9 Foods Explorers Ate in Their South Pole Expedition 100 Years Ago

James Walton
By James Walton May 25, 2018 07:18

9 Foods Explorers Ate in Their South Pole Expedition 100 Years Ago

The Journey across the Atlantic to the New World has vastly changed over time. It was once a necessity to escape things like oppression and famine. This journey took months to achieve and it was no vacation. By the early 1900’s the transatlantic travel had become something of a status symbol for the wealth. They would shuttle from America to England or the opposite on large, much more efficient ships that would make the trip in less than a week.

In researching this article, I couldn’t help but imagine one of these seafaring ships loaded with well to dos passing an immigrant ship full of hopefuls. They would literally be seeing the American potential from their ship as they headed to the New World both with a heavy heart and huge aspirations.

Of course, some pioneers were not happy with mere exploration of the transatlantic waters ways. Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen had higher aspirations. They both wanted to be the first to explore the Antarctic continent. This was a perilous journey that would require many considerations. Food for his men and for the voyage, as well as the trek, would be one of the most significant.

Robert Scott was a British Naval Officer who led the Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica. He had a prior expedition called the Discovery which was hampered by sea ice in which a heroic dual ship rescue was performed to rescue Roberts own ship.

pgoto 1 9 Foods Explorers Ate in Their South Pole Expedition 100 Years ago

Terra Nova Expedition

Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions who attributes man great feats to his legacy. Not the least of which is being the first man to visit both poles! Roald had a profound understanding of scurvy on the water and also had serious experience in polar regions, which was not shared by Robert Scott.

The diets of the two exploring parties were relatively similar but it was the difference that made the winner of this “race to the South Pole.” Robert Scott was prepared with the right number of calories to sustain his men, but he had very little understanding of the potentially debilitating effects of scurvy and how that condition would affect the condition of his men. Therefore, his food stores had very little emphasis on the inclusion of Vitamin C.

Now, I must remind you that the word Vitamin didn’t even come to be till around 1920 so the management of scurvy was part in parcel of having true seafaring experience. Roald had both the experience of the sea and the subarctic regions.

Both explorers had food stores that would that would be used on the sea voyage and for the trek over the frozen tundra. As we explore these food choices you will notice that the menu items were not much difference. Below are examples of four food items that appeared on both of the explorer’s food inventories.

9 Foods Explorers Ate in Their South Pole Expedition 100 Years Ago

#1. Biscuits

The devil was in the details. Amundsen’s biscuits also had oats in them aside from the flour. Scott used white flour in all his preparations while Amundsen used whole wheat with germ added. This imparted much more nutrient density to his team.

#2. Pemmican

Amundsen also included peas and oats in his pemmican recipe. This was another small detail that created an enormous difference over the nearly 800-mile hike to the South Pole.

Related: How To Make Pemmican: The Ultimate Survival Food

#3. Bread

The difference in the explorer’s bread was similar to the biscuits. Amundsen packed breads that were made of whole wheat and wheat germ for the nutrients. Scott’s team stuck to the English staple of white bread which was devoid of many of the nutrients.

#4. Seal Meats

9 Foods Explorers Ate in Their South Pole Expedition 100 Years Ago

Both companies had seal meat on the menu but, again, it was the detailed approach of Amundsen that made all the difference in how the meat affected his team and how quantities were managed. Amundsen left his seal meat a bit undercooked to persevere some of the Vitamin C and other nutrients. This was fed to the men on a daily basis. Scott’s team did not have meat each day and his meat were over cooked.

Amundsen also managed caloric intake in a very interesting way. His team ate less calories heading to the pole and more coming back. It was about 4000 per day there and 5000 per day on the way back. Scott’s team kept it around 4500 across the board.

The true heroes of this trip on Amundsen’s side were the two berries called the whortleberry and the cloud berry. These subarctic species were smeared all over hotcakes and breads that were prepared and served. This meal was eaten on the sea and staved off any issues with scurvy. The berries were added inherently for the purpose of boosting Vitamin C.

A few more interesting items that made the voyage were:

#5. Chocolate

Amundsen brought chocolate along for the journey and this was no doubt a treat but one that held on the shelf. Quality chocolate that isn’t full of milk will last a long time.

#6. Dried Milk

Like most preppers dried milk made it on the voyage as well because of the fact that it would hold up for the duration of the trip.

#7. Tea

It should be no surprise, but the British naval officer made sure there was tea on the journey.

