Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kathleen's Letter

Scott will not get this letter from Kathleen:

174 Buckingham Palace Road October 8 1912

To think that you will get this in quite a reasonably few months! Last night I had a party! To show your films at the tiny theatre of the Gaumont Co, very elect indeed!!! It houses 24 people & I'll tell you who they were, & will you please say I'm a good wife!

There was Lord Curzon & Prince Louis of Battenberg & his princess & his son, & Sir Francis and Lady Bridgeman & Sir George & Lady Egerton & Mrs McKenna (an excitement in the House of Commons prevented Mr McKenna & Winston Churchill coming, the latter sent a nice telegram) and Sir Henry Clissold & Gertrude Bell & Leonard Darwin & Mr Longstaff & Willy and Ettie & the Baroness Erlenger & Sir Henry Galway & Admiral Parry Cust and Mr Newell and Peter!!

Don't you think that was a nice party, & everybody was so thrilled. They are the most wonderful thing I ever saw, the ones in the tent are so splendid. Sir George Egerton was so excited he could scarcely contain himself, & Prince Louis hopped about & asked questions. I got Ponting to come & introduced him to everyone & made a great fuss of him & was ever so elated.

It really was lovely, & Peter was so adorable & sensible. He said 'The motor sledge' — can't imagine how he knew. It is the first time in his life he has been up after 6.30 & he was out till 11.30 & this morning looks fitter than ever, apparently he is like his mother & thrives on dissipation!

I'm going to have another little show on Sat. afternoon, the Gaumont people love it & I think it does good. They are so wonderful.

Lambie dear, there's another thing I want to impress upon you — I don't know whether you have just heard the Amundsen news or whether you learnt it at the Pole (neither bear thinking of) but I want to tell you with six months knowledge of it upon one that it matters very very little — so far less than one thought at first — indeed in some respects it has done good for it has laid great stress on the differences of the two ventures & the greater scientific importance of yours is percolating in to the public mind in a manner it never would have done had not contrast been shown — upon my word I don't think it has made a scrap of difference. I couldn't have believed it would matter so little.
Of course everybody says he didn't play the game, but I can make myself see another point of view — If a man is doing anything that only one man can do — be the first man to invent anything, first man to find gold, first man to perform some long thought of operation etc etc galore. Anything wherein the main shout is in being first he does not perhaps apprise all the people working along the same lines as his progress and intents, and yet no one thinks his gains ill gotten — It is only a point of view.

Oh my darling how I love you and long to talk with you and know that you are content. You're not going to let the little Amundsen pinprick (upon my word it's no more) worry you, are you? It looked huge when it first met the eye and has now dwindled into nothing.
You are loved and respected in England in a way that makes me very happy. To see your little face in the Cinematograph last night, almost like a stranger after all these years, and your dear toes when you took off your socks then to feel that in a few short months —!

Don't ever be sad, my darling, life is ever so glorious. I'm so happy everybody is so nice to me for your sake I like to know and our little home's so nice and my work prospers and I'm so well and Peter so magnificent & you're coming home to us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Message To The Public

The causes of the disaster are not due to faulty organisation, but to misfortune in all risks which had to be undertaken.
1. The loss of pony transport in March 1911 obliged me to start later than I had intended, and obliged the limits of stuff transported to be narrowed.
2. The weather throughout the outward journey, and especially the long gale in 83º S., stopped us.
3. The soft snow in lower reaches of glacier again reduced pace.
We fought these untoward events with a will and conquered, but it cut into our provision reserve.
Every detail of our food supplies, clothing and depôts made on the interior ice-sheet and over that long stretch of 700 miles to the Pole and back, worked out to perfection. The advance party would have returned to the glacier in fine form and with surplus of food, but for the astonishing failure of the man whom we had least expected to fail. Edgar Evans was thought the strongest man of the party.
The Beardmore Glacier is not difficult in fine weather, but on our return we did not get a single completely fine day; this with a sick companion enormously increased our anxieties.

As I have said elsewhere we got into frightfully rough ice and Edgar Evans received a concussion of the brain – he died a natural death, but left us a shaken party with the season unduly advanced.
But all the facts above enumerated were as nothing to the surprise which awaited us on the Barrier. I maintain that our arrangements for returning were quite adequate, and that no one in the world would have expected the temperatures and surfaces which we encountered at this time of the year. On the summit in lat. 85º 86º we had -20º, -30º. On the Barrier in lat. 82º, 10,000 feet lower, we had -30º in the day, -47º at night pretty regularly, with continuous head wind during our day marches. It is clear that these circumstances come on very suddenly, and our wreck is certainly due to this sudden advent of severe weather, which does not seem to have any satisfactory cause. I do not think human beings ever came through such a month as we have come through, and we should have got through in spite of the weather but for the sickening of a second companion, Captain Oates, and a shortage of fuel in our depots for which I cannot account, and finally, but for the storm which has fallen on us within 11 miles of the depot at which we hoped to secure our final supplies. Surely misfortune could scarcely have exceeded this last blow. We arrived within 11 miles of our old One Ton Camp with fuel for one last meal and food for two days. For four days we have been unable to leave the tent – the gale howling about us. We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last. But if we have been willing to give our lives to this enterprise, which is for the honour of our country, I appeal to our countrymen to see that those who depend on us are properly cared for.
Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29 March, 1912

Since the 21st we have had a continuous gale from W.S.W. and S.W. We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot, 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.

It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. Scott.

Last Entry

For God's sake look after our people.

28 March, 1912

Kathleen and I

Have been writing this to Kathleen for a while now. 

To my widow,

Dearest Darling – we are in a very tight corner and I have doubts of pulling through – In our short lunch hours I take advantage of a very small measure of warmth to write letters preparatory to a possible end – the first is naturally to you on whom my thought mostly dwell waking or sleeping – if anything happens to me I shall like you to know how much you have meant to me and that pleasant recollections are with me as I depart.

I should like you to take what comfort you can from these facts also – I shall not have suffered any pain but leave the world fresh from harness and full of good health and vigour – this is dictated already, when provisions come to an end we simply stop where we are within easy distance of another depot.

Therefore you must not imagine a great tragedy — we are very anxious of course and have been for weeks but in splendid physical condition and our appetites compensate for all discomfort. The cold is biting and sometimes angering but here again the hot food which drives it forth is so wonderfully enjoyable that we would scarcely be without it.

We have gone down hill a good deal since I wrote the above. Poor Titus Oates has gone — he was in a bad state — the rest of us keep going and imagine we have a chance to get through but the cold weather doesn't let up at all – we are now only 20 miles from a depot but we have very little food or fuel.

Well dear heart I want you to take the whole thing very sensibly as I am sure you will — the boy will be your comfort. I had looked forward to helping you to bring him up but it is a satisfaction to feel that he is safe with you. I think both he and you ought to be specially looked after by the country for which after all we have given our lives with something of spirit which makes for example — I am writing letters on this point in the end of this book after this. Will you send them to their various destinations?

I must write a little letter for the boy if time can be found to be read when he grows up — dearest that you know I cherish no sentimental rubbish about re marriage — when the right man comes to help you in life you ought to be your happy self again.

