Richt of the Antarctic, or Why Nice Guys Finish Dead Last in This League

Amundsen-Scott Station, Antarctica, is a crazy place.  It is consistently one of the coldest places on the face of the earth, with temperatures well below -100 degrees (Fahrenheit) and windchills well below -130 during the height of the Antarctic winter.

The sun does crazy things in the sky over Amundsen-Scott Station, Antarctica, as well.  The sky is pitch black for six months out of the year, but around the end of September you start to see some light.  Around the end of October the sun starts to peek above the horizon.  Now the sun does not move straight across the sky, the way it does here in Georgia.  Instead, it moves counterclockwise in a wide circle at the horizon.  Gradually it moves upward in a corkscrew-type motion, until it reaches 23.5 degrees above the horizon.  This happens around the end of December.  For the next two months it corkscrews back downward, until the end of February when it starts to drop below the horizon.  By the end of March all light has disappeared from the sky over Amundsen-Scott Station.

For those of you who don’t know, Amundsen-Scott Station, Antarctica, is a U. S. research station located at the South Pole.  It is so named to honor the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who was the first to reach the South Pole, and the Englishman Robert Scott, who reached it a month later and died during the return trip.

Robert Scott was a British naval officer who first made his claim to fame by leading an expedition to Antarctica in 1901-1904.  During the course of this expedition Scott journeyed southward and got to within 530 miles of the South Pole.  Scott returned home as a popular hero.  He won numerous awards for his expedition, including the Legion of Honor.

In 1910 Scott decided to have another go at the Antarctic.  This time his objective was to reach the South Pole.  Now of course Scott had his own ideas about how to go about this.  Sled dogs and skis had proven to be a superior technology, but Scott wanted nothing to do with this.  He showed a marked preference for this thing called “man-hauling”, which consisted of using manpower to propel sledges.  His use of sled dogs during this expedition was strictly an afterthought. Continue reading “Richt of the Antarctic, or Why Nice Guys Finish Dead Last in This League”