Monday, January 31, 2011

31 January, 1912

Temperature: -20.

The day opened up fine with a fair breeze; we marched on the depot, picked it up, and lunched an hour later. In the afternoon the surface became fearfully bad, and the wind dropped. Ill luck that this should happen just when we have only four men to pull. Wilson rested his leg as much as possible by walking quietly beside the sledge; the result has been good, and tonight there is much less inflammation. I hope he will be all right again soon, but it is trying to have an injured limb in the party.

This afternoon we picked up Bowers' ski—the last thing we have to find on the summit, thank Heaven! Now we have only to go north and so shall welcome strong winds.

Evans does grimace so.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

30 January, 1912

Temperature -25.

Thank the Lord, another fine march—19 miles. We have passed the last cairn before the depot, the track is clear ahead, the weather fair, the wind helpful, the gradient down—with any luck we should pick up our depot in the middle of the morning march.

This is the bright side; the reverse of the medal is serious. Wilson has strained a tendon in his leg; it has given pain all day and is swollen tonight. Of course, he is full of luck over it, but I don't like the idea of an accident here. To add to the trouble Evans has dislodged two fingernails tonight; his hands are really bad, and to my surprise he shows signs of losing heart over it. He hasn't been cheerful since the accident. We can get along with bad fingers, but it will be a mighty serious thing if Wilson's leg doesn't improve.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

29 January, 1912

Temperature: - 25. Height: 10,000 feet.

Excellent march of 19 1/2 miles. Wild helped greatly, considerable drift, tracks for the most part, very plain. Some time before lunch we picked up the return track of the returning party, so that there are now three distinct sledge impressions. We are only 24 miles from our depot—an easy day and a half. Given a fine day tomorrow we ought to get it without difficulty. If the weather holds we ought to do the rest of the inland ice journey in little over a week.

The surface very much altered since we passed out. The loose snow has been swept into heaps, hard and wind-tossed. The rest has a glazed appearance, the loose drifting snow no doubt acting on it, polishing it like a sand blast. The sledge with our good wind behind runs splendidly on it; it is all soft and sandy beneath the glaze.

We are certainly getting hungrier every day. The day after tomorrow we should be able to increase allowances. It is monotonous work, but, thank God, the miles are coming fast at last. We ought not to be delayed much now with the down-grade in front of us.

Bowers doesn't seem to be writing in his journal tonight. He usually does like clockwork. I wonder why he has stopped? Evans looks miserable and keeps grimacing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

28 January, 1912

Little wind and heavy going in forenoon. It is very difficult to day if we are going up hill or down hill. We are 43 miles from the depot, with six day's food in hand. We are camped opposite our lunch cairn of the 4th, only half a day's march from the point at which the last supporting party left us.

I wonder how they are getting on.

Three articles were dropped on our outward march—Oates' pipe, Bowers' fur mitts, and Evans' night boots. We picked up the boots and mitts on the track, and tonight found the pipe lying placidly in sight on the snow. The sledge tracks were very easy to follow today; they are becoming more and more raised, giving a good line shadow often visible half a mile ahead. If this goes on and the weather holds we shall get our depot without trouble. I shall indeed be glad to get it on the sledge. We are getting more hungry, there is no doubt. The lunch meal is beginning to seem inadequate. We are pretty thin, especially Evans, but none of us are feeling worked out. I doubt if we could drag heavy loads, but we can keep going well with our light one.

We talk of food a good deal more, and shall be glad to open out on it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

27 January, 1912

Called the hands half an hour late, but we got away in good time. The forenoon march was over the belt of storm-tossed sastrugi; it looked like a rough sea. Wilson and I pulled in front of ski, the remainder on foot. It was very tricky work following the track, which pretty constantly disappeared, and in fact only showed itself by faint signs anywhere -- a foot or two of raised sledge track, a dozen yards of the trail of the sledgemeter wheel, or a spatter of hard snow-flicks where feet had trodden.Sometimes none of these were distinct, but one got an impression of lines which guided. The trouble was that on the outward track one had to shape course constantly to avoid the heaviest mounds, and consequently there were many zig-zags. We lost a good deal over a mile by these halts, in which we unharnessed and went on the search for signs. However, by hook or crook, we managed to stick on the old track.

