The next best thing to being in Antarctica is reading about it. So we’ve compiled a list of the top polar stories to keep you cool all year long. Check out our recommendations for every type of Antarctic traveler:
Great Reads For Everyone:
THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH BY ROLAND HUNTFORD
In this brilliant dual biography, award-winning writer Roland Huntford re-examines every detail of the great race to the South Pole between Britain’s Robert Scott and Norway’s Roald Amundsen. It is a gripping and highly readable history that captures the driving ambitions of the era and the complex, often deeply flawed men who were charged with carrying them out.
BELOW THE CONVERGENCE: VOYAGES TOWARD ANTARCTICA 1699-1839 BY ALAN GURNEY
This wonderfully written book tells of the first Herculean expeditions to Antarctica in the 18th and early 19th centuries, an era when the existence of the continent had yet to be proved. The story is all about questing after mythic goals, about conquering the dangers of uncharted waters and about the human hungers that fuel such activities. Not content to merely cite facts, Gurney spins an exciting tale of the search for land, glory, fur, science and profit.
THE CRYSTAL DESERT: SUMMERS IN ANTARCTICA BY DAVID CAMPBELL
In beautiful, lucid prose, David G. Campbell chronicles the desperately short summers on the Antarctic Peninsula and describes life’s tenacity on the coldest of Earth’s continents. Campbell tells of the explorers who discovered Antarctica, of the whalers and sealers who despoiled it, and of the scientists who are deciphering its mysteries. He presents a fascinating portrait of the evolution of life in Antarctica and also of the evolution of the continent itself.
THE RACE TO THE WHITE CONTINENT: VOYAGES TO THE ANTARCTIC BY ALAN GURNEY
”The Race to the White Continent” picks up where Alan Gurney’s first book left off, telling the story of the expeditions that paved the way for the race to the South Pole: the French Navy expedition led by Dumont d’Urville in the Astrolabe and Zelee and the classic Royal Navy explorations of James Clark Ross with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. These two men and their crews of seamen and scientists were the first to begin to make Antarctica a real place, rather than a realm of conjecture, and the names of the ships, the men, and their families remain scattered around the Antarctic to this day.
ANTARCTICA: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF A MYSTERIOUS CONTINENT BY GABRIELLE WALKER
This is a thrilling trip to the farthest reaches of earth by one of the best science writers working today. Drawing on her broad travels across the continent, Gabrielle Walker weaves all the significant threads of life on the vast ice sheet into an intricate tapestry, illuminating what it really feels like to be there and why it draws so many different kinds of people. With her, we witness cutting-edge science experiments, visit the South Pole, lodge with American, Italian, and French researchers, drive snowdozers, drill ice cores, and listen for the message Antarctica is sending us about our future in an age of global warming.
THE GREENPEACE BOOK OF ANTARCTICA: A NEW VIEW OF THE SEVENTH CONTINENT
Greenpeace offers a beautiful volume with exquisite photography, artwork, and prose. Many short chapters provide insights into Antarctica’s geography, geology, and abundant flora and fauna. The volume builds to a discussion of the human impact on the continent and to a plea for a world park to preserve the last vast, relatively pristine area of the globe.
SCOTT’S LAST EXPEDITION BY ROBERT FALCON SCOTT
This enduring classic has been called, ‘the most gripping story of polar exploration ever written.’ Scott’s amazingly detailed diary is a vivid, personal narrative of the team’s daily progress towards their goal, his impressions of the harsh conditions they endure, the stark beauty that surrounds them, and his own increasingly desperate ambition to beat his rivals to the Pole. You share in their fears, joys, and ultimately their decline as the end approaches.
THE ICE: A JOURNEY TO ANTARCTICA BY STEPHEN PYNE
The Ice touches on everything about Antarctica: the history, the landscape, the literature, the geology, the biology. The book is all-encompassing, as is the ice that is its focus and deep passion. It’s worth the effort, and your vocabulary will never be the same afterwards. You can read a mystery later.
THE LOST PHOTOGRAPHS OF CAPTAIN SCOTT BY DAVID WILSON
A beautiful book featuring huge double-page photographs taken by Scott himself. In the face of extreme conditions and technical challenges, Scott achieved an iconic series of images that include everything from breathtaking polar panoramas to intimate photos of mending a sledge, chasing a pony, sketching a glacier, and adjusting footwear.
FORTY YEARS ON ICE BY CHARLES SWITHINBANK
An interesting read about a remarkable man. Swithinbank welds together stories from a dozen of his different and varied polar expeditions. The final chapters describe his pioneering work with Adventure Network International, developing Patriot Hills blue-ice runway and opening up the interior of Antarctica to private travel.
SOUTH BY ERNEST SHACKLETON
A true polar classic and worth a second read – even if you have read it before. In 1914, as the shadow of war falls across Europe, a party led by veteran explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sets out to become the first to traverse the Antarctic continent. Their initial optimism is short-lived however, as the pack ice slowly thickens, eventually crushing their craft, and marooning 28 men on a ploar ice floe. In an epic struggle of man versus the elements, Shackleton leads his team on a harrowing quest for survival over some of the most unforgiving terrain in the world.
