deception. As UK polar expert Nick Cox says: "Only the slightest change in circumstances could have produced a dramatically different outcome for Scott."

Roald Amundsen, the fourth son of a family of Norwegian ship owners, had been fascinated since adolescence with the fate of Sir John Franklin's lost expedition to find the Northwest Passage, a sea route that would link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He was also inspired by the great Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who had come close to conquering the North Pole in 1895. Amundsen vowed to achieve the goals that had eluded his two heroes. In 1900, aged 28, he used up his inheritance to buy the shallow-hulled ship Gjoa which he then sailed through the knots of tiny islands, ice floes and shoals of northern Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Northwest Passage had been conquered. Amundsen turned to the North Pole and his hero, Nansen, agreed to lend his ship, the Fram, for a new expedition. And then the bombshell dropped.

Within weeks of each other, in 1909, two rival US explorers – Robert Peary and Frederick Cook – announced they had led two separate expeditions to the North Pole. Neither man's claim is accepted today, so poor was their proof of arrival and so incredible were the speeds with which they claimed to have travelled over the ice. Even at the time, there were mutterings. Both were backed by rival New York newspapers, it was noted. But it was enough for Amundsen. There was no glory in going north, he decided. Robbed of one pole, he simply chose to bag the other. But there were complications: Robert Scott, the 42-year-old who had already led one expedition to Antarctica from 1901 to 1904, was preparing to embark on a new voyage there.

"Norway had only just achieved independence and its biggest ally in gaining this had been Britain," says Geir Klover, director of the Fram Museum in Oslo. "Our queen, Maud, was British, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria." Protocol indicated that Scott's expedition should not have to face a last-minute Norwegian rival. Amundsen knew this and was aware he would probably be refused permission to use the Fram to go to Antarctica. So he sailed off from Oslo, on 3 June 1910, with the professed intent of sticking to his old plan to sail the Fram round Cape Horn and back north to Alaska and the easier route to the North Pole.

Only when he reached Madeira, while Scott was on his way to Australia, did Amundsen reveal his new plan. A telegram awaited Scott in Melbourne: "Beg leave to inform. Fram heading south. Amundsen." The news stunned Scott and his men. As one of them remarked: "We are up against a very big man." This view is backed by Klover: "Amundsen had a tremendous reputation. He was a meticulous planner, easily the best organised explorer of his generation. It was not good news for Scott."

Yet it had taken a series of deceptions to send Amundsen on his way to clash with Scott. "If Peary and Cook had not been believed, then Amundsen would not have lied and headed south," says Cox. "Scott would not have got to the South Pole any quicker, but his party's return – having been first to the pole – would have been a far more spirited, cheerful affair. Scott, Bowers and Wilson died 11 miles short of a huge food depot. They just might have made that with the spring of victory in their steps."

As it was, Scott now had to contend with a race to the pole in addition to the complex scientific missions he had planned. Apart from the expedition's geological, meteorological and biological goals, he had included ponies, dogs and mechanical sledges to try out each one's transport potential and carry out many other tests. By contrast, Amundsen merely telegrammed the scientists he had promised to collect in San Francisco en route to the North Pole and told them not to bother. "Amundsen was keen on science, but not on this expedition," admits Klover. Unencumbered, his teams of dog sledges swept easily to the pole. By contrast, Scott refused to give up a single scientific goal and that cost his men dearly.


The ice men: Scott, seated at the far end, celebrates his 43rd birthday during his Terra Nova expedition to the Antarctic, 6 June 1911. Photograph: Scott Polar Research Institute

Thirty miles north of London, at Tring in Hertfordshire, the Natural History Museum has one of its most important collections. Eggs from more than half of the world's 10,000 bird species are stored here, from giant specimens provided by ostriches to tiny hummingbird eggs. It is an astonishing array and involved a great many individuals undertaking hazardous missions to collect them. However, none endured the hardship of the men who gathered the collection's greatest prize: three emperor penguin eggs that are kept in a cardboard shoebox-sized container labelled "Aptenodytes forsteri, Cape Crozier, 20 July 1911" and stored in one of the hundreds of cabinets lining the museum's walls.

"At the time, it was thought the emperor penguin was one of the planet's most primitive birds," says Douglas Russell, Tring's curator of eggs, "and that analysis of its embryos would allow scientists to peer deep into the evolutionary history of all birds and establish links between them and their reptile predecessors. All that was needed were some fresh-laid emperor penguin eggs." It sounded uncomplicated and appropriate for Scott's mission. There was a catch, however. The emperor penguin lays its eggs in June, in the Antarctic midwinter.

