Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised. It is the only form of adventure in which you put on your clothes at Michaelmas (1) and keep them on until Christmas, and, save for a layer of the natural grease of the body, find them as clean as though they were new. It is more lonely than London, more secluded than any monastery, and the post comes but once a year. As men will compare the hardships of France, Palestine, or Mesopotamia, so it would be interesting to contrast the rival claims of the Antarctic as a medium of discomfort. A member of Campbell’s party tells me that the trenches as Ypres (2) were a comparative picnic. But until somebody can evolve a standard of endurance I am unable to see how it can be done. Take it in all, I do not believe anybody on earth has a worse time than an Emperor penguin.
—The Worst Journey in the World by Aspley Cherry-Garrard (3)
1. Michaelmas is the Christian feast of St. Michael the Archangel, celebrated in the Western churches on September 29th.
2, “The Battle of Ypres was during World War I, in the general area of the Belgian city of Ypres, where the German and the Allied armies (Belgian, French, British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.), and Canadian) clashed. There were hundreds of thousands of casualties.”
3. Aspley Cherry-Garrard was a member of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to locate the South Pole. Scott died in Antarctica before reaching his objective.