Young Ice


“During the morning, went for a stroll to the old lead ahead, which which is now nearly a foot thick. I was much interested in examining the contexture of the recent young ice formed on the lead and on some pools in our vicinity. The growth commences by the formation of small fish scale-like crystals which accumulate, without definite orientation, in horizontal layers. This formation extends below the surface for about half an inch, when the small plate crystals gradually arrange themselves till they become vertical. This is probably due to the heavier saline solution sinking and so directing automatically the disposition of the plates. The accretion continues by the increments of these vertical scales. This new ice fractures at right angles to its plane. The ice subsequently undergoes further recrystallization, appearing distinctly fibrous in texture.”

— Frank Hurley

[Image of nilas ice from]

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I had to admit that further effort was useless


“Early in the morning of the 14th I ordered a good head of steam on the engines and sent all hands on to the floe with ice-chisels, prickers, saws, and picks. We worked all day and throughout most of the next day in a strenuous effort to get the ship into the lead ahead. The men cut away the young ice before the bows and pulled it aside with great energy. After twenty-four hours’ labour we had got the ship a third of the way to the lead. But about 400 yards of heavy ice, including old rafted pack, still separated the Endurance from the water, and reluctantly I had to admit that further effort was useless. Every opening we made froze up again quickly owing to the unseasonably low temperature. The young ice was elastic and prevented the ship delivering a strong, splitting blow to the floe, while at the same time it held the older ice against any movement.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

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Air of Unreality

“Everything wears an air of unreality… Everything on the horizon appears drawn up & distorted…icebergs hang upside down in the sky… The tops of some of the bergs appear to boil up & rise & fall & spread themselves… in the quaintest way. Inshore appears a beautiful dazzling city of Cathedral spires, domes & minarets.”

— Frank Worsley

“Cloud-banks look like land, icebergs masquerade as islands or nunataks, and the distant barrier to the south is thrown into view, although it really is outside our range of vision. Worst of all is the deceptive appearance of open water, caused by the refraction of distant water, or by the sun shining at an angle on a field of smooth snow or the face of ice-cliffs below the horizon.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

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Killer Whales


Antarctic Type B Killer Whale, photo from NOAA

“Had splendid view of two killer whales which broke through the young ice astern of us, poking their alligator-like heads through, and blowing arduously. They seem to be regarding the ship with much astonishment, and I must say we felt very pleased to have her stout timbers below. More villanous or rapacious looking creatures I have never seen.”

— Frank Hurley

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Snow-covered deck


“The deck has now been more or less covered with snow for the last few days. We try to scrape it off but it freezes on so hard that it is impossible to get it all off. The scene looks quite Christmas-like. The small pool we are in has now completely frozen over with thin ice and we are still prisoners but we hope yet that there will soon be another general opening up.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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Snaps his snap


Hurley in the rigging, Shackleton on deck, Worsley in the crow’s nest.

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He perambulates alone aloft


“Hurley was a marvel — with cheerful Australian profanity he perambulates alone aloft & everywhere, in the most dangerous & slippery places he can find, content & happy at all times but cursing so if he can a good or novel picture. Stands bare & hair waving in the wind, where we are gloved and helmeted, he snaps his snap or winds his handle turning out curses of delight & pictures of Life by the fathom.”

— Frank Worsley

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