Journey through the looking glass, my pathway through perilous times

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Hikes along such terrain are certainly not a walk in the park. Imagine looking at the horizon and seeing nothing but rusted cables for miles? All you can feel is the strong wind. You look down and the bottom is hidden by a thick fog. Is your heart beating faster already? Perched at an extreme height of almost 5, feet, this walkway would be frightening without the sections of glass flooring. Take the path and step out onto the foot-long section of transparent glass where you can see mountains beneath your feet.

The 2. If somebody was looking at you walking on this bridge , it might seem like you were walking on thin clouds unsupported. This perilous rope bridge will have you risk your life with every step. By the year , following four fatalities in the previous year, the pathway was closed to the public and was under construction for more than a decade.

Said to be the highest suspension bridge in all of Europe, the views are absolutely stunning , but crossing it is frightening to say the least. The trail is officially closed. Few people have crossed this bridge. The trail is popular in the summer but the winter is a whole different story — the mile route through a forest and meadows is very slippery. Instead of using ladders to cross, like people did a few centuries ago, adventurers now use steel cables, ropes, suspension bridges, and wooden footpaths. The walkways get extremely icy when it snows. One woman died in after slipping.

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She fell feet. There are steel cables to hang on to as you climb, but rain makes the rock very slick. Lightning can be dangerous due to exposed cables. You have to see this 19th century suspension bridge to believe it actually exists. The bridge is 1, feet long, set about feet above a valley.

Newsweek has called Taghia the Yosemite of North Africa but without the people because it barely gets any visitors. Many will agree that the Huayna Picchu mountain has the most stunning views of Machu Picchu , but getting there is no easy task. And you must be very brave. The mountain is steep, and the pathway, leading to the summit, is sometimes exposed, according to Bored Panda. Huayna Picchu, which gets very slippery during the rainy season, is 8, feet tall, which is about feet higher than Machu Picchu. The panoramas surrounding this suspension footbridge, set feet above sea level, are breathtaking — timeless and lavish green forest.

But the very shaky, and somewhat narrow bridge, may keep your eyes away. Look up and you will feel excitement, awe, and terror all at the same time in a span of seconds. This is what makes the bridge one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver.

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The highest point is 7, feet. Bridges built by the Incas disappeared after the last of them in the early 17th century, according to Amusing Planet. The only one that survived, because local villagers rebuilt it, was the the Keshwa Chaca that spans the Apurimac River near Huinchiri. His arms and legs throbbed. His back ached. His feet were blistered and his toenails were discolored. His fingers had started to become numb with frostbite.

He was on the verge of collapse. Yet he was never one to give up, and adhered to the S. He had just reached the summit of the Titan Dome and was beginning to descend, the force of gravity propelling him toward his destination, which was only about a hundred miles away. He had studied with devotion the decision-making of Shackleton, whose ability to escape mortal danger was legendary, and who had famously saved the life of his entire crew when an expedition went awry.

While growing up, Henry had heard stories about how his father, Richard Worsley, had fought with distinction during the Second World War, helping his regiment win battles in the deserts of North Africa and on the streets of Italy. To Henry, his father often seemed like a Biblical force: commanding, revered, looming but absent.

Henry, who was slight, with unnervingly steady blue eyes, found solace in sports, excelling at cricket, rugby, skiing, and hockey. Although he was not physically overpowering, he competed as if something were gnawing at him, diving head first after balls and skiing off marked trails to plunge through murderous woods. At the age of thirteen, he moved to the Stowe School, in Buckinghamshire, where he was the captain of the cricket, rugby, and hockey teams.

Kids tended to follow him around, but he preferred to wander alone across the school grounds—forests and meadows that spanned seven hundred and fifty acres. Every few days, he checked on them, jotting down in a notebook how many eggs had been laid, or how fast the hatchlings were growing. He had little interest in his classroom studies, but he often disappeared into the library and read poetry and tales of adventure. The journey was known as the Nimrod expedition, for the ship he had commanded. There was the hut, crammed with a stove and canned goods and a phonograph, where Shackleton and his men had wintered on Ross Island, off the coast of Antarctica.

