Page 76. " Scott had been forced to adopt the same tactic "

Marshall, Shackleton’s companion described travelling back over his tracks as “heart breaking work”. Scott notes, travelling up the Beardmore Glacier: “At the top of the rise I found Evans reduced to relay work, and Bowers followed his example soon after.” Even Amundsen had been forced, in places, to use two teams of dogs to haul one sled. “There could be no question of reaching the height without double teams…. We were not particularly keen on thus covering the ground twice but the conditions made it imperative.”

Page 76. " Groundhog Day "

A classic film from 1993 by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, a cult film in which a weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.


Page 77. " our progress up the glacier was much slower than we had anticipated "

Video 4 - A view of the Ross Ice Shelf and hauling up through crevasse field [video pending]

Page 78. " twisted, jumbled heap of crevasses and crushed ice "

Amundsen describes the first section of the icefall as “covered with a chaos of immense blocks of ice”.

Page 79. " Mount Nansen "
Mount Nansen
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumMount Nansen - Credit: AVN

A mountain on the side of the icefall, named after the Norwegian explorer Fridjtof Nansen. Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen (1861 – 1930) was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel laureate. He led the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a record northern latitude of 86°13' during his North Pole expedition of 1893–96. Although he retired from exploration after his return to Norway, his techniques of polar travel and his innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a generation of subsequent Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, including Amundsen. 


Fridtjof Nansen
Public DomainFridtjof Nansen - Credit: Wikipedia




Page 79. " the right side, however, slumped away, as if part of it had collapsed.” "

Collapsing icefall
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumCollapsing icefall - Credit: AVN

Page 79. " vulnerable to bergschrunds ... and avalanches from overhanging seracs. "

Amundsen describes the sides of Nansen as follows:

Ice blocks and sinister piles of snow told their tale of avalanches constantly tumbling from the mountains on the flanks.

Over by Fridtjof Nansen we could not go; this mountain rose perpendicularly, in parts quite bare, and formed with the glacier a surface so wild and cut up that all thoughts of crossing the ice-field in that direction had to be instantly abandoned.

Page 79. " Giant's Causeway "

A site in Northern Ireland famous for its remarkable geological features resembling a massive and chaotic playground of hexagonal stepping stones.

Chaotic blocks beneath Nansen
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumChaotic blocks beneath Nansen - Credit: AVN
Giant's Causeway
Creative Commons AttributionGiant's Causeway - Credit:
Page 79. " Amundsen was fortunate to have approached the glacier from the particular point he did. "

Amundsen writes:

It looked fearfully broken and disturbed, but we could follow a little connected line among the many crevasses; we saw that we could go a long way, but we also saw that the glacier forbade us to use it in its full extent… But we could see that there was an unbroken ledge up the side of the mountain; Don Pedro would help us out. On the north side along the Nansen mountain there was nothing but chaos, perfectly impossible to get through.

Page 79. " Hercules Inlet "
by cm


Google Map


Page 81. " The crevasses were so chaotic "

Amundsen described the scene as follows:

To continue along [the glacier] was an impossibility; it consisted here, between the two vast mountains – of nothing but crevasse after crevasse, so huge and ugly that we were forced to conclude that our further advance that way was barred.


Chaotic crevasses on the Axel Heiberg
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumChaotic crevasses on the Axel Heiberg - Credit: Paul Landry
Page 81. " we enacted the myth of Sisyphus, who has become an existential icon "

The book references Albert Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus.

As noted in the bookmark for page 18, figures of Prometheus and Sisyphus graphically represent the particular repetitive torture of Antarctic travel where, each day, the trials of the previous day are relived in agonising monochrome, but also the grace and patience with which they bore their punishment making them positive inspirations for the passion (or suffering) that is the lot of man but that can lead to achievement. For there is no success without the ability to suffer pain and take on risk.


Page 85. " The Landrovers "


The Landrovers
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumThe Landrovers - Credit: Martin Hartley



Page 85. " Steve Jones "

Steve Jones (500 * 331)




Page 86. " Steve Cotton "

Steve Cotton
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumSteve Cotton - Credit: Martin Hartley

Page 86. " Conor Hipwell "

Conor Hipwell
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumConor Hipwell - Credit: Martin Hartley



Page 87. " Robyn "

Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumRobyn - Credit: Martin Hartley

Page 87. " Martin Hartley "

Martin is a very accomplished polar explorer in his own right and Time Magazine Environmental Hero for his work on the Catlin Ice Survey.

