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Tag: Antarctica

Tailoring at the South Pole

A brief look into some of the clothing designs worn by the men of Robert Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition, found on Google Books in a tailoring journal published in 1913:

“Some Particulars of the Clothing Outfits of the British Antarctic Expedition, Which Were Specially Designed Under the Personal Direction of the late Captain Scott.”

Whatever may have been the cause or causes of the tragic termination of the venture of the devoted band that succeeded in reaching the South Pole, only to find that the object already had been gained by a more fortunate explorer, it seems certain that the special clothing which had been produced in accordance with Captain Scott’s own carefully planned instructions was in no way responsible for the disaster. Both the material and the garments were apparently fully equal to the great and unusual strain to which they were subjected. For, writing from the winter quarters of his ship, the Terra Nova, soon after the arrival of the party at Cape Evans, January 23rd, 1911, Captain Scott expresses his satisfaction with this part of his equipment in a letter to the manufacturers which reads as follows:

Winter Quarters, Cape Evans, 23rd January, 1911

Dear Sirs,
I have much pleasure in informing you that the Mandelberg Wind Proof Clothing and Tent Material supplied by you to this Expedition has been highly satisfactory up to the present. I enclose some photographs showing your clothing and tent material in use in the Antarctic regions which may be of interest to you.

Yours very truly,
R. Scott
Captain R.N. (Commanding British Antarctic Expedition, 1910)

It’s arguable that the more fortunate explorer referenced above, Roald Amundsen, had planned and prepared better (especially with clothing, equipment, and food). Continue reading more.

“Robert Falcon Scott’s Pole party of his ill-fated expedition, from left to right at the Pole: Oates (standing), Bowers (sitting), Scott (standing in front of Union Jack flag on pole), Wilson (sitting), Evans (standing). Bowers took this photograph, using a piece of string to operate the camera shutter.” [wikipedia]

Late Winter Reading

Hoosh – a well researched and wonderfully written look into the history of Antarctic cuisine.
The Last Viking – the latest (and my most favorite biography) of Roald Amundsen.

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Polar Documentaries

Frozen Planet

I finally had some free time to catch up on a few documentaries this last month and spent part of the past two weeks watching the Frozen Planet series, which was released to DVD and Blu-ray earlier this year. Its quality matches that of the Blue Planet and Planet Earth series, and I was happy to see lots of behind the scene footage included where the film crews must deal with hazardous issues like hurricane speed winds, leopard seals, and killer whales (in one scene a pack teams up against some crew members in a small boat and push a coordinated wave towards them – the same technique they used to also knock seals off ice flows).

Another bonus was an inside look at the new research stations that have been built in Antarctica, which look like they would be fun to work in.

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Still Life

First published back in 2010, Still Life captures the preserved Antarctic huts left behind by the early explorers and Jane Ussher’s artistic photography sets a respectful tone which lets you focus on details which could otherwise be missed in other resources. The book has been in the spotlight lately with the resurgence of interest in Polar exploration history, and most recently was featured prominently in Nigel Cabourn’s Last Expedition exhibit for buyers and press.

Not to be missed, you can also now explore the insides of both huts and see many of the same objects shown in the book thanks to Google: Scott’s Hut and Shackleton’s Hut

Still Life Cover Read more

Recent Publications for the Adventurers

The Ice Balloon, by Alec Wilkinson. In 1897, a Swedish man by the name of S.A. Andrée famously made an attempt to explore the Arctic in a large balloon – he and his team did not make it (perished) but the diaries and photographs later recovered from their last camp are pieced together with other source material by the author for a fascinating story.

Into the Silence, by Wade Davis. George Mallory only has a small role in this historical recount of early expeditions to Mt. Everest, as the author also writes about other mountaineering personalities of the time who were important in the exploration of the mountain and nearby regions. In an interesting approach, he also ties in the impact that WW1 had on each of the men.

South Pole: The British Antarctic Expedition 1910–1913, by Christine Dell’Amore. To coincide with the centenaries of several Antarctic expeditions, publishers have released a steady supply of related books over the past two years – in the photography category, Assouline’s book stands at the forefront for best page layout and design with great writing by the author summarizing Captain Scott’s attempt to reach the South Pole. Should money be no object, it’s also available in an oversized $1k edition, or $3k if you want it waterproofed (apparently publishers will do these sorts of things after members of royalty write the book introductions).

The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott, by David M. Wilson. This is a more than just a picture book, as the author writes extensively on the subjects of the photos and how they fit into the overall expedition. The photos are also published in the order which they were taken (sorted with the help of diaries recovered), and you can get an understanding of how bleak things increasingly become for Captain Scott and his men.

Side Notes

Into The Silence included a few pages of small photos, a few of which I hadn’t seen before. It would be great to see an author and publisher work together to release a photography book focusing on the pictures taken during the early Mt. Everest expeditions, as I’m sure there is lots of unpublished material available in the Royal Geographical Society’s archives.

A handful of the portraits shown in South Pole: The British Antarctic Expedition 1910–1913 which were among my favorite pictures included.


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