There were the Manchurian ponies that had been brought to pull sleds but soon succumbed. Worsley read everything he could about Shackleton and other polar explorers. In , Henry Worsley graduated from Stowe. Though he burned to become a polar explorer, he enlisted in the Army. Henry snapped his hand to his forehead in salute. Henry became a second lieutenant, and was assigned to the same regiment in which his father had once served.

During this period, he began to revisit the stories of Shackleton, which he no longer considered merely romantic tales. I was going into the business of leading men and as a nineteen-year-old, new to his trade, I believed that there was no better example to follow than his. E rnest Shackleton was, in many ways, a failure. Yet he could also be dogmatic, distant, and bullying, ruling over the members of his party with the kind of absolute authority to which he had grown accustomed in the Navy.

In February, , the group set up a base camp on the frozen rim of Antarctica. The continent has two seasons: summer, which lasts from November to February, and winter. For much of the summer, because of the tilt of the Earth, sunlight lingers through the night. In winter, the darkness is enveloping and the conditions are even more anathema to human life; the temperature one July was recorded at minus a hundred and twenty-eight degrees. As the three men walked, they were blinded by the polar glare, and their flesh was eaten away by hunger, frostbite, and scurvy.

On December 31, , more than four hundred and eighty miles from the Pole, Scott gave the order to retreat. Four years later, Shackleton, assuming his first command, mounted the Nimrod expedition. This time, he and three companions went closer to the South Pole than anyone had previously gone: ninety-seven nautical miles away. A nautical mile, which is used in polar navigation, is fifteen per cent longer than a regular mile. Meanwhile, others made history.

Peary, claimed to have been the first to reach the North Pole. Whether he made it precisely to the Pole was subsequently disputed. Using teams of dogs instead of men to pull sleds, and often skiing, he beat a party led by Scott by thirty-three days. This is an awful place. With the poles conquered, Shackleton, who was approaching forty, turned his restless attention to what he considered the sole remaining prize—a trans-Antarctica crossing.

Polar expeditions, marked by deprivation and claustrophobia, serve as a laboratory for testing human dynamics. History is studded with accounts of members of parties bickering, backstabbing, slandering, and even, in some cases, mutinying and murdering. On December 5th, the party sailed toward the Weddell Sea, the southernmost arm of the Atlantic Ocean, and headed for Antarctica.

Then, after waiting out the winter, he would trek with six men across the continent, completing the journey at the Ross Sea, a bay that flows into the Pacific Ocean, south of New Zealand. While they floated through the darkness, Shackleton strove to keep his party united. His methods were considered unorthodox and even radical, at least in the eyes of those accustomed to the mores of the British Navy. He ignored the stifling hierarchies of class and rank, and required that each man receive the same rations and perform the same chores.

And though Shackleton sometimes erupted in anger and left no doubt who was in charge—everyone called him the Boss—he participated in menial tasks and mingled easily with his men. To ease the boredom and the dread, Shackleton tried to give the wayward ship a playful atmosphere. The men held regular poker games, and on Sundays a phonograph wafted music through the berths.

Once a month, the men gathered, by lantern, in the dining room—the Ritz, as they called it—to watch Frank Hurley, a photographer who was documenting the expedition, present slides of places around the world that he had visited. Water burst through the seams, flooding the berths. While the men tried to drain the bilge, the stern of the ship thrust toward the sky, as if in prayer. Everyone quickly lowered the three lifeboats and the provisions onto the surrounding ice, and abandoned the Endurance. They were marooned on an ice floe more than a thousand miles southwest of South Georgia Island, with no means of signalling for help.

The waterways were too clogged with pack ice to launch the lifeboats, and so the men trekked on foot, dragging not only the sleds with their supplies but also the lifeboats, which they would need when the ice gave way. Each vessel—the largest was twenty-two and a half feet long and six feet wide—weighed at least a ton, and Shackleton told the men that they must discard any nonessential items. The other men began to winnow their possessions. Still, the boats were nearly impossible to haul, and two days later Shackleton suspended the march.