Came on the cairn quite suddenly, marched past it, and camped for lunch at 7 miles. In the afternoon the sastrugi diminished in size and now we are on fairly level ground to day, the obstruction practically at an end, and, to our joy, the tracks showing up much plainer again.

For the last two hours we had no difficulty at all in following them. There has been a nice helpful southerly breeze all day, a clear sky and comparatively warm temperature. The air is dry again, sop that tents and equipment are gradually losing their icy condition imposed by the blizzard conditions of last week.

Our sleeping bags are slowly but surely getting wetter and I'm afraid it will take a lot of this weather to put them right. However, we all sleep well enough in them, the hours allowed being now on the short side.

We are slowly getting more hungry, and it would be an advantage to have a little more food, especially for lunch. If we get to the next depot in a few marches (it is now less than 60 miles and we have a full week's food) we ought to be able to open out a little, but we can't look for a real feed till we get to the pony food depot.

A long way to go, and, by Jove, this is tremendous labor.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

26 January, 1912

Started late, for no reason, as I called the hands rather early. We must have fewer delays. There was a good stiff breeze and plenty of drift, but the tracks held. To our old Blizzard Camp of the 7th we got on well, 7 miles. But beyond the camp we found the tracks completely wiped out.  We searched for some time, then marched on a short way and lunched, the weather gradually clearing though the wind holding. Knowing there were two cairns at 4 miles intervals, we had little anxiety till we picked up the first far on our right, then steering right by a stroke of fortune. and Bowers' sharp eyes caught a glimpse of the second on the far left.

I hope to goodness we can follow tracks tomorrow.

Am dreaming of steak and kidney pie and a whiskey.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

25 January, 1912

Thank God we found our Half Degree Depot.

After lying in our bags yesterday afternoon and all night, we debated breakfast; decided to have it later and go without lunch. At the time the gale seemed as bad as ever, but during breakfast the sun showed and there was light enough to see the old track. It was a long and terribly cold job digging out our sledge and breaking camp, but we got through and on the march without sail, all pulling. This was about 11, and at about 2:30, to our joy, we saw the red depot flag. We had lunch and left with 9 1/2 days' provisions, still following the track—marched till 8 and covered 5 miles, over 12 in the day.

Only 89 miles to the next depot, but it's time we cleared off this plateau.

We are not without ailments: Oates suffers from a very cold foot; Evans' fingers and nose are in a bad state, and tonight Wilson is suffering tortures from his eyes. Bowers and I are the only members of the party without troubles just at present.

The weather still looks unsettled, and I fear a succession of blizzards at this time of year; the wind is strong from the south, and this afternoon has been very helpful with the full sail. Needless to say I shall sleep much better with our provision bag full again. The only real anxiety now is finding the Three Degree Depot. The tracks seem as good as ever so far; they reappear quite clearly raised above the surface. If the light is good there is not the least difficulty in following. Blizzards are our bugbear, not only stopping our marches, but the cold damp air takes it out of us.

Bowers has been on ski today whilst Wilson walked by the sledge or pulled ahead of it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

24 January, 1912

Things beginning to look a little serious.

A strong wind at the start has developed into a full blizzard at lunch, and we have had to get into our sleeping bags.

It was a bad march this morning, but we covered 7 miles. At first Evans, and then Wilson went ahead to scout for tracks. Bowers guided the sledge alone for the first hour, then both he and Oates remained alongside it; they had a fearful time trying to make the pace between the soft patches. At 12:30 the sun coming ahead made it impossible to see the tracks further, and we had to stop. By this time the gale was at its height and we had the dickens of a time getting up the tent, cold fingers all round.

We are only 7 miles from our depot, but I made sure we should be there tonight. This is the second full gale since we left the Pole. I don't like the look of it. Is the weather breaking up? If so, God help us, with the tremendous summit journey and scant food. Wilson and Bowers are my standby. I don't like the easy way in which Oates and Evans get frostbitten.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

23 January, 1912

Lowest minimum temperature last night: -30.

Little wind and heavy marching at start. Then wind increased and we did 8.7 miles by lunch, when it was practically blowing a blizzard. The old tracks show so remarkably well that we can follow them without much difficulty—a great piece of luck.

