Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Speaking of cold...

Despite the fact I have an aversion for cold, I seem to be into stories that take place in very cold locales, such as Mount Everest, and now Antarctica*.

I just finished reading "Endurance", a book about Ernest Shackleford and his crew's amazing survival story of being stranded on Antarctica after his ship is crushed and destroyed by the ice. Imagine it's 1914, and you're stuck in the middle of, well, pretty close to nowhere, and all you have are three open boats, no land in sight, frigid temperatures, and all around you, a wild and freezing sea filled with killer whales and sea leopards. Survival under those circumstances is really mind-boggling.

While I found the book could have been more descriptive in places and I didn't like how it gave the ending away on the back cover, the book itself was gripping and the diary entries used to pepper the narrative are quite often very funny. What amazed me was how these men seemed to maintain their spirits and discipline in the face of incredible adversity. For that alone, it's an amazing story. Here are some interesting links:

Frank Hurley's expedition photographs. This includes pictures of the ship -- the Endurance -- being crushed and toppled, plus some amazing pictures of Antarctica itself.

Here is a site with some excerpts from the books and NOVA did a documentary on the expedition, and its write-up is over here.

* 'Antarctica' is seemingly my 'Hemingway' of geographic spelling.

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