Norman Vaughan on: Protecting Themselves from the Cold
Q: And how cold was it in Little America? What did you wear to protect
NV: Well we had the, the lowest temperature of either thermometer was
seventy-three degrees below zero and what did we wear to protect ourselves was
clothing and of course furs was a key at that time. Admiral Byrd asked Goodale
and me to test something one night. Would we sleep out with the two kinds of
clothing he was prepared to give us for our next summer. One was to be dressed
in furs as Amundsen did and the other was to dress in furs like Peary did.
Peary would travel with furs and lay down and sleep in the same clothing and
Amundsen would take off his parka and put on another one and sleep in a
sleeping bag so there was quite a difference. Goodale and I tried it and we
were so cold both of us that night that when we got all through we didn't know
which one had been warmer. It was a very rudimentary test but we told Admiral
Byrd that and he went ahead and gave us the Norwegian system of traveling
during the day with as light a weight as you could and sleeping in a caribou
bag and being in a tent.
Q: What did you wear on your hands and your feet?
NV: We had caribou gloves on our hands and that was good and we had cloth for
our glove. That was good. In the day when it was warm we'd take off our
caribou gloves and we would have just mittens on and that was fine. And of
course we had to take our mittens off all the time for our dogs and we were
putting them on, taking them off all the time trying to keep our hands warm
when we had a lot of handwork to do. But fortunately our teams by the time we
went on that long trip they were so well trained that we didn't have any
trouble. No fights or anything like that.
Q: What did you wear on your feet?
NV: Same things except while we were skiing we had ski boots on that was
specially made of kangaroo hide. Hard sole and soft upper and they didn't get
frosted, they didn't get stiff as most ski boots normally would do under those
Q: Didn't you have to wear some goggles on your eyes and didn't you
sometimes tear your skin.
NV: Yes we had snow goggles on and my remembrance of tearing skin was that my
face froze underneath that rim of the glass and it got a little infected and
that wasn't fun but because I had to put my glasses on just the same. And one
man, Freddy Crockett, one day took his glasses off thinking because the sun
wasn't out that it was perfectly all right. But he became snow blind and for
three days he went with bandaged eyes but he had to ski just the same. We
would put him in his skiing equipment bind into the bindings and he would hold
the G pole with one hand and ski along just as if he was able to see.