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Antarctica Reads

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I you are interested in Antarctica two recent reads I highly recommend:

1912, the Year the World Discovered Antarctica (Chris Turney, 2012). Turney writes of the five different national expeditions exploring Antarctica in 1912.

http://www.amazon.com/1912-Year-Worl...red+Antarctica

Antarctica, An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent (Gabrielle Walker, 2013). Walker visits most of the research stations in Antarctica and looks at the science being done there.

http://www.amazon.com/Antarctica-Int...ious+Continent

Trivia tidbit from Turney’s book; back in the day there were other “poles”, including the Cold Pole, the Pole of Variability and the Pole(s) of Inaccessibility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pole_of_inaccessibility
 
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More Antarctic exploration books

I just read or reread a couple of Antarctic exploration books:

Bown’'s The Last Viking, the life of Roald Amundsen. I read that 4 or 5 years ago and the re-read was worthwhile if only for making connections to things more recently read.

http://www.amazon.com/Last-Viking-Am...roald+amundsen

And Tyler-Lewis’ The Lost Men, the Harrowing Saga of Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party. One tangential part describes the Ross Sea Party living in one of Scott’s old huts “Patterned after the traditional Australian settler’s bungalow the structure’s pyramidal roof and surrounding veranda were designed to promote cooling and block out the sun, both of which it did admirably well”

http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Men-Harro...s=the+lost+men

The more I read about Scott’s planning and preparation the more I appreciate Amundsen’s sensible approach.

The other pole is equally fascinating to me. My all time favorite at that end of the globe is Berton’s compilation of Arctic explorations The Arctic Grail.

http://www.amazon.com/Arctic-Grail-N...s=Arctic+Grail

Done with my most recent bout of polar flu I have returned to my other favorite, the Pacific theatre in WWII. My father and a couple of uncles fought there and I have come across one pilot uncle in Claire Chennault/Flying Tigers Chine/Burma/India books.

New to me, Ian Toll’s Pacific Crucible (1941-1942), and The Conquering Tide (1942-1945). Published in 2011 and 2015 respectively; I am eagerly awaiting his conclusion of that trilogy.

http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Crucib...by+ian+w.+toll

http://www.amazon.com/The-Conquering...204J3WPNBGSBT9

The best single volume on the Pacific Theatre has to be Toland’s “The Rising Sun”

http://www.amazon.com/The-Rising-Sun.../dp/0812968581
 
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I believe I just finished "the Lost Men, Tale of..." Reason I am saying I believe I just finished was that despite my abiding interest in those things I found it a hard read and a bit confusing in the telling. I just read last night (in a different book) that the veranda hut had only a single layer floor (compared to at least one of Scotts that had a double douglas fir floor, two stoves and felt liners everywhere. By comparison, Shackleton's expedition (on nearly every account) was a nightmare of poor planning, un-thought thru calendars and sledging plans and overall bad logistics... not to mention training, makeup of that party, etc.

Rather takes a bit of the luster off the 'hero'...
 
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Our son is spending the month of January flying supplies into here: https://www.bas.ac.uk/polar-operatio...ility/rothera/
On his first resupply turnaround he was taken around for the required safety tour, and later by snow machine up to a ridge overlooking the facility. They retired to a heated hut where he said "It was pretty cool dad, sitting in a hut in Antarctica sipping mugs of tea with modern British explorers. And the view was out of this world, literally!"
He promises plenty of photos and stories. The grandkids have asked for penguins.
 
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Brad, you might enjoy the Gabrielle Walker book in the first post.
 
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I was this close I I to spending a summer (our winter) working at McMurdo base about 6 years ago. I was being a vagabond and looking for something new when someone suggested working a season at the base (vehicle repair). Turns out we had a mutual acquaintance who was there at that moment doing a winter session (he'd been there multiple times). I got in touch with him and he put me on the fast track with his boss. Filled out applications and, as far as I know, was in like Flynn when I discovered the knee I'd hurt a couple weeks earlier had a partially torn ACL. I didn't know if it would heal in time and there was a good change I'd be having surgery that winter. So in the end I decided not to go.

