Just in time for snowshoe weather: another first-rate tale of travel in the frozen North. Lately, reports of Arctic and...

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NORTH TO THE POLE

Just in time for snowshoe weather: another first-rate tale of travel in the frozen North. Lately, reports of Arctic and Antarctic exploration have been tumbling off the presses like ice cubes from a Freezomatic. Each story has its own peculiar twist. Here, Steger and Schurke recount the first dogsled conquest of the North Pole without resupply (i.e., relying only on original provisions, with no airlift support) in 79 years. And a fearsome voyage it is: 55 agonizing days (""a far greater physical epic than any of us had ever imagined"") of trudging across treacherous ice, clambering over knife-edge ridges, huddling in frigid tents fouled by noxious fumes from overworked stoves. The authors (who were co-leaders of the expedition) fare no better or worse than others in describing the horrendous physical and mental strains of such a trek. They excel, however, in selecting the odd detail, the illuminating footnote that brings their ordeal to life. No other Arctic authors have bothered to reveal, for instance, that Crest is the preferred polar toothpaste because it never freezes; nor have any other explorers described so vividly the difficulties of writing in an environment where pencil lead looses its stickiness and ballpoint pens freeze solid. And what other polar book dotes so engagingly on the grungy underpinnings of a major expedition: how to hitch a dogsled, what to do when a companion dies on the ice (leave the corpse for the polar bears?). These enchanting minutiae enhance what is already an intrinsically gripping story: seven men, one woman (Anne Bancroft, the first human female to reach the North Pole), and 49 dogs hauling 1000-pound sleds through -70F storms in search of an imaginary point on a map. For armchair adventurers with mukluks on their feet, a bracing blast of polar adventure.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Times Books

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1987