Polar Quotes

"If it's 0 degrees today, and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow... how cold will it be ?"

The following are humorous (and sometimes serious too) quotes gathered from the Web, a few books or other sources. Since it's all a big rip-off, I am assuming no copyright whatsoever. I don't even guarantee that they are accurate. Now that you've been warned, enjoy.

On this page:

Break the Ice...


"Below the 40th latitude there is no law; below the 50th no god; below the 60th no common sense and below the 70th no intelligence whatsoever."    — Buy at Amazon.comKim Stanley Robinson.
"The land looks like a fairytale."    — Buy at Amazon.comRoald Amundsen (1872—1928) about Antarctica.
"Great God ! this is an awful place."    — Buy at Amazon.comScott (1868—1912), referring to the South Pole.
"Better a live donkey than a dead lion."    — Shackleton (1874—1922), after failing to reach the south pole by 100 km.
"Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale."    — Buy at Amazon.comScott, Message to the Public.
"For scientific leadership, give me Scott; for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems to be no way out, get on your knees and pray for Shackleton."    — Buy at Amazon.comSir Raymond Priestley.
"I have come to the conclusion that life in the Antarctic Regions can be very pleasant."    — Buy at Amazon.comScott (1868—1912) at the end of the Discovery expedition.
"Men Wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success."    — Ernest Shackleton (1874—1922), [probably fake] newspaper announcement before his Buy at Amazon.comEndurance Expedition.
"We must always remember with gratitude and admiration the first sailors who steered their vessels through storms and mists, and increased our knowledge of the lands of ice in the South."    — Buy at Amazon.comRoald Amundsen (1872—1928).

Summit of an iceberg, Antarctica.
"The English have loudly and openly told the world that ski and dogs are unusable in these regions and that fur clothes are rubish. We will see — we will see."    — Buy at Amazon.comRoald Amundsen (1872-1928).
"Certainly dog driving is the most terrible work one has to face in this sort of business."    — Robert Falcon Scott.
"I maintain that our arrangements for returning were quite adequate, and that no one in the world would have expected the temperatures and surfaces which we encountered at this time of the year."    — Robert Falcon Scott.
"Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results."    — Ernest Shackleton.
"I think that the palate of the human animal can adjust itself ot anything."    — Ernest Shackleton, Buy at Amazon.comSouth.
"Our food lies ahead and death stalks us from behind."    — Ernest Shackleton, Buy at Amazon.comThe heart of the Antarctic.
"Few of the great writers about the Arctic seem capable of narrowness or parochialism."    — Bruce Jackson.
"We were the only pulsating creatures in a dead world of ice."    — Frederick Albert Cook.
"It is better to go skiing and think of God, than go to church and think of sport."    — Fridtjof Nansen.
"Never keep a line of retreat: it is a wretched invention."    — Fridtjof Nansen.
"Half the fascination an Antarctic expedition possesses is to be found in the sharpness of the contrasts experienced during its course, for it appears to be true that a hell one day is liable to make a heaven the next."    — Buy at Amazon.comRaymond Priestley.
"I am hell-bent for the South Pole — God willing and crevasses permitting."    — Edmund Hillary.
"We took risks. We knew we took them. Things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint."    — Buy at Amazon.comScott, found in his diary after his party froze in Antarctica.

Just fly away
"Adventure is just bad planning."    — Buy at Amazon.comRoald Amundsen (1872—1928).
"Having an adventure shows that someone is incompetent, that something has gone wrong. An adventure is interesting enough — in retrospect. Especially to the person who didn't have it."    — Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Buy at Amazon.comMy life with the Esquimo.
"Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has yet been devised."    — Buy at Amazon.comCherry-Garrard.
"Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised... There are many reasons which send men to the Poles, and the Intellectual Force uses them all. But the desire for knowledge for its own sake is the one which really counts and there is no field for the collection of knowledge which at the present time can be compared to the Antarctic. Exploration is the physical expression of the Intellectual Passion. And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore. If you are a brave man you will do nothing: if you are fearful you may do much, for none but cowards have need to prove their bravery. Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, 'What is the use ?' For we are a nation of shopkeepers, and no shopkeeper will look at research which does not promise him a financial return within a year. And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal. If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg."    — Buy at Amazon.comApsley Cherry-Garrard.