I hope I shall be a good memory certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud. Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold — 70 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent.

You know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again. The inevitable must be faced — you urged me to be leader of this party and I know you felt it would be dangerous — I've taken my place throughout, haven't I?

God bless you my own darling I shall try and write more later — I go on across the back pages. Since writing the above we have got to within 11 miles of our depot with one hot meal and two days' cold food and we should have got through but have been held for four days by a frightful storm — I think the best chance has gone. We have decided not to kill ourselves but to fight it to the last for that depot but in the fighting there is a painless end so don't worry.

I have written letters on odd pages of this book — will you manage to get them sent? You see I am anxious for you and the boy's future — make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games — they encourage it at some schools — I know you will keep him out in the open air — try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting.

Oh my dear my dear what dreams I have had of his future and yet oh my girl I know you will face it stoically — your portrait and the boy's will be found in my breast and the one in the little red Morocco case given by Lady Baxter. There is a piece of the Union flag I put up at the South Pole in my private kit bag together with Amundsen's black flag and other trifles — give a small piece of the Union flag to the King and a small piece to Queen Alexandra and keep the rest a poor trophy for you!

What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey. How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home — what tales you would have for the boy but oh what a price to pay — to forfeit the sight of your dear dear face.

Dear you will be good to the old mother. I write her a little line in this book. Also keep in with Ettie and the others — oh but you'll put on a strong face for the world — only don't be too proud to accept help for the boy's sake — he ought to have a fine career and do something in the world.

I haven't time to write to Sir Clements — tell him I thought much of him and never regretted him putting me in command of the Discovery.

Monday, March 28, 2011

27 March, 1912

Letter to my Mother, Hannah Scott:

My Own Darling Mother,

The Great God has called me and I fear it will add a fearful blow to the heavy ones that have fallen on you in life. But take comfort that I die in peace with the world and I myself am not afraid—not perhaps believing in all that you hold so splendidly, but still believing there is a God—a merciful God. I wish I could remember that I had been a better son to you, but I think you will know that you were always very much in my heart, and that I strove to put you into more comfortable circumstances....

For myself I not unhappy, but for Kathleen, you and the rest of my family my heart is very sore. 

Your ever loving son,

26 March, 1912

Henry Robertson "Birdie" Bowers

Letter to Birdie's mother:

My Dear Mrs. Bowers,

I am afraid this will reach you after one of the heaviest blows of your life.

I write when we are very near the end of our journey, and I am finishing it in company with two gallant, noble gentlemen. One of these is your son. He had come to be one of my closest and soundest friends, and I appreciate his wonderful upright nature, his ability and energy. As the troubles have thickened his dauntless spirit ever shone brighter and he has remained cheerful, hopeful, and indomitable to the end. 

The ways of Providence are inscrutable, but there must be some reason why such a young, vigorous and promising life is taken.

My whole heart goes out in pity for you.

R. Scott.

To the end he has talked of your and his sisters. One sees what a happy home he must have had and perhaps it is well to look back on nothing but happiness. 

Birdie and Bill having a lark on the ship

Friday, March 25, 2011

25 March, 1912

Edward Adrian Wilson

Letter to Oriana Wilson. Looks like Bill can't go on much more.

My Dear Mrs. Wilson,

If this letter reaches you Bill and I will have gone out together. We are very near it now and I should like you to know how splendid he was at the end—everlastingly cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for others, never a word of blame to me for leading him into this mess. He is not suffering, luckily, at least only minor discomforts.

His eyes have a comfortable blue look of hope and his mind is peaceful with the satisfaction of his faith in regarding himself as part of the great scheme of the Almighty. I can do no more to comfort you than to tell you that he died as he lived, a brave, true man—the best of comrades and staunchest of friends.

My heart goes out to you in pity,

R. Scott.

Oates wanted him to visit his mother if we returned and to give her his things, but he's had to write to her instead.

Here it is:

This is a sad ending to our undertaking. Your son died a very noble death, God knows. I have never seen or heard of such courage as he showed from first to last with his feet both badly frostbitten—never a word of complaint or of the pain. He was a great example. Dear Mrs. Oates, he asked me at the end, to see you and give you this diary of his—You, he told me, are the only woman he has ever loved. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

24 March, 1912

Letter to J. J. Kinsey, my agent in New Zealand — Christchurch

My Dear Kinsey,

I'm afraid we are pretty well done — four days of blizzard just as we were getting to the last depot. My thoughts have been with you often. You have been a brick. You will pull the expedition through, I'm sure.

My thoughts are for my wife and boy. Will you do what you can for them if the country won't. 

I want the boy to have a good chance in the world, but you know the circumstances well enough.

If I knew the wife and boy were in safe keeping I should have little regret in leaving the world, for I feel that the country need not be ashamed of us — our journey has been the biggest on record, and nothing but the most exceptional hard luck at the end would have caused us to fail to return. We have been to the South Pole as we set out. God bless you and dear Mrs. Kinsey. It is good to remember you and your kindness.

Your friend,
R. Scott.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

23 March, 1912

Tomorrow is our only chance for Wilson and Bowers to make a dash for it. We have no fuel and only one or two rations of food left — must be near the end. Have decided it shall be natural — we shall march for the depot with or without our effects and die in our tracks.

Addendum to letter to J. M. Barrie:

We are very near the end, but have not and will not lose our good cheer. We have four days of storm in our tent and nowhere's food or fuel. We did intend to finish ourselves when things proved like this, but we have decided to die naturally in the track.

As a dying man, my dear friend, be good to my wife and child. Give the boy a chance in life if the State won't do it. He ought to have good stuff in him....I never met a man in my life whom I admired and loved more than you, but I never could show you how much your friendship meant to me, for you had much to give and I nothing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

22 March, 1912

The blizzard still rages outside. Had a cup of tea. Eaking out what food remains.

Monday, March 21, 2011

21 March, 1912

Today forlorn hope. The blizzard still rages. Wilson and Bowers discussing going to depot for fuel.

Nothing I can do but write letters.

This is to Vice-Admiral Sir George le Clerc Egerton, KCB:

My Dear Sir George,

I fear we have shot our bolt—but we have been to the Pole and done the longest journey on record.

I hope these letters may find their destination some day.

Subsidiary reasons for our failure to return are due to the sickness of different members of the party, but the real thing that has stopped us is the awful weather and unexpected cold towards the end of the journey.

This traverse of the Great Barrier has been quite three times as severe as any experience we had on the summit.

There is no accounting for it, but the result has thrown out my calculations, and here we are little more than 100 miles from the base and petering out.

Goodbye. Please see my widow is looked after as far as Admiralty is concerned.

R. Scott.

My kindest regards to Lady Egerton. I can never forget all your kindness.

Hardest of all are the ones to my loved ones. James Barrie (you know him from Peter Pan) is Peter's Godfather.

