3 December 2009

I am just going outside and may be some time...

As the weather has dropped considerably, ...'cold as a witches tit' I'd normally say, I won't leave the house until I've got more layers on me than a well stacked mdf bookshelf, so just imagine the mammoth task facing some of our great explorers back in the day.
Nowadays messrs Mears, Fiennes and Fogle can go some way to re-tracing their footsteps and come back in one piece, but we have the technology, the equipment, the knowledge, from Goretex thermals to choppers on emergency call, and we can be in another continent the same day we set off now. Don't get me wrong, the conditions still remain as treacherous as ever.
I may bemoan forgetting my gloves on a morning's cycling, I couldn't comprehend kipping in a tent halfway up Everest. I like the look of it, it's given us such iconic and intriguing beauty, and cult heroes galore.
But, come on, how many of us would really want to be there?
So, Imagine preparing, and dressing for such desolate conditions a century ago?
Polar exploration is a rather peculiar pastime and one that emphasises the old British stiff upper lip spirit. Unfazed in the face of adversity.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott Scott was Britain's most experienced polar commander at that time, having previously led the Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic in 1901–04. The Terra Nova Expedition, named after its supply ship, was a private venture, financed by public contributions augmented by a government grant. Captain Scott and his crew of five set off for the ill fated uncharted territory for the 'Terra Nova Expedition' (officially the British Antarctic Expedition) in 1910. Their objective was to reach the South Pole, and stick the Union Jack deep into the snow in honour of the British Empire.
Two years into their task, they were beaten to it, by Norwegian Roald Amundsen, yes, he's the one Norrona's outerwear gives a rather large nod to.
Unfortunately for Scott and his team, the pain and anguish of second place was to be totally over shadowed by tragedy, as he and his team returned to base camp, they were to perish in the horrific icy conditions.
One member of the doomed team, Captain Lawrence Oates was to signify this mission, famously is known for his honorable suicide when, aware his ill-health was compromising his companions' lives, he walked willingly into a blizzard, muttering the infamous line, and his final words: "I am just going outside and may be some time".

Freeze Frame, Terra Nova Expedition.

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