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Weekend warm-up: Discovery »Explorersweb


Despite the simulated flight in 1926 to the North Pole, Richard E. Byrd remains a well-respected name in polar exploration. Perhaps this is because his work in Antarctica does not carry such asterisks. From the 1920s to the 1950s, he mapped hundreds of kilometers of Antarctica and discovered new islands and volcanoes. During his most famous adventure, when he wintered in Antarctica in 1934, carbon monoxide poisoning from a leaking stove nearly killed him.

This second Antarctic expedition, from 1933 to 1935, revisits its old base, named Little America, abandoned in 1930. Byrd’s journey begins in Boston. Here he boarded an icebreaker and set sail for the Pacific Ocean, passing through the Panama Canal, then briefly stopped in New Zealand. After New Zealand, they set out to explore the unexplored interior of Antarctica.

A map of Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition. Photo: US Library of Congress


Byrd and his crew encountered rough seas and discovered gigantic islands of ice floating in a dark, unpredictable sea. The crew quickly found themselves in a dangerous situation. The tidal-controlled ice closed around their ship, causing leaks and a lot of anxiety.

However, Byrd insisted. He found his old base buried in snow and ice, but still filled with frozen whale meat. They quickly set up a new “forward base” 7 miles south of Little America. To do this, they hauled 400 tons of equipment and construction materials through blizzards and high winds.

Byrd would spend the next five months alone in this new outpost, as the icebreaker and her crew returned to civilization. His stay later took a dangerous turn when he was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide from a faulty stove. Fragmentary radio transmissions prompted a rescue team to monitor him. They found Byrd in poor health but alive.

About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating with a BA in English and History from the University of Leicester, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before embarking on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional travel journalism degree with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works in a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also the Weird Wonder Woman of ExWeb, reporting the natural quirks of the world as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although not a climber (yet!), She hikes in the bush, is known to befriend iguanas, and quotes The Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.