stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-057

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Samara Cary at May 21, 2024 06:38 PM

stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-057

- 58 -

already long ago on record to show that my own experience of many years and
the consultation of three traveling companions, one at least of them equally
experienced, led to our deciding to cross a belt of ice which broke under the
sled just as we were reaching strong ice on the farther side. Had that ice
broken a tenth of a second sooner we should have lost our sledge and we might
have starved to death a few days or weeks later. Under slightly different
circumstances we might have made the same decision with a result fatal almost
instantaneously to all of us. These are chances that all arctic travelers
take and circumstances which have lead to more arctic tragedies than any
other cause.

This discussion has all been based on the assumption of
only ordinary bad weather. But Knight records that the day after the party
started it was "blowing a gale." This brings in another element of danger
always faced by the polar traveler just as the traveler by rail always faces
the danger of collisions and broken bridges. That any man who had ever accom-
panied me or who had read my books must have been fully aware of this danger
is shown by my own account of such an occurrence.* Often we camp in the
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* "The Friendly Arctic," pp. 167-169.
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evening without knowing that a gale is coming, and our choice of a campsite
may be casual. But that evening we knew that a gale was upon us and we
selected the safest looking ice we could find. That gale was so terrific that
when we drew lots to see which of us would go outdoors and stand a two-hour
watch, Storkerson went out and came back in to us in ten or fifteen\minutes
to inquire why we had not answered his shouts. He had been almost pressing
his mouth to the tent while he shouted to us but we had not heard him inside
the tent because of the flapping of the canvas and the howling of the storm.
Thereupon we decided, since it was only taking a chance in any case, we might

stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-057

- 58 -

already long ago on record to show that my own experience of many years and
the consultation of three traveling companions, one at least of them equally
experienced, led to our deciding to cross a belt of ice which broke under the
sled just as we were reaching strong ice on the farther side. Had that ice
broken a tenth of a second sooner we should have lost our sledge and we might
have starved to death a few days or weeks later. Under slightly different
circumstances we might have made the same decision with a result fatal almost
instantaneously to all of us. These are chances that all arctic travelers
take and circumstances which have lead to more arctic tragedies than any
other cause.

This discussion has all been based on the assumption of
only ordinary bad weather. But Knight records that the day after the party
started it was "blowing a gale." This brings in another element of danger
always faced by the polar traveler just as the traveler by rail always faces
the danger of collisions and broken bridges. That any man who had ever accom-
panied me or who had read my books must have been fully aware of this danger
is shown by my own account of such an occurrence.* Often we camp in the

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* "The Friendly Arctic," pp. 167-169.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

evening without knowing that a gale is coming, and our choice of a campsite
may be casual. But that evening we knew that a gale was upon us and we
selected the safest looking ice we could find. That gale was so terrific that
when we drew lots to see which of us would go outdoors and stand a two-hour
watch, Storkerson went out and came back in to us in ten or fifteen minutes
to inquire why we had not answered his shouts. He had been almost pressing
his mouth to the tent while he shouted to us but we had not heard him inside
the tent because of the flapping of the canvas and the howling of the storm.
Thereupon we decided, since it was only taking a chance in any case, we might