An American doctor of German descent, Cook is a controversial if fascinating character who continues to confound. His claims to have reached the summit of North America's highest mountain, Mt McKinley, in 1906 were widely believed then swiftly discredited due to a lack of evidence and disputed photographs that showed a lower summit. The first official ascent wasn't recognised until 1913 when Walter Harper, Robert Tatum and Harry Karstens reached the summit on an expedition led by Hudson Stuck.
Cook's claim to have reached the North Pole in April 1908 ahead of Peary is even more shrouded in mystery and continues to inspire investigation:
That he took Bridges's Yamana Dictionary whilst in Tierra del Fuego and tried to 'pass it off as his own work' is beyond question, and Chatwin, clearly not a fan, compares him to Irving Washington's fictional henpecked husband Rip Van Winkle who goes up a mountain, falls asleep for 20 years, misses the American Revolution and returns claiming to be a loyal subject of King George III.
Large rodents (the size of small dogs), beavers are more commonly found in North America and are known for their dam-building abilities. They use the dams to protect themselves against predators and to store food in the resulting flood ponds. They can fell trees in a matter of hours, leading to blocked pathways.
Under the presidency of Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-1970) a programme of land redistribution was instigated called Cora (Corporación de Reforma Agraria). It was slow to take effect, but his successor Salvador Allende (1970-1973) acclerated a system of land expropriation designed to build collectivist farms, return land to the Mapuches and put an end to the domination of large-scale landowners.
Also known as the Kaweskar, the Alakalufs were a sea-faring, nomadic tribe from Chile that settled Wellington Island in the south-west of Patagonia.
The infamous red-light district of San Francisco during the Gold Rush, it took its name from the pirate-infested Barbary Coast of North Africa and is full of salty yarns.
The nitrate industry became a major source of revenue in Chile at the end of the 19th century, displacing copper. Cargoes were collected from designated Nitrate Ports, predominantly located in the Norte Grande region.
Pisco is a grape-based liquor and the prime ingredient of the Pisco Sour cocktail, almost a national drink in Chile.
Pisco Sour recipe:
Mix three parts Pisco, one part lemon juice, half an egg white, Angostura bitters and sugar syrup to taste. Shake over ice.
Charley Milward's story employs a bewildering array of nautical terms:
backstay: rigging running from the mast to stern (back) of a ship
broached to: when a ship loses control and is forced to make a sudden turn
halyards: rope used for hoisting sails
helm: the wheel
hove to: a ship that has been halted by the wind
keel: the central structure of the hull
lee side: side of the ship sheltered from the wind
mizzen: the third mast
port: left-hand side of the ship, facing forwards
squaresail: a four-sided sail used to drive a ship downwind
starboard: the right-side of the ship, facing forwards
staysail: triangular sail secured to the bow (front) of the ship
top-gallant: the mast above the topsails
The Giant Petrel is a native bird of New Zealand and the south seas and feeds off the dead carcasses of seals, penguins and whales. It earned the nickname stinkpot, however, as it emits a foul-smelling oil if it senses its nest is under threat.