I'm still not sure if I missed a once it a lifetime shot or dodged a bullet. Being a loner (with hermit tendencies) I was a little worried about the dorm accommodations and having a roommate. I didn't get the impression solo hiking/skiing to explore the surrounding area was encouraged either. Nor did it sound like there was much chance of getting to tag along on any of the scientific outings. But then again, how often do you get to go to Antarctica (and be paid quite well for it)?

Alan
 
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I believe I just finished "the Lost Men, Tale of..." Reason I am saying I believe I just finished was that despite my abiding interest in those things I found it a hard read and a bit confusing in the telling. I just read last night (in a different book) that the veranda hut had only a single layer floor (compared to at least one of Scotts that had a double douglas fir floor, two stoves and felt liners everywhere. By comparison, Shackleton's expedition (on nearly every account) was a nightmare of poor planning, un-thought thru calendars and sledging plans and overall bad logistics... not to mention training, makeup of that party, etc.

Rather takes a bit of the luster off the 'hero'...

To be fair Scott’s Hut Point structure was intended as a storage building, bit even so. . . .

The Lost Men was a bit choppy in the transitions between the shore parties and the Aurora. Still what they accomplished using the gear at hand in laying the supply depots was a feat.

At least they had dogs and figured out how to use them. Scott’s inability to acknowledge the wisdom of dog sledding was inexcusable.

Quote Scott “No journey ever made with dogs can approach the height of that fine conception which is realized when a party of men go forth to face hardships, dangers and difficulties with their own unaided efforts, and by days and weeks of hard physical labor succeed in solving some problem of the great unknown. Surely in this case the quest is more nobly and splendidly won”

How’d that work out for you Bob, stranded and starving 11 miles short of the One-Ton Depot?
 
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The feat that both parties accomplished was incredible...hard to believe that scurvy was still such a unknown to the polar group (as in how to effectively combat it w local resources)... and the lack of training on dogs, sledging and skiing...simply inexcusable for a group under Shackleton's direction.

Joyce's handling of the dogs vs Macintosh's - startling to say the least, the whole party suffering ... ineffective, wasteful and dangerous...missed opportunity there!

Man hauling, in cotton, wool and starving for weeks and weeks at high altitude...RIGHT HO!

It's interesting the tidbits that come out in reading, re-reading or in a new author's take on 100 year old history... I seem to glean new insights with every chapter...

Was fascinating to learn of the dispostion of the returning party - some alive into the 1970's-1980's.
 
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Look for: The Home of the Blizzard, Mawson's Will or Alone on the Ice. The lesser known story of the Australian explorer Douglas Mawson, a contemporary of Scott, Shackleton, Admunsen et al who eschewed the race for the pole in favour of the scientific exploration of Antarctica. No less gripping story of loss and survival.
 
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Read that first, maybe 30+ years ago! How about "Worst Journey in the World by Cherry-Garrard - all to see the mating habits of penguins...that's chutzpah!
 
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Look for: The Home of the Blizzard, Mawson's Will or Alone on the Ice. The lesser known story of the Australian explorer Douglas Mawson, a contemporary of Scott, Shackleton, Admunsen et al who eschewed the race for the pole in favour of the scientific exploration of Antarctica. No less gripping story of loss and survival.

Read that first, maybe 30+ years ago! How about "Worst Journey in the World by Cherry-Garrard - all to see the mating habits of penguins...that's chutzpah!

Mawson and Cherry-Garrard both rank high in my tales of struggle and fortitude. Mawson especially, if only for bad luck and timing. Mawson (and Mertz) were probably suffering from liver damage from eating the vitamin A rich livers of their Huskies. And then Mawson finally struggles to Cape Denison only miss the departure of the Aurora by hours, having to overwinter yet again.

In that realm of polar struggle screwup my favorite was Franklin’s Lost Expedition. Ill conceived, Ill prepared, man hauling Franklin’s silverware and shipboard crap around on overloaded sledges while starving. At least the search for that idiot charted a lot of the Arctic.

