January 24, 2011

Tuesday, 24 January 1911


Bowers with Victor, photographed by Ponting, October 1911. [1]

The first depot-laying party set out in the morning, leading the ponies across land as far as Glacier Tongue. Scott and the dog teams went on the Terra Nova to meet them at the end of the Tongue. There were twelve men -- Scott, Wilson, Oates, Meares, Atkinson, Bowers, Gran, Cherry-Garrard, Crean, P.O. Evans, Forde, and Keohane -- with eight ponies and two dogs teams.

"My most vivid recollection of the day we started," Cherry wrote later, "is the sight of Bowers, out of breath, very hot, and in great pain from a bad knock which he had given his knee against a rock, being led forward by his big pony Uncle Bill, over whom temporarily he had but little control. He had been left behind in the camp, giving last instructions about the storage of cases and management of provisions, and had practically lost himself in trying to follow us over what was then unknown ground. He was wearing all the clothing which was not included in his personal gear, for he did not think it fair to give the pony the extra weight. He had bruised his leg in an ugly way, and for many days he came to me to bandage it. He was afraid that if he let the doctors see it they would forbid him to go forward. He had had no sleep for seventy-two hours." [2]

Each sledge weight 52 lbs., and each driver's sleeping bag, skis, and pony gear weighed 65 lbs. Personal gear added another 12 lbs. Cooker and primus, oil, tent and poles, biscuits, tools, and oats for the ponies were distributed amongst the sledges. Each pony sledge averaged 570 lbs. (258 kg), and the two dog sledges 490 lbs. (222 kg) each. The goal was 80°.

"Stareek", photographed by Ponting, 1911. [3]

Meares was in charge of one of the dog teams and Wilson the other. Stareek ("old man" in Russian), was, Wilson wrote, "quite the nicest, quietest cleverest old dog gentleman I have ever come across. He looks in face as though he knew all the wickedness of all the world and all its cares and as though he was bored to death by both of them." [4]

Scott, however, was already writing in his diary, "I withhold my opinion of the dogs in much doubt as to whether they are going to be a real success -- but the ponies are going to be real good. They work with such extraordinary steadiness, stepping out briskly and cheerfully, following in each other's tracks. The great drawback is the ease with which they sink in soft snow: they go through in lots of places where the men scarcely make an impression -- they struggle pluckily when they sink, but it is trying to watch them." [5]


"As usual," Amundsen calculated in his diary, "we drove a load up before breakfast. The first run brought the remaining things for the hut, like bunks, stoves, etc. Afterwards we began carrying provisions. It is a matter of 900 packing cases.... We have done 5 runs today, but hope to manage 6 tomorrow. [Since] each sledge load consists generally of 5 cases, [thus] 25 cases per run, [that] means 150 cases in the course of a day. In this way, we will get them all carried up quickly." [6]


[1] Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.5.
[3] Scott Polar Research Institute.
[4] E.A. Wilson, diary, 30 January, 1911, quoted in Diary of the Terra Nova Expedition to the Antarctic, 1910-1912 (London : Blandford, 1972), p.100.
[5] R.F. Scott, diary, 24 January, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition : the Journals, v.1.
[6] Roald Amundsen, diary, 23 January, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in The Amundsen Photographs (London : Hodder & Stoughton, c1987), p.83.

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