Wednesday, December 8, 2010

7 December, 1911

Camp 30, still.

The storm continues and the situation is now serious. One small feed remains for the ponies after today, so that we must either march tomorrow or sacrifice the animals. That is not the worst; with the help of the dogs we could get on, without doubt. The serious part is that we have this morning started our Summit rations—that is to say, the food calculated from the Glacier Depot has been begun. The first supporting party can only go on a fortnight from this date and so forth.

The storm shows no sign of abatement and its character is as unpleasant as ever. The promise of last night died away about 3am, when the temperature and wind rose again, and things reverted to the old conditions. I can find no sign of an end, and all of us agree that it is utterly impossible to move. Resignation to misfortune is the only attitude, but not an easy one to adopt. It seems underserved where plans were well laid and so nearly crowned with a first success.

Evans wants me to kill the ponies to put them out of their misery. I don't want to.

I cannot see that any plan would be altered if it were to do again, the margin for bad weather was ample according to all experience, and this stormy December -- our finest month -- is a thing the most cautious organizer might not have been prepared to encounter. It is very evil to lie here in a wet sleeping bag and think of the pity of it, while things go from bad to worse.

Meares has a bad attack of snow blindness in one eye. He's been in pain for some time. There cannot be good cheer in such weather, but last night one heard laughter.

Midnight. Little or no improvement.

To be here watching the mottled wet green walls of our tent, the glistening wet bamboos, the bedraggled sopping socks and loose articles dangling in the middle, the saddened countenances of my companions -- to hear the everlasting patter of the falling snow and the ceaseless rattle of the fluttering canvas -- to feel the wet clinging dampness of clothes and everything touched, and to know that without there is but a blank wall of white on every side -- these are the physical surroundings.

Add the stress of sighted failure of our whole plan, and anyone must find the circumstances unenviable. But yet, after all, one can go on striving, endeavoring to find a stimulation in the difficulties that arise.

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