Book review – Blue Ice: Travels in Antarctica by Don Pinnock

Posted on 10 October 2011

Blue Ice: Travels in Antarctica (2005) is the work of Don Pinnock, award-winning storyteller and photographer, as well as former editor of Getaway magazine. In this, his eighth book, Pinnock tells of the fulfilment of his lifelong dream: a personal journey to the planet’s antipodes, Antarctica.

In the opening chapters, the author packs his kit, bids his farewells and sails off from Cape Town into the icy unknown on the massive, battered SA Agulhas. After a long, gruelling expedition, the vessel eventually reaches the ice shelf of Antarctica, and Pinnock and his fellow team members arrive at the Sanae (South African National Antarctic Programme) 4 Base near the mountainous range of Queen Maud Land. In the pages that follow, a captivating quest for the unfamiliar ensues.

In between his alternating discussions of polar history and natural science, Pinnock returns to the narrative of his own adventures in Antarctica, keeping the reader in periodic suspense. Throughout, the author crafts a story that captures the very essence of the human spirit, and begs readers to confront uncomfortable questions such as “˜What else is out there?’ and “˜What could possibly be my significance in the context of such terrifying vastness and such stupefying natural wonder?’

Pinnock’s use of imagery – both figurative and literal – is striking. Indeed, it takes a writer of considerable talent to repeatedly bring to life endless ice deserts, blizzards and frozen oceanic currents. Pinnock’s photography beautifully illustrates the mood of this alien landscape, thereby complimenting the written narrative. He also provides helpful tips on photography under harsh conditions, adding practical value to this particular work of his.

The author allows even the most trepidatious of readers to enter into his world and share in his exhilarations. A tour de force from beginning to end, Blue Ice is written in a tone of appropriate seriousness, masterfully blended with a sense of wit and humour that will have you laughing out loud between the pages. It’s a highly recommendable read – one which you will surely finish in two or three sittings and which might even have you planning your own soul-searching odyssey shortly thereafter.

Pinnock has travelled extensively throughout the world as travel writer and photographer. He holds a PhD in Political Science and his current passion lies with the environmental wellbeing of our planet. He has two children and is married to author and poet, Patricia Schonstein. Pinnock’s most recent published work is Rainmaker (a novel).

Blue Ice: Travels in Antarctica (176 pages) is published by Double Storey (R252.00). Click here to purchase a copy.

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