"And just two men, locked in a hut for six months of dark and cold, would probably kill each other, he concluded."

"So it would have to be one person alone. As the leader of the expedition, he felt obliged to assign himself to the job.... Once the sun set, on April 12, he would be stuck. No plane could fly in again until the sun returned in October.... Byrd at first took comfort in his routine of weather observations and in constantly rearranging his supply closets.... His cabin was buried in the snow, to present a low profile to the wind; the only way out was through a hatch in the roof.... On the page, Byrd’s voice cries out like the merciless Antarctic wind. He sits in his sleeping bag playing solitaire. He bangs around in the dark, fetching food and fuel from his storage tunnels.... He registers the ice crawling up the inside walls of his cabin, and the drifts of snow that cover him whenever he manages to lift the hatch to peer out at the weather and tend his instruments. Weakened by the carbon-monoxide fumes from his stove, he throws up most of his food. He stares at sleeping pills and wonders if he should take them. 'The dark side of man’s mind seems to be a sort of antenna tuned to catch gloomy thoughts from all directions,' he wrote of a particularly bitter day early in June. 'I found it so with mine.'"

From "Self-Isolated at the End of the World/Alone in the long Antarctic night, Adm. Richard E. Byrd endured the ultimate in social distancing" (NYT).

No comments:

Post a Comment