Thursday, July 29, 2010

28 July, 1911

Calmer days: the sky rosier: the light visibly advancing. We have never suffered from low spirits, so that the presence of day raises us above a normal cheerfulness to the realm of high spirits.

The light, merry humor of our company has never been eclipsed, the good-natured, kindly chaff has never ceased since those early days of enthusiasm which inspired them--they have survived the winter days of stress and already renew themselves with the coming of spring. If pessimistic moments had foreseen the growth of rifts in the bond forged by these amenities, they stand prophetically falsified; there is no longer room for doubt that we shall come to our work with a unity of purpose and a disposition for mutual support which have never been equalled in these paths of activity. Such a spirit should tide us over all minor difficulties.

It is a good omen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

26 July, 1911

Very beautiful at noon today; the air was very clear and the detail of the Western Mountains was revealed in infinitely delicate contrasts of light.

I wonder if man shall ever spoil them.

25 July, 1911

There is absolutely nothing to report. Life is monotonous. Everyone seems fit; there is no sign of depression.

I get a bit down sometimes. There are certain things a man misses about civilization. You know.

24 July, 1911

Blizzard continued. We recorded gusts of 82 mph, though Simpson gets readings 20% higher in a less sheltered position; therefore e can assume gusts of 100 mph, which is hurricane force. It is warmer though.

What damnable weather.

Friday, July 23, 2010

22 July, 1911

Sorry not to have written. There has been very little to report of late. The horses are going on well, are all in good form, at least for the moment. They drink a good deal of water in the morning. This, and the better ventilation of the stable make for an improvement we think—perhaps the increase of salt allowance is also beneficial.

Today we have another raging blizzard, the wind running up to 72 mph in gusts—one way or another the Crozier Party must have had a pretty poor time. I do hope they have adequate shelter.

Imagine if they only had their sleeping bags for comfort! Actually it doesn't bear thinking about.

19 July, 1911

Again calm and pleasant.

We have noticed a very curious appearance of heavenly bodies when setting in a north-westerly direction. About midwinter, the moon observed in this position appeared in a much distorted shape of a blood red color. It might have been a red flare or a distant bonfire, but could not have been guessed for the moon. Yesterday the planet Venus appeared under similar circumstances as a ship's side-light or Japanese lantern. In both cases there was a flickering in the light and a change of color from deep orange yellow to blood red, but the latter was dominant.

I wonder what this portends.

Friday, July 16, 2010

18 July, 1911

A very brilliant red sky at noon today and enough light to see one's way about. It's very nice but dependent upon a clear sky, which is rare.

17 July, 1911

There is little to attract one out of doors. It is hard to imagine that we are only nine days off the "light value" where we left off playing football. I hope we shall be able to recommence the game soon.

I am glad light is coming for another reason. Ponting is not very fit —his nervous temperament is of the quality to take this wintering experience badly—Atkinson has some difficulty in persuading him to take exercise—he managed only by dragging him out to do his own work, digging holes in ice. Taylor is another backslider in the exercise line and is not looking well. If we can get these people to run about at football all will be well. Anyway, the return of the light should cure all ailments physical and mental.

16 July, 1911

Another slight alarm this morning. China wet off his feed and lay down twice. He was up and about in half an hour, but what on earth is disturbing these beasts?

A good deal of wind. The Crozier party must be having a wretched time.

I miss Wilson.

15 July, 1911

There was a strong wind with snow this morning and the wind remained keen and cold in the afternoon, but tonight it has fallen calm with a promising clear sky outlook. Have been up theRamp, clambering about in my sealskin overshoes, which see, extraordinarily satisfactory.

Oates thinks a good few of the ponies have worms and we are considering means of ridding them. Bones seems to be betting on better. A big ventilator has been fitted in the stable. It is not easy to get over the alarm of the other night—the situation is altogether too critical.

I keep dreaming of Nansen laughing at me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

14 July, 1911

We have had a horrible fright and are not yet out of the woods.

