Before There Was Darkness There Was White It was the same sound a creaky old door made when you open it but a thousand times louder drowning out even the howling wind. The dogs crouched low in the snow cowering but afraid to even whimper. The moon hung over them; a dazzling orb rimmed with iridescent violet as the aurora borealis flashed vivid green and magenta all around it. The horizon was blocked by upheavals of ice that had been twisted into a chaotic landscape of jagged outcrops. Some were twenty to thirty meters tall and made any further progress doubtful. By the time Fridjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen made camp for the night they had already decided to turn back at first light. They had been out on the ice for three weeks and beneath them was two thousand fathoms of freezing ocean. The temperature was a constant forty below and Nansen’s fingers were frozen to his mittens. They were two hundred miles further north than any man had gone before. Ostensibly they were trying to reach the north pole. That is what Nansen had told the Norwegian Geographical Society in Christiania, now Oslo, when he had proposed the expedition […]

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