For months, they remained trapped in tents on the island of ice, which they dubbed Patience Camp. To prevent unrest, Shackleton kept three of the most troublesome characters in his own tent. Shackleton summoned the other members of the party, who professed their loyalty to him, and, after the carpenter was left to contemplate the prospect of his survival alone, the mutiny ended.

Shackleton realized that many of the men could not survive a longer boat journey—one had to have five frostbitten toes amputated—and announced that he would leave most of the group on Elephant Island while he pressed on with five men, including Worsley, in one of the lifeboats. Amid a hurricane and towering waves glittering with ice, they navigated across the open ocean. The men were soaked and freezing, and Shackleton doled out bits of food from their dwindling rations to keep them conscious. On May 10th, nearly a year and a half after departing from South Georgia Island, they stumbled upon its shores again.

They looked like the survivors of an apocalypse. When they staggered into the whaling station, thirty-six hours later, Shackleton immediately turned his attention to rescuing the twenty-two men stranded on Elephant Island. But it took him until August 20th to obtain, from the Chilean government, a steamship big enough to break through the sea ice. As he approached the island with Worsley, he peered through binoculars to see if anyone was alive. Every one of them! But Shackleton had failed in his mission to become the first person to cross the continent, and in he died of a heart attack, at the age of forty-seven.

By the end of the twentieth century, though, the era of polar exploration was increasingly viewed through the lens of strategy, and Scott was criticized for his imperious, mercurial nature and his inflexible methods. In an age preoccupied with human mastery—over companies, battlefields, bureaucracies, and, most of all, oneself—Shackleton was revered for the way he had recruited and managed his men, coolly guiding them to safety.

His conduct was studied by entrepreneurs, executives, astronauts, scientists, political strategists, and military commanders. W hen Henry Worsley began commanding men in battle, he tried to emulate Shackleton.

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Forgoing the privileges of Army rank, Worsley befriended the members of his unit and shared in their tasks. People would like to be him. Though Worsley generally displayed a modest temperament, he had moments of flamboyance.

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He kept ferrets as pets and he drove a Harley-Davidson, a cigar often clamped between his teeth. When he was stationed abroad—his initial posting, in , was in Cyprus—he painted the novel landscapes, and when he first faced the threat of violence, in Northern Ireland, he took up sewing to calm his nerves.

He could often be seen in his quarters with his needlepoint, at work on a rug or a cushion, before seizing his weapon and heading into the streets. When back in London, he volunteered at a prison to teach tatting—a form of lace-making—to inmates. In , Worsley, by then promoted to captain, was drawn to the Special Air Service, whose forces, clad in black, had a mystique of unsurpassed fitness and derring-do. In , two men on a prolonged trek fatally collapsed from heat exhaustion; a third was rushed to the hospital, and later died of organ failure.

He trekked for days in full combat gear, consuming little more than water and carrying a heavy rucksack. He could see other applicants collapsing and quitting; their minds often gave out before their bodies. The marches culminated in what was known as the Endurance—a forty-mile hike, over a three-thousand-foot-high peak, that he had to finish in less than twenty-two hours while carrying a fifty-five-pound rucksack. After completing this part of the course, he was flown to Brunei, where he was helicoptered into a jungle filled with orangutans and cloud leopards and poisonous snakes.

He had to survive for a week while eluding a band of soldiers tasked with hunting him down. The administrators of the course had eyes on the ground to observe him—to see what kind of clay he was made of. Later, he was subjected to an interrogation intended to break him. Worsley was among them. O ne evening at a party in London in , Worsley met Joanna Stainton. Whereas he often stood back warily in social settings, Joanna, a tall, graceful woman with auburn hair, moved with ease. Though she liked to travel, she hated camping and the wintry cold, and she especially hated ferrets.

Still, she and Worsley began dating. She loved his eccentric hobbies, and how he recited poetry to her and held her with arms that seemed unbreakable. He loved her brashness and her ability to talk to anyone, whether at an art benefit or at a homeless shelter, where she often volunteered. They married in Max was born the following year, and Alicia in In , he was serving in Bosnia when a riot broke out in the streets.