#8. Butter

While butter is not the most shelf stable food item, the fat plays a key role in keeping up the bodies of the men. Butter would also have held well in this type of environment. The addition of butter speaks to the idea of food storage and adapting to different environments.

Related: All Churned Up – Making Your Own Delicious Butter

#9. Sugar

While sugar has been shown to cause all sorts of disease when eaten in large quantities, there is no denying that sugar is a great preservative. This was no doubt the reason it was brought on trips to the south pole. I am sure Scott put a little in his tea, too!

9 Foods Explorers Ate in Their South Pole Expedition 100 Years Ago

Unfortunately, in this expedition there was a winner and a loser. The risks were high and thus the consequences as well. Like in all survival it was the Norwegians understanding of the polar environment as well as managing disease and nutrition that made his voyage a success.

For the men of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition their lives would end on a long, white, 800-mile march back from the South Pole in which they had reached Amundsen’s black flag he had placed at the pole not much earlier. The men fell in crevasses, fell into comatose states and one man, on his 23rd birthday, left camp and walked to his death in the pale arctic.

I hope your takeaway was similar to my own. This gave me a different outlook on managing my own stockpile of food. It also put some real-life consideration on the quantity of calories we should be planning for. At the end of the day survival will be a competition. Will your team be prepared for that or will they be facing mental and physical ailments due to malnutrition, like the Terra Nova?

Related: How to Make 2400 Calorie Emergency Ration Bars Designed to Feed You for a Full Day

Scotts final diary entry read as follows as himself and the remaining two of his men hunkered down under a relentless blizzard. With frost bitten toes:

We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last … Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.

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James Walton
By James Walton May 25, 2018 07:18
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  1. left coast chuck May 25, 13:30

    And another polar expedition died of lead poisoning because their diet consisted mostly of canned foods which at that time were sealed with solder containing lead.

    Fortunately today, we have gotten away from sealing cans with solder.

    Reply to this comment
    • ZeroC May 25, 21:19

      Lead leaches out of fine expensive Crystal Barware Glasses and Decanters – Possible Explanation why there are brain damaged one%ers🍷🍸

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck May 26, 05:31

        And I read that the reason the wineries have gone to aluminum foil on the tops of wine bottles is because of the danger of lead poisoning.

        My thought on that is if you are getting lead poisoning from the lead washed off the lip of the bottle into your glass, your problem isn’t lead poisoning, it is too darn much wine.Maybe you ought to cut back to a case a night instead of a pallet of wine a night.

        Unless you are five years old. Adults excrete lead faster than kids due to their larger body size. It’s like burns. A four inch square burn on a child is a serious danger to his health because of the percentage of its body it covers. A four inch square burn on an adult is painful and inconvenient but not usually life-threatening.

        Reply to this comment
  2. ZeroC May 25, 15:26

    Unfortunately Many cans are coated with unproven plastic 😎

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 25, 16:59

      At my age, old age or a jealous husband are more likely to take me out than BPA. And, unfortunately, the old age is far more likely than the husband.😉

      Reply to this comment
      • ZeroC May 25, 21:11

        I’m 68 what you say is likely true but there are no long term studies because Scientists are underfunded- Better living through Ecology 😎♻️🏭☠Particulet Pollution is number one killer “Lancet Medical Journal “

        Reply to this comment
  3. Clergylady May 25, 16:36

    I eat some commercially canned food but I really prefer my home canned foods in glass jars. But for long-term storage I have dried a lot of things. I have frozen items that were given to me and short term meats are frozen. I love my whole grains, fruits, and lots of vegetables. We have fresh eggs from chickens and ducks, and home butchered chicken, ducks, and rabbits. We eat real butter and a bit of olive oil and coconut oil. Rarely we use some vegetable oil but only if someone gives it to us. I don’t buy it.
    We’re still working on things here but I hope my greenhouse and solar dehydrator will soon be ready to use.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Red May 25, 17:40

    How Do Millions Of Us Protect Our Pace Makers From an EMP And/or Solar Flair ?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 25, 20:36

      First, I am no electrical engineer, but I have read a lot about the two different electrical problems. A solar flare or CME, as I understand it mainly affects long electrical lines. The current flows along the line and increases in intensity the longer it flows. When it hits places like substations, it burns them out with overload. It doesn’t really matter if they are shut down or not because they draw the charge to them much like lightening is drawn to a lightening rod. If you are wearing a pacemaker, you are disconnected from any electrical system. Now, if you happened to be standing in a substation surrounded by transformers, you might be in trouble. If you are standing directly under a neighborhood transformer you might be in trouble. Because your house is connected to the long lines your electrical system will blow. I read a report by a major accounting firm regarding CME and EMP for their risk management division and from what I gathered from reading that report you do have a chance that your pacemaker will be affected by a CME and you have a chance that it will not. There are too many variables to be able to give a concrete answer.

