The June 30 Style review of "March of the Penguins" was charming and informative, but anyone who has read about the heroic age of polar exploration must have laughed at one example of hardship: "My pastry chef broke his arm, and I made bread for the whole base for a month."
Those intrigued by the subject should read about the penguin adventure -- one of the most ghastly, and the most quixotic, polar journeys ever -- that was part of Robert Falcon Scott's 1910-13 expedition to Antarctica. Decades before "Jurassic Park" was written, biologist Edward Wilson, believing that birds were descended from reptiles, sought his evidence in the embryos of the emperor penguin. Along with Henry "Birdie" Bowers, a stalwart polar yeoman, and Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a callow youth, somewhat pampered and drastically nearsighted, Wilson set off into the heart of Antarctic winter (60 degrees below zero) for what was to become "The Worst Journey in the World."
"It took two men to get one man into his harness, and was all they could do, for the canvas was frozen and our clothes were frozen until sometimes not even two men could bend them into the required shape," wrote Cherry-Garrard. "Once outside, I raised my head to look round and found I could not move it back. My clothing had frozen hard as I stood -- perhaps fifteen seconds. For four hours I had to pull with my head stuck up, and from that time we all took care to bend down into a pulling position before being frozen in."
After trudging for five weeks, dragging 757 pounds of food and gear, the explorers returned, barely, with three precious penguin eggs. Of these explorers only Cherry-Garrard ultimately survived the expedition.