THE SHACKLETON VOYAGES: A PICTORIAL ANTHOLOGY OF THE POLAR EXPLORER AND EDWARDIAN HERO BY ROLAND HUNTFORD
Ernest Shackleton is best known for his Endurance expedition, but he took part in four Antarctic expeditions in all. Roland Huntford looks at Shackleton, the explorer, leader of men, and hero of his day. This is a riveting story in words and pictures, of rivalry, survival, comradeship and courage in the face of danger and hardship.
SOUTH WITH ENDURANCE: SHACKLETON’S ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 1914-1917: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF FRANK HURLEY BY THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY
This timeless masterpiece is the definitive pictorial account of the voyage of Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance, on their death-defying journey to Antarctica between 1914 and 1917, as told through the camera lens of master photographer Frank Hurley. It contains background and narrative on Shackleton and the expedition and all of the surviving Hurley photographs (almost 500 of them total). The text is enlightening and wonde
rful, but the photographs are the unmistakable stars of the book.
THE WORST JOURNEY IN THE WORLD BY APSLEY CHERRY-GARRARD
This huge book, called the best adventure tale ever written, is well worth the effort. Cherry-Garrard, who was on Scott’s Terra Nova expedition, describes everything from boarding the ship in England until his return three years later. His epic midwinter journey to the emperor penguin rookery is just a warm-up for the main event: his vivid account of Scott’s doomed trek to the South Pole.
THE LOST MEN: THE HARROWING SAGA OF SHACKLETON’S ROSS SEA PARTY BY KELLY TYLER-LEWIS
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Antarctic endeavor is legend, but for sheer heroism and tragic nobility, nothing compares to the saga of the Ross Sea party. This crew of explorers landed on the opposite side of Antarctica from the Endurance with a mission to build supply depots for Shackleton’s planned crossing of the continent. But their ship disappeared in a gale, leaving ten inexperienced, ill-equipped men to trek 1,356 miles in the harshest environment on earth. Drawing on the men’s own journals and photographs, this is a masterpiece of historical adventure.
For Penguin Lovers:
PENGUIN BY FRANS LANTING
A celebration of the nature and beauty of penguins as expressed through the exquisite images and unique personal stories of master photographer and naturalist Frans Lanting. Lanting travelled to Antarctica and the Dawson-Lambton emperor rookery with ANI in 1992.
PENGUINS, THE ULTIMATE GUIDE BY TUI DEROY
This is the first comprehensive guide to cover all 18 penguin species. It includes the latest research into their unusual adaptations, like deep-diving abilities, discusses every aspect of penguin life, and includes a comprehensive species by species account with descriptions, breeding information and maps.
PENGUINS: NATURAL HISTORY AND CONSERVATION BY SAMUEL AND ALTHEA STRAUM
This timely book presents the most current knowledge on each of the 18 penguin species, written by the leading experts in the field. It also provides information on current conservation efforts, outlines the most important actions to be taken to increase each population’s resilience, and recommends further research. Beautifully illustrated with full-color photographs, it serves as an invaluable tool for researchers, conservation groups, and policy makers and will enchant anyone interested in the lives or the plight of these fascinating animals.
EMPIRE ANTARCTICA: ICE, SILENCE AND EMPEROR PENGUINS BY GAVIN FRANCIS
Gavin Francis fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition when he spent 14 months as the basecamp doctor at Halley, a profoundly isolated British research station on the coast of Antarctica. This is the story of one man and his fascination with the world’s loneliest continent, as well as the emperor penguins who weather the winter with him. Combining an evocative narrative with a sublime sensitivity to the natural world, this is travel writing at its very best.
For the Mountaineer:
SEVEN SUMMITS BY DICK BASS, FRANK WELLS, AND RICK RIDGEWAY
An interesting and inspiring story about two wealthy businessmen who set out to be the first to summit the highest peak on each of the seven continents. The authors recount obstacles: many and merciless, from ice storms to illness to a measurement question that threatened to make their record-breaking expedition a sham. This is a story about achieving dreams, setting goals and pushing yourself when you don’t think you can anymore.
MOUNTAINEER BY CHRIS BONINGTON
A beautiful book and a must read for anyone with a love of, or interest in, exploration or climbing. This is Chris Bonington’s photographic autobiography of his 30 years of climbing on the world’s most challenging mountains. The book provides insight into the motivations and fears of a driven climber and includes Bonington’s account of his ascent of Vinson Massif with Dick Bass and Frank Wells.
GREAT CLIMBS: A CELEBRATION OF WORLD MOUNTAINEERING BY CHRIS BONINGTON
This introduction to the history of mountaineering charts the development of climbing in all the great mountain regions of the world, each of which is mapped in detail. The book includes contributions from 30 of the foremost living mountaineers and includes several sections on Antarctica, including early ascents of Vinson Massif, supported by ANI.
