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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

4 February, 1912

Temperature: -23

Pulled on foot in the morning over good hard surface and covered 9.7 miles. Just before lunch unexpectedly fell into crevasses, Evans and I together—a second fall for Evans, and I camped.

We have come down some hundreds of feet on a good hard surface. Half way in the march the land showed up splendidly, and I decided to make straight for Mt. Darwin, which we are rounding. Every sign points to getting away off this plateau. The temperature is 20 degrees lower than when we were here before; the party is not improving in condition, especially Evans, who is becoming rather dull and incapable.

Thank the Lord we have good food at each meal, but we get hungrier in spite of it.

Bowers is splendid, full of energy and bustle all the time.

I hope we are not going to have trouble with ice falls.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

3rd February, 1912

Temperature: -20.

Started pretty well on foot; came to steep slope with crevasses (few). I went on ski to avoid another fall, and we took the slope gently with our sail, constantly losing the track, but picked up a much weathered cairn on our right. Vexatious delays, searching for tracks, etc, reduced morning march to 8.1 miles. Afternoon came along a little better, but again lost tracks on hard slope.

Tonight we are near camp of December 26, but cannot see cairn. Have decided it is a waste of time looking for tracks and cairn, and shall push on due north as fast as we can.

The surface is greatly changed since we passed outward, in most places polished smooth, but with heaps of new toothed sastrugi which are disagreeable obstacles.

Evans' fingers are going on as well as can be expected, but it will be long before he is able to help properly with the work. Wilson's leg is much better, and my shoulder also, though it gives bad twinges.

The extra food is doing us all good, but we ought to have more sleep. Very few more days on the plateau  hope.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2nd February, 1912

We started well on a strong southerly wind. Soon got to a steep grade, when the sledge overran and upset us one after another. We got off our ski, and pulling on foot reeled off 9 miles by lunch at 1:30. Started in the afternoon going very strong. We came across a steep slope and all went well till, in trying to keep the track at the same time as my feet, on a very slippery surface, I had a nasty fall on my shoulder. It is horribly sore tonight and another sick person added to our tent—three out of five injured, and the most troublesome surfaces to come.

We shall be lucky if we get through without serious injury.

Wilson's leg is better, but might easily get bad again, and Evans' fingers are beyond the pale.

We managed to get in 17 miles today. The extra food is certainly helping us, but we are getting pretty hungry. The weather is already a trifle warmer and the altitude lower, and only 80 miles or so to Mount Darwin. It is time we were off the summit—Pray God another four days will see us pretty well clear of it. Our bags are getting very wet and we ought to have more sleep.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

1st February, 1912

Heavy collar work most of the day. Wind light. Did 8 miles. Started well in the afternoon and came down a steep slope in quick time; then the surface turned real bad—sandy drifts—very heavy pulling.

Working past 8PM we just fetched a lunch cairn of Dec 29, when we were only a week out from the depot. It ought to be easy to get in with a margin, having 8 days' food in hand (full feeding). We have opened out on the increase in food and it makes a lot of difference.

Wilson's leg much better. Evans' fingers now very bad, two nails coming off, blisters burst.