National Geographic : 1936 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE © Ellsworth Antarctic Expedition TWO OF ANTARCTICA'S RARE "GROWING THINGS"-BEARDS AND ICICLES Lincoln Ellsworth after two months without a shave. No washing was possible during this time, for the fuel supply was too scant to permit melting snow except for drinking and cooking. Dark glasses were worn to prevent snow blindness from the glare, which seemed worse on cloudy days than on sunny ones. Catastrophe might be lurking just ahead should our frail man-made contrivance of metal and wood, lying inert and lifeless, deeply buried in the snowdrift beside our little tent, grow weary of its mission and set us adrift there where 630 miles sepa rated us from our destination. True, the coast was only a few hundred to our north, but even so there might be a hundred miles of pack ice between it and open water. There would be seals, and perhaps pen guins. After that, what? Though one learns to accept disappointment in those regions, the thought of a month's man-haul on foot was anything but inviting. All these things did come to mind one morning when we tried unsuccessfully to start the airplane motor after warming it for an hour. We were being buried deeper and deeper in the snow. The situation seemed bad. If we could just get out of that hole, nothing else seemed to matter. Of all abominable jobs in Polar regions, next to man-haul, the worst is shoveling snow. It is dry, fine as flour, sifts into everything, and packs as hard as rock. After the blizzard we discovered that the entire tail of our plane was one solid block of snow. Since I was more slender than Kenyon, it fell to my lot to crawl in among the control cables and struts to bail it out. With a bucket and pemmican mug, this job took one whole heart-breaking day (p. 19). All the time in this camp we were beset by many troubles. The valve of the primus stove leaked air and constant pumping was necessary to keep the flame going. Kenyon showed his ingenuity again when, from among the spare parts of the plane, he found a lead valve which we whittled down and, with the aid of a washer, fitted on the stove. Then, too, the drift kept piling up around the plane and it seemed as if we would be buried. Although the plane radio set had ceased to function when we were 1,300 miles from our destination, or opposite Charcot Island, our first rendezvous base previously agreed upon, we were not then particularly con cerned because we were provided with three means of communication.