No one had ever travelled in Antarctica during winter. But Scott's chief scientist, Edward Wilson, thought it would be straightforward and enlisted Bowers and Cherry-Garrard. If nothing else, the egg-collecting trip fitted in perfectly with Scott's goals. He recruited specialists in zoology, geology, physics and meteorology to take part. From the start, he had insisted research was to be the main purpose of his expedition. Bagging the pole would merely be a bonus, he claimed. Thus Scott established a substantial base camp on Ross Island when he arrived in Antarctica and arranged for his men to carry out several other mapping and geological missions while he made a bid for the pole. Of these other missions, the one led by Victor Campbell to the north would be the most arduous – with the exception of the journey taken by Bowers, Cherry and Wilson.

At midday on 27 June 1911, the trio left their base-camp hut – and walked into a freezing, pitch-black, gale-battered nightmare. The men had to pull two sledges of food, fuel and equipment to reach the penguin's breeding colony at Cape Crozier, 70 miles away. Temperatures plunged to -60C while the thick cloying snow forced them to pull their sledges in relay, so they gained only one mile for every three they walked. They could only navigate by moonlight or by the dim twilight around noon. The rest was utter darkness. The men took turns falling into crevasses. At one point, Cherry's teeth chattered so violently they shattered. "Sometimes it was difficult not to howl," he recalled in his aptly titled account of the expedition, The Worst Journey in the World.

The trio eventually found the colony, snatched six eggs, dropped three and staggered back to base camp close to death. "Their faces were scarred and wrinkled, their eyes dull, their hands whitened and creased," Scott noted. For five weeks, the men had endured the hardest conditions on record, he added. Cherry never fully recovered. As to the eggs, after the death of the scientist they were intended for, they were passed around until 1934 when zoologist CW Parsons concluded, "They did not greatly add to our understanding of penguin embryology." For good measure, scientists no longer believe that embryos help much in studying a species' evolutionary history. Science can be a harsh mistress.

Yet in many other ways, Scott played a key role in opening up Antarctica to scientific scrutiny. He used mechanised sledges – the only aid Amundsen feared might win the race for Scott. The sledges failed, but the lessons learned were crucial to their use in future expeditions. The meteorological readings made by his team provided science with the longest unbroken measurement of weather in Antarctica and are still used today. "Scott's expedition also brought back 40,000 specimens and their research produced 15 volumes of bound reports written by 59 specialists," says Elin Simonsson, of the Natural History Museum in London. "The birth of glaciology can be traced to the expedition while the photography of Herbert Ponting transformed the use of cameras on other expeditions."

The most important of all specimens returned was one of the last to be collected. On 12 February 1912, as his team trudged, defeated from the pole, Scott stopped at the top of the Beardmore glacier and, noting some interesting moraine, decided it would be a good day to spend "geologising". Incredibly, they added 35lb of rocks to their load, an act that is seen by Scott's critics as an act of utter folly. Roland Huntford describes it as "a pathetic little gesture to salvage something from defeat at the pole" (see box above).

Certainly, it seems an extraordinary move, wasting time and adding weight to sledges that were difficult to haul. Climate expert Professor Jane Francis of Leeds University disagrees. "I have worked on the Beardmore glacier. On a sunny day, it is a beautiful place. Scott was probably giving his men a rest before the last trek home. And the weight would have made little difference to the energy they expended."

Whatever the reason, it was a providential decision. Among the rocks, scientists found a fossil sample of a Glossopteris fern. "Glossopteris has big feather-shaped leaves and Scott and his men found a very small fragmentary piece. But it was a very important find," says palaeontologist Paul Kenrick of the Natural History Museum in London, where the Scott Expedition's myriad fossil samples are stored. "The plant is extinct, but fossils had already been found in Australia, South America and India. Its discovery in Antarctica provided key support for the idea that all these continents had once been linked together in one vast supercontinent, a theory we now know to be correct."

This success was the last moment of relief for Scott and his men. Edgar Evans, the team's strongest man, had already begun to weaken. On 17 February, Scott found "the poor man… on his knees with clothing disarranged, hands uncovered and frostbitten, and a wild look in his eyes." Evans died that night – probably of brain damage, incurred during a fall, and aggravated "by scurvy, dehydration, high altitude, or a combination of all these factors", states atmosphere chemist Susan Solomon.