In the afternoon we had to reorganize. Could carry a whole sail. Bowers hung onto the sledge, Evans and Oates had to lengthen out. We came along at a great rate and should have got within an easy march of our depot had not Wilson suddenly discovered that Evans' nose was frostbitten—it was white and hard. We thought it best to camp at 6:45 pm. Got the tent up with some difficulty, and now pretty cozy after some hoosh.

There is no doubt Evans is a good deal run down—his fingers are badly blistered and his nose is rather seriously congested with frequent frostbites. He is very much annoyed with himself, which is not a good sign. I think Wilson, Bowers and I are as fit as possible under the circumstances. Oates gets cold feet.  One way and another, I shall be glad to get off the summit!

We are only about 13 miles from our Degree and a Half depot and should get there tomorrow. The weather seems to be breaking up. Pray God we have something of a track to follow to the Three Degree Depot—once we pick that up we ought to be right.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

22 January, 1912

Temp -21.

I think about the most tiring march we have had; solid pulling the whole way, in spite of the light sledge and some little helping wind at first. Then in the last part of the afternoon the sun came out, and almost immediately we had the whole surface covered in soft snow.

We got away sharp at 8 and marched a solid 9 hours, and thus we  have covered 14.5 miles, but, by Jove! it has been a grind.  We are just about on the 89th parallel.

We are within 2 1/2 miles of the 64th camp cairn, 30 miles form our depot, and with 5 days' food in hand. Ski boots are beginning to show signs of wear; I trust we shall have no giving out of ski or boots, since there are yet so many miles to go.

This is no fun.

Friday, January 21, 2011

21 January, 1912

Awoke to a stiff blizzard, air very thick with snow and sun very dim. We decided not to march owing to likelihood of losing track; expected at least a day of lay up, but whilst at lunch there was a  sudden clearance and wind dropped to light breeze. We got ready to march, but gear was so iced up we did not get away till 3:45. Marched till 7:40 -- a terribly weary four-hour drag; even with helping wind we only did 5 1/2 miles. The surface bad, horribly bad on new sastrugi, and decidedly rising again in elevation.

We are going to gave a pretty hard time this next 100 miles I expect. If it was difficult to drag downhill over this belt, it will probably be a good deal more difficult to drag up. Luckily the cracks are fairly distinct, though we only see our cairns when less than  a mile away; 45 miles to the next depot and 6 day's food in hand -- then we pick up 7 days' food and 90 miles to the Three Degree Depot. Once there we ought to be safe, but we ought to  have a day or two in hand on arrival and may have difficulty with following the tracks.

20 January, 1912

Lunch Camp.

We have come along very well this morning, although the surface was terrible bad. This has brought us to our Southern Depot, so we pick up 4 days' food. We carry on 7 days from tonight with 55 miles to go to the Half Degree Depot made on Jan. 10th.

Night Camp.

It was blowing quite hard and drifting when we started our afternoon march. At first with full sail we went along at a great rate; then we got on to an extraordinary surface, the drifting snow lying in heaps; it clung to the ski, which could only be pushed forward with an effort. The pulling was really awful, but we went steadily on and camped a short way beyond our cairn of the 14th. I'm afraid we are in for a bad pull again tomorrow, luckily, the wind holds.

I shall be very glad when Bowers gets his ski; I'm afraid he must find these long marches very trying with short legs, but he is an undefeated little sportsman.

I think Oates is feeling the cold and fatigue more than most of us.

It is blowing pretty hard tonight, but with a good march we have earned one good hoosh and are comfortable in the tent. It is everything now to keep up a good marching pace; I trust we shall be able to do so and catch the ship.

Total: 18 1/2 miles.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

19 January, 1912

Early in the march we picked up a Norwegian cairn and our outward tracks. We followed these to the ominous black flag which had first apprised us of our predecessors' success. We have picked this flag up, using the staff for our sail, and are now camped for lunch about 1 1/2 miles further back on our tracks. So that is the last of the Norwegians for the present.

Came along well this afternoon for three hours, then a rather dreary finish for the last 1 1/2. Weather very curious, snow clouds, looking very dense and spoiling the light, pass overhead from the South dropping very minute crystals. The fine crystals absolutely spoil the surface, we had heavy dragging during the last hour in spite of the light load and full sail. Our old tracks are drifted up, deep in places, and toothed sastrugi have formed over them. It looks as though this sandy snow was drifted about like sand from place to place.

