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The Roof at the Bottom of the World

The Roof at the Bottom of the World

Edmund Stump
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Roof at the Bottom of the World
    Book Description:

    The Transantarctic Mountains are the most remote mountain belt on Earth, an utterly pristine wilderness of ice and rock rising to majestic heights and extending for 1,500 miles. In this book, Edmund Stump is the first to show us this continental-scale mountain system in all its stunning beauty and desolation, and the first to provide a comprehensive, fully illustrated history of the region's discovery and exploration.

    The author not only has conducted extensive research in the Transantarctic Mountains during his forty-year career as a geologist but has also systematically photographed the entire region. Selecting the best of the best of his more than 8,000 photographs, he presents nothing less than the first atlas of these mountains. In addition, he examines the original firsthand accounts of the heroic Antarctic explorations of James Clark Ross (who discovered the mountain range in the early 1840s), Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, Richard Byrd, and scientists participating in the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958). From these records, Stump is now able to trace the actual routes of the early explorers with unprecedented accuracy. With maps old and new, stunning photographs never before published, and tales of intrepid explorers, this book takes the armchair traveler on an expedition to the Antarctic wilderness that few have ever seen.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17846-3
    Subjects: Geology, Geography, History, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xv)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  6. 1 Through the Portal: Discoveries along Coastal Victoria Land
    (pp. 1-33)

    In the aftermath of the Renaissance and three centuries of unprecedented exploration by Europeans, the world had become a sphere encircled by an ocean, and its edges had vanished. Previously, blank spaces beyond the boundaries of maps were limitless and often depicted with demons or dragons. Now the world was finite, and the blank spaces on its face were steadily fleshed out as explorers circled the shorelines of continents, probed deep into their river systems, and happened onto islands as they crossed the open seas. By the end of the eighteenth century, much of the Earth was charted. Certainly substantial...

  7. 2 From the Sea to the Ice Plateau: The Crossing of Victoria Land
    (pp. 34-65)

    Put yourself on Observation Hill, on a beautiful spring day in August 1902 (Fig. 2.1). The view is to the southern edge of the known world. The mountains to the west and the ice shelf to the south are the hinterlands of knowledge, with the boundaries left to imagination. The afternoon is a bit chilly at minus 45° F, but windless, so without the nip. The sun, still quite low in the northern sky, infuses the landscape with a glow rich in hues of pink and gold. This view is one of the grandest in Antarctica and a pilgrimage that...

  8. 3 Fire, Ice, and the Magnetic Pole: Further Discoveries in Victoria Land
    (pp. 66-94)

    One year beforeDiscovery’s return, Ernest Shackleton had come home to his own hero’s welcome, because news of the southern journey with Scott and Wilson had fired the public’s imagination about hostile, polar wastelands bested by the explorers’ will. Privately, Shackleton was deeply ashamed of his failure to hold up on the march, and, with the incentive of personal vindication, he sought to return to the Ross Sea and the icy interior beyond. He announced in 1907 his intention to lead an expedition to the Antarctic, which would attempt to reach both the Geographic and the Magnetic South Poles, not...

  9. 4 Penetrating the Interior: Discoveries in the Central Transantarctic Mountains
    (pp. 95-126)

    On February 25, 1909, the day that Shackleton had given instructions to begin preparations for a search party, he and his three sledge mates, Wild, Adams, and Marshall, were camped fifteen miles north of Minna Bluff. The men had barely survived a seventeen hundred–mile march on starvation rations when, two days earlier, they had tenuously reached the Bluff and its well-stocked depot (Fig. 4.1). In addition to an abundance of the usual sledging rations, biscuit, pemmican, cocoa, and tea, the cache contained eggs and freshly cooked mutton from theNimrod,as well as gifts, including “Carlsbad plums, cakes, plum...

  10. 5 Beyond the Horizon: Discoveries in the Queen Maud Mountains
    (pp. 127-170)

    From the planning stages of the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910, Scott knew that he would be following largely in the footsteps of Shackleton. The winter quarters would be on Ross Island, as deep into McMurdo Sound as ice conditions allowed. Scott had claimed that real estate nine years before. And from Minna Bluff to the mouth of Shackleton Inlet, the polar party would be on the old trail that Shackleton, Wilson, and he had blazed in 1902. South of that was Shackleton territory, with its proven route through the mountains at Beardmore Glacier and onto the polar plateau. Only...

  11. 6 Earth’s Land’s End: The Exploration of Scott Glacier
    (pp. 171-204)

    The First Byrd Antarctic Expedition had been extremely successful at capturing the imagination of the American public. So in spite of a homecoming to the Great Depression, Byrd sought to return to the Ice and extend the discoveries of his recent campaign. The creation of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition (BAE II) at a time of such national austerity is largely to the credit of its leader’s exceptional promotional skills. With the donation of materials and supplies from many manufacturers and the public donation of funds, the expedition sailed south in autumn 1933, one year delayed from the targeted departure....

  12. 7 To the IGY and Beyond: Filling in the Spaces
    (pp. 205-236)

    With the conclusion of Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition, the full extent of the Transantarctic Mountains out to the Horlick Mountains had been discovered. To be sure, broad portions of the map remained blank on the plateau side of the mountains, a gap existed between Beardmore and Liv Glaciers, and the distal termination was vague and uncertain, but explorers had mapped the Transantarctic Mountains for fifteen hundred miles from North Cape to the Horlick Mountains, and had made crossings to the plateau at six locations: David Glacier, Ferrar Glacier, Beardmore Glacier, Liv Glacier, Axel Heiberg Glacier, and Scott Glacier. Subsequent comers...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 237-240)

    A spur of rock exists in the Duncan Mountains reaching down from the main ridgeline of that foothills range. It is an ordinary spur flanked by equally ordinary spurs on either side. The sort of nothing-special place you’d never choose to climb if you had journeyed so deeply into this deep-field space—unless perhaps you were a geologist.

    We were out that day chasing a fault that ran along the backside of the summit ridge, coming down the crest of that ordinary spur—black, fine-grained schist dipping into the mountain, less frost-shattered perhaps than other spurs down the line—descending...

  14. Appendix 1: The Rock Cycle
    (pp. 241-242)
  15. Appendix 2: Geologic Time
    (pp. 243-244)
  16. Glossary
    (pp. 245-246)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-248)
  18. Index
    (pp. 249-254)