In the book, Raymond Priestley talks about the discoveries, adventures and adversities that the party has experienced a well-known North second expedition of British polar explorer Robert Scott (1911 – 1914 years), to conduct their work in the northern and northeastern parts of the coast of Victoria Land. This party, which consisted of six people, led by Lieutenant Navy W. Campbell. Priestley in the party acting geologist and glaciologist.
Although P. Priestley (1886-1974) at the time was only 25 years old, he already had considerable experience of polar travel and expeditions to Antarctica in 1907 – 1909 he was involved as a geologist and glaciologist in the famous expedition of Shackleton. The rest of his life – and he lived to a ripe old age – Priestley remained faithful to his chosen field. He was one of the founders of the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge and its first director. Together with Charles Wright Priestley became the founder of modern glaciology as the science of all kinds of natural ice. In 1959, he was an honorary member of the International Glaciological Society, and in the period from 1961 to 1963, he held high office of President of the Royal Geographical Society. His name is mentioned in the Antarctic mountain and a fairly large valley glacier in Victoria Land.
Almost two years of harsh winters and hurricane-long polar nights working party on the North Antarctic coast away from the main base of the expedition, is on a peninsula Ross. The first winter spent six British explorers in relatively favorable conditions – they had a house, a stock of food and the necessities of life. But the second winter was a real test of survival in the harsh conditions of the Antarctic coast, among the rocks and ice. Circumstances are such that the ship from which they landed on the coast, he came to them, so when spring arrives, they had their own, on foot, dragging a sledge with food> i camp equipment to get to the main base of the expedition. Winter found them on the Bay Terra Nova, in a very lonely place. This time they did not have no place to stay, no sound walls to shelter from storms and frosts ended with food and fuel supply came almost matches ended tobacco, wear clothes, there is not even salt.
But explorers have escaped great danger that hung over them. Dwellings but equipped caves dug in the snow. Temperature it does not rise above zero, but to live in it still was possible. True, all the time, free of scientific observation and chores, the inhabitants spent in sleeping bags and only the attendants were forced to get out of them, to cook the food, do the cleaning, etc. The fuel used for lighting and seal oil. The staple food was the meat of seals and penguins. In order to save scarce matches had to keep the fire day and night, as did our ancestors – cavemen – at the dawn of humanity. Used instead of salt brine. Explorers were able to stock up on plenty of seals and penguins of meat, so they do not die of hunger, but the diet was very monotonous, so it is no wonder that the food, its preparation, the longing for a normal, usual food in the book is given so much attention.
When reading the book should not be forgotten that the events described took place in the beginning of this century, more than 70 years ago. It took less than a hundred years after the discovery of Antarctica Russian navigators FF Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev, and although the southern polar region then visited many foreign expeditions and people do not just stay for the winter on the icy continent, but its nature was we know very little. Were vague outlines for almost the entire continent of its coastline, and in the existence of the continent still had doubts. Finally, they were dispelled only during the International Geophysical Year in the middle of this century. We had made only the first attempt to penetrate into the interior of the ice continent. When a group of Campbell after the first winter of the study, performed the Cape Adare in Terra Nova Bay, the South Pole for the first time in the history of the party approached pole R. Amundsen and Robert Scott. At the time, there was no science of natural ice – glaciology, was not sufficiently clear understanding of the global atmospheric circulation, etc. Therefore, the explanation of certain natural phenomena, described in the book, seems naive. This applies, in particular, explain the nature of the strong winds on the coast of Antarctica, precipitation icebergs and sea ice.
Technology field work at the time, of course, was very different from today. In Scott's expedition was not a reliable ground transportation equipment. Snowmobiles were imported, but they were unsuitable for use in the Antarctic environment, and soon broke down. There was no aircraft that could get lost to find a field party and quickly provide the necessary assistance and to deliver on the main base. And, most important, in this expedition was not radio, so Campbell's party, jammed a second winter in the Gulf of Terra Nova, was completely isolated and the people on the main base is believed they were killed.
Radio communication was by then already existed, and Scott, going on his last expedition, intended to apply it in Antarctica, but this intention was not realized: the expeditionary ship was not room for a relatively bulky and heavy equipment. However, even in the presence of the equipment at the time to establish reliable radio in Antarctica, as shown by later experience the Australian expedition D. Mawson, it would not be so easy.