My Dear Barrie,

We are pegging out in a very comfortless spot. Hoping this letter may be found and sent to you, I write a word of farewell....More practically I want you to help my widow and my boy—your godson. We are showing that Englishmen can still die with a bold spirit, fighting it out to the end. It will be known that we have accomplished our object of reaching the Pole, and that we have done everything possible, even to sacrificing ourselves in order to save sick companions, I think this makes an example for Englishmen of the future, and that the country ought to help those who are left behind to mourn us. I leave my poor girl and your godson, Wilson leaves a widow, and Edgar Evans also a widow in humble circumstances. Do what you can to get their claims recognized. Goodbye. I am not at all afraid of the end, but sad to miss many a humble pleasure which I had planned for the future on our long marches. I may not have proved a great explorer, but we have done the greatest march ever made and come very near to great success. Goodbye, my dear friend,

R. Scott. 

W are in a desperate state, feet frozen, etc. No fuel and a long way from food, but it would do your heart good to be in our tent, to hear our songs and the cheery conversation as to what we will do when we get to Hut Point. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

20 March, 1912

Yesterday afternoon we did another 4 miles which has brought us to this spot, 11 miles from One Ton Depot. Here we have sat all day while a blizzard has raged outside. The sun does not come up over the horizon now, with ever decreasing periods of daylight. It is very dim in the tent.

I have been taking the opportunity of our being held up to write letters. Here's one I wrote to our Expedition Treasurer, The Right Honorable Sir Edgar Speyer on March 16.

My Dear Sir Edgar,

I hope this may reach you. I fear we must go and that it leaves the Expedition in a bad muddle. But we have been to the Pole and we shall die like gentlemen. I regret only for the women we leave behind.

I thank you a thousand times for your help and support and your generous kindness. If this diary is found it will show how we stuck by our dying companions and fought the thing out well to the end. I think this will show that the Spirit of pluck and the power to endure has not passed out of our race....

Wilson, the best fellow that ever stepped, has sacrificed himself again and again to the sick men of the party....

I write to many friends hoping the letters will reach them some time after we are found next year.

We very nearly came through, and it's a pity to have missed it, but lately I have felt that we have overshot our mark. No one is to blame and I hope no attempt will be made to suggest that we have lacked support.

Goodbye to you and your dear kind wife.

Yours ever sincerely,

R. Scott. 

And here's one to another Expedition supporter, Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Charles Bridgeman, KCVO, KCB:

My Dear Sir Francis,

I fear we have shipped up; a close shave; I am writing a few letters which I hope will be delivered some day. I want to thank you for the friendship you gave me of late years, and to tell you how extraordinarily pleasant I found it to serve under you. I want to tell you that I was not too old for this job. It was the younger men that went under first....After all we are setting a good example to our countrymen, if not by getting into a tight place, by facing it like men when we were there. We could not have come through had we neglected the sick.

Goodbye, and goodbye to dear Lady Bridgeman.

Yours ever,
R. Scott.

Excuse writing—it is -40, and has been for nigh a month.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

19 March, 1912


We camped with difficulty last night and were dreadfully cold till after our supper of cold pemmican and biscuit and a half a pannikin of cocoa cooked over the spirit. Then, contrary to expectation, we got warm and all slept well.

Today we are 15 1/2 miles from the depot and ought to get there in three days. What progress! We have two days' food but barely a day's fuel.

All our feet are getting bad—Wilson's best, my right foot worst, left all right. There is no chance to nurse one's feet till we can get hot food into us. Amputation is the least I can hope for now, but will the trouble spread? That is the serious question.

The weather doesn't give us a chance—the wind from N to NW and the temperature -40 today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

18 March, 1912

Today, at lunch, we are 21 miles  from the depot. Ill fortune presses, but better may come. W have had more wind and drift from ahead yesterday; had to stop marching; wind NW, force 4, temperature -35. No human being could face it, and we are worn out nearly.

My right foot has gone, nearly all the toes—two days go I was proud possessor of best feet. These are the steps of my downfall. Like an ass I mixed a small spoonful of curry powder with my melted pemmican—it gave me violent indigestion. I lay awake and in pain all night; woke and felt done on the march; foot went and I didn't know it. A very small measure of neglect and have a foot which is not pleasant to contemplate.

Bowers takes first place in condition, but there is not much to choose after all. The others are still confident of getting through—or pretend to be—I don't know!

We have the last half fill of oil in our primus and a very small quantity of spirit—this alone between us and thirst.

The wind is fair for the moment, and that is perhaps a fact to help. The mileage would have seemed ridiculously small on our outward journey.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

17 March, 1912

I can only write at lunch, and then only occasionally. The cold is intense: -40 at midday. My companions are unendingly cheerful, but we are all on the verge of serious frostbites, and though we constantly talk of fetching through I don't think any one of us believes it in his heart.

We are cold on the march now, and at all times except meals. Yesterday we had to lay up for a blizzard and today we move dreadfully slowly. We are at #14 Pony Camp and are only two marches from One Ton Depot. We leave here our theodolite, a camera, and Oates' sleeping bags. Diaries etc., and geological specimens carried at Wilson's special request, will be found with us on our sledge.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

16 March, 1912

Tragedy all along the line.

Oates gamely struggled on a few miles yesterday afternoon, in spite of the awful nature for him. At night he was worse and we knew the end had come.

I want these facts recorded.

Oates' last thoughts were of his Mother, but immediately before he took pride in thinking that his regiment would be pleased with the bold way in which he met his death. We can testify to his bravery. He has borne intense suffering for weeks without complaint, and to the very last was able and willing to discuss outside subjects. He did not — would not — give up hope to the very end. He was a brave soul.

This was the end. He slept through the night hoping not to wake; but he woke this morning. It was blowing a blizzard. He said "I am just going outside and may be some time." He went out into the blizzard and we have not seen him since.

I take this opportunity of saying that we have stuck to our sick companions to the last. In the case of Edgar Evans, when absolutely out of food and he lay insensible, the safety of the remainder seemed to demand his abandonment, but Providence mercifully removed him at this critical moment. He died a natural death, and we did not leave him till two hours after his death.

We knew that poor Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman. We all hope to meet the end with a similar spirit, and assuredly the end is not far.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

15 March, 1912


Poor Oates says he can't go on. He has proposed that we leave him in his sleeping bag when we move off for our afternoon march. I told him we could not do that. He must be in the most unimaginable agony, but he will join us, I think.

It is so terribly cold and looks like a blizzard.

Monday, March 14, 2011

14 March, 1912

Everything wrong for us. This morning started with a southerly breeze, set sail and passed another cairn at good speed; half way, however, the wind shifted to W by S or WSW, blew through our wind clothes and into our mitts. Poor Wilson horribly cold, could not get off ski for some time. Bowers and I practically made camp, and when we got into the tent at last we were all deadly cold.

The temperature now at midday down to -43 and the wind strong. We must go on, but now the making of every camp must be more difficult and dangerous.

It must be near the end, but a pretty merciful end.

Poor Oates got it again in the foot. I shudder to think what it will be like tomorrow. It is only with greatest pains the rest of us keep off frostbites. No idea there could be temperatures like this at this time of year with such winds. Truly awful outside the tent. Must fight it out to the last biscuit, but can't reduce rations.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

13 March, 1912

Woke to a strong northerly wind, with -37 temperature. We couldn't face it, so remained in camp until 2. Set out on the march and did 5 1/4 miles. Wanted to march later, but we are feeling the cold badly, as the breeze never took off entirely, and as the sun sank the temperature fell.