      That’s the good news.

      The bad news is that in an EMP, because it is a weapon designed to inflict maximum damage to all electrical systems, unless you are somehow shielded at the time of the event, your pacemaker will fail. To be shielded you would need to be in a deep cave with the entrance facing away from the direction of the blast and there couldn’t be any major electric equipment in the cave with you. I don’t know if a string of electric lights constitutes “major electric equipment.”

      That’s why our government’s failure to take the necessary steps to harden our country’s electrical grid is in my view tantamount to treason. The electric producers and delivery companies resist hardening their system on the basis that it is too expensive. The loss to the country in the event of an EMP attack is incalculable.

      I don’t know how many people have electrical devices implanted but it has to be at least in the hundreds of thousands. People with other kinds of electrical support devices that keep them alive are also at risk. If you have to be hooked up to an oxygen pump; if you have to have regular dialysis, or any of the myriad electrical devices that support life, with an EMP attack, unless your equipment is somehow shielded from the emissions your equipment will fail with the result being death.

      The only good news about an EMP is that weapons frequently don’t work as designed. Most nations seek the low bidder for weapons systems and get what they buy. Then the more sophisticated the system, the more intelligent the operator of the system must be in order to insure maximum effect. The more sophisticated the system, the more practice the operators need to do the job right. Once a missile is launched, there is no do-over.

      As I view the danger in order of significance, I rate an EMP as the most dangerous to our way of life. Next I rate a CME as next in line. The difference is that if the CME bathes the entire world, every other developed country will be in the same boat with us and civilization will be set back 200 years or more.

      Third I would rate an attack on our grid system. It is too vulnerable as it is presently constituted and loss of our grid system would have a major impact on our country and way of life. I think we could work our way out of it in a few years but the first couple of years would be soul stretching.

      A pandemic would have serious consequences to the world. It would be foolish for a country to release some biological that has no known cure or that spreads rapidly and widely. Once the genie is out, it can’t be controlled. The pandemic I see is a natural one rather than one created by man. We may create it indirectly by overuse of antibiotics or some other method, but I don’t think it will be a deliberate man-made pandemic.

      Now, Red, aren’t you glad you asked? Sorry I couldn’t offer a more cheerful picture but I have always believed in a realistic approach as opposed to “If I ignore it, it will go away” approach.

      Of course I could be totally wrong about all of it. It is my opinion based on my reading. Arthur Bradley who has a PhD in E.E. is one of my sources for my opinion. The other is reading about the Carrington Event. I have also read works by other people I considered qualified to venture an opinion. I have also read a short article by someone who claimed a doctorate but didn’t identify in what field he held the degree who claimed it was all a hoax. I felt his reasoning was weak and without basis except for his didactic opinion. He completely disregarded what happened in Hawaii back in the 60s and the Russian experiments with EMP.

      Reply to this comment
      • Brett May 25, 21:20

        I don’t know how deeply these devices are implanted, but if deep enough, I believe a pace maker may survive. The human body is like a big sack of electrolytes that can conduct electricity. I believe any charge may just pass quietly over the skin and to ground. Using this line of thinking, I’d think that standing bare foot outside on the ground may do the trick a little better. I’m an electronic engineer and have done a fair amount of study in the grounding and bonding area and in the area of lightning protection.

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck May 25, 23:56

          The report I read from the security analysis department was quite grim in their outlook. They specifically addressed the issue of implants. It has been about five years since I read it and it was one of those “can’t leave the room” type of things. The thing I remember most about it was thinking it was very grim. Can’t cite authors but my impression at the time was that they were qualified to offer their opinions.

          Of course, until it actually happens nobody knows for sure. I think it was Operation Starfish that affected Hawaii and I believe it was in the 60s. Don’t remember if implants were available then. If they were, they certainly weren’t as common as they are now. Computers weren’t affected because in ’65 most computers were main frames and if any place had a “computer” it was just a dumb terminal and not actually a computer. No chips in the 60s everything was hardwired and vacuum tubes. I don’t think transistors came along until the 70s. I don’t remember if Pong or Pacman was the first “computer” game and I am not sure if it actually was a “computer”. That’s going back almost 50 years and for people today that’s ancient history.

