National Geographic : 1956 Jan
the trail and was heading for nowhere. I followed it and finally caught it after almost a mile, wondering what had happened to the driver. As I came abreast, I saw him sound asleep, his nose squashed on the windshield, his head swinging gently from side to side with his nose as the pivot. It took me quite a while to wake him up. When I finally succeeded, he opened his eyes and asked, "What the so and so is going on here?" When I told him, he got mad and exclaimed, "I was not asleep! I was reading a book!" We rolled on and on, and finally-at 11:45 p.m., July 17-we arrived at an altitude of about 10,000 feet at 70° 55' N. and 40° 38' W., exactly where I had decided that our station would be. Expedition Digs In On the morning of July 18, when I woke up in my tent right in the center of the Greenland Icecap, I had, at long last, the feeling that the expedition was to be success ful, that the dream I had cherished for 15 years was indeed coming true. We started building the station (page 134). It was to be entirely buried in the snow, or, more precisely, the nve---partly compacted granular snow. Thus the entire installation, including a prefabricated cabin, would be totally protected against the wind and some what protected against the cold. This reasoning proved, as the years passed, to be perfectly correct. Even when the worst blizzards blew, the only signs of them down below were the needle of the anemometer and the howling of the wind in the vents. The lowest outside temperature recorded was minus 89° F. But even when it was that cold outside, the temperature in the corridors dug out of the never never went lower than minus 40° F. Living quarters, of course, were generally kept at normal room temperatures (page 135). As bamboo sticks were being planted to mark the places where we would dig in, the men who were to spend the winter here con templated their life in this deepfreeze home with mixed emotions. Wrote Michel Bouche of the wintering group, chief meteorologist and second in command to Robert Guillard: "Just like a dream, the life we thought of so often is being drawn on the snow by a few markings clumsily joined together in a line dug with a heavy sole .... I already wintered here when I was studying the blueprint in Paris, but now I am suddenly possessed by the certainty that it is going to be quite different! " This cabin had been prefabricated in Paris and test-erected there by these very men. It would have eight bunks, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room with radio and record player, a photo lab and a meteorology lab all this in 26 by 16 feet. The walls of special insulating material were approximately two inches thick, but equivalent to a three-foot-thick brick wall in keeping the warmth of the specially con structed kerosene stove inside the cabin. Some 450 feet of under-snow passages led to the trailer labs, storerooms, fuel caches, and a pit for launching weather balloons. The gasoline was running short, and once again we felt that an airdrop was needed.