How to account for the present state of our three day old tracks and the month old ones of the Norwegians?

It is warmer and pleasanter marching with the wind, but I'm not sure we don't feel the cold more when we stop and camp than we did on the outward march. We pick up our cairns easily, and ought to do so right through I think; but, of course, one will be a bit anxious till the Three Degree Depot is reached. I'm afraid the return journey is going to be dreadfully tiring and monotonous.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

18 January, 1912

Decided we were 3.5 miles away from the Pole -- one mile beyond it and 3 to the right. More or less in this direction, Bowers saw a cairn or tent.

We have just arrived at this tent. It it we found a record of five Norwegians having been here:

Roald Amundsen
Olav Olavson Bjaaland
Hilmer Hanssen
Sverre H. Hassel
Oscar Wisting

16 December, 1911

Their tent is fine — a small compact affair supported by a single bamboo. They have called it "Polheim" meaning Pole Home. A note from Amundsen, which I keep, asks me to forward a letter to King Haakon.

Look: it has a flag with the name of their ship, "Fram" on it.

The following articles have been left in the tent: 3 half bags of reindeer containing a miscellaneous assortment of mitts and sleeping socks, very various in description, a sextant, a Norwegian artificial horizon and a hypsometer without boiling point thermometers, a sextant and hypsometer of English make.

I left a note to say I had visited the tent with companions. Bowers is photographing and Wilson is sketching.

We built out Pole camp and put up our poor slighted Union Jack, and photographed ourselves—mighty cold work all of it.

From left: Oates, Bowers(seated) , Me, Wilson (seated) , Evans. 

Less than a 1/2 mile south we saw stuck up an old underrunner of a sledge. This we commandeered as a yard for a floorcloth sail. I imagine it was intended to mark the exact spot of the Pole as near as the Norwegians could fix it. A note attached talked of the tent as being 2 miles from the Pole. Wilson keeps the note.

There is no doubt that  our predecessors have made thoroughly sure of their mark and fully carried out their programme. I think the Pole is about 9500 feet in height; this is remarkable, considering that in Latitude 88 degrees we were about 10,500 feet.

We carried the Union Jack about 3/4 of a mile north with us and left it on a piece of stick as near as we could fix it. I fancy the Norwegians arrived at the Pole on the 15th December, and left on the 17th, ahead of a date quoted by me in London as ideal, viz. Dec. 22. It looks as though the Norwegian party expected colder weather on the summit than they got; it could scarcely be otherwise from Shackleton;s account. Well, we have turned out back now on the goal of our ambition and must face 800 miles of solid dragging—and goodbye to most of the day-dreams!

Monday, January 17, 2011

17 January, 1912

Camp 69.

The Pole.

Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected. We have had a horrible day—add to our disappointment a head wind 4 to 5, with a temperature of -22, and companions laboring on with cold feet and hands.

We started at 7:30, none of us having slept much after the shock of our discovery. We followed the Norwegian sledge tracks for some way; as far as we make out there are only two men. (Really?)

At 12:30 Evans had such cold hands we camped for lunch—an excellent weekend one. Tonight little Bowers is laying himself out to get sights in terrible difficult circumstances; the wind is blowing hard, and there is that curious damp, cold feeling in the air which chills one to the bone in no time.

Great God! this is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have labored to it without the reward of priority. Well, it is something to have got here, and the wind may be our friend tomorrow. We have had a fat Polar hoosh in spite of our chagrin, and feel comfortable inside—added a small stick of chocolate and the queer taste of a cigarette brought by Wilson.

Now for the run home and a desperate struggle. I wonder if we can do it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

16 January, 1912

Camp 68

The worst has happened, or nearly the worst.

We marched well in the morning and covered 7 1/2 miles. Noon showed us Latitude 89 degrees, 42 minutes south, and we started off in high spirits in the afternoon, feeling that tomorrow would see us at our destination. About the second hour of the march Bowers' sharp eyes detected what he thought was a cairn; he was uneasy about it, but argued that it must be sastrugus. Half an hour later he detected a black speck ahead. Soon we knew that this could not be a natural snow feature. We marched on, found that it was a black flag tied to a sledge bearer; near by the remains of a camp; sledge tracks and ski tracks going and coming and the clear trace of dog's paws—many dogs.

