Blazing Ice: Pioneering the Twenty-first Century?s Road to the South Pole

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Overview

The Antarctic is the last vast terrestrial frontier. Just over a century ago, no one had ever seen the South Pole. Today odd machines and adventure skiers from many nations converge there every summer, arriving from numerous starting points on the Antarctic coast and returning some other way. But not until very recently has anyone completed a roundtrip from McMurdo Station, the U.S. support hub on the continental coast. The last man to try that perished in 1912. The valuable surface route from McMurdo remained ...
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Blazing Ice: Pioneering the Twenty-first Century's Road to the South Pole

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Overview

The Antarctic is the last vast terrestrial frontier. Just over a century ago, no one had ever seen the South Pole. Today odd machines and adventure skiers from many nations converge there every summer, arriving from numerous starting points on the Antarctic coast and returning some other way. But not until very recently has anyone completed a roundtrip from McMurdo Station, the U.S. support hub on the continental coast. The last man to try that perished in 1912. The valuable surface route from McMurdo remained elusive until John H. Wright and his crew finished the job in 2006.

Blazing Ice is the story of the team of Americans who forged a thousand-mile transcontinental “haul route” across Antarctica. For decades airplanes from McMurdo Station supplied the South Pole. A safe and repeatable surface haul route would have been cheaper and more environmentally benign than airlift, but the technology was not available until 2000.

As Wright reveals in this gripping narrative, the hazards of Antarctic terrain and weather were as daunting for twenty-first century pioneers as they were for Norway’s Roald Amundsen and England’s Robert Falcon Scott when they raced to be first to the South Pole in 1911–1912. Wright and his team faced deadly hidden crevasses, vast snow swamps, the Transantarctic Mountains, badlands of weird wind sculpted ice, and the high Polar Plateau.

Blazing Ice will appeal to Antarctic aficionados, conservationists, field scientists, and adventure readers of all stripes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Nowhere in Antarctic literature is there another piece of exploration writing like Blazing Ice. It’s a firsthand account of a remarkable modern achievement but also a beautiful and profound meditation on the often disastrous conjunction of institutional culture with fieldwork. Everyone who plans to work in places wild and woolly should sit up and take notice.”—William Fox, Antarctic veteran and author of Terra Antarctica

“John Wright and his team’s mission raised the challenge of reaching the South Pole to a huge scale, well beyond that of past explorers. Wright’s rare combination of strong will and steady focus, coupled with his background in the science of geology, provides a near-perfect perspective from which to tell this story. To that mix, add humor, irony, and insight.”—Ted Scambos, lead scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, and Antarctic field glaciologist

Blazing Ice is a tale of great accomplishment, and John Wright tells it well. He and his team faced danger, yet succeeded in their effort, not with stupid heroics or grandstanding, but with meticulous planning and step-by-step refinement of equipment, technique, and psychology. They drew on true courage, whose hallmark is a clear understanding of the danger, and a determination to accomplish the mission anyway.”—Tom Sawyer, senior editor, Engineering News-Record

“The day the traverse team arrived, the entire South Pole Station population anxiously scanned the horizon. A big U.S. flag flew above their lead tractor. They had just proved a route never before traveled, a monumental benchmark in Polar history. In Blazing Ice, Wright tells the story of this historic achievement with the same attention to detail that he applied to the project. His tale is laced with earthy humor that puts the reader right there in his crew.”—Jerry W. Marty, NSF Representative South Pole Station (retired), Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612344515
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2012
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 825,457
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN H. WRIGHT served as the U.S. Antarctic Program explosives engineer for five years, executed the South Pole Tunnel project over the course of four years, and later headed the South Pole Traverse Proof-of-Concept project. He has published authoritative engineering articles and presented papers at numerous scientific conferences. He lives in Silverton, Colorado.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Fireblaze

    I will stay with you though he wraped around her and closed his eyes

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Silverfire

    Kk

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  • Posted December 18, 2012

    I could not put this book down! Blazing Ice is responsible for m

    I could not put this book down! Blazing Ice is responsible for much missed sleep and delayed work. I worked in Antarctica for many years, and I knew blazing a safe trail to the South Pole from McMurdo Station wouldn't be easy, but I had no inkling of the magnitude of the difficulty or the tremendous hazards faced by John Wright and his crew. John relates his tale in prose that is clear, direct, and immediate. I felt like I was right there on the trail with him. At the same time, he unobtrusively provides enough backstory so any reader, whether familiar with Antarctica or not, can understand what is going on behind the scenes.

    I was fascinated to learn so much about the ice, snow, topographical, and weather conditions on the Ross Ice Shelf, in the Transantarctic Mountains, and on the Polar Plateau. We often tend to think of the Antarctic interior as a bland and featureless expanse of ice, but nothing could be further from the truth. It's a dynamic and multifaceted land about which we know very little. Strange snow and ice conditions and even stranger weather beg for further investigation. I've always considered ice to be little more than slow water; that is, it behaves the same, just slower. But after reading of what John discovered, that seems to be an incomplete explanation. Ice, especially the vast volume of it in Antarctica, is even stranger than I thought.

    Throughout the book, John's personality, and the personalities of his crew, all come through. I have nothing but admiration for those people, who toiled long and hard and suffered some of the most grueling conditions, yet refused to give up. Much of that resolve came directly from Mr. Wright himself, who was as determined as any person could ever be to do a job and do it right. As I was reading, I couldn't help but be reminded of the leadership qualities for which Ernest Shackleton is so often mentioned. I think John Wright could give Shackleton a run for his money.

    Blazing Ice is a gripping story, told by a master storyteller. I recommend it highly, whether the reader is interested in Antarctic or not. And if the reader is not, he or she will be after reading this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Blazing Ice

    Fascinating book, story of the building of a snow-compacted road from McMurdo Station to the South Pole. The reason for building the road was to reduce the amount of air traffic and pollutants in Antarctica. Also to carry heaving construction equipment to Pole meant that items as D8 bulldozers and such had to be taken apart to fit on the planes, a lot of unnecessary work.

    The author and designer of the project describes well his camraderie with his workers and quite a few passages are written in miner, construction worker lingo, new to me. His story is a whole new episode in Antarctic history; Wright tells a worthy tale.

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