A civilian was beaten to death, and crowds began to chase Worsley. Many officers and soldiers admired him the way he admired Shackleton. His fascination with Shackleton, meanwhile, seemed to deepen. He spent hours at antique shops and auction houses, in search of what he called Shackletonia: autographed books and photographs and diaries and correspondence and other memorabilia. Weeks later, on his tenth wedding anniversary, Joanna gave him a present: the inscribed book. Each had been unaware that the other was the rival bidder. In November of , he made a pilgrimage to a place that he had dreamed of visiting since he was a boy: South Georgia Island.

Not only had Shackleton and Frank Worsley found refuge there after the sinking of the Endurance; the two men also had returned to the island in , preparing for a new Antarctic expedition. The day after their arrival, Shackleton had suffered his heart attack and died. After Frank Worsley and other members of the expedition buried Shackleton, at a cemetery on the island, they found stones and built a cairn to mark the grave. More than eighty years later, Henry Worsley, carrying a rucksack and a sleeping bag, pried open the cemetery gate and went inside.

Afterward, he found a sonnet, by an explorer from New Zealand named Hugh de Lautour, which echoed his feelings so intensely that he annotated it and often recited it aloud:. Rest, Sir Ernest, rest. How was it your endurance overcame The daily struggle just to keep alive Long past the point where death would bring no shame?

Half starved and frozen, how did you survive, And how was no man lost while in your care? God knows. God knows it well. For He was there. Afterward, Worsley periodically ran into her at lectures on polar exploration, and he had shared with her his desire to make an Antarctic expedition. Alexandra told Worsley that she wanted him to meet another Shackleton descendant—a great-nephew—named Will Gow.

At a pub in South London, Worsley met with Gow, a thirty-three-year-old banker with a pudgy face and squinty blue eyes that widened in moments of excitement. Worsley was steeped in the details of the failed journey. On October 29, , Shackleton had departed for the South Pole with three other men, including a meteorologist named Jameson Boyd Adams, who was his second-in-command. Gow envisaged that the new expedition would be composed of descendants of men who had explored alongside Shackleton.

Worsley listened in amazement. Here was the chance of a lifetime. He was confident that the Army would grant him a leave for the expedition. And so, like two conspirators, Worsley and Gow began plotting their journey. They needed to find another recruit and to raise four hundred thousand dollars to cover the costs of equipment and travel. And they needed to train: though they had polar exploration in their genes, they had no actual experience.

They began a ruthless exercise regimen. Each tied tractor tires to a harness around his waist, and then dragged them back and forth across an open field. In , they signed up for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, a race through the icy wilderness of northwest Canada, which is billed as the toughest endurance competition in the world. Temperatures can fall to minus fifty degrees, and participants have had toes and fingers amputated because of frostbite.

There were different categories for the race, and Worsley and Gow entered one that required them to trek on foot for three hundred miles—a third of the distance of their planned South Pole journey—while hauling all their supplies on sleds. They had eight days to complete the race. I would have to seriously consider my place in the expedition team. They had been told that if they got wet they had only about five minutes to prevent hypothermia, and Gow quickly lit a fire, dried his foot, and changed his clothing.

Onward the men went. Above them, the northern lights cast a haunting green glow. After several days of trekking, Worsley and Gow suffered from sleeplessness and sensory deprivation, and they grew dizzy from hunger. Soon, they began to hallucinate. He and Gow slumped across the finish line, beating the time limit by several hours. For months, he travelled across Helmand, conferring with tribal elders and mullahs.

His words were prophetic. Yet he was no longer disappointed. By the time Worsley returned from Afghanistan, Gow had found a third recruit: Henry Adams, a thirty-two-year-old shipping lawyer. Adams seemed a bit pale and spindly for an explorer, but he had a genial personality, and he was deeply committed. That April, Worsley and his two companions headed to Baffin Island, a Canadian territory nine hundred miles west of Greenland.

For several weeks, they trained with Matty McNair, a fifty-four-year-old American explorer, who, in , had led the first all-female expedition to the North Pole. They forgot to turn off a portable stove, and nearly engulfed their tent in flames. They skied too slowly and never seemed to navigate along a straight line.