          Just for the heck of it I am going to look up Operation Starfish and see what I can find.

          Reply to this comment
          • TheKid May 26, 05:23

            Chuck, the computers I worked on in the mid 60s were all transistors, no tubes although there were some tube types still around. And I worked for a company in the late 60s that made computer chips, not quite as sophisticated as what we have today but chips none the less.

            Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck May 26, 00:27

          Here we go: On July 9, 1962, at 09:00 Coordinated Universal Time (11:00 p.m. on July 8, Honolulu time), the Starfish Prime test was detonated at an altitude of 400 kilometers (250 mi). The coordinates of the detonation were 16°28′N 169°38″W The actual weapon yield came very close to the design yield, which various sources have set in the range of 1.4 megatons. The nuclear warhead detonated 13 minutes 41 seconds after liftoff of the Thor missile from Johnston Island.

          Starfish Prime caused an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which was far larger than expected, so much larger that it drove much of the instrumentation off the scale, causing great difficulty in getting accurate measurements. The Starfish Prime electromagnetic pulse also made those effects known to the public by causing electrical damage in Hawaii, about 1,445 kilometres (898 mi) away from the detonation point, knocking out about 300 streetlights, setting off numerous burglar alarms and damaging a telephone company microwave link. The EMP damage to the microwave link shut down telephone calls from Kauai to the other Hawaiian islands.

          Kauai is, of course, the northernmost island and was probably closest to the explosion.

          In ’62 I know definitely there were no transistors nor chips. I had a ’62 Valiant and the radio was definitely a tube radio. I had just spent 3 years in a Marine Reserve communications company and our radio equipment, except for the big jeep mounted radio was better than shouting but not by much.

          Street lights and garage door openers were all hard wired which is supposed to be more resistant to EMP than transistors and chips apparently not that resistant. Hardwire is, I believe, 110 v. whereas the computer equipment and a lot of the medical devices are down around 4 or 5 volts, depending on the equipment. I am sure there is some that take more volts and some less. Also instead of 15 to 30 amps which is what most of the circuits in our houses are, we are talking milliamps in most of the electronic devices. Big difference.

          I may be really wrong, but if you stand outside in your bare feet during a lightening storm aren’t you just asking to be the shock of your life?

          I was with our Reserve CommCompany at MCB 29 Palms, California during a thunder and lighting storm. We had about 20 Marines who were outside get hit by lightening. They were burned every place metal touched their skin. Everyone was burned around their necks and on their chests where they wore their dogtags. Some were burned at the waist where their belt buckle was touching their skin under their shirts. They had their shirts and undershirts outside their trousers to allow air to circulate under their garments. There were other burns where they had been touching metal. They all had their boots on with either leather or rubber soles and to the best of my knowledge nobody was burned on the soles of their feet. They all were taken straight to sickbay and I don’t know their state when they were picked up. As I remember they were all returned to duty the next day but that was 1961 and my memory of that detail is hazy. I know when the two weeks active duty was up the whole unit returned to Alameda.

          Reply to this comment
          • Hoosier Homesteader May 26, 01:23

            My hat’s off to you, LCC ! You’re a walking talking encyclopedia!
            I wish you were my neighbor. We’d have a lot to talk about. Though I must confess, I’d be doing a lot of listening!
            Bless you 🙂

            Reply to this comment
          • Johnny3 May 27, 16:44

            For all concerned, left coast chuck said: ‘In ’62 I know definitely there were no transistors nor chips.’
            Regarding that matter, below is but only ONE of dozens of results of my online search today, 27 May 2018:
            “TI announces 1st transistor radio, October 18, 1954 | EDN
            However, without all the search results, I personally know that there WERE transistors as early as ’56 or ’57, because I had one of those small, handheld, 9-volt battery powered, portable transistor radios in ’56 or ’57, so we need no more crapola about when transistors WEREN’T around!!!

            Reply to this comment
        • Miss Kitty May 26, 02:12

          But would you have enough notice to go outside and take your shoes off? Really, what would be the first warning sign of an EMP attack? I always thought it would be flash, rumble, darkness. Like two minutes and done.

