This map plots the settings and references in Riding the Ice Wind
To start exploring, click a red pin
The physical setting of the book is the mysterious, frozen and isolated continent of Antarctica, the highest, coldest, windiest, strangest continent on earth. The author man-hauls from the Ross Ice Shelf, the vast floating ice barrier over which the explorers of the golden age – Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen – travelled. He penetrates the high glacial plateau of the interior on the far side of the forbidding Trans-Antarctic Mountains by way of the Axel Heiberg Glacier, the glacier that Amundsen discovered before arriving at the South Pole. From there he kite-surfs to the other side of Antarctica, via the Theils Mountains, to finish at Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf. The mystical panorama of Antarctica comes to represent a suite of metaphorical settings – the white page or the vast imaginative interior of the mind.
Antarctica is a continental land mass buried in ice, sometime up to 4km thick. It therefore contains more than 70% of the world’s fresh water locked in its ice vaults. Sticking out through this shroud of ice are mountain ranges (like ice bergs, they are even more vast beneath the surface) and a bewildering variety of different snow-scapes, from the hardest and clearest of blue ice to the softest of powder snow. Antarctica offers hard wind-carved ramps and fantastical frozen waves as well as sand-paper smooth surfaces. Every mountain feature can be found here: crevasses, snow caves, bergschrunds, nunataks, glaciers and volcanoes.
The Rub’ al Khali is a sector of desert encompassing parts of Southern Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen known for its inhospitability and enormous sand dunes. The Empty Quarter was first crossed by Bertram Sidney Thomas in 1930 -31 and later by St.John Philby, the father of double agent Kim Philby, before being crossed by Wilfred Thesiger. It is known as the Empty Quarter as it is not even inhabited or traversed by the Bedouin, such is its hostility.
A mountain range in Wyoming, America. Tetons are derivations of the Spanish word for breasts and this is an image connected with maternity as the author starts to imaginatively connect with the imminent birth of his and his wife’s first child.