This told us the whole story.

The Norwegians have forestalled us and are first at the Pole.

It is a terrible disappointment and I am very sorry for my loyal companions. Many thoughts come and much discussion have we had. Tomorrow we must march on to the Pole and then hasten home with all the speed we can compass. All the day dreams must go; it will be a wearisome return. We are descending in altitude—certainly also the Norwegians found an easy way up.

I can't think of a single thing to say.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

15 January, 1912

Camp 67

During the night the air cleared entirely and the sun shone in a perfectly clear sky. We made our last depot at lunch. Only four days' food and a sundry or two. The load is now very light. The light wind dropped and the temperature fell to -27. I guessed this meant a hard pull, and guessed right. The surface was terrible.

It is wonderful to think that two long marches would land us at the Pole. It ought to be a certain thing now, and the only appalling possibility is the sight of the Norwegian flag forestalling ours. Little Bowers continues his indefatigable efforts to get good sights, and it is wonderful how he works them up in his sleeping bag in our congested tent.

Only 27 miles from the Pole. We ought to do it now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

14 January, 1912

Camp 66

Sun showing mistily through overcast sky all day. Bright southerly wind with very low drift. In consequence the surface was a little better, and we came along very steadily, 6.3 miles in the morning and 5.5 in the afternoon, the the steering was awfully difficult and trying; very often I could see nothing, and Bowers on my shoulders directed me. Under such circumstances it is an immense help to be pulling on ski. Tonight it is looking very thick. The sun can barely be distinguished, the temperature has risen, and there are some serious indications of a blizzard. Meanwhile, less than 40 miles to the Pole.

Again we noticed the cold; at lunch today all our feet were cold, but this was mainly due to the bald state of our finnesko. I put some grease under the base skin and found it made all the difference.

Oates seems to be feeling the cold and fatigue more than the rest of us, but we are all very fit. It is a critical time, but we ought to pull through. Oh! for fine days! So close it seems and only the weather to baulk us.

Keep wondering where Amundsen is. I keep expecting to look up and see him. How nice it would be to be done with this and back at the cozy hut!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

13 January, 1912

Camp 65
Height 10,270 Temperature: -22.5  Latitude: 89 degrees 9 minutes south.

Just over 11 miles for the day. Another day with double figures and a bit over. The chance holds.

It looks as though we are descending slightly. It is wearisome work this tugging and straining to advance a light sledge. Still, we get along. I did manage to get my thoughts off the work for a time today, which is very restful. We should be in a poor way without our ski, though Bowers manages to struggle through the soft snow without tiring his short legs.

Only 51 miles from the Pole tonight. If we don't get to it we shall be damned close.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12 January, 1912

Camp 64

Another heavy march with snow getting softer all the time. Sun very bright, calm at start; first two hours terribly slow. Only 10.7 miles.

In the afternoon we seemed to be going better; clouds spread over from the west with light chill wind and for a few brief minutes we tasted the delight of having the sledge following free. Alas! in a few minutes it was worse than ever, in spite of the sun's eclipse. However the short experience was salutary. I had got to fear that we were weakening badly in our pulling; those few minutes showed me that we only want a good surface to get along as merrily as of old. With the surface as it is, one gets horribly sick of the monotony and can imagine oneself getting played out, were it not that at the lunch and night camps one so quickly forgets all one's troubles and bucks up for a fresh effort. It is an effort to keep up the double figures, but if we can do so for another four marches we ought to get through. It is going to be a close thing.

At camping tonight everyone was chilled and we guessed a cold snap, but to our surprise the actual temperature was higher than last night, when we could dawdle in the sun. It is most unaccountable why we should suddenly feel the cold in this manner; partly the exhaustion of the march, but partly some damp quality in the air, I think. Little Bowers is wonderful; in spite of my protest he would take sights after we had camped tonight, after marching in the soft snow all day where we have been comparatively restful on ski.

Only 63 miles to the Pole tonight. We ought to do the trick, but oh! for a better surface.

Of course, the fact that we feel the cold more keenly could be due to a lack of nutritious food for so long, but that would be too easy an answer. No: I will blame it on the damp, like a good Englishman.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11 January, 1912

Camp 63

The afternoon was agonizing. I never had such pulling; all the time the sledge rasps and creaks.  We have covered 11 miles, but at fearful cost to ourselves.

