Environment: Scramble on the Polar ice

Conflicting claims could stir a battle for Antarctica's riches

It appears frozen in time, an icy world surrounded by frigid seas where winds of 100 m.p.h. are not uncommon. No human is known to have set foot upon it until the 19th century, and even today it exposes unwary travelers to the greatest dangers. Temperatures regularly plunge to —100° F or below. Giant crevasses can open in the ice, swallowing men and machines. Sudden storms often blend ground and sky into one snowy blur that hopelessly disorients the most skilled aviators.

During his doomed dash...

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