Lack of radio communication, without which no cost, no one, not even the most run-down, expedition, expedition put Scott in a number of expeditions of the last century, when the ships, leaving a long voyage, long lost touch with their homeland. It is interesting to note that for such an important event as the achievement of the South Pole, which was held on December 16, 1911, the world learned in just three months, in March 1912, when the Norwegian expedition expedition ship "Fram" arrived on the island of Tasmania and Amundsen of Hobart reported on a cable connection to the victory and successful completion of the expedition. For almost a year the world does not know about the tragedy that ended trek to the South Pole Scott. Participants of his expedition, who was the main base of the peninsula Ross, it was clear that the party lost the pole, in March 1912, and in England and other countries know about it until February 1913, when the expedition ship "Terra Nova" is back from Antarctica. R. Scott's wife, Kathleen, unaware of the tragedy, went to meet the expedition on the ship and only has around New Zealand found out that her husband long dead.
In modern terms this "Odyssey" on the coast of Antarctica is unlikely. Radio communications and aircraft to quickly contact with the victims and the disaster at the first opportunity to render necessary assistance. Besides, we do not work in the Antarctic, one or two of the expedition, as in the days of Scott, and every year more than ten, and on the mainland and nearby islands are about 40 permanent research stations 13-14 states.
Effective from June 23, 1961 Antarctic Treaty, legalized the freedom of scientific research in the southern polar region and declared it a demilitarized zone, also provides for mutual assistance missions in different countries working on the icy continent. And this state of the saint. There are many examples when explorers from different countries helped each other in an emergency. So, in 1958, the crew of the Soviet aircraft under the command of M. Perov saved from certain death a group of Belgian explorers who find themselves in a desperate situation in one of the mountains of Queen Maud Land in a plane crash. More than once the Soviet polar provides emergency assistance to its neighbors – the Australian Antarctic expedition participants and Japanese.
Interestingly, the book also mentioned Russian expedition members Scott – Dmitry Gorev musher and groom Anton Omelchenko. Gorev on orders Scott purchased dogs in Siberia, and then took them through Beijing and Sydney to New Zealand, to the port of Lyttelton, where there was the expedition ship. A. Omelchenko bought for the expedition to the Far East Manchurian horses and also took them to "Terra Nova." They both took part in the campaigns of support parties that ensured R. Scott expedition to the South Pole, and in the campaigns of the search party after the death of Scott. Priestley mentions Anton Omelchenko, in the episode, which describes the horses unloaded from the ship and delivered to shore by swimming. From this episode shows that Omelchenko respected members of the expedition. Name Goreva Priestley named one of the peaks of the volcano Mount Erebus (peak Dmitry), which also shows respect, which won in this expedition, our compatriot.
For three quarters of a century that separate us from the events described in the book by R. Priestley, much has changed. On the icy continent has modern scientific communities with power and reliable means of communication. In the field work is widely used aircraft (airplanes and helicopters). A number of expeditions, including Soviet, used to transport people and scientific equipment to Antarctica heavy intercontinental airliners, reduce travel times on the icy continent from four to five weeks to days. Modern snowmobiles have long tracked replaced dog teams as a means of transport. Radically changing how expeditions. For mapping used aerial photography, and in recent decades – and information. Modern equipment allows us not only to take pictures of large areas of the Antarctic continent, but also by measuring the thickness of a powerful ice sheet to map his bed. Satellite information can quickly monitor changes in ice conditions in the Southern Ocean, with the change of the coastline, the movement of icebergs and weather over large areas of the Antarctic. Not only changed the harsh nature of the southern polar region. Still, as in the expedition of Scott, on the coast of Antarctica are raging hurricane winds, blizzards rage, and in the interior of rampant horrific frosts.
At present, the places where the events took place as described in the book, do research expedition United States and New Zealand. Their bases – McMurdo and Scott – are on the peninsula of Russia, and the British before the International Geophysical Year, focused on the opposite side of the continent – the Antarctic Peninsula and the coast of the Weddell Sea, where you created a network of research stations and field-deployed routing work. On Heroes book by Priestley recall, in this area place names: besides the already mentioned Priestley Glacier, on the map you can find the Campbell Glacier and mountains Dickason, Browning, Levick and Abbott.