Truly though my favorite part of the quest for the North Pole is the first party to reach the North Pole travelling overland. With Cook and Peary assuredly not having achieved that across-the-ice goal the first party to reach the North Pole travelling on the surface didn’t happen until 1968 - Plaisted, Bombardier et al. Think about it; Neil Armstrong on the moon was barely a year later.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Plaisted
 
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The grandkids wanted daddy to bring home pet penguins.
They're going to be disappointed when all he brings home are penguin pics.

12486090_10153783856105767_3405881226572441050_o.jpg
 
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In that realm of polar struggle screwup my favorite was Franklin’s Lost Expedition. Ill conceived, Ill prepared, man hauling Franklin’s silverware and shipboard crap around on overloaded sledges while starving. At least the search for that idiot charted a lot of the Arctic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Plaisted

And you have seen or followed the various Canadian science 'finds' of one of Franklin's ships in the last 1-2 years time...good stuff! Story that keeps giving...

Wish the experts could put to rest the Peary and Cook deal once and for all, maybe best to consider that neither really made it, just made the big effort and failed...ego's got in the way and that spun Amundsen off to the South Pole instead...and maybe rushed Scoot just a bit too much.

Nice pics there, Odyssey!
 
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Wish the experts could put to rest the Peary and Cook deal once and for all, maybe best to consider that neither really made it, just made the big effort and failed...ego's got in the way and that spun Amundsen off to the South Pole instead...and maybe rushed Scoot just a bit too much.

I think Cook has been convincingly discredited, and his faked summit of McKinley evidences his willingness to fabricate results.

Peary’s claims are almost as suspicious, despite Natty Geo’s stubborn support; the sudden and astounding increase in daily mileage when no one who could verify was around, a 500 mile run to the pole with compass alone (implausible with no celestial/longitudinal observations), shadow evidence in photos.

I don’t think Cook got anywhere close to the pole, while Peary probably got within a hundred miles and called it good.

The question does still make for some good reads.

The Noose of Laurels

http://www.amazon.com/Noose-Laurels...53136344&sr=1-3&keywords=The+Noose+of+Laurels

Peary and Cook the Polar Controversy

http://www.amazon.com/Cook-Peary-Ro...keywords=Peary+and+Cook+the+Polar+Controversy
 
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One of my guilty pleasures is occasionally checking out the live web cams from the Antarctic and from Alaska...especially in what has been a dry, warmish winter back here in the East US.

My winter camping outfit is oddly stuck in 1915 in some respects and fairly state of the art in others...while my transportation (my feet and legs) is rapidly decaying vintage 1960.
 
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We just ended a Skype call with our son in Punta Arenas Chile, the jumping off place for their flights to Rothera Antarctica. He told me some interesting stories. The Director of the British Antarctic Survey dropped in to for a visit in Punta, on her way to meet with scientific teams. The flight crew my son is part of wanted to meet her (Prof. Jane Francis), and so they made their way to The Shackleton Bar. (http://www.archive.jamescairdsociety...ews-103378.htm)
After a beer in the downstairs bar they met up with "the really big boss" upstairs in the posh dining room. She was very nice and very interesting. Our son mentioned that he had admired the old wrinkled parchment mounted on the wall of an office in Rothera of the lineage of the original sled dogs stationed and bred there. She talked about how dogs were removed from the Antarctic in the 1980s, and their eventual fate.(https://polarscienceiscool.wordpress...-dogs-allowed/) The original dogs had been from various places. Apparently the dogs had lost so much natural resistance to disease that when they were shipped north ( to northern Manitoba I think) they all succumbed to illness within a year, every single one. Furthermore she said Scott's sled also travelled with them to Manitoba. The sled is still there somewhere.
 
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Since my curiosity is being picqued by all things 'white' in this east coast non-winter, I have been reading and enjoying this large format book. "Antarctica: Secrets of the southern continent", David McGonigal.
It's almost soup to nuts, with a in-depth coverage of the animals and birds that make their homes or temporary homes there as well as decent and chronological coverage of the various explorations, explorers, expeditions, adventures and mis-adventures, etc. I learned lots about whales, seals and birds that I didn't think I was much interested in and some neat little tid-bits about the heroes of the great age of exploration.
 
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I see at least one "photo of the day" in their... NICE! Thanks for sharing, again. Sure beats the little webcams I check out.
 
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