Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Great Barrier

The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica (an area of roughly 487 000 km2, and about 800 km across: about the size of France).[1] It is several hundred metres thick. The nearly vertical ice front to the open sea is more than 600 km long, and between 15 and 50 metres high above the water surface. 90 percent of the floating ice, however, is below the water surface.

The ice shelf was named after Captain Sir James Clark Ross who discovered it on 28 January 1841. It was originally named the Victoria barrier by Ross, after Queen Victoria and later the Great Ice Barrier as it prevented sailing further south. Ross mapped the ice front eastward to 160°W.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Man vs. Dog

Scott's decision to haul the sleds by manpower instead of by dogs was a probably the most costly of his decisions. Amundsen, on the other hand, had calculated how long his dogs would last and after their usefulness as sled haulers he planned on killing them and using their meat to feed the men of his team.

As the temperature sinks below -20°C (-4°F), friction no longer heats the snow enough to create or maintain a liquid film. As a result, the ice surface feels rougher and the sled becomes harder to pull.)

“Man-hauling” required men strapped into harnesses to drag heavy sleds. Henry “Birdie” Bowers said, “I have never ... so nearly crushed my inside into my backbone by the everlasting jerking with all my strength.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Uncle Bill

Edward A. Wilson ( 1872–1912): Physician, painter, and naturalist, Wilson produced drawings and watercolors that form lasting visual tributes to the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions.

Affectionately nicknamed 'Uncle Bill' by the men of the expedition, Wilson was the confidant of many, respected for his judgement, mediatory skills and dedication to others. By all accounts, Wilson was probably Scott's closest comrade of the expedition. Scott wrote "Words must always fail me when I talk of Bill Wilson. I believe he really is the finest character I ever met." When Scott's final camp was discovered by a search team in November 1912, Bowers and Wilson were found frozen in their sleeping bags. Scott's bag was open and his body partially out of his bag - his left arm was extended across Wilson.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kathleen Bruce Scott

Scott, Kathleen (1878–1947). British portrait sculptor, born Kathleen Bruce at Carlton-in-Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, the daughter of a clergyman. After spending a few months at the Slade School, she studied in Paris at the Académie Colarossi and under Rodin, 1901–6. In 1908 she married Captain Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic), who died on his return from the South Pole in 1912. Her most famous work is the statue commemorating him (unveiled 1915) in Waterloo Place, London. She did portrait busts of many other distinguished contemporaries. After her husband's death she was granted the rank of a widow of a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and was known as Lady Scott. In 1922 she married Lieutenant-Commander Edward Hilton-Young, who in 1935 became Baron Kennet; some reference books, including Tate Gallery catalogues and the Dictionary of National Biography, list her as Lady Kennet. Her autobiography, Self-Portrait of an Artist, was posthumously published in 1949.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Roald Amundsen

Amundsen01 Amundsen03 Amundsen02

Roald Amundsen: From Aspiring Explorer To National Hero

Early Antarctic Experience and Early Success

Born to a family of Norwegian ship-owners on July 16, 1872, Roald Amundsen was four years younger than Robert F. Scott. Despite his mother's hopes that he would become a doctor, Amundsen knew by the age of 15 that he would one day be an explorer.

Leaving university for a life at sea, he joined the 1897-99 Belgica Antarctic Expedition under Adrien de Gerlache to explore the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The ship became trapped in the ice for 13 months and the relentless darkness, isolation, and inadequate nutrition began to affect the crew. Amundsen credited the expedition's surgeon and photographer, Frederick Cook, for saving them from the looming threat of scurvy by organizing hunting excursions to find seal meat, which contains small quantities of vitamin C. The ship finally escaped the ice and the crew returned home. Amundsen gained crucial experience in Antarctic survival and developed the ability to cope with life-threatening situations.

After several expeditions Amundsen was preparing his greatest adventure; to be the first to get to the North Pole

Amundsen was poised to leave in 1909, but in April, two American explorers—Robert Peary and Fred Cook—claimed to have already reached the North Pole. Had scientific research been Amundsen's chief goal, failure to be the first shouldn't have mattered very much. But for Amundsen, it meant finding another objective, one that would be regarded just as important in the world's eyes.

With Plans to Head North in Shambles, Amundsen Secretly Aims South

But there were some problems with his decision to head south. Robert Falcon Scott had already announced his intention to sail for Antarctica in 1910, with the same aim of reaching the South Pole. More importantly, Amundsen had received funding from the Norwegian government for his planned Arctic expedition.

Amundsen was faced with a choice. He could openly announce his intention to go south and hope that everyone would regard the change of plan as acceptable. Or he could pretend the Arctic trip was still on while surreptitiously making his preparations for Antarctica. Amundsen did not hesitate for very long: All would be done in secret.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Edgar Evans

"I thought it'd be worth a hand for that - to go to the Pole. To be one of the first."

Edgar Evans ("Taff", "P.O. Evans;" 1876–1912): A career petty officer in the Royal Navy, Taff was a favorite of Scott because of his great strength and practical skills. For unexplained reasons he became severely disoriented and then disabled early in the return trip; he slipped into unconsciousness and died in February 1912.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Race to the South Pole Podcast

My favorite podcast has an excellent episode called Race to the South Pole. You can access it through itunes, your smart phone's ipod, computer or ipad. I'm not sure if I can directly link it here but the episode date is 9-22-2010. That should help you find it.

Lawrence Oates

"I'm a soldier, aren't I? And all a soldier needs to know is his duty."

Lawrence E. G. Oates ("Titus," "Soldier;" 1880–1912): Captain of the Sixth Inniskilling Dragoons, a British Army cavalry unit. Of independent means, he donated £1,000 to acquire a place on the Terra Nova expedition. He was placed in charge of the ponies. Having developed severe, disabling frostbite of the feet, Oates famously sacrificed himself in early March 1912 in order not to impede the others in their desperate effort to reach Cape Evans

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Henry Robert Bowers

"Scoff all you want, my lad, but this theory of mine explains many puzzling and wonderous things.

Henry R. Bowers ("Birdie;" 1883–1912): A lieutenant in the Royal Indian Marine with no previous polar experience, he joined Scott's pole party after demonstrating extraordinary organizational skills, physical strength, and resourcefulness.