A monument erected to Scott in 1912 in the French Alps where he had tested dog sledges for his expedition; and the last page of Scott’s journal. Photograph: Getty

Oates was next. Lame from frostbite, he could hardly walk and had his reindeer-skin sleeping bag slashed on one side so he could keep his leg outside so it would freeze and kill the pain. He asked Scott to leave him to die, but was refused. By 16 March it was obvious he could not go on and he walked out of the tent, into a blizzard, to his death, an act of self-sacrifice that has achieved mythic status. It was "a luminous moment in our history", as the polar travel writer Sara Wheeler has put it. The search party that had found Scott, Bowers and Wilson in their tent later discovered Oates's effects and erected a cross there. "Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman," it stated.

After Oates's sacrifice, Scott realised that he, Bowers and Wilson had little chance of survival. By 22 March they had two days' food left, but were three days short of their next depot. Then a blizzard struck and stopped them moving on. They never left their tent again. "We have struggled to the end and have nothing to regret," Wilson wrote to his wife, Oriana. For his part, Bowers tried to soothe his mother. "For me, the end was peaceful as it is only sleep in the cold," he told her. Scott, almost certainly the last to die, wrote copious letters to the expedition's backers, his colleagues and the families of his dead comrades. His final letter is dated 29 March. "It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. R Scott," he scrawled, before adding a last frantic message: "For God's sake look after our people."

Many of these letters are gathered at the Scott Polar Research Institute's museum in Cambridge, and displayed in drawers where visitors can study them. Written in pencil, they are hard to decipher, but nevertheless have a powerful impact. "I still find them intensely moving," says Heather Lane, the institute's librarian. Oates's sleeping bag is also displayed there, with its slashed-open side, another poignant reminder of the men's suffering.

As to Scott's last words, these were not a general cry of despair but a very specific call for financial help for his family, says Lane. "Scott was desperate because he knew he was the sole breadwinner, not just for his wife Kathleen and their son Peter, but for his mother and sisters. He was frantic they would be left destitute. That is why he wrote those words." In this case, he need not have worried. An appeal for funds by the Lord Mayor of London was so successful it provided pensions for all the polar party's widows and orphans, with enough left over to set up the Scott Polar Research Institute.

There is one final twist to Scott's story. Edward Atkinson, the man left in charge of Base Camp, knew Scott was dead, but had no idea what had happened to a second expedition led by Lieutenant Victor Campbell to survey the coast to the north. (He and his men had become trapped by the Antarctic winter, but survived for months in blubbery filth by sheltering in a cave they carved out of the ice.) As the weather improved, Atkinson had to decide: should he try to find Scott's or Campbell's party? The former were certainly dead while finding Campbell could make the difference between life and death for his men.

Atkinson held a vote. There was one abstention. The rest voted to find Scott. "It says everything about Scott and his centrality to the whole expedition, that not a single man spoke up for the living," notes his biographer David Crane. If the search party had failed to find Scott, and if Campbell and his men had died, their names would have "stunk to the heavens", Wright noted at the time.

But Campbell survived and the bodies, letters and diaries of Scott and his men were found. As a result, our perceptions of the Antarctic were changed for ever. We learned of Oates's sacrifice, the death of Evans, and the final, terrible days the last three survivors had to endure before they lay down to wait for death. (They had enough morphine to kill themselves, but decided to die naturally.) We also learned of Scott's last words and read the desperately poignant letters he wrote to his comrades' families and to his own loved ones. "Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman," he wrote. "These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale."

As the explorer Ranulph Fiennes says: "Scott wrote wonderful English under awful circumstances." Crane goes further: "His letters, diary and last message extend our sense of what it is to be human. No one else could have written them; no one else, at the point of defeat and dissolution, could have so vividly articulated a sense of human possibilities that transcend both." As to the fate of Scott's body, and those of Wilson and Bowers, the impromptu mausoleum created by Cherry, Atkinson and the rest of the search party has long since disappeared, says Lane. "The cairn with their bodies is still out there on the Barrier, deeply buried under accumulated snow, heading slowly towards the Southern Ocean as the ice fields move towards the sea – where they will eventually receive a marine committal."