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck May 26, 05:19

            You are right, Miss Kitty. In addition, in the event of an EMP I am not sure I would want to be standing outside in my bare feet on ground unless I was absolutely certain that it was bone dry. You are standing tall and your feet are grounded. The electricity enters your head and flows out your feet. Wonderful. The advice that is given about getting caught out in the open in an electric storm is to crouch down if you can’t find some gully to lie in, get as low as you can and keep both feet on the ground but do not touch the ground with your hands. I don’t know what difference feet and hands make but that is what I have read somewhere, Now whether that is good advice or not, I can’t tell you because I don’t know the source of that . I do know when I read it I wondered how long I would be able to crouch like that with my bad knees.

            Reply to this comment
          • Claude Davis May 31, 16:24

            You probably won’t have any warning at all. In a deliberate EMP attack the weapon will explode way too high for any physical effects to be obvious on the ground. We’re talking a couple of hundred miles up in space.If you were watching the right area of sky you might see the fireball, but probably not. You wouldn’t feel or hear a thing, either – no atmosphere up there to transmit sound or blast.

            Reply to this comment
      • Mad Fiddler May 28, 21:03

        Thanks for your lucid comments. As an animation producer w security clearance I produced some information programs for a certain Federal disaster agency (come to think of it, that describes a bunch of’em) back in the early 1980s. Addressing preparations for imminent nuclear attack, the programs were to be broadcast only if ian adversary was seen to be readying for a military attack. These addressed EMP as one of the issues. I did more reading for that project – a lot of scientific/technical reports now de-classified – than I’d done in 5 years of college. They have most likely updated all those since.

        Your notes – some of the clearest I’ve seen for public consumption – should be standard reading for people.

        Reply to this comment
  5. IvyMike May 25, 23:57


    Great site on EMP for the general reader with an endless supply of links, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about EMP.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 26, 05:57

      Thanks for the reference, Mike. I only had a chance to skim the first page but it looks as if I will be reading for quite a while.

      Here is an interesting factoid from Mike’s reference:
      “When the electrical power grid of Quebec was shut down by a solar storm on March 13, 1989, the power grid was operating normally at 2:44 a.m., but the entire Quebec grid was off by 2:46 a.m. It went from normal operation to complete shutdown in the middle of the night over a span of only 92 seconds.”

      In other words, “Shazam!” The operators had 92 seconds to realize what was happening and start shutting down the system to protect it. Good luck with that at O dark thirty — or in this case O dark 44.

      Reply to this comment
  6. left coast chuck May 26, 00:36

    Here we go: On July 9, 1962, at 09:00 Coordinated Universal Time (11:00 p.m. on July 8, Honolulu time), the Starfish Prime test was detonated at an altitude of 400 kilometers (250 mi). The coordinates of the detonation were 16°28′N 169°38″W The actual weapon yield came very close to the design yield, which various sources have set in the range of 1.4 megatons. The nuclear warhead detonated 13 minutes 41 seconds after liftoff of the Thor missile from Johnston Island.

    Starfish Prime caused an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which was far larger than expected, so much larger that it drove much of the instrumentation off scale, causing great difficulty in getting accurate measurements. The Starfish Prime electromagnetic pulse also made those effects known to the public by causing electrical damage in Hawaii, about 1,445 kilometers (898 mi) away from the detonation point, knocking out about 300 streetlights, setting off numerous burglar alarms and damaging a telephone company microwave link. The EMP damage to the microwave link shut down telephone calls from Kauai to the other Hawaiian islands.

    Kauai is the northern most island in the Hawaiian chain.

    In ’62 there were no chips nor transistors. Radios were tube. I had a ’62 Valiant and its radio was tube. Computers were mainframe and I don’t think there were even dumb terminals in ’62.

    Street lights and garage door openers were hardwired to 110 v probably 15 amp. We had a garage door opener installed in 68 and it didn’t have a remote. You had to push a button on the side of the garage to open the door.

    Today most computer equipment and such are low voltage and very low amperage. If your computer got a shot of 110 volts to the mother board I think it would go up in smoke.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 26, 05:25

      Darn! How did I manage to post that two times? Sorry about that folks. I would like to say I was drunk instead of stupid but that excuse won’t work tonight.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Wannabe May 26, 01:13

    They died bravely that’s for sure

    Reply to this comment
  8. Deena May 26, 01:45

    If an EMP happens, no matter how you protect your electronics, there will be NO electricity to run things on. No computers, internet, subways, any thing that uses batteries etc. You can store batteries in Faraday cages but when they are all used up, what then? Even if you do put your phone, computer etc in Faraday cages how are you going to use then if the systems are fried?

