Sunday, January 3, 2010

3 January, 1911

We finally made land -- almost! Came up to Cape Crozier in the swell, and observed the great ice barrier as it meets the sea -- you can see it here as that long line of white - unchanged since we were here in the Discovery. Mount Terror rises behind it. From the crow's nest we could see over the top of the barrier, which rises 60 feet above water to the slopes beyond.

We put out a whaler and rowed about to try to find a good landing spot. The afterguard were very keen and displaced the boat's crew, taking the oars themselves! Oates, Atkinson and Cherry-Garrard enjoying themselves mightily. There is probably good anchorage behind some of the bergs, but none of these afford shelter for landing on the beach, on which the sea breaks incessantly; it would have taken weeks to land the ordinary stores, and heaven knows how we could have got the ponies and motor sledges ashore. Reluctantly and sadly I have had to abandon my cherished plan -- it is a thousand pities.

The penguin rookery looks very much alive. We observed Emperor chicks shedding their down, a stage never before seen. Vast rookeries of Adelies huddle together. Another curious sight was the feet and tails of two chicks and the flipper of an adult bird projecting from the ice on the underside of a jammed floe; they had evidently been frozen in above and were being washed out under the floe.

One is very much reminded of the legacy of Francis Crozier when looking out at this cape named after him and the volcano he named after his vessel, the HMS Terror. Isn't it beautiful?

That was fifty years ago, not long before I was born. He was lost during Franklin's disastrous voyage to find the Northwest Passage.

Which brings me to Amundsen: where can he be? Clearly, he's not here. What if we sail around to McMurdo Sound and find him moored there? I don't know what I should do.

All hope of making our home at Cape Crozier abandoned, we set out on a running survey of the barrier as we moved on. Saw lots of killer whales idly diving off the penguin rookery, watching for their lunch to jump in.

We head off to Cape Royds, to see Shackleton's old hut.

Ponting's been very busy indeed with his camera and cinematograph, filming the coast as we pass. I shall be interested to see if it looks as beautiful on the screen as it does in real life.

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