This map plots the settings and references in Riding the Ice Wind

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Public DomainAntarctica - Credit: NASA


Deceptively smooth surface is covered in hoar-frost like sandpaper,
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumCrossing Antarctica - Credit: Paul Landry

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.

Map of Antarctica
Public DomainMap of Antarctica - Credit: CIA

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.