See more of his pictures at


Martin Hartley
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumMartin Hartley - Credit: Martin Hartley
Page 87. " Frank Hurley "

Frank Hurley was the photographer who accompanied Shackleton on his Endurance expedition and was, along with Herbert Ponting (Scott’s photographer), the most famous of all Antarctic photographers.

Page 93. " huge avalanches poured down the cliff "
Avalanche pouring down Mount Nansen
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumAvalanche pouring down Mount Nansen - Credit: Paul Landry

Amundsen saw the same spectacle when he, too, passed Mount Nansen:

Crash upon crash, roar upon roar met our ears. Now it was a shot from Mount Nansen, now from one of the others; we could see the clouds of snow rise high into the air. It was evident that these mountains were throwing off their winter mantles and putting on a more spring-like garb.

Since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been referred to many times in the book, it is also worth noting that in that book, Frankenstein, oppressed by the appalling situation of his own making, travels to icy mountains in pursuit of his monster and experiences a similar phenomenon:

The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; … and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only by… the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche or the cracking, reverberated along the mountains, of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving.

Page 93. " T.S.Eliot spoke of ‘epiphanic moments’ "

See T.S. Eliot’s 1919 essay, Tradition and the Individual Talent.

Page 94. " We pitched camp between another two large crevasses, one of them so huge its emptiness cut back and extended far beneath us "
Campsite above yawning crevasse
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumCampsite above yawning crevasse - Credit: AVN

Amundsen experienced a similar sensation, camping in the same spot: 

It was a grand and imposing sight we had when we came out on the ridge under which – far below – our tent stood. Surrounded by all sides on huge crevasses and gaping chasms, it could not be said that the site of our camp looked very inviting. The wildness of the landscape seen from this point is not to be described; chasm after chasm, crevasse after crevasse, with great blocks of ice scattered promiscuously about, gave one the impression that here Nature was too powerful for us. Here no progress was to be thought of.


Page 94. " It was our twelfth night, but it wasn’t as merry as that original festival. "

The reference is to Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night which was centred around a traditional Medieval festival.

Page 98. " virtually un-trodden "

Wilfred Thesiger describes a similar feeling in Arabian Sands:

But I knew instinctively that it was the very hardness of life in the desert which drew me back there – it was the same pull which takes men back to the polar ice, to high mountains, and to the sea. To return to the Empty Quarter would be to answer a challenge, and to remain there for long would test myself to the limit. Much of it was unexplored. It was one of the very few places left where I could satisfy an urge to go where others had not been.

Page 98. " Younghusband "

Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumYounghusband - Credit: Wikipedia
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Edward Younghusband, (1863 – 1942) was a British Army officer, explorer and spiritual writer. He is remembered chiefly for his travels in the Far East and Central Asia; especially the 1904 British expedition to Tibet, which he led, and for his writings on Asia and foreign policy. Younghusband held positions including British commissioner to Tibet and President of the Royal Geographical Society. (Source: Wikipedia)


Page 98. " Cook "

Captain Cook Portrait by Nathaniel Dance
Public DomainCaptain Cook Portrait by Nathaniel Dance - Credit: Wikipedia
Captain James Cook (1728 – 1779) was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean during which he achieved the first European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands as well as the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.



Page 99. " two alternative paths dividing in a forest – the one less travelled and the trampled road. "
Two roads diverging
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumTwo roads diverging - Credit: AVN

This line references Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.


The photograph, originally intended to be on the first page of the book, conveys something of the concept of those lines: 


Page 99. " Catch 22 "

A book of the same name by Joseph Heller, which sets up an impossible dilemma.

Page 99. " so we are forced to fit our fantasies into a smaller space "

Inspired by the oft-quoted statement by Pascal:

The source of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his own room.

-- Pensées 36

Page 99. " squeezed until the pips cry for mercy "

Reference to the famous promise by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George at the conference for the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 to make the Germans pay for the First World War.

Page 99. " Ikea-existence "

Allusion to the film Fight Club by David Fincher and the rebellion by the character played by Edward Norton to the sterile, identikit, pre-fabricated, false, consumer lifestyle of the modern age – all appearance and no substance. The character, following a chimera in the shape of Brad Pitt, decides to take action in a brutal and arbitrary physical rebellion to feel his freedom and vent male aggression.



Page 100. " Mowgli "

The savage boy who is the hero of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.