POLAR EXPLORATION

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POLAR EXPLORATION

Sailing south July 18, Indian Harbor was reached Sept. 5, from which point the wireless message was sent to the world.

Both Peary and Cook state that conditions for travel were more favorable in the region near the Pole than in lower latitudes. The ice was less rough, there were fewer leads, fewer ridges formed by ice pressure, and the temperature was not so low. Cook reported a temperature of 83 degrees below zero at Ellesmere Sound. Peary reported a minimum of 59 below between the 84th and 85th parallel, while at the 89th the temperature rose to 15 below, and at the Pole the minimum was 33 below zero. Cook reported a minimum of 3 8°. There was no land and no life; a dead sea of ice and snow.

Few attempts to penetrate the unknown regions of the southern or antarctic pole were made, after the expeditions of Wilkes, d'Urville and Ross (1839—43), until recent years. Knowledge of these regions is valuable only from a scientific point of view. But in 1892 Larsen of Norway discovered fossils in 640 10' S., 57° W., which interested him as showing that the antarctic regions were once covered by coniferous trees. Next year Larsen led an expedition through this region, reaching 68° 10' S. and 6o° W. The coasts were high, rocky and [mostly covered with ice. Seven islands were discovered, two covered with volcanoes. In 1894 Foyn, visiting the southern seas in search of whales, reached 74° S., and on Jan. 23> 1895, a landing was made at Possession Island. The first vegetable growth (a lichen) ever found within the antarctic circle was found at Cape Adare and Possession Island by C. E. Borchgrevink, a Norwegian, while upon this expedition. Part of the lands supposed by previous explorers to constitute islands were found to be joined to the main land of the antarctic continent; and lands supposed to be islands by the earliest explorers were found to be surrounded by water. In 1898—9 a British expedition under Borchgrevink reached 780 50' S. In 1901 English, German and Norwegian expeditions sailed to see whether there is an antarctic continent. In 1904 Charcot of France wintered off the western coast of Graham Land, south of Cape Horn, and in 1908 he headed another French expedition. Arctowski, a member of the Belgica expedition of 1897-9 organized a Belgian expedition in 1908 to make a cir-cumpolar voyage, with special attention to the region between Graham and King Edward Lands.

In August, 1901, an antarctic expedition sailed from England on the Discovery, in command of Captain Scott, reached Victoria Land in December and wintered at the foot of Mt. Erebus. In September, the beginning of the antarctic spring, Captain Scott pushed forward with a sledge party and reached 82 degrees and 17 seconds, the farthest south up

to that date. This expedition was followed by that of Lieutenant Shackleton, who sailed from England on the Nimrod in August, 1907. His epuipment had been prepared with great care with reference to the prevailing cold, rough and stormy conditions in antarctic regions. A hut was taken along in sections, marked so it could be quickly erected, and was insulated with cork and felt as protection against the cold. Clothing and food were selected after careful experiment. Instead of dogs, Manchurian ponies were chosen as sledge animals, and a motor car was part of the outfit. Shackleton left Lyttleton, New Zealand, Jan. 1, 1908, the Nimrod, in order to save her coal, being towed by a steamer to the Antarctic Circle. Continuing under her own steam the Nimrod reached McMurdo Sound, where winter quarters were established on Cape Royds. During the winter the ascent of Mount Erebus was accomplished, and its height was ascertained to be 13,350 feet. September 22 a division was sent in search of the magnetic pole, and on Oct. 28 Shackleton with three others started on the long sledge journey toward the South Pole. During nearly the whole course they were beset with hardships and perils. Intense cold, terrible blizzards, deep chasms and crevasses often bridged and hidden by snow were constant experiences. Through a gap in an ice-covered mountain range they came upon a great glacier stretching toward the pole. This glacier was honeycombed with crevasses, many of them concealed by snow, so that with great toil, progress was often not more than three miles in a day. As food became scarce the ponies were killed from time to time. The last one was lost in a crevasse Dec. 7. Thereafter the two sledges, carrying 1000 pounds, were hauled by the four men, much of the time up hill. After being held by a blizzard for 6o hours, during which the wind blew from the south at seventy or eighty miles an hour, a final march was made January 9, 1909, and latitude 88° 23' was reached, one hundred and eleven miles from the Pole, the altitude being between 10,000 and 11,000 feet above the sea level. Both food and endurance were so nearly exhausted that to go further was out of the question. The results of the expedition were important. The Magnetic Pole was located at 750 45' south, longitude 145°. It was established that the Great Southern Ice Barrier is bounded by mountains running in a southeasterly direction from 780 south to 850 south at least, and that an immense glacier leads to a plateau over 10,000 feet above the sea level, on which is situated the geographical South Pole. Rock formations show that at some period a warm climate prevailed in these regions. Coal was found near the 85th parallel. Abundant marine life was found in the icy Antarctic waters. Turning back the return journey was filled with suffering