Charles Swithinbank: holding hands with your boss in a blizzard

Charles Swithinbank recalls training for the Norwegian-British-Swedish Expedition, on Kebnekajse Massif, Swedish Lapland in 1949.

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We had a blizzard which came up while we up on the glacier, and was recorded at forty metres a second, which is I think more like eighty knots. Very difficult to stand up in. You’ve got to lean into it and of course you were very unsteady on your feet. And we were coming down a steep slope which you would normally ski down, but we were just blown over so we took off our skis. And we were wading in deep snow. And I was slipping around so much eventually ended up with my skis over my shoulder, holding hands with my boss as we staggered through the snow, supporting each other, back to the huts in the valley. I remember that memorable occasion. And that was weather that in the Antarctic, where you’re close to your camp equipment, you would never dream of being out in blizzards like that because you could so easily get lost. But there we only had a short distance and he knew very well, and so his instinct got him back to the huts all right. So it was a good toughening up experience.

  • Interviewee Charles Swithinbank
  • Duration 00:01:25
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 12/21/2009
  • Shelfmark C1379/03

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