National Geographic : 1959 Jul
JAMES F. CALVERT Huge Mounds of Tortured Ice Tower Above a Submariner Walking among the pressure ridges bordering Skylight No. 6, Commander Calvert and his men pictured the indomitable Robert E. Peary sledging over and around such ob stacles on his dash to the Pole 50 years earlier. Shifting floes, grinding together with tremendous pressure, raised these giant hummocks above the pack. commander. It's 8 a.m. right now!" he said. Suddenly I realized what was wrong. Skate had been keeping Greenwich, England, time to avoid the constantly changing time zones, but the drifting station was keeping Alaska time-10 hours earlier than Greenwich! "Major, we have a problem here," I said, laughing. "Well," replied our friend, with a smile, "my people are used to odd hours. We'll just take it easy today and have the visiting schedule tonight. We'll turn our night into day for you." What more can a host do? As we toured the station the next day, Dr. Norbert Untersteiner, the senior scientist at Alpha, pointed out what looked like dressed beef hanging from a pole. "The boys shot a couple of polar bears," he told me, and added: "The meat seems pretty strong." Later we were to realize what an under statement that was. The midsummer melt season was at its height and shallow pools lay on the floes in every direction. This water is usually fresh enough to drink, and the clear, penetrating blue of these pools is unforgettable. On the other hand, they made life at Alpha in summer like living in a swamp. "You know," said Dr. Untersteiner, "there hasn't been an airplane in here in weeks be cause of the melt. Your visit was a welcome break in our isolated life. "But I don't know whether I like it or not," he sighed. "The Arctic has always had a beautiful privacy. Now it's gone. You people will be popping up all over this ocean before long." Major Bilotta, Dr. Untersteiner, and I de cided that a festive farewell meal was in order, and after the plans were made, I re turned to the ship for a nap before dinner. I had no more than fallen asleep when the officer of the deck called me. The wind had shifted and the shape of our polynya was changing.