I hate snow, it's white and on my land
"Such extremity of suffering cannot be measured. Madness or death may give relief. But this I know: we on this journey were already beginning to think of death as a friend."    — Buy at Amazon.comCherry-Garrard, about his winter trip to Cape Crozier.
"We had bad winds at Cape Evans this year, and we had far worse the next winter when the open water was at our doors. But I have never heard or felt or seen a wind like this. I wondered why it did not carry away the earth."    — Buy at Amazon.comCherry-Garrard.
"There can be little question, therefore, that polar sledging ranks an easy first as a hunger-producing employment."    — Robert Falcon Scott, Buy at Amazon.comThe Voyage of the Discovery.
"However poetic your soul, to whatever layers of the atmosphere your feelings soar, if you have no technical education and no real understanding of technology the only thing you are good for in Antarctica is to pull sledges."    — Juhan Smuul, Estonian writer, Buy at Amazon.comAntarctica Ahead.
"It was was like visiting Disneyland, Las Vegas and Mars simultaneously."    — Victor Boyarsky about the South Pole.
"Having climbed a mountain in Antarctica one then starts work; there will be no shaking hands and beaming at each other, for there is no glory on the first ascent of an Antarctic peak — only four to nine hours of great discomfort and frustration standing behind a theodolite waiting for the cloud to lift or the wind to drop so that the observations may be taken."    — Herbert W., 1962.

Collecting snow samples from Antarctica.
"Don't eat the snow where the huskies go... the yellow snow..."    — Scandinavian saying.
"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow."    — Jeff Valez.
"Many times I have thanked God for a bite of raw dog."    — Buy at Amazon.comRobert Peary (1856—1920), polar explorer.
"Nothing easier. One step beyond the pole, you see, and the north wind becomes a south one."    — Buy at Amazon.comRobert Peary (1856—1920), explaining how he knew he had reached the North Pole.
"How can you expect a man who's warm to understand one who's cold ?"    — Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Buy at Amazon.comOne day in the life of Ivan Denisovich.
"The Eskimo had his own explanation. Said he: 'The devil is asleep or having trouble with his wife, or we should never have come back so easily'."    — Buy at Amazon.comRobert Peary (1856—1920), polar explorer.
"Why then do we feel this strange attraction for these polar regions, a feeling so powerful and lasting, that when we return home we forget the mental and physical hardships, and want nothing more than to return to them ? Why are we so susceptible to the charm of these landscapes when they are so empty and terrifying ?."    — Jean-Baptiste Charcot, Buy at Amazon.comTowards the South Pole aboard the Français.
"If there really is a pole at the North Pole, I bet there's some dead explorer-guy with his tongue stuck to it."    — Bob Van Voris.

Midwinter penguins.


"The first time you come down for the adventure. The second time for the money. And the third time because you can't function anywhere else anymore."    — About working in Antarctica.
"Keep cool, but do not freeze."    — From a mayonnaise jar, but also makes a good winterover life rule.
"In Antarctica you get to know people so well that in comparison you do not seem to know the people in civilization at all."    — Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886—1959), Buy at Amazon.comThe worst journey in the world.
"I often wonder, is the return rate higher here or in American prisons ?"    — Buy at Amazon.combigdeadplace.com about work in Antarctica.
"He or she who decides to take that plunge into the Antarctic winter [...] is a special sort of person. Not 'special' in the sense of unique, talented, or adventurous, but 'special' in the sense that there is probably something wrong with them that only an Antarctic winter can fix."    — From Buy at Amazon.combigdeadplace.com.
"As a whole the subjects became less trusting and more suspicious of others immediately after their year in Antarctica."    — A.J.W. Taylor, Professor of Clinical Psychology, 'The Selection of People for Work in Polar Regions'.
"...approximately 5% of winterover personnel experience symptoms that fulfill DSM criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) for a psychiatric disorder and are severe enough to warrant clinical intervention (Palinkas et al., 1995; Palinkas, Glogower, et al, in press)... Even among those who fail to meet DSM diagnostic criteria, The Ice tends to magnify seemingly trivial events and symptoms, transforming what would be viewed as mundane or unimportant in any other environment into something that is problematic and significant under conditions of isolation and confinement."    — Dr. Lawrence Palinkas, On the ice: Individual and Group Adaptation in Antarctica.

