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The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson

21 Jul

Wilkinson describes several attempts to reach the North Pole in the late 19th century, focusing on Swedish explorer S. A. Andree’s failed attempt to reach the pole by hydrogen balloon.

Fascinating. As I read, I thought back to David Grann’s Lost City of Z, which described Percy Fawcett’s attempt to find a lost civilization in the Amazon. Like Andree, he never returned. The amount of faith each of these men had in their cause amazes me. I can think of no reward for which I would leave my home and family for at best a few years and probably more, risking serious injury and possible death. Yet they and many others did so, with the glory being nothing more than being the first to discover some remote location. I’m not sure if I should admire their courage or look with contempt at their irresponsibility.

Then again, sometimes it would not be such a great sacrifice. Right now, with temperatures in the triple digits, being stranded on an ice flow in the arctic sounds kind of nice.

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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Nonfiction

 

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