MOUNTAINEERING IN ANTARCTICA BY DAMIEN GILDEA
Mountaineering in Antarctica is a comprehensive overview of Antarctic climbing history and expeditions, revealed through an intriguing mix of stories, history, route information, and breathtaking photos. Gildea’s research encompasses journeys from the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, through the expansion of international scientific activity in the latter half of the 20th century, to the modern adventure tourism of the new millennium.
WORLD MOUNTAINEERING: THE WORLD’S GREAT MOUNTAINS BY THE WORLD’S GREAT MOUNTAINEERS BY AUDREY SALKELD, SIR CHRIS BONINGTON
A guide to over 50 of the world’s major mountains organized by continent, including Mount Vinson in Antarctica. Written and edited by leading mountaineers themselves, it includes detailed descriptions, main routes, practicalities, and speculations on the future. The climbing history of each mountain is featured in a timeline and essays, written by top mountaineers who recount their personal experiences.
THE ROOF AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD: DISCOVERING THE TRANSANTARCTIC MOUNTAINS BY EDMUND STUMP
This first atlas of the most remote mountain range on Earth, documents the 1,500-mile length of the Transantarctic Mountains. The presentation is historical, spanning a century and a half of voyages and traverses. The stories of exploration are familiar to those with polar interest, but the territory, less so. Through the use of annotated photos and shaded-relief maps, the book plots the routes taken by the early expeditions, enabling the armchair explorer to visualize the trails blazed by those who bore first witness to these mountains. The book also reproduces original maps from the explorers, showing how they perceived their discoveries, and in some cases, how limited was their view.
For the Expeditioner:
ANTARCTICA BOTH HEAVEN AND HELL BY REINHOLD MESSNER
A detailed account of Reinhold Messner’s and Arved Fuchs’ 1,800-mile, 92-day journey on foot across Antarctica. This was one of the earliest expeditions supported by ANI and highlights the logistic challenges faced by the fledgling company in its early years. Messner’s route inspired ANI’s Ski South Pole – Messner Start Experience.
RACE FOR THE SOUTH POLE: THE EXPEDITION DIARIES OF SCOTT AND AMUNDSEN BY ROLAND HUNTFORD, ROALD AMUNDSEN, AND ROBERT FALCON SCOTT
Roland Huntford presents each man’s full acc
ount of the race to the South Pole in their own words. Side by side, day by day, Huntford lets Scott and Admundsen speak for themselves, placing the original diary entries of each man on facing pages. He includes superb original maps and photographs, and the never-before-translated diary of Admundsen’s charismatic lead skier.
AN ENGLISH AMATEUR IN ANTARCTICA BY MARTIN BURTON
Burton flew to the South Pole, determined to travel in the mirror image of Robert Falcon Scott – from the South Pole to the coast. With two friends, he set out by ski, kite and sail to cross 600 miles of frozen land to reach the nearest sea-ice in Hercules Inlet. This is his story, with some extraordinary photographs.
THE CROSSING OF ANTARCTICA BY GEORGE LOWE
Original photographs from the pioneering Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1955-58. A terrific walk through the halls of Antarctica’s exploring greatness. A must for dreamers, history lovers and exploration enthusiasts.
THE CROSSING OF ANTARCTICA BY VIVIAN FUCHS AND EDMUND HILLARY
A classic account of the 1955-58 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition which drove its way across Antarctica. Fuchs followed Shackleton’s intended route from the Weddell Sea to the South Pole, with a supporting party, led by Hillary, from the Ross Sea.
ROALD AMUNDSEN’S BELGICA DIARY: THE FIRST SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION TO THE ANTARCTIC
This is Amundsen’s account of the first purely scientific expedition to Antarctica. Both Amundsen and famed explorer Frederick Cook were among the crew of the Belgica which became stuck in pack ice, forcing the crew to become the first expedition to overwinter in Antarctica. Scurvy, food shortages, crew unrest, and a daring escape from the pack ice make this a gripping read.
THE SOUTH POLE BY ROALD AMUNDSEN
A great read and one of the most important books on polar exploration. Roald Amundsen records his race to be the first man to reach the South Pole. The vivid narrative reflects Amundsen’s modesty and provides insight into life at Framheim and the practical details of getting to the Pole.
THE LAST VIKING: THE LIFE OF ROALD AMUNDSEN BY STEPHEN R. BOWN
The Last Viking unravels the life of the man who stands head and shoulders above all those who raced to map the last corners of the world. In 1900, the four great geographical mysteries—the Northwest Passage, the Northeast Passage, the South Pole, and the North Pole—remained blank spots on the globe. Within 20 years Roald Amundsen would claim all four prizes. This well researched story of Roald Amundsen goes beyond the event that made him famous and looks at how he became an explorer and what happened later.
ROALD AMUNDSEN, A BIOGRAPHY BY TOR BOMANN-LARSEN
A biography of polar explorer Roald Amundsen, this title uncovers the life of the determined, pugnacious pioneer, using accounts from his diaries and his own books. It explores the drama, humor, and adventure of Amundsen’s life, and reveals the character of this man who was prepared to do anything to reach his goal.