Outpost on a frozen planet

Les skieurs de l’expédition Scott sont arrivés au Pôle Sud, voici ce qu’ils décrivent, un paysage bien différent de celui que le Captain Scott découvrit en 1912:

In short, I'm afraid to say -though it's probably quite apt- that I concur with Captain Scott himself when he said of the South Pole "Great God this is an awful place". For him, of course, there was nothing there at all. A patch of snow at the heart of a barren, deeply inhospitable continent. For us, it felt like walking into a cross between an airport, a junkyard and a military base. Or perhaps a scene that was omitted from a Star Wars film: skiing along with sacks swinging from our backs, futuristic mirrored goggles and hoods framed by coyote fur, we looked like two bounty hunters approaching some sort of outpost on a frozen planet.

As we skied alongside the runway, two skidoos -presumably electric ones as they sounded like hairdryers- skimmed past us, and one visored pilot raised a mittened hand in a half-wave, half-salute. It all felt very strange. The next thing we spotted was several acres of oil drums, cargo containers, pallets and cardboard boxes, with giant tracked vehicles moving between them, belching smoke and reversing with beepers blaring. We skied past several vast sets of fuel bladders that had been towed to the Pole from McMurdo, leaving tracks thirty feet wide. The smell of aviation fuel hung in the air, and huge exhaust plumes rose from what I assume are generators near the main station buildings itself. Anyone who thinks the South Pole station is all about bearded scientists releasing weather balloons and peering into telescopes is sadly mistaken; the place is a giant logistics hub geared, it seems, mainly around the vast quantities of fuel needed to keep this outpost heated and powered all year round, and to quench the thirst of the Hercules aircraft we saw sat on the snow runway.

A Big Day Out (Day 64) | Blog | The Scott Expedition

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