    Reply to this comment
  9. Miss Kitty May 26, 02:21

    I read a while back that one of the north pole explorers took necco wafers with him for his team. Just for extra calories I guess, but I would think there must be better choices. Incidentally, vitamins were discovered in 1912 by a biochemist named Casimir Funk.fyi

    Reply to this comment
  10. Clergylady May 26, 04:12

    My husband is on his second pacemaker. His take on the subject of an EMP is; “too bad the backhoe won’t be running”. He just figures he won’t be here after such an event. 🙁
    His first pacemaker just quit one day. Thank God His heart was able to carry on for a while. Today the outcome would be disastrous. He’s had a heartattack and added another lead into the heart.
    The heart specialist warns against doing anything involving electricity. No arc welding. Be careful or really retire from work as an electrical contractor. She holds out no hope for him in the event of an EMP.

    Reply to this comment
  11. left coast chuck May 26, 06:09

    Not to nit pick the article, but in #8 the author states that butter is not very shelf stable. I have read that the Dutch when they were trading with the Japanese in the 16th and 17th century were shipping butter from Holland to Japan around Cape of Good Hope and that it wasn’t rancid when it reached Japan many months later. It was packed in sawdust in the hold the the ship. I have also read that the holds of the ships in those days could be either swelteringly hot or frigidly cold depending upon what the temperature was outside. One would think sitting in the ocean would ameliorate the temperature but apparently the ships weren’t very deep draft and so the hulls of the ships were exposed to the outside weather.

    I would think butter at the South Pole would keep quite well. You might have to decide if you wanted butter tomorrow today so that you could get it soft enough to spread tomorrow, but once you got south of Patagonia and the Cape Horn, even in the summer time it should be well refrigerated.

    Reply to this comment
    • Bill May 30, 10:42

      Hi Chuck,

      I spent 367 long cold days at the South Pole working for the National Science Foundation back in the 1991-1992 season when I wintered over.

      I can tell you this, it is so dry there that everything that’s left out, as far as food goes, will be freeze dried in a day or so. Bread and things like that, a few hours and they are like rock. I took a hard boiled egg and pealed it and set it on a desk and within the hour is was seriously shriveling up an by the end of the day, it looked like a prune.

      Your lips and fingers were always cracking and hurting too from being so dry.

      I know how much it sucked for us back then, and I can not even begin to imagine how hard these men had.

      It did make me realize that the ad Shackleton put in the newspaper was an honest one. If you haven’t seen it, google it.

      When we went to CDC, Clothing Distribution Center, in Christchurch NZ, they have a museum there and also a lot of classes on what to expect. They also had a little history about how unprepared these men really were because they had no idea about how the dry air would affect their food and gear.

      They did not have the Johnnie high speed gear we have now and even 27 years ago, the gear we had was not nearly as nice as what we have now.

      They had sleeping bags that were animals skins and they did not breath, and when they crawled in them, their breathing would put moisture inside the bag and then when they got up and rolled up their bags, that moisture froze inside and after a few weeks of this, their bags were like frozen wet rags when they were trying to unroll them. It took most of the night for them to thaw out their bags with body heat, just so they could get some sleep, but by then, they needed to be on the move again. It was brutal.

      I know when I would go out with scientists when they did their experiments, we slept in Scott tents and on foam pads in the thickest down bags I’ve ever seen and I was pretty toasty, but I never forgot that there was NO cavalry to rescue us, we were the cavalry. You were literally 100% on your own. No one was coming to help or look for you.

      I remember when I was being interviewed for the job, they were VERY picky about EVERYTHING from being perfectly healthy to having the right mind set.

      They send you to Bethesda Navy hospital for 3 full days for a psychological evaluation to make sure you can handle months of complete darkness, being with the same hand full of people for months and months and not killing each other, and being able to keep your head when things go south…..no pun intended, and things go south A LOT.

      We had a helicopter go down and it took us 4 days to reach them and recover that mess, and then the ray dome at Willy Field stopped working AFTER the LC-130 was past the point of no return.

      That one had my pucker factor at 100%. You couldn’t pound a pin up my ass with a jackhammer. Those men had NO clue where they were flying to since the ray dome was the ONLY thing that sent a signal for them to fly to and land at Willy Field. It was night too, so they were really screwed and I was the only one out there trying to get the heaters up and running again and get them their signal. They were going to land some where, one way or the other and to know they’re totally depending on you was some serious pressure to say the least. Like I said, there’s no one to call for help.

