In the footsteps of Scott /

Mear, Roger.

In the footsteps of Scott / Roger Mear & Robert Swan ; with research and additional material by Lindsay Fulcher. - London : J. Cape, 1987. - xiii, 306 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm.

Includes bibliographical references (page 295) and index.

Introduction -- 1. Sea of Dreams -- 2. A Timeless Place -- 3. A Question of Access -- 4. Gathering Momentum -- 5. Looking South -- 6. On the Black Beach -- 7. Winter Darkness -- 8. Erebus, Daughter of Night -- 9. The Winter Journey -- 10. Cape Crozier -- 11. The Return of the Sun -- 12. The Silent World -- 13. The Great Cloud Table -- 14. Golden Gateway -- 15. The Great Glacier -- 16. The Plateau -- 17. The Order of Life -- 18. The Pole -- 19. Icy Grasp -- 20. A Matter of Principle -- Epilogue -- Letter to The Times -- Appendices -- Bibliography -- Acknowledgements -- Supporters and Sponsors -- Index.

Eight years ago, while still at university, Robert Swan became possessed by the idea of a journey on foot to the South Pole. No such attempt had been made since Captain Scott and his companions, beaten by the Norwegian explorer Amundsen, perished on their return march in 1912. Swan wanted to gain some insight into the realities faced by those who took part in that first hotly-debated race for the Pole, and also to draw attention to the political and environmental issues which threaten the last great wilderness left on Earth. With his partner, mountaineer Roger Mear, an expedition nucleus as formed; Sir Peter Scott became its Patron and was later joined by Lord Shackleton, both sons of the Antarctic explorers. From the outset, Swan and Mear ran into political difficulties. The National Science Foundation in Washington, which fields the largest of the Antarctic research programmes, made it clear that they wished to keep private expeditions out of the hitherto international Polar continent. (The United Nations Antarctic Treaty comes up for review in 1991.) Undeterred, the expedition refitted a North Sea trawler for use in pack-ice and set sail from London in November 1984. They had to establish their base at Cape Evans, within sight of Scott's hut, in the relatively ice-free month of February. There they spent the winter, in temperatures that fell to 40 degrees C below zero, and prepared themselves for the ordeal of the Polar march in November. Tempers flared in those months of perpetual darkness as they carried out scientific research, repeated 'the worst journey in the world' in appalling conditions, and made the first solo ascent of the active volcano Mt. Erebus. They had to be fit enough to manhaul every ounce of food, fuel and equipment the 883 miles of Scott's desolate route to the Pole. They were to march (with Gareth Wood as third man) in total isolation, without radio link or back-up supply depots. In secret they arranged for an experienced Antarctic pilot to collect them from the Pole in their own light aircraft. The most eerie and moving experience of the journey, pursued relentlessly at an average of 13 miles a day regardless of minor injuries, which could spell death if they stopped or slowed down, was to read Scott's diary in the places where it was written. These fateful last words have a special poignancy at the very spot where Oates made his supreme sacrifice. Despite the worst summer icing for nearly 30 years, their navigation is perfect and they reach the Pole six days ahead of schedule. An emotional welcome from American personnel at the Polar research Station is clouded by news of the loss of their ship Southern Quest, crushed and sunk in pack-ice off Cape Evans. Official American policy immediately swings into action. All radio links are cut and a rescue is forced on the expedition in terms that are neither welcome nor necessary. Within hours, triumph is turned to shame as the voice of Washington pours out its public criticism. In a highly organised and professional way, the expedition made provision for every eventuality, except one - the lengths to which the Americans would go to discredit their endeavour. This epic account reveals what really went on behind the scenes - the psychological stresses, the disasters narrowly avoided, the political chicanery which almost bankrupted the enterprise. It is a story of personal discovery, of high adventure, and of deep concern for the future of one of the most dangerous and unspoilt landscapes in the world.

0224024183 0224014183 9780224024181


GB8707740 bnb


G850 1985.M4 / M42 1987


913(99) 91(08)

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