Jasper Rees

Blizzard - Race to the Pole
  • Blizzard - Race to the Pole

  • In late 1911, the final year of the Edwardian age, a British naval captain and a Norwegian conqueror of the North-West Passage embarked on the most gruelling race ever run. Their aim was not only to lead the first expedition to the South Pole, but also to live to tell the tale. Six months later, Robert Falcon Scott and four of his party were dead, while Roald Amundsens victory had been wired around the world. A century on, the debate still rages. Was Scott unfortunate or incompetent? Was Amundsen a genius or lucky? In a unique television experiment, two teams led by the Norwegian explorer Rune Gjeldnes and the television anthropologist Bruce Parry, star of the BBC2 series Tribe, set out to recreate the famous race. Wearing the same type of clothing as their predecessors, surviving on the same diet, using the same equipment and travelling over the same distance, they seek to answer some of the burning questions. Blizzard is a dramatic chronicle of both the original epic, and its reconstruction. Jasper Reess narrative skilfully intertwines past and present as he brings to life an extraordinary cast of characters. They may be separated from their predecessors by nearly a hundred years, but the modern race teams soon discover that, in polar travel, nothing changes. Among the hardships they face are uncontrollable dogs, inedible food, invisible crevasses, unimaginable cold, all in an unending prairie of snow. Incorporating the gripping diaries of Parry and Gjeldnes, Blizzard paints an astonishing picture of comradeship in the face of physical danger and psychological torment in the most life-threatening habitat on earth.

Jasper Rees is a freelance journalist. He has written on the arts, literature, culture and sport for, among others, the Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times, the Independent, GQ and Vogue. He is the author of Wenger: The Making of a Legend and the forthcoming musical memoir I Found My Horn. He lives in London.

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