It's taken us a long time getting supper in the dark.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

12 March, 1912

We did 6.9 miles yesterday, under our necessary average. Things are left pretty much the same, Oates not pulling much, and now his hands as well as feet pretty well useless.

We did 4 miles this morning in 4 hours 20 minutes — we may hope for 3 this afternoon, 7 X 6 = 42. We shall be 47 miles from the depot. I doubt if we can possibly do it. The surface remains awful, the cold intense, and our physical condition running down.

God help us! Not a breath of favorable wind for more than a week, and apparently liable to head winds at any moment.

Friday, March 11, 2011

11 March, 1912

Titus Oates is very near the end, one feels. What we or he will do, God only knows.

We discussed the matter after breakfast; he is a brave and fine fellow and understands the situation, but he practically asked for advice. Nothing could be said but to urge him to march as long as he could.

One satisfactory result to the discussion: I practically ordered Wilson to hand over the means of ending our trouble to us, so that any one of us may know how to do so. Wilson had no choice between doing so and our ransacking the medicine case. We have 30 opium tabloids apiece and he is left with a tube of morphine. So far, the tragical side of our story.

The sky completely overcast when we started this morning. We could see nothing, lost the tracks, and doubtless have been swaying a good deal since —3.1 miles for the forenoon — terribly heavy dragging — expected it. Know that 6 miles is about the limit of our endurance now, if we get no help from wind or surfaces. We have 7 days' food and should be about 55 miles from One Ton Camp tonight. 6 X 7 = 42, leaving us 13 miles short of our distance, even if things get no worse.

Meanwhile the season rapidly advances.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 March, 1912

Things steadily downhill. Oates' foot worse. He has rare pluck and must know that he can never get through. He asked Wilson if he had a chance this morning, and of course Bill had to say he didn't know. In point of fact he has none. Apart from him, if he went under now, I doubt whether we could get through. With great care we might have a dog's chance, but no more.

The weather conditions are awful, and our gear gets steadily more icy and difficult to manage. At the same time of course poor Titus is the greatest handicap. He keeps us waiting in the morning until we have nearly lost the warming effect of our good breakfast, when the only wise policy is to be up and away at once; again at lunch. Poor chap! It is too pathetic to watch him; one cannot but try to cheer him up.

This morning it was calm when we breakfasted, but the wind came in as we broke camp. It rapidly grew in strength. After traveling for half an hour I saw that none of us could go on facing such conditions. We were forced to camp and are spending the rest of the day in a comfortless blizzard camp, wind quite foul.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

9 March, 1912

Marched up on Mt. Hooper depot. Cold comfort. Shortage on our allowance all round. I don't know that anyone is to blame. The dogs which would have been our salvation have evidently failed.

I wonder if anyone is awaiting us at One Ton Camp? I had said we were due back around this time to meet the ship.

Don't really feel like writing today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8 March, 1912

Worse and worse in the morning; poor Oates' left foot can never last out, and time over foot gear something awful. Have to wait in night foot gear for nearly an hour before I start changing, and then am generally first to be ready.

Wilson's feet giving trouble now, but this mainly because he gives so much help to others.

We did 4 1/2 miles this morning and are now 8 1/2 miles from the depot — a ridiculously small distance to feel in difficulties, yet on this surface we know we cannot equal half our old marches, and that for that effort we expend nearly double the energy. The great question is: What shall we find at the depot? If the dogs have visited it we may get along a good distance, but if there is another short allowance of fuel, God help us indeed.

We are in a very bad way, I fear, in any case.

Monday, March 7, 2011

7 March, 1912

A little worse I fear. One of Oates' feet very bad this morning; he is wonderfully brave. We still talk of what we will do at home.

We only made 6 1/2 miles yesterday. This morning, in 4 1/2 hours we did just over 4 miles. We are 16 from our depot. If we only find the correct proportion of food there and this surface continues, we may get to the next depot (Mt. Hooper, 72 miles farther) but not to One Ton Camp. We hope against hope that the dogs have been to Mt. Hooper; then we might pull through. If there is a shortage of oil again we can have little hope.

One feels that for poor Oates the crisis is near, but none of us are improving, though we are wonderfully fit considering the really excessive work we are doing. We are only kept going by good food. No wind this morning till a chill northerly air came ahead. Sun bright and cairns showing up well.

I should like to keep the track to the end.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

6 March, 1912


We did a little better with help of wind yesterday afternoon, finishing 9 1/2 miles for the day, and 27 miles from the depot. But this morning things have been awful. It was warm in the night and for the first time during the journey I overslept myself by more than an hour; then we were slow with foot gear; then, pulling with all our might (for our lives) we could scarcely advance at a rate of a mile an hour; then it grew thick and three times we had to get out of harness to search for tracks. The result is something less than 3 1/2 miles for the forenoon. The sun is shining now and the wind gone.

Poor Oates is unable to pull, sits on the sledge when we are track-searching—he is wonderfully plucky, as his feet must be giving him great pain. He makes no complaint, but his spirits only come up in spurts now, and he grows more silent in the tent.

We are making a spirit lamp to try to replace the primus when our oil is exhausted.. It will be a very poor substitute and we've not got much spirit.

If we could keep up our 9-mile days we might have got within reasonable distance of the depot before running out, but nothing but a strong wind and good surface can help us now, and though we had quite a good breeze this morning, the sledge came as heavy as lead.

If we were all fit I should have hopes of getting through, but the poor Soldier has become a terrible hindrance, though he does his utmost and suffers much, I fear.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

5 March, 1912


Regret to say going from bad to worse.

We got a slant of wind yesterday afternoon, and going on 5 hours we converted our wretched morning run of 3 1/2 miles into something over 9. We went to bed on a cup of cocoa and pemmican solid with the chill off. The result is telling on all, but mainly on Oates, whose feet are in a wretched condition. One swelled up tremendously last night and he is very lame this morning.

We started march on tea and pemmican as last night—we pretend to prefer the pemmican this way.

Marched for 5 hours this morning over a slightly better surface. Sledge capsized twice; we pulled on foot, covering 5 1/2 miles. We are two pony marches and 4 miles from our depot. Our fuel dreadfully low and the poor Soldier (Oates) nearly done. It I pathetic enough because we can do nothing for him; more hot food might do a little, but only a little, I fear. We none of us expected these low temperatures, and of the rest of us Wilson is feeling them most, mainly, I fear, from his self-sacrificing devotion to doctoring Oates' feet.

We cannot help each other, each has enough to do to take care of himself. We get cold on the march when the trudging is heavy, and the wind pierces our warm garments. The others, all of them, are unendingly cheerful when in the tent.

We mean to see the game through with a proper spirit, but it's tough work to be pulling harder than we ever pulled in our lives for long hours, and to feel that the progress is so slow. One can only say "God help us!" and plod on our weary way, cold and very miserable, though outwardly cheerful.