Bones, one of the best ponies, suddenly went off his feed -- it looked like colic. He was very distressed, took a walk badly and kept wanting to lie down. He was nursed closely during the night as he struggled with severe distress, but managed to rise to his feet while I looked in at 2:30am.

This morning it seems he is somewhat recovered but it has made very clear that we simply cannot afford to lose another pony. Our success rides on it.

The culprit appears to be fermented hay - a mucusy ball of it was found with tape worms in. Distressingly it had a piece of intestine attached. I think it no fluke that our two sick ponies have been those closest to the stove; a ventilation hole has been made. Water has also been added to their allotment of snow.

Well, we can't make hay. It's all we've got.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

13 July, 1911

Gusts of 77 mph in the night, a new record.

The snow is so hard blown that only the fiercest gusts raise the drifting particles -- it is interesting to note the balance of nature whereby one evil is eliminated by the excess of another.

Everyone is very busy being industrious in their own ways. Ski boots and crampons being made, plans drawn up, dog harnesses made, Oates ridding ponies of parasites, Ponting printing from his negatives.

Science cannot be served by dilettante methods, but demands a mind spurred by ambition or the satisfaction of ideals.

Our most popular game for evening recreation is chess; so many players have developed that our two sets of chessmen are inadequate.

Monday, July 12, 2010

12 July, 1911

All night and today wild gusts of wind shaking the hut; long, ragged twisted wind-cloud in the middle heights. A watery moon shining through a filmy cirro-stratus -- the outlook wonderfully desolate with its ghostly illumination and patchy clouds of flying snow drift. It would be hardly possible for a tearing, raging wind to make itself more visible. The gusts exceed 70 mph.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

11 July, 1911

Never was such persistent bad weather. The air is thick with snow, the mood a vague blur. This is the fourth day of gale.

The dogs are very gay and happy in the comparative warmth. I have been trying shelter experiments on our rocky beach. I dug myself a hole in a drift in the shelter of a large boulder and lay down in it, and covered my legs with loose snow. It was so warm that I could have slept very comfortably.

I am glad to see that those in charge of keeping our stores have been very wily in revealing how much of a thing they actually have, often saying they have none or a limited supply in order to dissuade frivolous use when in fact we have plenty. Such parsimony is the best guarantee that we are prepared to face any serious call.

10 July, 1911

Today the temperature is zero. One can go outside despite the 50 mph wind. Although I am loathe to believe it there must be some measure of acclimatization, for it is certain we should have felt today's wind when we first arrived in McMurdo Sound.

Been catching up on a lot of rather trivial reading.

9 July, 1911

Awful gale. Last night I had watch duty, and on the occasions when I had to step out of doors I was struck with the impossibility of enduring such conditions for any length of time. One seemed to be robbed of breath -- the fine snow beat in behind the wind guard, and ten paces against the wind were sufficient to reduce one's face to the verge of frostbite.

I thought of our absentees at Cape Crozier with the devout hope that they may be safely housed. They are certain to have been caught by this gale. Sometimes I have imagined them getting much more wind than we do, yet at others it seems difficult to believe that the Emperor penguins have chosen an excessively wind-swept area for their rookery.

It sounds bloody awful out there.

7 July, 1911

The temperature fell to -49 last night, our record so far, and likely to remain so, one would think.

The dogs' coats are getting pretty thick, and they seem to take matters pretty comfortably. The ponies are better I think, but I shall be glad when we are sure of having rid them of their pest.

Atkinson is suffering a good deal from his hand: the frostbite was deeper than I thought; fortunately he can now feel all his fingers, though it was 24 hours before sensation returned to one of them.

I hope I never get frozen like that.

6 July, 1911

It is -45 degrees. Frostbiting weather!

Went for a short run on foot this afternoon and a longer one on ski this afternoon.

I find it exceedingly difficult to settle down to solid work just at present and keep putting off the tasks which I have set myself.

Today there was a distinct red in the northern sky. Perhaps such sunset colors have something to do with this cold snap.