One day, after Worsley declined to wear tinted goggles, he suffered from snow blindness. Gow was ostensibly in charge, but the expedition was plagued by disorganization, causing tension among the men; moreover, only a fraction of the necessary funds had been raised. After some consideration, Gow asked Worsley to take charge. We were quite happy to have some wise old owl leading us away.

In the two years before their departure, Worsley was consumed with the mission. Late at night, after completing his Army duties, he wrote letters seeking meetings with potential donors. It gripped people. Like a general developing a plan of attack, Worsley spent hours poring over maps, laying out a precise route for the expedition. The more he studied Antarctica, the more forbidding it seemed.

The continent is nearly five and a half million square miles—larger than Europe—and it doubles in size in winter, when its coastal waters freeze over. Approximately ninety-eight per cent of Antarctica is covered in an ice sheet, which rises and drops and bends over the varied topography. The sheet—which, in places, is fifteen thousand feet thick—contains about seventy per cent of the freshwater, and ninety per cent of the ice, on Earth. Yet Antarctica is classified as a desert, because there is so little precipitation.

It is the driest and highest continent, with an average elevation of seventy-five hundred feet. It is also the windiest, with gusts reaching up to two hundred miles per hour, and the coldest, with temperatures in the interior falling below minus seventy-five degrees. Scientists have used the Antarctic to test spacesuits for Mars, where the average surface temperature is minus sixty-seven. The island is bound by the Ross Ice Shelf, which extends over the Ross Sea and is the largest body of floating ice in the world—more than a hundred and eighty thousand square miles and, on average, more than a thousand feet thick.

Because the Ross Ice Shelf is easier to reach by sea during the summer than other parts of the continent, and because it is relatively smooth and stretches nearly six hundred miles toward the heart of Antarctica, it was the starting point for expeditions to the South Pole during the golden age of Antarctic exploration. Shackleton and Scott and Amundsen all began their expeditions on the shelf. Like these explorers, Worsley and his team would head south across the ice shelf, a journey of nearly four hundred nautical miles, until they reached the Transantarctic Mountains, which divide the continent and extend to the Weddell Sea.

To get to the Polar Plateau—an elevated, almost featureless part of the continental ice shelf, where the South Pole is situated—the party would have to cross these mountains, which rise nearly fifteen thousand feet. On the Nimrod expedition, Shackleton discovered one of the few passable routes: a glacier-covered valley, twenty-five miles wide and a hundred and twenty-five miles long, that runs between the mountains like a frozen causeway.

Still, the glacier—which Shackleton named Beardmore, after William Beardmore, a Scottish industrialist and a patron of his expedition—is treacherous. Its elevation is eight thousand feet, and its surface is riddled with crevasses. When Scott crossed the glacier during his later expedition, one of his men suffered a fatal head injury after falling into a crevasse. Only a dozen people—the same number that have walked on the moon—had trekked the length of the glacier. By October of , he and his colleagues were ready to embark on what had been officially named the Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition.

Before leaving, Worsley and his family gathered for an early Christmas celebration. Even though Henry had been telling Joanna for years about the glories of Antarctica, it still seemed to her like the most dreadful place in the world. In the case of her husband, it was the Antarctic itself. And so she gave her blessing to the adventure, even though it threatened to take from her the man she loved. Alicia, who was twelve, saw his sled primarily as an object to play on. When the family exchanged Christmas gifts, Max, who was fourteen, seemed agitated.

This was different from when his father was deployed by the military—he had not had a choice then about leaving them behind. This was a response to some mysterious inner calling. Even in the most barren place in the world there is a risk of falling down a glacier or crevasse. Joanna drove her husband to the airport, where she began to cry. During the summer, between thirty thousand and forty-five thousand tourists visit the continent, nearly all of them travelling on small cruise ships.

At the warehouse, Worsley and his companions collected freeze-dried meals for the expedition. They faced the same predicament that had bedevilled polar explorers for generations: they could haul only so many supplies on their sleds, a situation that left them vulnerable to starvation. Then indeed we could penetrate the secrets of this great lonely continent. Worsley estimated that the journey would take nine weeks. Each of the men would be limited to about three hundred and ten pounds of provisions, including a sled, and so they whittled down their kit to the essentials.

Worsley packed his portion of the food, which was sealed in ten bags—one for each week of the journey, plus an extra in case of emergency. His clothing included two pairs of pants, a fleece shirt, a down jacket with a hood, gloves, a neck gaiter, a face mask, two pairs of long johns, and three pairs of socks. He brought cross-country skis and poles; for climbing, he carried crampons and ropes.

As the only member of the team with first-aid training, he transported the medical bag, which contained antibiotics, syringes, splints, and morphine. If the team failed to communicate for two consecutive days, A. The men permitted themselves the luxury of iPods, as well as a deck of cards and a few mementos. Worsley carried an envelope filled with notes from family and friends, which Joanna had given him to open when he needed encouragement.

In his front pocket, he had tucked away one more precious object: the brass compass that Shackleton used on his expedition. Alexandra Shackleton had asked Worsley to bring it with him, hoping that, this time, it would reach the South Pole. For Worsley, getting closer to Shackleton was a way of getting closer to himself. Commanding the expedition was far trickier than commanding soldiers in the military.

In Antarctica, his authority was not official but merely granted, and he had no more experience as a polar explorer than his peers did. Yet he felt the immeasurable weight of being responsible for their lives. On November 10th, the A. T he plane—an enormous Soviet-designed freighter, which was so loud that Worsley and the others could barely hear their own voices—took them to an A.

On arrival, they skidded onto a runway of ice. After waiting for the weather to clear, they boarded a smaller, twin-propeller aircraft with landing skis. As they flew across the continent, they peered out the window at deep gashes in the ice sheet below. None of us said a word. For years, he had been constructing Antarctica in his mind, and after climbing down from the plane he joyously stamped his boots on three-foot-thick ice. The temperature was about minus fourteen degrees, and his nostrils burned. It was late in the afternoon, but because it was summer the sun remained bright, and he could see two of the volcanoes on Ross Island that had been beacons for polar explorers: Mt.

Terror, which is more than ten thousand feet high, and dormant, and Mt. Erebus, an active volcano, which is more than twelve thousand feet high. Black smoke drifted from its icy cone. Not far from the men, penguins slid on their bellies across the ice—the world not yet deadened. And on the southern tip of the island, about twenty-two miles away, was McMurdo Station, which was opened by the U.

In the summer, around a thousand people live at the base, the largest population in Antarctica. With its power station and its dormitories carved into the ice, the base has the look of a grimy truck stop. The men headed onto the island. As they climbed a ridge overlooking a bowl-shaped valley, Worsley came to an abrupt halt. Down below, amid volcanic rock and ice, was a solitary wooden hut with shuttered windows and an iron chimney.

They all knew. It was the hut that Shackleton and his party had built in February, , and stayed in that winter, before setting out for the South Pole. Gow raced over and opened the door, and Worsley and Adams followed him inside. In the dimness, Worsley could discern the scattered debris of the Nimrod expedition, as if the party had momentarily stepped away. Gow gasped at the ghostly scene. Adams found the bunk where his great-grandfather had slept, while Worsley examined the dark recesses of the room as if he were rummaging through a tomb.

That night, the men camped inside the hut, lying on the frozen ground in their sleeping bags. The silence among them betrayed their nerves. The next morning, November 14th, Worsley was the first to get up. All is well. No medical problems. Worsley made sure to distribute the weight evenly on his sled, and he covered his cargo with a tarp. At 10 a. The surface was generally flat and smooth, and as he and the other men headed south, toward the Ross Ice Shelf, they began to gather some momentum.

After several miles, they came upon another desolate wooden hut. Robert Falcon Scott and his men had built it in , on their fateful South Pole expedition. Ice crept over the timbered walls and glazed the windowpanes like jungle vines. The fresh tracks made by Worsley and his companions gradually vanished as well; tiny granules of ice swirled in the wind like ash. The men used a compass to maintain a southward trajectory. Their breath smoked and their bodies sweated in the arid cold.

After slogging for seven hours, Worsley gave the order to stop for the day. They had covered nearly eight nautical miles. In order to reach the ninety-seven-mile mark on January 9th, the men would need to average between ten and twelve nautical miles per day. But it was a promising start. As the men ate, they talked about the relatively warm weather—the temperature had reached fourteen degrees.

Following supper, the men dipped their toothbrushes in the snow and cleaned their teeth, which Worsley believed was essential to maintaining a sense of humanity. Then, jostling for space, they spread out their sleeping bags. In spite of his aching muscles and the dropping temperature—the sun was now hugging the horizon—he went for an evening walk. He decided to make this a daily ritual, like a mystic who pursues enlightenment through self-abnegation. The harsh reality of Antarctica had seemed only to deepen his entrancement with it.

Outside, he often picked up objects—a fragment of a penguin skull, a small rock—and put them in a pocket, despite the extra weight. Within eight days, they had covered more than seventy-five nautical miles. With nothing to stare at but ice, Worsley was becoming a connoisseur of its varieties. It could be squeaky or powdery or crusty. The wind often sculpted it into waves, known as sastrugi, which rose as high as four feet and sometimes extended, in parallel rows, to the horizon.

Because it was more taxing to be up front, breaking track, the men took hourly turns in the lead. They were burning between six thousand and eight thousand calories a day, and periodically paused to consume energy drinks and snack on such fatty foods as salami, nuts, and chocolate; even so, they began to lose weight. Worsley, knowing that it was imperative to maintain positive thoughts, recalled family holidays and planting vegetables in the garden.

He grew accustomed to the paradox of being reduced to irrelevance in the alien landscape while at the same time feeling acutely aware of oneself: every aching muscle, every joint, every breath, every heartbeat. One day, Adams spotted in the distance something poking from the ice and gleaming in the blinding sun. When they reached it, they realized that it was a meteorological instrument recording such data as temperature and wind speed. A sign indicated that the device belonged to the University of Wisconsin. The men quickly moved on, but for hours Worsley fumed, resenting the intrusion, and he was relieved when he finally glanced back and the instrument had disappeared from view.

T he storm came upon the men suddenly. The temperature was minus twenty-two degrees, and frigid winds whipped up ice that stung the eyes like bits of glass. The men bent forward, but the wind overwhelmed them, and Worsley concluded that they needed to stop for the day. Moments after they unpacked the tent, the wind nearly hurled it into the white oblivion. They fastened its corners with ice screws and buried the flaps under the snow and used their sleds as barricades.

Worsley called the A. The tempest intensified, the wind hissing at fifty miles per hour. Ice drifted over the tent. When they awoke the next day, the storm was even angrier. The tent was virtually submerged under ice, and inside the air reeked of unwashed bodies and dirty socks and stove fuel. Worsley—whom Gow and Adams now called the General—tried to foster a lighthearted atmosphere. The men passed the time chatting and reading and playing poker.

They had previously named themselves the founding members of the Antarctic Malt Whiskey Appreciation Society; per its bylaws, every Thursday evening the explorers would drink from a flask of whiskey, which Gow had brought with him, and the next morning they would sleep in an extra two hours. Even though it was a Saturday, the men passed around the flask. The liquor warmed them. Worsley, who, in the Army, had honed a gallows humor, joked about their circumstances: if they could make fun of dying, they still had some life in them.

Will is picking his toes and Henry Adams is writing in his diary. Until then, farewell from the Ross Ice Shelf. After two more days, the storm relented.

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The men unzipped the tent and began hacking through a wall of ice about five feet tall and four feet thick. They dug for more than an hour, until they emerged into the blinding light, like escaped prisoners. They packed and pressed on, trying to make up time. By the fourth week of their journey, in mid-December, they had made it across the Ross Ice Shelf, to the base of the mountain range.

The terrain began to rise, and the surface was scarred with deep fissures, a product of the eternal churning of ice. The following day, despite the danger, Worsley went on his walkabout, and collected several rock specimens.

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