We talk of all sorts of subjects in the tent, not much of food now, since we decided to take the risk of running a full ration. We simply couldn't go hungry at this time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

4 March, 1912


Things looking very black indeed. As usual we forgot our trouble last night, got into our bags, slept splendidly on good hoosh, woke and had another, and started marching. Sun shining brightly, tracks clear, but surface covered with sandy frost-rime. All the morning we had to pull with all our strength, and in 4 1/2 hours we covered 3 1/2 miles.

Last night was overcast and thick, surface bad; this morning sun shining and surface as bad as ever. One has little to hope for except perhaps strong dry wind—an unlikely contingency at this time of the year. We are about 42 miles form the next depot and have a week's food, but only about 3 to 4 days' fuel—we are as economical of the latter as one can possibly be, and we cannot afford to save food and pull as we are pulling.

We are in a very tight place indeed, but none of us are despondent yet, or at least we preserve every semblance of good cheer, but one's heart sinks as the sledge stops dead at some sastrugi behind which the surface sand lies thickly heaped.

For the moment the temperature is on the -20 — an improvement which makes us much more comfortable, but a colder snap is bound to come again soon. I fear that Oates at least will weather such an event very poorly.

Providence to our aid!

We can expect little from man now except the possibility of extra food at the next depot. It will be real bad if we get there and find the same shortage of oil. Shall we get there? Such a short distance it would have appeared to us on the summit! I don't know what I should do if Wilson and Bowers weren't so determinedly cheerful over things.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

3rd March, 1912


We picked up the track again yesterday, finding ourselves to the east. Did close on 10 miles and things looked a trifle better; but this morning the outlook is blacker than ever.

Started well with a good breeze; for an hour made good headway; then the surface grew awful beyond words. The wind drew forward; every circumstance was against us.

After 4 1/2 hours things got so bad that we camped, having covered just 4 1/2 miles. One cannot consider this a fault of our own—certainly we were pulling hard this morning—it was more than three parts surface which held us back—the wind at strongest, powerless to move the sledge. When the light is good it is easy to see the reason. The surface, lately a very good hard one, is coated with a layer of woolly crystals, formed by radiation no doubt. These are too firmly fixed to be removed by the wind and cause impossible friction on the runners.

God help us, we can't keep up this pulling, that is certain. Amongst ourselves we are unendingly cheerful, but what each man feels in his heart I can only guess.

Pulling on foot gear in the morning is getting slower and slower, therefore every day more dangerous.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2nd March, 1912


Misfortunes rarely come singly.

We marched to the Middle Barrier depot fairly easily yesterday afternoon, and since we have suffered three distinct blows which have placed us in a bad position.

First we found a shortage of oil; with most rigid economy it can scarce carry us to the next depot on this surface (71 miles away).

Second, Titus Oates disclosed his feet, the toes showing very bad indeed, evidently bitten by the late temperatures.

The third blow came in the night, when the wind, which we had hailed with some joy, brought dark overcast weather. It fell below -40 in the night, and this morning it took 1 1/2 hours to get our foot gear on, but we got away before eight.

We lost cairn and tracks together and made as steady as we could North by West, but have seen nothing. Worse was to come—the surface is simply awful. In spite of strong wind  and full sail we have only done 5 1/2 miles.

We are in a very queer street since there is no doubt we cannot do the extra marches and feel the cold horribly.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1st March, 1912


Very cold last night—minimum -41.5 degrees.

Cold start to the march, too, as usual now. Got away at 8 and have marched within sight of the depot; flag something under 3 miles away. Marched 6 miles this morning. Apart from sledging considerations the weather is wonderful. Cloudless days and nights and the wind trifling. Worse luck, the light airs come from the north and keep us horribly cold. For this lunch hour the exception has come: there is a bright and comparatively warm sun. All our gear is out drying.

Monday, February 28, 2011

28 February, 1912


Thermometer went below -40 last night; it was desperately cold for us, but we had a fair night. I decided to slightly increase food; the effect is undoubtably good. Started marching in -32 with a slight north-westerly breeze—blighting. Many cold feet this morning; long time over foot gear, but we are earlier. Shall camp earlier and get the chance of a good night, if not the reality of one. Things must be critical till we reach the depot, and the more I think of matters, the more I anticipating their remaining so after the event.

Only 24 1/2 miles from the depot. The sun shines brightly, but there is little warmth in it. There is no doubt the middle of the Barrier is a pretty awful locality.


A splendid pony hoosh sent us to bed and to sleep happily after a horrid day, with wind continuing. Did 11 1/2 miles. Temperature -27. We are in for another cold night.

27 February, 1912


Desperately cold last night: -33 when we got up, with -37 minimum. Some suffering from cold feet, but all got good rest. We must open out on food soon. But we have done 7 miles this morning and hope for some 5 this afternoon. Overcast sky and good surface till now, when the sun shows again. It is good to be marching the cairns up, but there is still so much to be anxious about.

We talk of little but food, except after meals. Land disappearing in satisfactory manner. Pray God we have no further setbacks. We are naturally always discussing possibility of meeting dogs (I gave instructions that they be brought out to meet us), where and when, etc. It is a critical position. We may find ourselves in safety at the next depot, but there is a horrid element of doubt.

Night Camp

Temperature -32.

Still fine clear weather but very cold—absolutely calm tonight. 31 miles to the next depot, 3 days' fuel at a pinch, and 6 days' food. Things begin to look a little better; we can open out a little on food from tomorrow night, I think.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

26 February, 1912

Lunch: temperature minus 17

Sky overcast at start, but able to see tracks and cairn distinct at long distance. Did a little better, 6 1/2 miles. Bowers and Wilson now in front. Find great relief pulling behind with no necessity to keep attention on track. Very cold nights now and cold feet starting march, as day footgear doesn't get dry at all. We are doing well on our food, but we ought to have yet more. I hope the next depot, now only 50 miles, will find us with enough surplus to open out. The fuel shortage still an anxiety.

Night: temperature minus 21

Nine solid hours' marching has given us 11 1/2 miles. Only 43 miles from the next depot. Wonderfully fine weather but cold, very cold. Nothing dries and we get our feet cold too often. We want more food yet and especially more fat. Fuel is woefully short. We can scarcely hope to get a better surface at this season, but I wish we could have some help from the wind, though it might shake us badly if the temp. didn't rise.

Friday, February 25, 2011

25 February, 1912

Lunch. Temperature minus 12.

Managed just 6 miles this morning. Started somewhat despondent; not relieved when pulling seemed to show no improvement. Bit by bit surface grew better, less sastrugi, more glide, slight following wind for a time. Then we began to travel a little faster. But the pulling is still very hard.

Evans' tracks are very conspicuous ahead. This is somewhat in favor, but the pulling is tiring us, though we are getting into better ski drawing again. Bowers hasn't quite the trick and is a little hurt at my criticisms, but I never doubted his heart. Very much easier—write diary at lunch—excellent meal—now one pannikin very strong tea—four biscuits and butter.

Hope for better things this afternoon, but no improvement apparent. Oh! for a little wind. Evans evidently had plenty.

Night. Temperature minus 20.