We are about 74 miles from the Pole -- can we keep this up for seven days? It takes it out us like anything. None of us ever had such hard work before. Snow crystals falling all the time. The sun so bright and warm tonight that it is almost impossible to imagine a minus temperature. The snow seems to get softer as we advance.

Our chance still holds good if we can put the work in, but it's a terribly trying time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

10 January, 1912

Camp 62

Terrible hard march in the morning; only covered 5.1 miles. Decided to leave depot at lunch camp. Built cairn and left one week's food together with sundry articles of clothing. We are down as close as we can go in the latter. We go forward with eighteen days' food. Yesterday I should have said certain to see us through, but now the surface is beyond words, and if it continues we shall have the greatest difficulty to keep our march long enough.The surface is quite covered with sandy snow, and when the sun shines it is terrible.

Only 85 miles to the Pole, but it is going to be a stiff pull both ways apparently; still we do make progress, which is something. Very difficult steering in uncertain light and with rapidly moving clouds. The clouds don't seem to come from anywhere, form and disperse without visible reason. The surface seems to be growing softer. The meteorological conditions seem to point to an area of variable light winds, and that plot will thicken as we advance.

Could murder a curry.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

9 January, 1912

Camp 61 - RECORD!
Lat. 88 degrees 25 minutes south. Height 10,270 feet. Temperature -4.

We are beyond Shackleton's furthest south! All is new ahead.

The marching is growing terribly monotonous, but one cannot grumble as long as the distance can be kept up. It can, I think, if we leave a depot, but a very annoying thing has happened. Bowers's watch has suddenly dropped 26 minutes; it may have stopped from being frozen outside his pocket, or he may have inadvertently touched the hands. Any way it makes one more chary of leaving stores on this great plain, especially as the blizzard tended to drift up our tracks. We could only just see the back track when we started, but the light was extremely poor.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

8 January, 1912

Our first summit blizzard.

Evans's hand was dressed this morning, and the rest ought to be good for it. I am not sure it will do us all good as we lie so very comfortably, warmly clothed in our comfortable bags, within our double-walled tent. However, we do not want more than a day's delay at most, both on account of lost time and food and the slow accumulation of ice. It has grown much thicker during the day, from time to time obscuring the sun for the first time. The temperature is low for a blizzard, but we are very comfortable in our double tent and the cold snow is not sticky and not easily carried into the tent, so that sleeping bags remain in good condition.

It is quite impossible to speak too highly of my companions. Each fulfills his office to the party; Wilson, first as doctor, ever on the lookout to alleviate the small pains and troubles incidental to the work; now as cook, quick, careful and dexterous, ever thinking of some fresh expedient to help the camp life; tough as steel on the traces, never wavering from start to finish.

Evans, a giant worker with a really remarkable headpiece. It is only now I realize how much has been due to him. Our ski shoes and crampons have been absolutely indispensable, and if the original ideas were not his, the details of manufacture and design and the good workmanship are his alone. He is responsible for every sledge, every sledge fitting, tents, sleeping bags, harness, and when one cannot recall a single expression of dissatisfaction with any one of these items, it shows what an invaluable asset he has been. Now, besides superintending the putting up of the tent, he thinks out and arranges the packing of the sledge; it is extraordinary how neatly and handily everything is stowed, and how much study has been given to preserving the suppleness and good running qualities of the machine. On the Barrier, before the ponies were killed, he was ever roaming around, correcting faults of stowage.

Little Bowers is a marvel—he is thoroughly enjoying himself. I leave all the provision arrangement in his hands, and at all times he knows exactly how we stand, or how each returning party should fare. It has been a complicated business to redistribute stores at various stages of reorganization, but not one single mistake has been made. In addition to the stores, he keeps the most thorough and conscientious meteorological records, and to this he now adds the duty of observer and photographer. Nothing comes amiss to him, and no work is too hard. It is a difficulty to get him into the tent; he seems quite oblivious to the cold, and he lies coiled in his bag writing and working out sights long after the others are asleep.