5 July, 1911

Atkinson has a bad hand today, immense blisters on every finger giving then the appearance of sausages.

Nasty, eh?

Evans dressed it for him. Not useful having our other doctor, Wilson, away, at a time like this.

The ponies have a parasite we will treat with carbolic acid. They have rubbed patches of hair off their coats they can ill afford to lose.

The day has been gloriously fine again,with bright moonlight all the afternoon. It was a wondrous sight to see Erebus emerge from soft filmy clouds of mist as though some thin veiling had been withdrawn with infinite delicacy to reveal the pure outline of this moonlit mountain.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

4 July, 1911

A day of blizzard and adventure.

No weather to be out in the open. Gran went out unbeknownst to me, only 200 or 300 yards and it took him an hour to get back in. Atkinson also went out without my knowledge and his absence was unnoticed until dinner was nearly over at 7:15. Although I felt somewhat annoyed, I had no serious anxiety. I sent several people out to shout and show lanterns in case he was lost, and to light a paraffin fire at Wind Vane Hill.

Evans Crean and Keohane went north looking for him but returned at 9:30 without sign of him. I organized search parties and I gave details to show the thoroughness which I thought necessary to meet the gravity of the situation. He'd left with relatively light apparel and worse, leather ski boots on his feet.

Everyone went out. Eventually only Clissold and I were left alone at the hut, and as the hours went by I grew ever more alarmed. It is impossible for me to conceive how an able man could have failed to return to the hut before this or by any means found shelter in such clothing in such weather. Atkinson had started for a point a little more than a mile away; at 10:30 he had been five hours away; what conclusion could be drawn?

At 11:45 I heard shouts and to my extreme relief Meares and Debenham led our wanderer home. He is badly frostbitten in the hand and less seriously on the face, and though a good deal confused, as men always are on such occasions, he is otherwise well.

He got lost. There is no doubt that in a blizzard a man has not only to safeguard the circulation in his limbs, but must struggle with a sluggishness of brain and an absence of reasoning power which is far more likely to undo him.

I must remember this for our Pole journey.

3rd July, 1911

Another quiet day, the sky more suspicious in appearance. Thin stratus cloud forming and dissipating overhead, curling stratus clouds over Erebus. Wind at Cape Crozier seems a possibility.

Our people have been far out on the floe. It is cheerful to see the twinkling light of some worker at a water hole or hear the ring of distant voices or swish of ski.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

2nd July, 1911

The moon is rising again; it came over the shoulder of Erebus about 5pm, in second quarter. It will cross the meridian at night, worse luck, but such days as this will be pleasant even with a low moon; one is very glad to think the Crozier Party are having such a peaceful time. It's only -35 degrees.

Mind you, imagine if it were closer to -65 out on the Barrier where they are!

No, that can't be possible. Surely.

1st July, 1911

We have designed new ski boots and I think they will be a success.

Wright has been swinging the pendulum in his cavern. I think we will be able to keep very good time.

Wonder how the Crozier Party are getting along.

30 June, 1911

The temperature is steadily falling. Today we reached -39 degrees.

Have been working with Day on measuring ice.

Have found our loose dogs had been attacking a seal and then came across a dead seal which had evidently been worried to death some time ago. It appears Demetri saw more seal further to the north, and this afternoon Meares has killed a large one as well as the one which was worried this morning.

It is good to find the seals so close, but very annoying to find that the dogs have discovered their resting place.

The long spell of fine weather is very satisfactory.

29 June, 1911

It seemed rather stuffy in the hut last night. I found it difficult to sleep, as did many others. The temperature was above 50 degrees, but the small uptake valve on the stove pipe was closed. I think it would be good to have a renewal of air at bedtime, but don't quite know how to manage this.

Am very puzzled by the weather; in the middle of a period of placid calm and out of a clear sky there suddenly rushes upon us a volume of comparatively warm air and snow; it comes and goes like a whirlwind.

Whence it comes and whither goeth?