December 28, 2011

Thursday, 28 December 1911


"When Scott and Amundsen Passed". [1]

Teddy Evans' team were "fagged out," Scott decided, "and I have told them plainly that they must wrestle with the trouble and get it right for themselves." [2] Evans' sledge was running badly, and Scott blamed Evans for strapping the loads too tightly, thus distorting the framework and runners.

"There is no possible reason why they should not get along as easily as we do," he added. [3] Evans and Lashly had now been man-hauling since the motors broke down, almost the whole length of the Barrier, and Evans was, although it was unknown at the time, already in the early stages of scurvy.

"My unit pulled away easy this morning," Scott wrote, "and stretched out for two hours -- the second unit made heavy weather. I changed with [Lt.] Evans and found the second sledge heavy -- could keep up, but the team was not swinging with me as my own team swings. Then I changed P.O. Evans for Lashly. We seemed to get on better, but at the moment the surface changed and we came up over a rise with hard sastrugi. At the top we camped for lunch. What was the difficulty? One theory was that some members of the second party were stale. Another that all was due to the bad stepping and want of swing; another that the sledge pulled heavy. In the afternoon we exchanged sledges, and at first went off well, but getting into soft snow, we found a terrible drag, the second party coming quite easily with our sledge. So the sledge is the cause of the trouble, and talking it out, I found that all is due to want of care. The runners ran excellently, but the structure has been distorted by bad strapping, bad loading, this afternoon and only managed to get 12 miles (geo.)." [4]


The Norwegians reached the summit of the Plateau, and began the gentle descent.

Amundsen again raised the pemmican allowance, to 450g, and they were now getting a little more than the amount of food they needed. [5] Bjaaland had the day before "asked the Captain for a little more pemmican, and had 1/2 a ration extra" -- he was working hard as forerunner. [6]


[1] The New York Times, 12 February 1913.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 28 December 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.471. This quote does not appear in the published version of Scott's diary, and may have been excised as were a number of other uncomplimentary remarks, but neither does it appear in Huntford's Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (2011), which supposedly restores these excisions. See the next note.
[3] R.F. Scott, diary, 28 December, 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.479. Crane gives essentially the same quote here as does Huntford in Scott and Amundsen.
[4] R.F. Scott, diary, 28 December, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[5] Roland Huntford gives the Norwegians' calorie allowance at this point as 5,000 per day after the increase in pemmican, for work that used about 4,500 calories (Scott and Amundsen, "Note on diet").
[6] Olav Bjaaland, diary, 28 December 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.210.

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