Sastrugi on Barne Glacier

Sastrugi - wind blown snow ridges

© Royal Geographical Society


Sastrugi on Barne Glacier



British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913



Herbert Ponting



Sastrugi, shown here on the Barne Glacier, create a very rough surface and make travel across this landscape very difficult. The route to the Pole took Scotts men across the Ross Ice Shelf. This massive ice sheet is between 180-900m (600 3,000 feet) thick and about 360 km (600 miles) long. In all, it is about the size of France and forms 60m (200 feet) high cliffs at the waters edge. The Ross Ice Shelf was discovered by James Ross in 1841 and was also known as the Great Ice Barrier. Before he set off on his fateful journey southwards, Dr Edward Wilson wrote The Barrier Silence, which was printed in the Expeditions newspaper the South Polar Times.

The Barrier Silence
The silence was deep with a breath like sleep
As our sledge runners slid on the snow,
And the fate-full fall of our fur-clad feet
Struck mute like a silent blow,
On a questioning hush, as the settling crust
Shrank shivering over the floe;
And the sledge in its track sent a whisper back
Which was lost in a white fog-bow.
And this was the thought that the Silence wrought
As it scorched and froze us through,
Though secrets hidden are all forbidden
Till God means man to know,
We might be the men God meant should know
The heart of the Barrier snow,
In the heat of the sun, and the glow
And the glare from the glistening floe,
As it scorched and froze us through and through
With the bite of the drifting snow.