Of these three it is a matter for thought and congratulation that each is sufficiently suited for his own work, and would not be capable of doing that of the others as well as it is done. Each is invaluable. Oates had his invaluable period with the ponies; now he is a foot slogger and goes hard the whole time, does his share of camp work, and stands the hardship as well as any of us. I would not like to be without him either.

So our five people are perhaps as happily selected as it is possible to imagine.

Friday, January 7, 2011

7 January, 1912

Camp 60

The vicissitudes of this work are bewildering. Last night we decided to leave our ski on account of the sastrugi. This morning we marched out a mile in 40 minutes and the sastrugi gradually disappeared. I kept debating the ski question and at this point stopped, and after discussion we went back and fetched the ski; it cost us 1 1/2 hours nearly. Marching again, I found to my horror we could scarcely move the sledge on ski; the first hour was awful owing to the wretched coating of loose sandy snow. However, we persisted, and towards the latter end of our tiring march we began to make better progress, but the work is still awfully heavy.

I must stick to ski after this.

I am awfully glad we have hung on to the ski; hard as the marching is, it is far less tiring on ski. Bowers has a heavy time on foot, but nothing seems to tire him. Evans has a nasty cut on his hand from the sledge-making. I hope it won't give trouble.

Our food continues to amply satisfy. What luck to have hit on such an excellent ration. We really are an excellently found party.

Except for Bower's lack of ski, Oates's limp, and Evans's cut hand, of course. And my damned indecision. I mean indigestion.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

6 January, 1912

Camp 59

A fearfully hard pull again, and when we had marched about an hour we discovered that a sleeping bag had fallen off the sledge. W had to go back and carry it on. It cost us over an hour and disorganized our party. We have only covered 10 1/2 miles and it's been about the hardest pull we've had. We think of leaving our ski here, mainly because of the risk of breakage. Over the sastrugi it is all up and down hill, and the covering of ice crystals prevents the sledge from gliding even on the down-grade. The sastrugi, I fear, have come to stay, and we must be prepared for heavy marching, but in two days I hope to lighten loads with a depot. We are south of Shackleton's last camp, so I suppose, have made the most southerly camp.

Assuming, of course, that Amundsen isn't ahead of us.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

5 January, 1912

Camp 58
87 degrees 57 minutes South; 159 degrees 13. Minimum Temperature: -23.5.

A dreadfully trying day. Light wind from the NNW bringing detached cloud and constant fall of ice crystals. The surface, in consequence, as bad as could be after the first hour. This is the hardest we have yet done on the plateau. In the afternoon a good deal of confusing cross sastrugi, and tonight a very rough surface with evidences of hard southerly wind. Luckily the sledge shows no signs of capsizing yet.

We sigh for a breeze to sweep the hard snow, but tonight the outlook is not promising better things. However, we are very close to the 88th parallel, a little more than 120 miles from the Pole, only a march from Shackleton's final camp, and in a general way 'getting on.'

We go a little over a mile and a quarter an hour now it is a big strain as the shadows creep slowly around form our right through ahead to our left. What lots of things we think on these monotonous marches! What castles one builds now hopefully that the Pole is ours.

We feel the cold very little, the great comfort of our situation is the excellent drying effect of the sun. Our socks and finnesko are almost dry each morning. Cooking for five takes a seriously longer time than cooking for four; perhaps half an hour on the whole day.

It is an item I had not considered when reorganizing.

I wonder where Amundsen is. I haven't seen any sign of him anywhere. He must be behind us.

4 January, 1912

Camp 57

We were naturally late getting away this morning, the sledge having to be packed and arrangements completed for separation of parties. It is wonderful to see how neatly everything stows on a little sledge, thanks to PO Evans. (He's still favoring one hand._ I was anxious to see how we could pull it, and glad to find we went easy enough. Bowers on foot pulls between, but behind, Wilson and myself; he has to keep his own pace and luckily does not throw us out at all. Oates looks grumpy and limps a little.

The second party had followed us in case of accident, but as soon I was certain we could get along we stopped and said farewell. Teddy Evans is terribly disappointed but has taken it very well and behaved like a man.  Poor old Crean wept and even Lashly was affected. I was glad to find their sledge is a mere nothing to them, and thus, no doubt, they will make a quick journey back. (Assuming of course that none of them gets Scurvy like bloody Shackleton!)