Conspiring penguins.
"You want a real 'Survivor' show ? Oh, we'll give you the real thing. But sometimes we do wish we could vote people off the island."    — Grant about wintering over at McMurdo.
"McMurdo exists alongside Antarctica rather than in it. After all, in Antarctica, you don't withdraw 20 bucks from a Wells Fargo ATM and then swing by the convenience store to pick up a packet of Oreo, a bag of Fritosm and a six-pack of Bud and kick back to watch a Cornhusker football game on TV. But you can in MacTown. And a lot of people do."    — Roff Smith.
"Remember though just because a guy likes to go south, it doesn't necessarily mean he likes to 'go south'."    — Answer to a question about gays in Antarctica on Buy at Amazon.combigdeadplace.com.

World penguin day
"You've recently been asked for a blood test, tuberculin skin test, urinalysis drug test, complete physical exam, background check, and you're at the end of the written portion of the Winter Psych Test when you come to the statement: 'In everything I do lately I feel that I am being tested'.
True or False ?"    — Buy at Amazon.combigdeadplace.com.
"Their only heat came from candle-like warmers they made by twisting asbestos fibers into wicks that they dipped in diesel fuel."    — Jeff Rubin about the 1982 winterover in Vostok when their generator caught fire.
"The russians definitely have a MUCH higher suffering tolerance than the americans. While I've heard a lot of complaining about a lack of A-1 steak sauce and broken hot-tub pumps from our stars & stripes buddies, you ask the russians about a winter at Vostok where they ran out of fuel, and they say 'it was ok'."    — Lena.
"The personnel of an expedition of the character I proposed is a factor on which success depends to a very large extent. The men selected must be qualified for the work, and they must also have the special qualifications required to meet polar conditions. They must be able to live together in harmony for a long period without outside communication, and it must be remembered that the men whose desires lead them to the untrodden paths of the world have generally marked individuality."    — Buy at Amazon.comErnest Shackleton (1874—1922).

Let's just be friends...

Women of Antarctica

"While in Antarctica I made love to thousands of women... in my dreams."    — The Bosco.
"In Antarctica, every woman is beautiful... after a while."    — M. M.
"In Antarctica there's a woman behind every tree."    — Antarctic saying.
"In Antarctica, no sex is okay, but I miss my motorbike and my boat."    — Taz (2005).
"You know what's the second thing you do after you come back home from a winterover ? You remove your backpack..."
"The closest I come to [romance at South Pole Station] is spending a night sipping on chilled vodka while looking for Russian brides on the internet."
"Where's Uncle Arctica ?"
"Her hand is moving away from my knee and heading north. Heading unnervingly and with a steely will toward the pole... Ever northward moves her hand, while she smiles languorously at my right ear. And when she reaches the north pole, I think in wonder and terror — she will surely want to pitch her tent."    — Christopher Hart's second novel, Buy at Amazon.comRescue Me, winner of the 2001 Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

Taking a shower in Antarctica

Penguin quotes

"They are extraordinarily like children, these little people of the Antarctic world, either like children, or like old men, full of their own importance and late for dinner, in their black tail-coats and white shirt-fronts — and rather portly withal."    — Buy at Amazon.comCherry-Garrard about penguins

Penguin suicide.
"Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph. They'd be a lot more careful about what they say if they had."    — Buy at Amazon.comLinus Torvalds.
"Sure, the lion is king of the jungle, but airdrop him into Antarctica, and he's just a penguin's bitch."    — Buy at Amazon.comDennis Miller.
"A number of royal and small penguins and some seals were led by curiosity to visit us. They called, and cried, and talked, and grunted, as they walked over the ice about the ship. And were finally captured by the naturalist and the cook, who had an equal interest... in their future destiny."    — Frederick Cook, Buy at Amazon.comThrough the first Antarctic night.

