Sunday, December 5, 2010

5 December, 1911

Well, it's noon. We awoke this morning to a raging, howling blizzard. We have very fine, powdery snow. After a minute or two in the open one is covered from head to foot. The temperature is high, so that what falls or drives against one sticks. The ponies -- head, tails, legs, and all parts not protected by their rugs--are covered with ice; the animals are standing deep in snow, the sledges are almost covered, and huge drifts above the tents. We have had breakfast, rebuilt the walls, and are now again in our bags. One cannot see the next tent, let alone the land.

What on earth does such weather mean at this time of year? It is more than our share of ill-furtune, I think, but the luck may turn yet. I doubt if any party could travel in such weather even with the wind, certainly no-one could travel against it.

Is there some widespread atmospheric disturbance which will be felt everywhere in this region as a bad season, or are we merely the victims of exceptional local conditions? If the latter, there is food for thought in picturing our small party struggling against adversity in one place whilst others go smilingly forward in the sunshine. (You know who I'm talking about.) How great the element of luck! No foresight -- no procedure -- could have prepared us for this state of affairs. Had we been ten times as experienced or certain of our aim we should not have expected such rebuffs. 11pm.

It has blown hard all day with quite the greatest snowfall I remember. The drifts about the tent are simply huge. There are pools of water on everything, the tents are wet through; water drips from the tent poles and the door, lies on the floor-cloth, soaks the sleeping bags and makes everything pretty wretched. If a cold snap follows before we have had time to dry our things, we shall be mighty uncomfortable. Yet after all it would be humorous enough if it were nit for the seriousness of the delay -- we can't afford that, and it's real hard luck that it should come at such a time.

The wind shows signs of easing down, but the temperature does not fall and the snow is as wet as ever -- not promising signs of abatement. What a shambles.

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