The Roof at the Bottom of the World: New book scales the Transantarctic Mountains

The Roof at the Bottom of the World

The Roof at the Bottom of the World

The Roof at the Bottom of the World by Edmund Stump is the first fully-illustrated history of the discovery and exploration of the Transantarctic mountains, the most remote mountain belt in the world. Today we look at this exiting new title, and some of its spectacular accompanying photographs taken by the author during forty years of research in the Antarctic. 

Regular viewers of the BBC’s Frozen Planet will be sure to tune in to tonight’s episode, which investigates humankind’s relationship with the polar regions. The acclaimed series, narrated by David Attenborough, has captured viewers’ imaginations, with its beautiful cinematography and never-before-seen footage of polar species in their natural habitat.

Frozen Planet is in many ways the latest example of polar exploration, a pursuit as thrilling as it is dangerous. One of the most dangerous and remote regions explored in the BBC documentary is the Transantarctic mountains, an utterly pristine wilderness of ice and rock rising to majestic heights and extending for 1,500 miles. In his new book The Roof at the Bottom of the World: Discovering the Transantarctic Mountains, Edmund Stump shows us this continental-scale mountain system in all its stunning beauty and desolation, and is the first to provide a comprehensive, fully illustrated history of the region’s discovery and exploration.

Stump, professor of exploration at Arizona State University, has not only conducted extensive research in the Transantarctic Mountains during his forty-year career as a geologist but has also systematically photographed the entire region. Selecting the best of the best of his more than 8,000 photographs, he presents nothing less than the first atlas of these mountains.

Map of the Ferrar Glacier, as shown in 'Roof at the Bottom of the World'

In addition, he examines the original firsthand accounts of the heroic Antarctic explorations of James Clark Ross (who discovered the mountain range in the early 1840s), Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, Richard Byrd, and scientists participating in the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958).

From these records, Stump is now able to trace the actual routes of the early explorers with unprecedented accuracy. With maps old and new, stunning photographs never before published, and tales of intrepid explorers, this book takes the armchair traveller on an expedition to the Antarctic wilderness that few have ever seen.

Images from the book

Adélie penguins couple on the rookery at Cape Royds about one hundred yards from the doorstep of Shackleton’s hut…

Adélie penguins couple on the rookery at Cape Royds about one hundred yards from the doorstep of Shackleton’s hut

Fractures permeate the azure seasonal ice that rims Lake Vanda for ten months of the year…

Fractures permeate the azure seasonal ice that rims Lake Vanda for ten months of the year.

The Transantarctic Mountains extend along the western boundary of McMurdo Sound. The mouth of Ferrar Glacier opens into New Harbour…

The Roof at the Bottom of the World: Discovering the Transantarctic Mountains is available now from Yale University Press.

Also available for those interested in Polar exploration: An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science by Edward Larson.

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