The drive to explore burns within many, and it was strong within Lt. Commander Clive Waghorn and his friends when they were climbing the slopes of Brabant Island. Mountain climbing is always hazardous, but it holds particular dangers when it’s done in Antarctica.
Waghorn discovered this the hard way, when the officer in the British Royal Navy fell into a crevasse and broke his leg. Unable to get him free, two of his friends climbed down the slopes to radio for aid. The third, Lance Corporal Terry Gill, climbed down into the crevasse with supplies, attempting to ensure Waghorn remained alive until rescue could come.
The next day, an airplane was flown over their site, verifying both Gill and Waghorn were alive; the weather was too rough to drop additional supplies. The day after, a pair of helicopters were flown over the island but again uncooperative weather was an issue; the pilots couldn’t even see the tent that Gill had erected.
The year was 1985, and portable technology had developed to the point where the pair was expected to be able to survive for as long as their food and heating supplies held out. The third day passed without a rescue, then a fourth. On the fifth day, luck was with them. A Wasp helicopter from the British survey ship Endurance was able to locate the tent, and it dropped some flares to guide a larger helicopter to the area. A rescue was enacted from the ledge, 3500 feet above the ground.
The pair were in good health and spirits, considering the ordeal. Naturally, questions abounded about what they’d gone through, and how they’d managed to cope with five days together in a tiny tent.
The answer? Among the supplies Gill had carried was a portable version of Scrabble… and the pair had played, continuously, for five days. It made the pair a legend in crossword game history, and it also fed the appetite that many have for oddity. Not just because of the circumstances of the games, but because of the one word which both men noticed repeatedly crept into their icebound games. Four letters, nine points… HELP.
Question of the night: What are you doing to enjoy yourself while homebound?