Thursday, December 23, 2010

23 December, 1911

Lunch. Started well, but soon came upon bad crevasses and hard waves. We pushed on to the SW, but things went from bad to worse, and we had to haul out to the north, then west. West looks clear for the present, but it is not a very satisfactory direction. The comfort is that we are rising.

Night: Camp 45 Height about 7750

Great vicissitudes of fortune in the afternoon march. Came upon an area with the most extraordinary surface -- narrow crevasses ran in all directions. They were quite invisible, being covered with a thin crust of hardened neve without a sign of a crack in it. We all fell in one after the other, and sometimes two together. We have had many unexpected falls before, but usually through being unable to mark the run of the surface appearances of cracks, or where such cracks are covered with soft snow. How a hard crust can form over a crack is a real puzzle—it seems to argue extremely slow movement.

At 5 pm everything changed. The hard surface gave place to regular sastrugi and our horizon leveled in every direction. We camped with a delightful feeling of security that we had at length reached the summit proper. I am feeling very cheerful about everything tonight. We marched 15 miles.

My determination to keep mounting irrespective of course is fully justified and I shall indeed be surprised is we have any further difficulty with crevasses or steep slopes. To me for the first time our goal seems really in sight. We can pull our loads and pull them much faster and farther than I expected in my most hopeful moments. I only pray for a fair share of good weather. There is a cold wind now as expected, but with good clothes and well fed as we are, we can stick a lot worse than we are getting. I trust this may prove the turning point in our fortunes for which we have waited so patiently.

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