      Anyway, back to Bethesda. I had to take a 500 question test the first day and they had some VERY strange and twisted questions that they asked over and over and just worded them differently. Then it was a day each of talking with a psychiatrist and a psychologist. They are your final say for if you go or you’re rejected.

      I wish they would have rejected me. haha

      Right now, it’s the winter down there and it’s COLD but the worst part is, it’s COMPLETELY dark now. You NEVER see even a HINT of the sun for half of the year. I mean it is so dark, it is literally like being in a closet in your basement at midnight with the nearest light 3000 miles away.

      The standing joke when someone asked how long you were there, the answer was just a day and a night…….but each one was 6 months long. It takes about 2 weeks to go from one extreme to the other. You have just a couple weeks, where you have a normal day and night, but you lose or gain daylight at a rate of about 30 minutes a day, so it happens fast.

      The other thing is, it’s so cold, it’s considered a sterile environment and there are no germs. So, your immune system shuts down for a year, but when new people come down, most who are there get very sick because the new people bring in germs. It’s called “THE CRUD”. I didn’t, but when I got back to the USA, I was so sick for 3 weeks. I NEVER get sick, but I sure did then.

      I remember the station manager coming in and asking how many of us have been in 100 degrees above zero, we all, all 19 of us that is, raised our hands and he said well you’re all apart of the 200 club. We just hit -103 so you can say you’ve been in a 200 degree temp extreme, 100 above and 100 below zero. The coldest windchill that I remember being reported was -183 and that wind BLEW HARD. I remember at McMurdo Station, the wind blew so hard there, that it blew a 40 foot shipping container down to the transition point by the ocean and it was a twisted mangled mess.

      Some thing else that’s pretty wild, when you get back to NZ and they open the tailgate of the plane, you can smell EVERYTHING. I mean you can smell dirt, grass, exhaust from vehicles, food cooking, you name, it’s smell over load. Down at the pole, it’s just snow and ice, and how much does that smell.

      It’s also cool to see animals again and little kids, and hear how LOUD everything is again. Down at the pole, it’s pretty quiet other than the wind screaming. haha It was kind of cool it be at the geographical south pole, and know that every direction you go is north, or run around it and say you’ve been in every time zone in the world in 2 seconds.

      Yes, those men who blazed the trail have my respect.

      I just got back last night Chuck, and I’ll answer your email in a day or so. I just thought I’d share a little here since it brought back some memories.

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    • Claude Davis May 31, 16:37

      It was obviously possible to keep stuff cold in the hold of a sailing ship, because ice ponds in New England were shipping ice (packed in sawdust) round the world for decades. I seem to recall reading that up to half of it could melt on the voyage to somewhere like India, but it was still profitable to do it.

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  12. Mad Fiddler May 28, 21:23

    To the folks carping about transistors in the early 1960s, Yes, they had been invented but they were rudimentary, gigantic, crude and inefficient compared with what we presently have in integrated circuits with thousands of components in a square centimeter. When I worked at ATARI in the 90s, one of the EE guys pointed out to me that COSMIC RAYS and the daughter particles they create when they smash into our upper atmosphere are charged particles — “ions” – atoms stripped of some of their outer electrons. Imagine a naked Helium nucleus, or even heavier particle hurtling past the microscopic circuitry of your sixth generation smart phone… The charges are evidently powerful enough at that scale to flip the settings of those tiny circuits, CHANGING the recorded data. Remember leaving undeveloped film in its canister in the fridge back in the day? When you sent it to be developed, all that FOG was done by COSMIC RAYS diddling the silver halide particles while it sat inside the cold with the eggs and wine.

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  13. Miss Kitty May 29, 05:31

    Refined butter (ghee) is pretty stable in hot weather. Unrefrigerated it keeps three months, in fridge up to a year, freezer – indefinitely. According to an article in the Times of India actual length of time could be longer (8/31/17) In a cold climate probably longer still.

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  14. Ben June 5, 04:28

    Roald Amundsen used dogs as well and his team butchered the dogs as the sled loads became lighter and eat the dog meat. Also Roald Amundsen was just racing to the pole where as Robert Scott was taking scientific reading and when found had 200 lbs. for rock samples still be carried.

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