In the afternoon the wind died away, and tonight it is flat calm; the sun so warm that in spite of the temperature we can stand about outside with the greatest comfort. It is amusing to stand thus and remember the constant horrors of our situation as they were painted for us; the sun is melting the snow on the ski, etc. The plateau is now very flat, but we are still ascending slowly.

I wonder what is in store for us.At present everything seems to be going with extraordinary smoothness, and one can scarcely believe that obstacles will not present themselves to make our task more difficult.

Perhaps the surface will be the element to trouble us.

Or maybe not.

3rd January, 1912

Camp 56
Height lunch: 10,110; Night: 10,180.

Last night I decided to reorganize, and this morning told off Teddy Evans, Lashly, and Crean to return. They are disappointed, but take it well. Bowers is to come into our tent, and we proceed as a five-man unit tomorrow. We have 5 1/2 units of food—practically over a month's allowance for five people—it ought to see us through.

We came along well on ski today, but the foot haulers were slow, and so we only got a trifle over 12 miles. Very anxious to see how we shall manage tomorrow; if we can march well with the full load we shall be practically safe, I take it.

The surface was very bad in patches today and the wind was strong.

Have sent back my last letters, and told Kathleen that we are in a very hopeful position, and that I think it's going to be alright. I told her we have a fine party and that arrangements are going well.

Going ahead with five instead of four will be alright, won't it? Everyone looked pretty startled when I announced that, but I have my reasons. And that's all I am going to say on the matter.

Poor Bowers, of course, has no ski, so he shall be slogging it on foot.

2nd January, 1912

Camp 55
Height about 9980.

The foot party went off early, before 8, and marched till 1. Again from 2:35 to 6:30. We started more than half an hour later on each march and caught the others easy. It's been a plod for the foot people and pretty easygoing for us, and we have covered 13 miles.

The sky is slightly overcast for the first time since we left the glacier'; the sun can be seen already through a veil of stratus, and blue sky around the horizon. I hope the clouds do not mean wind or a bad surface. The latter became poor towards the end of the afternoon. We have not risen much today and the plain seems to be flattening out. A skua gull visited us on the march this afternoon—it was evidently curious, kept alighting on the snow ahead. and fluttering a few yards as we approached. It seemed to have had little food—an extraordinary visitor considering our distance from the sea.

Have been doing a lot of thinking about which of us will be going on with me to the Pole. I know that for two years I have been planning on a group of four; indeed, all of our provisions and equipment are designed for that—but I'm just now thinking of taking five. That won't effect us much, will it?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1st January, 1912 New Year's Day

Camp 54

Roused hands at 7:30 and got away at 9:30. Evan's party going ahead on foot. We followed on ski. We stupidly had not seen to our ski shoes beforehand, and it took a good half-hour to get them right. Wilson especially had trouble. When we did get away, to our surprise the sledge pulled very easily, and we made fine progress, rapidly gaining on the foot-haulers.

We have scarcely exerted ourselves all day. We are very comfortable in our double tent. Stick of chocolate to celebrate the new year. The supporting party not in very high spirits, they have not managed matters well for themselves. Prospects seem to get brighter -- only 170 miles to go and plenty of food left.

31 December, 1911 New Year's Eve

Camp 53

The second party deposited its ski and some other weights equivalent to 100 lbs. I sent them off first; they marched, but not fast. We have been rising all day.

We had a good full brew of tea and then set to work stripping the sledges. That didn't take long, but the process of building up the 10-feet sledges now in operation in the other tent is a long job. Evans PO and Crean are tackling it, and it is a very remarkable piece of work. Certainly PO Evans is the most invaluable asset to our party. To build a sledge under these conditions is a fact for special record.

We will put a depot here and call it the 3 Degree Depot, since we are so close to the 87th parallel.

There is extraordinarily little mirage up here and the refraction is very small. Except for the four seamen we are all sitting in a double tent—the first time we have put up the inner lining to the tent; it seems to make us much snugger.


The job of rebuilding is taking longer than I expected but now it is almost done. The 10-feet sledges look very handy. We had an extra drink of tea and are now turned into our bags in the double tent (five of us) as warm as toast, and just enough light to write or work with.

Evans couldn't say what took them so long, and was acting very gingerly with his hand. Very curious.