A Devil of a Climb: The Devil’s Glacier

  • Mary R. Tahan


This chapter chronicles the difficult crossing of the crevasse-filled Devil’s Glacier, the slippery trek across the ice-like terrain dubbed Devil’s Ballroom, and the passing of Ernest Shackleton’s farthest south at 86° 17′ on November 27, 1911. The sled dogs, divided into three teams, battle blinding snowdrifts and treacherous sastrugi while hauling heavier loads; men and dogs battle frostbite; dog teams and sledges plummet down crevasses; the South Pole party reaches the main plateau, running blindly in severe snowfall; and the dogs endure overwork and underfeeding. An unexpected departure upends Amundsen’s plan for reaching the Pole and results in his changing part of his strategy. In the chapter, the author names the sled dogs making this portion of the trek, identifies their sledge teams and drivers, and documents the men’s observations about them as written in their diaries. Included in the text is an analysis of Amundsen’s dichotomous relationship with the dogs as enemies and saviors.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary R. Tahan
    • 1
  1. 1.VancouverCanada

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