“Why is ice so beautiful?”

Published on 18.03.2010 - Save the Poles

It has been a difficult start for the trio led by Eric Larsen, who like all of the other expeditions chose Ward Hunt or Cape Discovery as their departure point. There have been some truly extreme temperatures this season, not to mention terrible ice conditions during the early days of their venture.

Larsen's expedition (which is part of his attempt to conquer all three poles in under 365 days – he already has the South Pole under his belt since last winter) consists of a team of three: Darcy St Laurent, a Search and Rescue Technician in the Canadian armed forces -a man who has previously experienced and survived a number of hazardous situations (buried by an avalanche, trapped in a shipwreck, lost in a forest in the Canadian Far North), Antony Jinman, who is searching for microscopic algae in the Arctic ice, and Larsen himself, an ardent defender of the poles, as we know, and who most probably will also be making an attempt on Everest in May.

The three men were dropped off on the ice on 3rd March. When they first set out, as we mentioned in the intro to this article, they had to battle temperatures as low as minus 40°C (not including the windchill factor). They also encountered great jumbles of ice which made it very difficult for them to make any progress. But no doubt it has been the dazzling daily show put on by the sun as it gradually shows its face above the horizon that has given the men the encouragement they need to go on and keep morale high.

On 10th March, day 8 of the adventure, Antony was able to collect his first algae specimens for Plymouth University -another element of satisfaction for the expedition. On the same day, Larsen asked another of his very interesting questions (during his trek in Antarctica we became used to his fine, inquisitive reports and comments): why is it so beautiful here? Is it because they are constantly faced with danger? Or because they feel that death is there, everywhere, prowling around? Or that one wrong move could prove fatal? Or is it because very few people ever have the privilege of visiting this part of the world? Or because they are in an environment that will soon disappear forever from the face of the Earth? Or is beauty beautiful simply because it is there, because it exists?

Whatever the answer (and Larsen does not provide one to this particular question), on day 10 the three men decided to get up late and rest until midday. On 14th March, after twelve days of dreadful ice conditions, they had the good fortune -for the first time- to be able to travel northwards for several kilometres along a lead (an open channel in the ice with a generally flat covering of ice) which gave them an opportunity to straps on their skis. On day 14, Jinman suffered a heavy fall, although fortunately without injuring himself, then the trio had to pull on their waterproofs to cross a wide expanse of water that otherwise would have been impassable.

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