Tuesday 15 November 2011

NO RETURN Captain Scott’s Race to the Pole

Captain Scott's Race to the Pole (No Return) Captain Scott's Race to the Pole (No Return) by Peter Gouldthorpe (Lothian/Hachette)
HB RRP $28.99
ISBN 978 0 73441 220 1
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

Peter Gouldthorpe is a CBCA award winning author/illustrator and his talented artwork is showcased in this recounting of the race to the South Pole by Robert Falcon Scott.

Lieutenant Scott heads The National Antarctic Expedition in 1901, sailing from London in the Discovery, specially built for hazardous ice conditions. Apart from gaining scientific knowledge of plant life and unearthing geological secrets, Scott hopes to fulfil his dream of being first to reach the South Pole.

Among Scott's party are Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson and 19 huskies. The men trek to within 850 kilometers of the South Pole, but are forced back by terrible deprivation and the loss of all the dogs. Nevertheless, they remain there for two years before arriving back in England in 1904 with their data of new discoveries. Scott is hailed as a national hero and promoted to captain.

Interest revives in the South Pole after Robert Peary conquers the North Pole in 1909 and Shackleton’s own expedition to Antarctica comes close to reaching the Pole. Scott, spurred on by this news, forms a second expedition funded by himself. On June 1, 1910, the Terra Nova sets sail for Australia. To Scott’s dismay, a telegram arrives while docked in Melbourne to say Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer was challenging him in the race to the Pole.

Once in Antarctic waters, it takes a month for the ship to navigate through the pack ice. The Terra Nova anchors off what is now called Cape Evans, and the preparations for the race to the South Pole begin in earnest. Within two weeks, a hut is built to house the men in the bitter Antarctic winter ahead.
Scott sends out two exploration parties. One returns with the news that Amundsen's ship has anchored in the Bay of Whales. Scott works out that the Norwegian will be 97 kilometers closer to the Pole than his own party. Wondering whether his rival will reach the Pole first must have lain heavily on his mind through the long winter months.

The many experiences of the twenty-five men who remain behind after the ship returns to New Zealand are recorded in both text and brushwork. Peter Gouldthorpe's detailed and powerful illustrations magnify the horrendous conditions and challenges Scott's exploration party face. -44°C temperatures without modern thermal clothing would have been daunting enough, but along with the blizzards, the men suffer fatigue, hunger, frostbite, painful snow blindness, and loss of companions and horses (whose meat provided valuable food). The picture book's title is well chosen.

Captain Scott's Race to the Pole (No Return) pays homage to Captain Scott and his team. Their courage, determination and sacrifice is an inspiration and has reserved them a well-deserved place in history. A poster showing maps and a time line is included with the book and is an excellent tool for an instant overview of the race to the South Pole.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the statement "-44°C temperatures without modern thermal clothing would have been daunting enough..." http://arxiv.org/abs/1011.1272 Scott and Bowers falsified their weather logs to make themselves look like the victims of bad weather. And in case anyone pulls out Susan Solomon, the article I linked to discredits her. Also, according to this, the nine-day blizzard never happened: http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.5355



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