Better march in afternoon. Day yields 11.4 miles—the first double figure of steady dragging for a long time, but it meant and will mean hard work if we can't get a wind to help us. Evans evidently had strong wind here. The temperature goes very low at night now when the sky is clear as at present. As a matter of fact this is wonderfully fair weather—the only drawback is the spoiling of the surface and the absence of wind.

Some kind people substituted a cairn at the last camp. I must remember to thank them.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

24 February, 1912


Beautiful day —too beautiful—an hour after starting loose ice crystals spoiling surface. Found store in order except for shortage of oil. We shall have to be very saving with fuel—otherwise have ten full days' provision from tonight and shall have less than 70 miles to go.

Picked up notes from the returning parties. Evans's note sounds a little anxious. I wonder can he be ill?

It is an immense relief to have picked up this depot, and, for the first time, anxieties are thrust aside. There is a great difference now between night and day temperatures. It is quite warm as I write in the tent. Poor Wilson has a fearful attack of snow blindness consequent upon yesterday's efforts. Wish we had more fuel.


Temperature minus 17.

A little despondent again. We had a really terrible surface this afternoon and only covered 4 miles. We are on the track just beyond a lunch cairn. It will really be a bad business if we are to have pulling like this all through. I don't know what to think, but the rapid closing of the season is ominous. It is great luck having the horsemeat to add to our ration. Tonight we have had a real fine hoosh.

It is a race between the season and hard conditions and our fitness and good food.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

23 February, 1912

Started in sunshine, wind almost dropped. Luckily Bowers took a round of angles and with the help of the chart we fogged out that we must be inside rather than outside the tracks. The data were so meagre that it seemed a great responsibility to march out and we were none of us happy about it.

But just as we decided to lunch, Bowers' wonderful sharp eyes detected an old double lunch cairn, the theodolite telescope confirmed it, an our spirits rose accordingly.

This afternoon we marched on and picked up another cairn; then on and camped 2 1/2 miles from the depot. We cannot see it, but, given fine weather, we cannot miss it.

We are, therefore, extraordinarily relieved.

Covered 8.2 miles in 7 hours, showing we can do 10 to 12 on this surface. Things are again looking up, as we are on the regular line of cairns, with no gaps right home, I hope.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

22 February, 1912

There is little doubt we are in for a rotten critical time going home, and the lateness of the season may make it really serious.

Shortly after starting today the wind grew very fresh from the SE, with strong surface drift. We lost the faint track immediately, though covering ground fairly rapidly. Lunch came without sight of the cairn we had hoped to pass. In the afternoon, Bowers being sure we were too far to the west, steered out. Result: we have passed another pony camp without seeing it.

Looking at the map tonight there is no doubt we are too far to the east. With clear weather we ought to be able to correct the mistake,but will the weather get clear? It's a gloomy position, especially as one sees the same difficulty returning even when we have corrected the error.

The wind is dying down tonight and the sky clearing in the south, which is hopeful. Meanwhile it is satisfactory to note that such untoward events fail to damp the spirit of the party. Tonight we had a pony hoosh so excellent and filling that one feels really strong and vigorous again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

21 February, 1912

Gloomy and overcast when we started; a good deal warmer. The marching almost as bad as yesterday. heavy toiling all day, inspiring gloomiest thoughts at times. Rays of comfort when we picked up tracks and cairns.

At lunch we seemed to have missed the way, but an hour or two after we passed the last pony walls. There is a critical spot here with a long stretch between cairns. If we can tide that over we get on the regular cairn route, and with luck should stick to it; but everything depends on the weather. We never won a march of 8 1/2 miles with greater difficulty, but we can't go on like this. We are drawing away from the land and perhaps may get better things in a day or two.

I devoutly hope so.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

20 February, 1912

Temperature minus 15

Same terrible surface; four hours' hard plodding in morning brought us to our Desolation Camp, where we had the four-day blizzard. We looked for more pony meat, but found none.

After lunch we took to ski with some improvement of comfort. Total mileage for the day: 7 — the ski tracks pretty plain and easily followed this afternoon. We have left another cairn behind.

Terribly slow progress, but we hope for better things as we clear the land. At present our sledge and ski leave deeply ploughed tracks which can be seen winding for miles behind.

It is distressing, but as usual trials are forgotten when we camp, and good food is our lot. Pray God we get better traveling as we are not so fit as we were, and the season is advancing apace.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

19 February, 1912

It was late (past noon) before we got away today, as I gave nearly 8 hours sleep, and much camp work was done shifting sledges (we picked up a new one at the depot), fitting up the new one with mast, packing horsemeat and personal effects.

The surface was every bit as bad as I expected, the sun shining brightly on it and its covering of soft loose sandy snow. Perhaps lucky to have a fine day for this and out camp work, but we shall want wind or change of sliding conditions to do anything on such a surface as we have got. I fear there will not be much change for 3 or 4 days.

We struggled out 4.6 miles in a short day over a really terrible surface—it has been like pulling over desert sand, not the least glide in the world. If this goes on we shall have a bad time, but I sincerely trust it is only the result of this windless area close to the coast and that, as we are making steadily outwards, we shall shortly escape it.

It is perhaps premature to be anxious about covering distance. In all other respects things are improving. We have our sleeping bags spread on the sledge and they are drying, but, above all, we have our full measure of food again. Tonight we had a sort of stew fry of pemmican and horseflesh, and voted it the best hoosh weever had on a sledge journey.

The absence of poor Evans is a help to the commissariat, but if he had been here in a fit state we might have got along faster.

I wonder what is in store for us, with some little alarm at the lateness of the season.

Friday, February 18, 2011

18 February, 1912

We are back at Shambles Camp, where we killed the horses.

We gave ourselves 5 hours' sleep at the lower glacier depot after the horrible night, and came on at about 3 today to this camp, coming fairly easily over the divide. Here with plenty of horsemeat we have had a fine supper, to be followed by others such, and so continue a more plentiful era if we can keep good marches up.

New life seems to come with greater food almost immediately, but I am anxious about the Barrier surfaces.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

17 February, 1912

A very terrible day.

Evans looked a little better after a good sleep, and declared, as he always did, that he was quite well. He started in his place on the traces, but half an hour later worked his ski shoes adrift, and had to leave the sledge. The surface was awful, the soft recently fallen snow clogging the ski and runners at every step, the sledge groaning, the sky overcast, and the land hazy.

We stopped after about one hour, and Evans came up again, but very slowly. Half an hour later he dropped out again on the same plea. He asked Bowers to lend him a piece of string. I cautioned him to come on as quickly as he could, and he answered cheerfully as I thought. We had to push on, and the remainder of us were forced to pull very hard, sweating heavily. Abreast of Monument Rock we stopped, and seeing Evans a long way astern, I camped for lunch.

There was no alarm at first, and we prepared tea and our own meal, consuming the latter. After lunch, and Evans still not appearing, we looked out, to see him still afar off. By this time we were alarmed, and all four stepped back on ski.

I was first to reach the poor man and shocked at his appearance; he was on his knees with clothing disarranged, hands uncovered and frostbitten, and a wild look in his eyes. Asked what was the matter, he replied with a slow speech that he didn't know, but thought he must have fainted. We got him on his feet, but after two or three steps he sank down again. He showed every sign of complete collapse. Wilson, Bowers and I went back for the sledge, whilst Oates remained with him.

