Ice Flowers


“Took color camera to lead again this morning amidst the similar gorgeous conditions of yesterday, more glorified perhaps for a fine crop of ice flowers have sprung up on the lead and were illuminated by the morning sun, resembling a field of pink carnations.


“I secured some fine coloured reproductions. Ice flowers probably owe their origin to the presence, in the surface layers of the newly formed ice, of small inclusions of saline solution, which freezing under the influence of low temperatures, with consequent extrusion of the salt, act as nuclei for the disposition of rime from the relatively humid air adjacent to the ice surface.”

— Frank Hurley

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Fata Morgana

[image by Howie Koss]

[image by Howie Koss]

“A wonderful mirage of the Fata Morgana type was visible. The day was clear and bright, with a blue sky overhead and some rime aloft.

“The distant pack is thrown up into towering barrier-like cliffs, which are reflected in blue lakes and lanes of water at their base. Great white and golden cities of Oriental appearance at close intervals along these clifftops indicate distant bergs, some not previously known to us. Floating above these are wavering violet and creamy lines of still more remote bergs and pack. The lines rise and fall, tremble, dissipate, and reappear in an endless transformation scene. The southern pack and bergs, catching the sun’s rays, are golden, but to the north the ice-masses are purple. Here the bergs assume changing forms, first a castle, then a balloon just clear of the horizon, that changes swiftly into an immense mushroom, a mosque, or a cathedral. The principal characteristic is the vertical lengthening of the object, a small pressure-ridge being given the appearance of a line of battlements or towering cliffs. The mirage is produced by refraction and is intensified by the columns of comparatively warm air rising from several cracks and leads that have opened eight to twenty miles away north and south.”

[image by Jack Green, NSF]

[image by Jack Green, NSF]

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Forty tons of coal

“Forty tons of coal is all that we now have left and this alone must impose strict limitations on us. Once we refill the now empty boiler and get up steam we shall have to keep the fires constantly going, whether the ship is held up by the ice or otherwise, to prevent the water in the boiler from getting cold freezing. Once the decision is made to get up steam, it would be a serious consideration if we were again held up for a month or so waiting for the ice to open up.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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The Fable of the Mouse

“Shackleton spins us the yarn, no chestnut as far as I’m concerned, of the mouse who finding a leaky barrel of beer, partakes thereof till he’s full, then sits up, twirls his whiskers & says in an aggressive tone, ‘Now then, where’s that damned cat!’

— Frank Worsley

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The ship has not righted herself

“Temperature —5deg. Still blowing hard from S (force 9). Overcast with drift. Until further orders each member takes an hour’s watch on deck and this is kept up continuously, day and night. The tramp of the watchman along the deck and the hourly relief makes this an unaccustomed disturbance which will take some getting used to.

“The gale continued to rage with undiminished force throughout the night. There wre a few creaks and groans accompanied by some vibration but the ship has not righted herself, still remaining heeled over at an angle of 6deg. This is not very much of a list certainly, but when one feels the ship suddenly lifted up bodily, heeled over 8deg to starboard, and as rapidly thrown over to port again by a solid force, in every way different to the rolling of the open sea, the person who is not filled with a certain amount of apprehension hardly exists. It reminded me exactly of the great earthquake on the Riviera which I experienced as a child: the movements, the sound and the sense of potential disaster were almost precisely the same.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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I have placed my Loved ones fotos inside my Bible

“Blowing a gale of southerly wind & the floe we were in has all broken up we got the dogs on board at 10-30 & every one got our warm clothes put up in as small a bundle as possible ready to get on to the floe it was noon before we had the boats & everything ready we have had a start out of our monotony if ever any one had one for the ice has all broken up & the worst part of it was it broke right through the middle of the ship one half going one way & one another it almost broke us in two halfs this hung on for about 20 minutes when the piece that was catching our bows split the other way one piece going under our bows which rectified us for a time but we are still in a precarious position it is 8 p.m. & there is no sign of a lull… I have placed my Loved ones fotos inside my Bible we got presented with from Queen Alexandra & put them in my bag.”

— Chippy McNeish

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A previous stranding: Antarctica, 1903


“We were forced to feed ourselves mainly by seals and penguins. Already during the first few days of our stay on the island, we were lucky enough to kill [enough] not only for our immediate needs but also for a winter supply. Thus, on the 11 March [1903] 184 penguins were killed, 326 on the 12th, 508 on the 13th and so on.”

— Captain Carl Anton Larsen, quoted in Nils Otto Nordenskjöld’s ‘Antarctica: Or, Two years amongst the ice of the South Pole

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