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.

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