When we returned he was practically unconscious, and when we got him into the tent quite comatose.

He died quietly at 12:30 AM.

On discussing the symptoms we think he began to get weaker just before we reached the Pole, and that his downward path was accelerated first by the shock of his frostbitten fingers, and later by falls during rough traveling on the glacier, further by the loss of all confidence in himself. Wilson thinks it certain he must have injured his brain by a fall.

It is a terrible thing to lose a companion in this way, but calm reflection shows that there could not have been a better ending to the terrible anxieties of the past week. Discussion of the situation at lunch yesterday shows us what a desperate pass we were in with a sick man on our hands at such a distance from home.

At 1 AM we packed up and came down over the pressure ridges, finding our depot easily.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

16 February, 1912

A rather trying position. Evans has nearly broken down in brain, we think. He is absolutely changed from his normal self-reliant self. This morning and this afternoon he stopped the march on some trivial excuse.

We are on short rations with not very short food; spin out till tomorrow night. We cannot be more than 10 or 12 miles from the depot, but the weather is all against us. After lunch we were enveloped in a snow sheet, land just looming.

Memory should hold the events of a very troublesome march with more troubles ahead. Perhaps all will be well if we can get to our depot tomorrow fairly early, but it is anxious work with a sick man.

But it's no use meeting troubles half way, and our sleep is all too short to write more.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

15 February, 1912

Again we are running short of provision. We don't know our distance from the depot, but imagine about 20 miles.

Heavy march -- did 13 3/4 miles. We are pulling for food and not very strong evidently. In the afternoon it was overcast; land blotted out for a considerable interval.

We have reduced food, also sleep; feeling rather done. Trust 1 1/2 days or 2 at most will see us at the depot.

If only I'd placed them closer together. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

14 February, 1912

A fine day with wind on and off down the glacier, and we have done a fairly good march. We started a little late and pulled on down the moraine. At first I thought of going right, but soon, luckily, changed my mind and decided to follow the curving lines of the moraines. This course has brought us well out onto the glacier. Started on crampons; one hour after, hoisted sail; the combined efforts produced only slow speed, partly due to the sandy snowdrifts similar to those on the summit, partly to our torn sledge runners. At lunch these were scraped and sand-papered. We only did 6 1/2 miles today.

There is no getting away from the fact that we are not going strong. Probably none of us: Wilson's leg still troubles him and he doesn't like to trust himself on ski; but the worst case is Evans, who is giving us serious anxiety. This morning he suddenly disclosed a huge blister on his foot. It delayed us on the march, when he had to have his crampon readjusted. Sometimes I fear he is going from bad to worse, but I trust he will pick up again when we come to steady work on ski like this afternoon.

He is hungry and so is Wilson. We can't risk opening out our food again, and as cook at present I am serving something under full allowance. We are inclined to get slack and slow with our camping arrangements, and small delays increase. I have talked of the matter tonight and hope for improvement. We cannot do distance without the ponies.

The next depot is some 30 miles away and nearly 3 days' food in hand.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

13 February, 1912

We are camped beside the Cloudmaker. Temperature minus 10.

Last night we all slept well in spite of our grave anxieties. For my part these were increased by my visits outside the tent, when I saw the sky gradually closing over and snow beginning to fall. By our ordinary time for getting up it was dense all around us. We could see nothing, and we could only remain in our sleeping bags. At 8:30 I dimly made out the land of the Cloudmaker. At 9 we got up, deciding to have tea, and with one biscuit, no pemmican, so as to leave our scanty meal for eventualities.

We started marching, and at first had to wind our way through an awful turmoil of broken ice, but in about an hour we hot an old moraine track, brown with dirt. Here the surface was much smoother and improved rapidly.  The fog still hung all over and we went on for an hour, checking our bearings. Then the whole place got smoother and we turned outward a little. Evans raised our hopes with a shout of a depot ahead, but it proved to be a shadow on the ice.

Then Wilson saw the actual depot flag. It was an immense relief, and we were soon in possession of our 3 1/2 days' food. The relief to all is inexpressible; needless to say, we camped and had a good meal.

Marching in the afternoon I kept to the left, and closed the mountain till we fell on the stone moraines. Here Wilson detached himself and made a collection, whilst we pulled the sledge on. We camped late, abreast of the lower end of the mountain, and had nearly our usual satisfying supper.

Yesterday was the worst experience of the trip and gave a horrid feeling of insecurity. Now we are right up, we must march. In the future food must be worked so that we do not run so short if the weather fails us. We mustn't get into a hole like this again.

Greatly relieved to find that both the other parties got through safely. It promises to be a fine day tomorrow. The valley is gradually clearing. Bowers has had a bad attack of snow blindness, and Wilson another almost as bad. Evans has no power to assist with camping work.

Wish I didn't have to keep getting up to relieve myself so often in the night.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

12 February, 1912

In a very critical situation.

All went well in the forenoon, and we did a good long march over a fair surface. Two hours before lunch we were cheered by the sight of our night camp of Dec 18th, the day after we made our depot—this showed we were on the right track.

In the afternoon, refreshed by tea, we went forward, confident in covering the remaining distance, but by a fatal chance we kept too far to the left, and then we struck uphill and, tired and despondent, arrived in a horrid maze of crevasses and fissures. Divided councils caused our course to be erratic after this, and finally 1t 9P PM we landed in the worst place of all.

After discussion we decided to camp, and here we are, after a very short supper and one meal only remaining in the food bag; the depot doubtful in locality. We must get there tomorrow. Meanwhile we are cheerful with an effort. It's a tight place, but luckily we've been well fed up to the present. Pray God we have fine weather tomorrow.

Friday, February 11, 2011

11 February, 1912

The worst day we have had during the trip and greatly owing to our own fault.

We started on a wretched surface with light SW wind, sail set, and pulling on ski—horrible light, which made everything look fantastic. As we went on light got worse, and suddenly we found ourselves in pressure. Then came the fatal decision to steer east. We went on for 6 hours, hoping to do a good distance, which in fact I suppose we did, but for the last hour or two we pressed on into a regular trap. Getting on to a good surface we did not reduce our lunch meal, and thought all was going well, but half an hour after lunch we got into the worst ice mess I have ever been in. For three hours we plunged on on ski, first thinking we were too much to the right, then too much to the left; meanwhile the disturbance got worse and my spirits received a very rude shock. There were times when it seemed almost impossible to find a way out of the awful turmoil in which we found ourselves.

At length, arguing that there must be a way on our left, we plunged in that direction. It got worse, harder, more icy and crevassed. We could not manage our ski and pulled on foot, falling into crevasses every minute—most luckily no bad accident. At length we saw a smoother slope towards the land, pushed for it, but knew it was a woefully long way form us. The turmoil changed in character, irregular crevassed surface giving way to huge chasms, closely packed and most difficult to cross. It was very heavy work, but we had grown desperate.

We won through at 10 PM, and I write after 12 hours on the march. I think we are on or about the right track now, but we are still a good number of miles from the depot, so we reduced rations tonight. We had three pemmican meals left and decided to make them into four. Tomorrow's lunch must serve for two if we do not make big progress.