Scott's Last Expedition opens at London's Natural History Museum on 20 January. The Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge is also running a series of exhibitions and events to mark the centenary over the next 12 months (spri.cam.ac.uk/museum)

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  pinhedz on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:56 pm

The Washington Post has been showing a lot of love toward Scott this past week. There's an article that reads, in part:

"While Amundson spent all his time preparing for a lightning-fast dash to the South pole once the summer began in November, Scott was busy launching scientific side trips ... He lost the race to the South Pole and died on the way back, but the knowledge amassed by his team has been used by scientists for 100 years."

pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat

Posts : 11694
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : DC

http://www.balalaika.org/

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:37 pm

pinhedz wrote:The Washington Post has been showing a lot of love toward Scott this past week. There's an article that reads, in part:

"While Amundson spent all his time preparing for a lightning-fast dash to the South pole once the summer began in November, Scott was busy launching scientific side trips ... He lost the race to the South Pole and died on the way back, but the knowledge amassed by his team has been used by scientists for 100 years."

Roland Huntford is less forgiving in "The Last Place on Earth" (aka "Scott and Amundsen") where Scott is depicted as a lethal bungler at worst and as a scientific populariser at best- just what his ornithologist son Peter became, in fact.

The best rebuttal of Huntford's views I've read comes from the polar explorer Ranulph Fiennes in his biography "Captain Scott" who points out, for example, that:

1. The weather Scott's party faced was indeed abnormally severe. (Statistics provided).

2. When Oates writes to his mother that he has come to hate Scott, he is simply reflecting a common experience of polar "tent fever". Doctor Mike Stroud confesses in his account of sledging with Fiennes that there were days when he felt just the same way about his team leader.


eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:44 pm

Here's Doctor Stroud's book about sledging in the Antarctic with Fiennes:



It's excellent. Very informative about the physical and mental demands of such expeditions.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:18 pm


Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:38 am

Exactly 100 years ago to the day Scott made his last diary entry:
*************************************************************************************************************
The causes of the disaster are not due to faulty Organisation, but to misfortune in all risks which had to be undertaken.

1. The loss of pony transport in March 1911 obliged me to start later than I had intended, and obliged the limits of stuff transported to be narrowed.

2. The weather throughout the outward journey, and especially the long gale in 83° S., stopped us.

3. The soft snow in lower reaches of glacier again reduced pace.

We fought these untoward events with a will and conquered, but it cut into our provision reserve.

Every detail of our food supplies, clothing and depots made on the interior ice-sheet and over that stretch of 700 miles to the Pole and back, worked out to perfection. The advance party would have returned to the glacier in fine form and with surplus of food, but for the astonishing failure of the man whom we had least expected to fail. Edgar Evans was thought the strongest man of the party.

The Beardmore Glacier is not difficult in fine weather, but on o return we did not get a single completely fine day; this with a sick companion enormously increased our anxieties.

As I have said elsewhere, we got into frightfully rough ice and Edgar Evans received a concussion of the brain - he died a natural death, but left us a shaken party with the season unduly advanced.

But all the facts above enumerated were as nothing to the surprise which awaited us on the Barrier. I maintain that our arrangements for returning were quite adequate, and that no one in the world would have expected the temperatures and surfaces which we encountered at this time of the year. On the summit in lat. 85°/86° we had -20°, -30° [-28°C, -34°C]. On the Barrier in lat. 82°, 10,000 feet lower, we had -30° [-34°C] in the day, -47° [-44°C] at night pretty regularly, with continuous head wind during our day marches. It is clear that these circumstances come on very suddenly, and our wreck is certainly due to this sudden advent of severe weather, which does not seem to have any satisfactory cause. I do not think human beings ever came through such a month as we have come through, and we should have got through in spite of the weather but for the sickening of a second companion, Captain Oates, and a shortage of fuel in our depots for which I cannot account, and finally, but for the storm which has fallen on us within 11 miles of the depot at which we hoped to secure our final supplies. Surely misfortune could scarcely have exceeded this last blow. We arrived within 11 miles of our old One Ton Camp with fuel for one hot meal and food for two days. For four days we have been unable to leave the tent - the gale howling about us. We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last. But if we have been willing to give our lives to this enterprise, which is for the honour of out country, I appeal to our countrymen to see that those who depend on us are properly cared for.

Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every

Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.

R. Scott


eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:45 am

^

In 'The Last Place on Earth' Roland Huntford relates that as Scott was writing his last diary entry back in London his wife Kathleen recorded that the clock in their marital home had stopped and their infant son Peter had said "Daddy's not working any more".