Penguin slipping on ice
"Having now worked directly with wild seals I need you all to know they are some of the most bastardous creatures in the entire animal kingdom. We've all been so wrong. They look cute and fat but they are so fast and they have SO many teeth and they know how to scream and they aren't afraid to do it. Don't get me wrong I love them deeply. They're amazing animals. But we've been calling them stuff like 'sea puppers' when in fact they're more like if a cat weighed 300 kilos and had the intelligence of a toddler & the morals of a seagull."    — VampireApologist.
"Manna from heaven could not have seemed more delicious than lumps of seal or penguin meat made into a hash with a handful of oatmeal."    — An early antarctic whaler.
"Never trigger the flight or fight response of a flightless bird."
"Penguins produce an oil that helps their feathers retain heat. In other words the oily bird gets the warm."
"A piece of beef, odoriferous cod fish, and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce."    — Frederick Cook, about the taste of penguin.

Fight or flight penguin
"Penguin meat tastes excellent."    — Buy at Amazon.comRoald Amundsen (1872—1928).
"Seal is splendid fried in butter, but fried in penguin fat, as it was tonight, it is dreadful."    — Tryggve Gran.
"When cooking penguins, I have an awful feeling inside of me that I am cooking little men who are just that little too curious and stupid."    — Gerald Cutland, Fit for a FID.
"Penguins are the only fish that can fly."    — Joel.
"Apparently the mandarin word for penguin is 'business goose'."
"Penguins produce an oil that helps their feathers to retain more body heat, so basically the oily bird gets the warm."
"A zoo in Germany will try to tempt a group of male penguins who have been engaging in homosexual activities into mating with female penguins that the zoo has flown in from Sweden."    — Reuters news, 2005.
"Do we want to spread the disease of communism even to the penguins ?"    — Senator Thomas Dodd, 1960, about collaborating with the Soviets in Antarctica.
"Is there a reason for penguins ? Or more just like a treat for us type thing."    — @pjayevans.
"I'm bipolar: I like penguins and polar bears."

Looking down at the high polar plateau from a height.

Misc quotes

"The movie [Buy at Amazon.comThe Thing] appears to be just another sci-fi movie with dubious special effects. However, no other movie in history has ever depicted daily Antarctic life and its problems with such accuracy and intuitive brilliance."    — From a review at bigdeadplace.com.
"Firearms, like flamethrowers, are forbidden to USAP employees. This is good, as most people here don't really like each other."    — From a movie review of Buy at Amazon.comThe Thing at bigdeadplace.com.
"If Antarctica has an asshole, McMurdo is it !"    — Buy at Amazon.comEirik Sonneland.
"Antarctica has the highest average I.Q. of any continent."
"Live Safe or end up like Scott."    — Suggestion at the South Pole Safety Slogan Contest.
"Why do people say 'it's too cold to snow ?'. It's minus 50 in the Arctic, and there's plenty of snow there."
"It's so cold today, I saw a politician with his hands in his own pockets."
"First you fall in love with Antarctica, and then it breaks your heart."    — Kim Stanley Robinson, first line of his book Buy at Amazon.comAntarctica.
"Antarctica is not a place, it is a disease"    — Russian aphorism.
"If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it."    — Andrew Denton (1960- ), Australian actor.

Life: Canceled due to adverse weather conditions.
"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."    — John Steinbeck.
"The guy who invented the wind chill factor was buried yesterday.
He was 82, but felt like 64."    — Mariana Z.
"So the whole fam is in the car on a winter's day. The radio blares 'ITS 20 DEGREES! THAT'S -7 DEGREES IN CELSIUS'
And Billy says 'brrr! I'd hate to live in Celsius'."
"When your feet are cold, cover your head."    — Inuit saying.

Penguin play with shadow
"Brrr, it's cold today."    — Most overheard sentence at Dome C.
"Cold weather makes people stupid and that's a fact."    — Brad Pitt in movie Kalifornia.
"If you ever go to Antarctica, don't order your drinks with ice. You'll just look like a tourist."
"Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire ?
A: Frostbite."
"Grantarctica /n./ The cold, isolated place where scientists without funding dwell."
"Cold /adj./ When your dog sticks to the fire hydrant."
"L'Antartide d'inverno, veramente in culo al mondo altro che Zagarolo !"    — Jenny.
"Dome C, se lo conosci, lo eviti."
"A Dome C la Neve comincia perEnne."