Magazine article Geographical

Life in the Freezer: Coming to Terms with the Reality of Living in the Antarctic Proved to Be as Much of a Challenge as Carrying out the Expedition's Scientific Research and Exploratory Work. the Following Extracts Reveal How the Team Dealt with the Extreme Conditions and Found Ways to Distract Themselves. (South Polar Times)

Magazine article Geographical

Life in the Freezer: Coming to Terms with the Reality of Living in the Antarctic Proved to Be as Much of a Challenge as Carrying out the Expedition's Scientific Research and Exploratory Work. the Following Extracts Reveal How the Team Dealt with the Extreme Conditions and Found Ways to Distract Themselves. (South Polar Times)

Article excerpt

Weather and what's on

The greater part of this month has been stormy. In the early days we had one furious blizzard, which carded away the windmill, covered the ship in all exposed places to a depth of three feet in snow, made a drift about eight feet high on the windward side of the vessel, blew nearly all the ice out of the strait, buried the meteorological screen, and turned the sheer ice foot into a gentle snow slope. The presence of so much open water near the ship, with low temperatures prevailing, added still more to the storminess of the weather. A glance at the frontispiece will give an excellent idea of what the person whose turn it was to take the readings had to put up with before the screen was buried. Since then there have been continuous gales and as this paper goes to press another with still lower temperatures is raging.

It is highly probable that we shall break the temperature record on the minus side before the winter is over.

The "Discovery Debating Club" is now one of our principal institutions and the weekly debates are well attended. In another part of the colony there has been a great "Shove Ha'Penny" tournament, and I hear also that a theatrical company is being organised, so we are well provided with amusements when the work for the clay is over.

Shackleton, no.2, May 1902

Morning routine

From this fitful sleep you wake to a consciousness of a dimly lighted area of green within an inch or two of your eyes, your nose nip has fallen off and you are not certain whether your nose has not followed suit, your reflections are then somewhat as follows ... "I ought to look at my watch but if I make the least movement I shall have a shower of icicles on my head; I am sure we ought to have been up a quarter of an hour ago, but I am comfortable and if I get up I shall be infernally uncomfortable." This process of reasoning revolves slowly in your semi-dormant brain until conscience awakes, and, with a pause to consider how best you can get at the watch, which is secreted amongst the folds of your numerous garments, you finally make a dive for it.

The first result is a shower of icicles over your bare face and down your neck; the second is that you awake your companions, who immediately ask you the time; as though you were not doing your best to find out!

By this time you are grasping with one arm half withdrawn from the Jaeger blouse, another wriggle and it is through and the watch is brought by slow stages to the top opening of that garment; laboriously, you bring your eyes to bear on the face only to find that it is obscured by your freezing breath; you rub it clear and bring it up but the light is so poor that it is again frosted over before you can see the hands.

Evidently it is a two-handed Job and your other arm must be withdrawn. In the course of time your other hand reaches the watch, clears the glass and ... with a well-feigned start of surprise you exclaim "Good Heavens!! Half past seven."

From three out of the four tents puffs of smoky hot air issuing from the ventilators announce that the cookers are in train; from the fourth the same orifice is giving out heated language. The occupant is struggling with a "Primus". In the more fortunate tents, the cookers filled with snow have been placed on top of the hissing Primus, breakfast articles have been passed into the tents, the sleeping bags have been arranged as seats, fur blouses have been doffed and the occupants have wriggled into position around that centre of attraction, the cooker. If the watched pot never boiled there would not be much breakfast for anyone. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.