May 28, 2009

Ice Bound

A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole
by Jerri Nielsen

Whew! It feels like I've been reading this book for a long time. And it's not a very lengthy book, I've just had lots of distractions this week. Way back in december I was intrigued by this book from reading two reviews on Hooser's Blook. I'm glad I finally got around to it. Ice Bound is the incredible story of a woman who worked at a South Pole research station for a season, serving as the only physician there for some forty people. Struggling through the aftermath of a bitter divorce, Nielsen saw a season "on the Ice" as a grand adventure, a challenge in her career, and a place to get away from everything. For eight months of the year, Antarctica is totally isolated, and totally dark. No light except from the moon, stars, and aurora borealis. Subzero temperatures- a hundred degrees below zero!- make it impossible for planes to land. No new supplies can be brought in, so they have to make do or do without- sometimes in ingenious ways. Something I didn't know about Antarctica is that the atmosphere is very thin there- so people often suffer from things like altitude sickness, and the long, dark winters cause mental strain as well. It takes a certain kind of person to live there- and to find such a hostile environment beautiful. (Maybe that's why I kept thinking of Annapurna as I was reading). Members of the station- from research scientists to mechanics and cooks- came to form a close community that Nielsen often described as being tribal. When a few months into winter she discovered a lump in her breast that could be terminal cancer, she found out just how solid her friends were, as she literally had to place her life in their hands- training her companions to help perform biopsies and administer chemotherapy, until at the end of winter a rescue plane could get through. A great survival story, full of fascinating information about what it's like to live in the coldest place on earth.

I read this book as part of the Non-Fiction Five Challenge.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 362 pages, 2001

More opinions at:
Rice on Ice


  1. Wow, I can't even begin to imagine how scary discovering that lump must have been. I find Antarctica fascinating, so I'll keep this book in mind.

  2. Wow, that sounds like an excellent read. I didn't really know it was dark for that long in Antarctica and that planes couldn't get in and out. It sounds odd as planes land in the dark at airports. Maybe the weather is too rough? I'll keep an eye out for that one. I have a feeling I might have seen it in the library.

  3. Nymeth- I think you'd like it.

    Cath- It's not the dark that keeps planes from landing, it's the cold. It's so cold they break down, fuel freezes, icy runways make landings too dangerous, etc.

  4. So glad you liked something you found on our blog! It's quite an amazing survival story, isnt it? :)

  5. I love books like this - I find them very inspiring. Great review.


Comments are screened due to spam.