Friday story time: Whiteout

It’s been a summer of stories here on the blog. With so much going on this fall, I think I’ll shelve my non-fiction tidbits until next summer. But before I do, here’s one more tale…

In 1989, six men from six countries set off across Antarctica, determined to cross the continent using only skis and dogsleds. It took them seven months. Then, only two days from the end of their journey, a blizzard descended.

Five of the men retreated to their shelters while the team’s youngest member, Japan’s Keizo Funatsu, braved the weather to feed the dogs. As he walked away from his tent, he marked his path with skis stuck upright into the snow. A ski planted, a few steps, another ski. But the winds were so fierce, and the snow swirling so quickly, Keizo soon found he couldn’t see from one ski to the next.

He was alone, with no idea where his tent lay.

Thanks to his Antarctic experiences, Keizo knew that if he kept wandering, he might get farther and farther from safety. He dug himself a trench in the snow and waited for rescue, remembering stories and singing songs to keep himself alert.

Meanwhile, his team members linked arms and battled the winds to find him. They searched for hours before the cold forced them inside. In the morning, they resumed their hunt.

Finally, after 12 hours in the snow, Keizo was found, miraculously unharmed.

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