Antarctica is not generally friendly to life, and is aggressively hostile to human life, and yet for the last 150 years explorers have pitted themselves against it time and again. Frequently, and particularly during the 'heroic' age of the first couple of decades of the twentieth century, their efforts were met with extreme danger and even death. The names Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen are writ especially large in our cultural history because of their harrowing journeys to the ice continent. Douglas Mawson's name does not shine quite as brightly, which ironically gives him much credit: he was not so much a pole-chaser as a committed scientist, and won more secrets from Antarctica than his more famous contemporaries put together; and careful planning meant that he usually suffered less from the mishaps that plagued others. And yet, just once, catastrophe did strike. Three hundred miles from base-camp - three hundred miles of the coldest, most lethal territory on earth - Mawson lost one of his two companions and most of his supplies down a crevasse. Soon after the survivors' attempt to claw back to base began, his other companion died of the horrendous conditions they had to bear.
This disaster, and Mawon's incredible 6-week solo journey back to base - described by Sir Edmund Hilary as the greatest story of lone survival in polar exploration - make up the thrilling narrative of Lennard Bickel's book.show more