Soon, the Nautilus gets into some icy territory. The sub passes by whole islands of ice, each one bigger than the next. Nemo spends a lot of time on deck, silently watching their progress.
Nemo keeps 'em going into the ice-land for days. Conseil is sure he'll have to stop soon, but Aronnax isn't so sure. Nemo keeps finding new paths through the ice.
Finally, they seem to hit a dead end. Well, not really. Nemo busts right through the ice, using the Nautilus like a battering ram… until he can bust through no longer. They're stuck in the middle of ice, with nothing but ice in sight. It's all ice, ice baby.
At this point, even Ned is impressed. If Nemo can really make it through the ice cap, he tells Aronnax, "he will be a master among men" (2.13.28). Ned doubts Nemo can go any farther.
For a while, it looks like he's right. The Nautilus stays stuck. Aronnax even tells Nemo that he thinks they're stuck.
Nemo disagrees. Aronnax thinks he's crazy. Nemo admits he's never been to the Pole.
But then Nemo spells it out for him: they're going to go under the ice. Apparently Aronnax hadn't thought about the possibility… even though they've been traveling under water for months. We have to admit that we thought of that. C'mon, guys.
There's just one catch. They need enough air to spend a few days under the ice. And if they end up stuck under there, well, that's no good. They'll all suffocate.
Whatever, says Aronnax. He's so psyched that he doesn't care about the whole possibly-dying-a-terrible-death-underwater thing.
As for Ned and Conseil, their reaction is also a resounding whatever. Although, in Conseil's, case it's more of a "whatever master wants."
Ned suggests that they're never going to make it back from the Pole, then slinks off to his room.
Soon, a bunch of crewmen break the Nautilus out of the ice with pickaxes. It's under the ice in no time. Aronnax and Conseil spend their time watching the progress of their sub from the comfort of the salon.
The next day, the routine continues, until the Nautilus begins to rise to the surface. But it strikes ice. They're stuck 2,000 feet underwater, underneath an iceberg. More than once, the Nautilus tries to surface, but to no avail. They still haven't surfaced by the time Aronnax heads to bed.
At 6:00AM, Nemo pops into Aronnax's cabin. They've reached the surface. He gets all giddy and says: "The open sea!" (2.13.160).