Of course, we pick up rations for four, not five, which is what we left at the depots before I decided to take five men to the Pole. Best not mention that.

It was a test of our endurance on the march and our fitness with small supper. We have come through well. A good wind has come down the glacier which is clearing the sky and surface. Pray God the wind holds tomorrow. Short sleep tonight and off first thing, I hope.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

10 February, 1912

Got off to a good march in spite of keeping too far east and getting in rough, cracked ice. Had a splendid night's sleep, showing great change in all faces, so didn't get away till 10 AM. Lunched just before 3. After lunch the land began to be obscured. We held a course for 2 1/2 hours with difficulty, the the sun disappeared, and snow drove in our faces with northerly wind—very warm and impossible to steer, so camped. After supper, still very thick all around, but sun showing and less snow falling. The fallen snow crystals are quite feathery like thistledown.

We have two days' food left, and though our position is uncertain, we are certainly within two outwards marches from the middle Glacier Depot. However, if the weather doesn't clear by tomorrow, we much either march blindly on or reduce food. It is very trying.

Another night to make up for arrears of sleep.

The ice crystals that first fell this afternoon were very large. Now the sky is clearer overhead, the temperature has fallen slightly, and the crystals are minute.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

9 February, 1912

Height 5,210 feet. Temperature +12

Did about 13 miles. Kept along the edge of the moraine to the end of Mt. Buckley. Stopped and geologized. Wilson got great find of vegetable impression in piece of limestone. Too tired to write geological notes.

We all felt very slack this morning, partly rise of temperature, partly reaction, no doubt. We evidently got amongst bad ice pressure and had to come down over an ice-fall. The crevasses were much firmer than expected and we got down with some difficulty. Found our night camp of Dec. 20th and lunched an hour after.

Did pretty well in the afternoon. The sledgemeter is unshipped, so cannot tell distance traversed. Very warm on the march and we are all pretty tired. Tonight it is wonderfully calm and warm, though it has been overcast all afternoon. It is remarkable to be able to stand outside the tent and sun oneself. Our food satisfies now, but we much march to keep in the full ration, and we want rest, yet we shall pull through all right, Deo volente.

We are by no means worn out.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

8 February, 1912

Started from the depot rather late owing to weighing biscuit, etc., and rearranging matters. Had a beastly morning. Wind very strong and cold.

Steered in for Mt. Darwin to visit rock. Sent Bowers on, on ski, as Wilson can't wear his at present. He obtained several specimens, all of much the same type, a close-grained granite rock which weathers well. Hence the pink limestone. After he rejoined we skidded downhill pretty fast, leaders on ski, Oates and Wilson on foot alongside the sledge—Evans detached.

We lunched at 2 well down towards Mt. Buckley, the wind half a gale and everybody very cold and cheerless. However, better things were to follow. We steered for the moraine under Mt. Buckley which was obviously so interesting that when we had advanced some miles and got out of the wind, I decided to camp and spend the rest of the day geologizing. It has been extremely interesting. Wilson has picked up several plant impressions, the last a piece of coal with beautifully traced leaves in layers. In one place we saw the cast of small waves on the sand. Tonight Bill has got a specimen of limestone with archeo-cyanthus—the trouble is one cannot imagine where the stone comes from; it is evidently rare, as few specimens occur in the moraine.  There is a good deal of pure white quartz.

Altogether we have had a most interesting afternoon, and the relief of being out of the wind and in a warmer temperature is inexpressible. I hope and trust we shall buck up again now that the conditions are more favorable. We have been in the shadow all afternoon, but the sun has just reached us, a little obscured by night haze.

A lot could be written on the delight of setting foot on rock after 14 weeks of snow and ice and nearly 7 out of sight of aught else. It's like going ashore after a sea voyage. We deserve a little good bright weather after all our trials, and hope to get a chance to dry our sleeping bags and generally make our gear more comfortable.

Monday, February 7, 2011

7 February, 1912

Mount Darwin (Upper Glacier) Height 7100 feet.

A wretched day with satisfactory ending. First panic: certainty that the biscuit box was short. Great doubt as to how this has come about, as we certainly haven't over-issued allowances. Bowers is dreadfully disturbed about it. The shortage is a full day's allowance.

We started our march at 8:30, and traveled down slopes and over terraces covered with hard sastrugi—very tiresome work—and the land didn't seem to come any nearer. At lunch the wind increased, and what with hot tea and good food, we started the afternoon in a better frame of mind, as it soon became obvious we were nearing our mark. Soon after 6:30 we saw our depot easily and camped next to it at 7:30.

Found note from Evans to say the second return party passed through safely on January 14.

The temperature is higher but there is a cold wind tonight.

Well, we have come through our 7 weeks' ice camp journey and most of us are fit, but I think another week might have had a very bad effect on Petty Officer Evans, who is going steadily downhill.

It is satisfactory to recall that these facts give absolute proof of both expeditions having reached the Pole and placed the question of priority beyond discussion. Unlike the North Pole fiasco.

6 February, 1912

Temperature: -15.

We've had a horrid day and not covered good mileage. On turning out found sky overcast; a beastly position amidst crevasses. Luckily it cleared just before we started. We went straight for Mt. Darwin, but in half an hour found ourselves amongst huge open chasms, unbridged, but not very deep, I think. We turned to the north between two, but to our chagrin they converged into chaotic disturbance. We had to retrace our steps for a mile or so, then struck to the west. We put up sail, and Evans' nose suffered, Wilson very cold, everything horrid.

Towards the end of the afternoon march we realized the certainty of maintaining a more or less straight course to the depot, and estimate distance is 10 to 15 miles.

Food is low and weather uncertain, so that many hours of the day were anxious; but this evening, though we are not as far advanced as I expected, the outlook is much more promising.

Evans is the chief anxiety now; his cuts and wounds suppurate, his nose looks very bad, and altogether he shows considerable signs of being played out. Things may mend for him on the glacier, and his wounds get some respite under warmer conditions.

I am indeed glad to think we shall so soon have done with plateau conditions. It took us 27 days to reach the Pole and 21 days back—in all 48 days—nearly 7 weeks in low temperatures with almost incessant wind.

I wonder How long Amundsen was up here?

5 February, 1912

Temperature -17.

A good forenoon, few crevasses; we covered 10.2 miles. In the afternoon we soon got into difficulties. We saw the land very clearly, but the difficulty is to get at it. An hour after starting we came on huge pressures and great street crevasses partly open. We had to steer more and more to the west, so that our course was very erratic. Late in the march we turned more to the north and again encountered open crevasses across our track. It is very difficult maneuvering amongst these and I should not like to do it without ski.

We are camped in a very disturbed region, but the wind has fallen very light here, and our camp is comfortable for the first time for many weeks. We may be anything from 25 to 30 miles from our depot, but I wish to goodness we could see a way through the disturbances ahead.

Our faces are much cut up by all the wind we have had, mine least of all; the others tell me they feel their noses more going with than against wind. Evans' nose is almost as bad as his fingers. He is a good deal crocked up.