Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, Elephant Island, August 18, 1916: “. . . we are thickly beset by the accursed ice. . .”

—from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“18 August: The menace of last night materialized this morning, for we are thickly beset by the accursed ice, and it stretches in every direction further than the eye can see. It is a rotten day. The brightness has gone from the sky and snow comes from it copiously instead. The temperature is as low as 12deg and what with the wind and the snow, it really feels as cold as the thermometer tells us it is. It is just like winter again.

“We are all so thoroughly discontented and grumpy that no-one who hasn’t absolutely got to, stirred from their blubber-sodden, almost hairless bags. The snow-fall has been so heavy that the snow is 4ft deep in new drifts and it packs up all around the wretched Sty, threatening to burst the flimsy walls, and so needing frequent digging out. We anticipate trouble when it begins to thaw in earnest and have therefore determined to remove the snow-banks all around the Sty.”

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