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:48 am

^
Huntford also alleges that while her husband was in Antarctica Kathleen was having an affair with with his rival Amundsen's fellow countryman and pioneering polar explorer Nansen.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:42 pm

Scott's Farewell Letter Fetches £163,250 At Auction

Sky News


Scott's Farewell Letter Fetches £163,250 At Auction

A moving farewell letter written by polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott in the last few days of his life has been sold at auction for £163,250.

It was discovered on his body in November 2012, eight months after it was written during his attempt to conquer the South Pole.

Despite having learned of his Norwegian rival Roald Amundsen beating him to the world's most southern point, Scott wrote of his team's courageous efforts and how they would "die like gentlemen".

The adventurer also expressed his concern for the loved ones of those who would perish on the expedition.

Scott wrote: "I fear we must go and that it leaves the Expedition in a bad muddle - But we have been to the Pole and we shall die like gentlemen - I regret only for the women we leave behind."

He continued: "If this diary is found it will show how we stuck by our dying companions and fought this thing out to the end.

"I think this will show that the spirit of pluck and the power to endure has not passed out of the race.

"If recognition of this fact can be given by people will you please do your best to have our people looked after, those dependent on us."

He also conveyed his regret at his failure to return from the Pole, adding: "We very nearly came through, and it's a pity to have missed it, but lately I have felt that we have overshot our mark - no-one is to blame and I hope no attempt will be made to suggest that we lacked support."

Penned to a friend and financier, Sir Edgar Speyer, the letter was bought by an anonymous British collector at Bonhams auction house in Knightsbridge, London.

Other items also went under the hammer and sold for thousands in excess of their asking prices, including a photograph of the ship, the Terra Nova, on which Scott and his men sailed to Antarctica, and another of the sea close to the explorers' base camp, which went for £13,750 and £15,000, respectively.

Scott died of starvation and exposure alongside fellow explorers Edward Adrian Wilson and Henry Robertson Bowers in their tent on March 29, 1912.

The letters have been brought to light in the 100th anniversary year of the tragic failure of the expedition.

To mark the centenary, the polar explorer's grandchildren have launched the "Scott 100 letters" competition, which invites members of the public to pen their own inspirational letters to a relative, public figure or organisation.
..

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  eddie on Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:16 pm

Painting inspired by the fate of the lost Franklin expedition


Man Proposes, God Disposes- Sir Edwin Landseer

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:18 pm

Something tells me Bob knew this song:

We were homeward bound one night on the deep
Swinging in my hammock I fell asleep
I dreamed a dream and I thought it true
Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew.

With 100 seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May
To seek a passage around the pole
Where we poor sailors do sometimes go.

Through cruel hardships they vainly strove
Their ships on mountains of ice was drove
Only the Eskimo with his skin canoe
Was the only one that ever came through

In Baffin's Bay where the whale fish blow
The fate of Franklin no man may know
The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
Lord Franklin among his seamen do dwell

And now my burden it gives me pain
For my Lord Franklin I'd sail the main
Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
To know Lord Franklin, and where he lives.

pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat

Posts : 11694
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : DC

http://www.balalaika.org/

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Guest on Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:37 am

Nah Ville Sky Chick wrote:
Vera Cruz wrote:Shackleton is my favorite southern polar explorer... Scott sounds arrogant and Amundsen boring.

Anyway I think I'll read The Worst Journey in the World. It does sound interesting... and they have it in the library cyclops


I read it, it's excellent. Eddie recommended sometime ago, An Unsung Hero, which is about Tom Crean. I really enjoyed it, such a brave man.
I'll try again tomorrow, last time the book was not avaible (I see last time I went to the library it was november...)

And I'll borrow the dvd "Encounters at the end of the world" also Smile


Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  sil on Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:10 am

^ oops 29 april
somehow I returned it today but didn't read it scratch
plus the dvds = I can't borrow books again until 2013 Shocked Embarassed

sil

Posts : 371
Join date : 2011-04-11

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  retrato hablado on Thu May 01, 2014 8:49 am

haha now I was looking for a concrete sentence on the pages of this thread that I didn't remember exaclty. Having desisted I clicked on a video and it didn't work! Clicked on other videos until one got to work and clicked on random course time and sentence I was looking for was pronounced


retrato hablado

Posts : 120
Join date : 2014-02-19

Back to top Go down

Re: The literature of polar exploration

Post  Sponsored content Today at 2:05 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 2 of 3 Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum