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The Antarctic Circle is one of the five major circles (or parallels) of latitude that mark maps of the Earth.
Due to gradual changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis, the Antarctic Circle is slowly moving. The Antarctic Astronauts are a group of scientists brought together under an ESA and British Antarctic Survey initiative. A research station known as the Concordia is their base and the sub-zero conditions is a simulation of being on another planet. In this video ESA medical doctor, Beth Healey (who spent a year on the continent) uses a video diary format to describe what it was like on the Concordia station. Founder YourNewsUktv a community news web channel offering a new concept in news broadcasting. Enter your email address to subscribe to ynuk.tv and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Colin, Cath, Sue, Nina and Esther, together with their field training officer James, set out a day late for survival training as the weather was uncooperative on the Friday (stern words were had to the day's forecaster, but alas the wind continued to blow above 40 knots). Skills from briefings they had both here and on the ship down south were put to excellent use. The adventure ended with a brief but exciting chopper ride back to camp the next morning where they travelled in six minutes what took six hours to walk. Attacked by a ferocious leopard seal, plunging into a bottomless crevasse, lost overnight in a near-hurricane-force blizzard, poisoned slowly by carbon monoxide. In the supremest of all ironies, it was the moment that Gareth Wood successfully finished his 1984-85 "In the Footsteps of Scott Antarctic Expedition" to the South Pole with Roger Mear and Robert Swan that his troubles began.
The going was easy and as I moved over the ice I had no idea that I was being stalked from beneath its surface. Ahead was a working crack which was slightly more than one stride in width—too far to comfortably cross without jumping. I watched, dazed, as the front tines of Steve's cramponed boot made small, fleshy wounds in the side of the beast's head near its eye.
Numbed, confused, and mesmerized by the concentric ripples slapping the edge of the bloodstained hole, I stared entranced at the spot where the frightening beast had disappeared.
Arms had just grabbed me when the seal's monstrous form leapt once more from its watery lair.
Tim's tugging at my shoulders pulled me swiftly back to reality—finally vanquished, the animal had retreated to its nether world. By January 17, 1913, Douglas Mawson, leader of a three-person exploratory party that was one of several elements of his Australasian Antarctic Expedition, had already lost one companion down a crevasse and the other to exhaustion.
The thought of wasted food galvanized him to action, and he was reaching a long skinny arm above his head, closing his bare fingers around the first knot in the rope.
The six-member International Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1989-1990 had successfully dog-sledded 3,725 miles across Antarctica and were just 16 miles from their destination at Russia's Mirnyy base when Keizo Funatsu, its Japanese member, vanished in a raging blizzard. Imagine losing sight of your expedition's tents in an Antarctic blizzard like this one and having to spend the night alone and unprotected.
I stayed between the skis for a while, maybe ten minutes, waiting for the visibility to break. I always carry pliers in my pocket, to help unfreeze dog collars and fix broken ones, and now I used them to dig into the icy surface, which was very hard. When I jumped up, the wind would push me away from my snow ditch, sometimes so far I would have to crawl on my stomach looking for it. I thought many, many things while I was lost, especially that I could not die at that place, only 16 miles from Mirnyy. About five o'clock it started to get light and I tried to find the sled trail again, but I could not. As I saw the situation, the necessities were these: To survive I must continue to husband my strength, doing whatever had to be done in the simplest manner possible and without strain. The dark side of a man's mind seems to be a sort of antenna turned to catch gloomy thoughts from all directions. This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance. The remarkable story of 17-year-old Dale Larson and 29 Nebraskan schoolchildren shows how far tornado warning has come. A team of intrepid scientists journey into one of Earth's most dangerous and beautiful underwater frontiers. A climatologist struggles to save ancient history preserved in ice that is rapidly melting. The aim is to study whether humans can survive conditions resembling a long duration spaceflight or staying on the Moon or Mars. One of the key studies is how to handle breathing as the air is thin, and another is being cut off for months on end, leaving the team isolated and with no way home. The challenges are similar to those experienced by astronauts on the International Space Station and will help assess how people will perform on future missions to the Moon, Mars or beyond. Stems from having been in National and International TV news journalism in the UK, Cuba, Moscow and Doha.
Intrepid leader, James, had expeditioners radio station with updates and navigate routes by map and lay of the land.
It was a memorable and wonderful experience for this group, hopefully with many more to come through the season! These four dizzying tales of survival in the Antarctic wastes will leave you shivering with fright, aching with sympathy, and above all, thanking Providence it was them and not you.


For that very day, the support ship that would take him home succumbed to crushing pack ice and sank, leaving him and his fellow team members stranded in Antarctica for a second winter in a row. These were not the pleading eyes of a Weddell seal nor the shy glance of a crabeater seal—they were cold and evil with intent. Lunging at me, it crossed the ice with an awkward gait, streams of bloody water cascading to the ice around it. Thank God it's not broken," I gasped, as I tested my wounded leg by stumbling backward, away from the terror I had just experienced. He had killed and eaten the last of the sledge dogs that had been his means of transport and was slowly starving to death.
Then the rope yanked viciously, cutting the harness into his body, bringing a sea of bright-colored pain. Against some unseen ridge or roll of snowdrift, the sledge halted; and now he swung 14 feet down between sheer walls of steely-blue ice, six feet apart. Shutting his mind against pain and stress, he lunged upward with his other hand and pulled his chin level. Though visibility was perilously low, expedition leader Will Steger quickly organized a search, spacing his fellow team members along a 340-foot rope, which the group then "walked" in a giant circle, calling frantically all the while for Funatsu. I didn't wear mukluks [seal- or reindeer-skin boots], only Gore-Tex boots, my wind parka and wind pants, long underwear and wool socks. I scooped out a shallow ditch, about two and a half feet deep, and a hole to put my feet into, because it was my toes that were the coldest.
I thought maybe I would have to stay lost one more night, and I thought I could survive that. Although my stomach was rebellious, I forced down a big bowl of thin soup, plus some vegetables and milk. The area south of the Antarctic Circle is known as the Antarctic, and the zone immediately to the north is called the Southern Temperate Zone. The group traversed the continent over rocks and snow, passing via several iced-over lakes, walking through light and refreshing snow showers and greeting inquisitive penguins. It was during these dark months, while hiking across frozen Backdoor Bay with companions Steve Broni and Tim Lovejoy, that Wood experienced the most harrowing few minutes of his life.
What fear the seal must have recognized in my own during this brief moment of communication, I can only imagine.
Blood streamed from the wounds and spattered to the ice with each sickening smack of the boot.
Glancing down at my torn clothing I saw blood on my leg—whether it was mine or the seal's I was not sure. He was over 100 miles from help, he was desperately alone, and his body had wasted to such a degree that, every morning before he rose to stumble on, he had to reattach the soles of his feet, which had become separated from the overlying flesh.
He took off his waterproof jacket for easier movement and, along with his gloves, tied it on the back of the sledge.
His hands were bleeding, all the skin of his palms had gone, his fingertips were black, and his body was freezing fast from the snow clogging his clothing, the deep cold of the ice walls shutting him in. After a night and a morning of searching, with hope draining away, Funatsu suddenly stumbled out of the whiteness. Then I tried to move back toward the first ski, but it was very difficult to walk straight ahead, into the wind. Come on." The most frustrating thing was I knew I wasn't far from camp, that's why I kept walking.
Fortunately, I found some dog shit and the faint trail of a sled, which I tried to follow, but it disappeared. I could breathe through a cavity close to my body, but the snow was blowing inside my clothes and I was getting wet. I didn't know which was better: to move around to keep my body warm, or to lie still to conserve my energy.
But I always found it, helped by the fact that I'd spread everything in my pockets around it as guides—my pliers, my headband, lip cream, compass, pocket knife. I shouted again, "I am here." Finally I saw Will and I just ran toward him, because I knew I might not see him again, it was so whiteout.
Byrd was the first man to overwinter alone in Antarctica, manning the Bolling Advance Weather Base on the Ross Ice Barrier for four and a half months in 1934. To avoid further poisoning from the fumes, I must use the stove sparingly and the gasoline pressure lantern not at all. Then I put the fire out; afterwards, propped up in the sleeping bag, I tried to play Canfield. The cheeks were sunken and scabrous from frostbite, and the bloodshot eyes were those of a man who has been on a prolonged debauch. They saw shell fossils, harking back to an age when much more of the continent was under sea.
As if divorced from life already, I pictured the seal swimming down with my limp, red-coated body in its jaws. Now he could feel the sledge, pulled by his weight, sliding across the snow toward the edge of this icy pit—nearer and nearer. By what he later called a "supreme effort," he scaled the rope, knot after knot, and, with a wild, flailing kick, thrust himself into the snow above the solid ice. But that meant I was close to camp, behind it actually, which was a good sign, so I decided to stop. They weren't really cold, but they felt very strange, like they were swelling, like my socks were broken [torn], because I'd kicked my feet all night.


Giving up the lantern meant surrendering its bright light, which was one of my few luxuries; but I could do without luxuries for a while. It was as if all the world's vindictiveness were concentrated upon me as upon a personal enemy. Arriving at Brookes hut they scoped out suitable sleeping rocks, dined on the finest dehydrated food that Davis station has to offer, and went off to bed within their bivvy bags. Stretching one foot down, I probed it with the tip of my crampon, much as I'd done with dozens of other working cracks in similar circumstances. I could see pale, green sunlight filtering down through the ice as I descended into the gloom of certain oblivion. Several times he stopped short of open-mouthed crevasses; twice he actually scraped past gaping cracks he had not seen.
In seconds the bulk of the sledge would rush over the broken snow bridge, and then he would fall into the abyss. Overhead the light showed the line of the rope cutting deep into the broken snow bridge, and he was fearful that sudden movement could again start the sledge sliding toward the edge. Several times he tried to crawl to safety, and he was halfway to solid ice when the whole ledge fragmented under him.
He fell into a faint and lay unconscious, his face toward the sky, his hands bleeding into the snow.
The snow was heavy and packed down on my wind jacket, so my clothes were touching my skin and there was no layer for warm air to gather.
Every 20 or 30 minutes I would jump out of my snow ditch and jump up and down, rub my arms and shout, to warm up. It was a sign of frostbite, but I could not take off my socks to rub my feet, because then they would get wet. Suddenly, the surface erupted as the massive head and shoulders of a mature leopard seal, mouth gaping in expectation, crashed through the eggshell covering. He then came on smooth snow, and the sledge was running well when without any sign—he went through to his thighs. I knew my teammates would be looking for me, I believed I would be found, it was just a matter of time.
As he relates here with brutal honesty, the degree of physical debility he suffered during this period was only eclipsed by his severe mental anguish. I cursed inwardly, telling myself that the way the cards fell and the state of my eyes were typical of my wretched luck.
No matter what happened, if I survived at all, I should always be a physical wreck, a burden upon my family. It closed its powerful jaws about my right leg, and I fell backward, shocked and helpless in its vise-like grip.
By extirpating all lugubrious ideas the instant they appeared and dwelling only on those conceptions which would make for peace. Feeling myself being dragged toward a watery grave, I locked my left crampon onto the opposing edge.
Peering out from under his goggles, he made out the line of the crevasse on the edge of which he had just fallen through. Yet, how could he haul his weight directly upward on 14 feet of rope with his bare hands, his clothing full of snow, his body weak from starvation?
A good slash, a moment or two of breathless rush, and then, final peace—and no one would ever know how it ended, what had happened to him. But I knew I would have to stay one night, because I knew [my teammates] could not find me in the dark. From now on, I decided, I would make a strict rule of doing without the fire for two or three hours every afternoon. A discordant mind, black with confusion and despair, would finish me off as thoroughly as the cold. In spite of my earlier resolve to dispense with it, I would have lighted the pressure lantern, except that I wasn't able to pump up the pressure.
All that need be said is that eventually my faith began to make itself felt; and by concentrating on it and reaffirming the truth about the universe as I saw it, I was able again to fill my mind with the fine and comforting things of the world that had seemed irretrievably lost. It went to the south beyond vision; he turned to the north, and, 50 yards farther on, all trace had vanished into a field of flat, clear snow that offered him a path back to his westering course. Only when you've been through something like that do you begin to appreciate how utterly precious light is. I surrounded myself with my family and my friends; I projected myself into the sunlight, into the midst of green, growing things. I thought of all the things I would do when I got home; and a thousand matters which had never been more than casual now became surpassingly attractive and important. He pictured his possessions on the abbreviated sledge, and instantly he saw the bag of food stacked on the mid-platform, and in the fear that clouded his brain he knew that he must make every effort to reach the bag. Concentration was difficult, and only by the utmost persistence could I bring myself out of it.



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