February 28, 2011

Tuesday, 28 February 1911


Scott, Cherry, and Crean were reunited with the others at Safety Camp. "Found everyone very cold and depressed," Scott wrote. "Wilson and Meares had had continuous bad weather since we left, Bowers and Oates since their arrival. The blizzard had raged for two days. The animals looked in a sorry condition but all were alive. The wind blew keen and cold from the east. There could be no advantage in waiting here, and soon all arrangements were made for a general shift to Hut Point." [1]

He decided to send all but one of the ponies ahead with Bowers, Crean, and Cherry, as Weary Willy was nearly done for. "We made desperate efforts to save the poor creature, got him once more on his legs and gave him a hot oat mash. Then after a wait of an hour Oates led him off, and we packed the sledge and followed on ski; 500 yards away from the camp the poor creature fell again and I felt it was the last effort. We camped, built a snow wall round him, and did all we possibly could to get him on his feet. Every effort was fruitless, though the poor thing made pitiful struggles. Towards midnight we propped him up as comfortably as we could and went to bed."

They woke in the morning to find poor Willy dead.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 28 January, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 26, 2011

Sunday, 26 February 1911


Upon hearing the news of Amundsen, Gran wrote, "I felt as if the glacier had opened under me and a thousand thoughts rushed into my head. Was I to compete with my own compatriots, with my own flag? No, it was not pleasant to contemplate." [1]

Bowers called it "Amundsen's little game". "Trigger was so genuinely upset at the behaviour of his countryman that one could not help feeling sorry for him & the awkward position it put him." [2]

"I believe, from what I have seen," Gran went on in his diary, "that Amundsen's chances are better than ours. First, he is one degree further south than we are and, secondly, his speed is far superior to ours.... If we reach the Pole, then Amundsen will reach the Pole and weeks earlier."


The Norwegians reached their depot at 80° easily. This time, they had two sextants and a theodolite for an astronomic fix on their location: these gave a mean reading of 70° 59', a little over a mile (about 1.8 km) off.

Amundsen had decided on a careful marking of the depots. Ten black pennants on short sticks were laid out a half-mile on either side, making a transverse line of ten miles across their route; each pennant was marked with a number giving the distance and bearing of the depot.


[1] Tryggve Gran, diary, 26 February, 1911, quoted in The Norwegian With Scott : Tryggve Gran's Antarctic Diary 1910-1913 ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.63.
[2] H.R. Bowers, undated letter, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.369-370.

February 25, 2011

Saturday, 25 February 1911


"Except for our tent the camp routine is slack," wrote Scott. "Shall have to tell people that we are out on business, not picnicking." [1] They had sighted the pony party in the distance, heading north, and so they depoted another six weeks' provisions at Corner Camp, and turned back to catch them up. The next day, an unexpected blizzard confined them to their tent.

Oates, Bowers, and Gran got in to Safety Camp, where they too heard the news of Amundsen. "More of this tomorrow," Gran wrote in his diary, "I am too astonished to write now." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 26 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Tryggve Gran, diary, 25 February, 1911, quoted in The Norwegian With Scott : Tryggve Gran's Antarctic Diary 1910-1913 ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.62.

February 24, 2011

Friday, 24 February 1911


Mounts Erebus (on the left) and Terror, with the Hut Point peninsula in the foreground, ca.2005. [1] The peaks were visible for a while as the party made their way to Corner Camp.

Scott decided to take a party out to depot further supplies at Corner Camp and to meet Bowers' party returning with the ponies. "Roused out at 6. Started marching at 9. Self, Crean, and Cherry-Garrard one sledge and tent; Evans, Atkinson, Forde, second sledge and tent; Keohane leading his pony. We pulled on ski in the forenoon; the second sledge couldn't keep up, so we changed about for half the march. In the afternoon we pulled on foot. On the whole I thought the labour greater on foot, so did Crean, showing the advantage of experience."

"There is no doubt," he added, "that very long days' work could be done by men in hard condition on ski."


[1] Wikipedia.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 24 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 23, 2011

Thursday, 23 February 1911


In the morning, "Scott jumped out of his bag," Cherry wrote in his diary, "& said, 'By Jove, what a chance we have missed -- we might have taken Amundsen & sent him back in the ship.' Bill [Wilson] very strong against any such idea -- [I] in sympathy -- at present Scott in right, Amundsen in wrong -- Scott argued there was no law down here & we know A. is acting against the wishes of his king." [1]

Cherry wrote years later, "Such a mood could not and did not bear a moment's reflection; but it was natural enough. We had just paid the first instalment of the heart-breaking labour of making a path to the Pole; and we felt, however unreasonably, that we had earned the first right of way. Our sense of co-operation and solidarity had been wrought up to an extraordinary pitch; and we had so completely forgotten the spirit of competition that its sudden intrusion jarred frightfully. I do not defend our burst of rage -- for such it was -- I simply record it as an integral human part of my narrative." [2]


Conditions on the second depot-laying journey were different from a week earlier.

"Prestrud," Johansen wrote, "who goes loose and unhindered in front on ski was impatient and bad tempered because he could not get into the tent and begin cooking. 'They began cooking in the other tent long ago,' he said. I had to inform him that not all dogs are equally good, and some have to be behind. There is nothing to be done about it. It is the heaviest job to come behind with the less good dogs. And when I finally arrive -- he creeps into the tent and begins cooking, but I've got to finish feeding my dogs, and arranging sledges, harnesses etc. and take in [sleeping] bags and clothes. When everything is in order, Amundsen and Hassel come in, and we creep together and eat our pemmican -- It is silent in the tent. We have not exchanged a word since our quarrel." [3]


[1] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 24 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.368.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.5.
[3] Hjalmar Johansen, diary, 24 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.351.

February 22, 2011

Wednesday, 22 February 1911


Scott arrived back at Safety Camp, a journey of five days with the dogs, compared to the three-weeks' distance with the ponies.

"The dogs are as thin as rakes; they are ravenous and very tired," he wrote in his journal. "I feel this should not be, and that it is evident that they are underfed. The rations must be increased next year and we must have some properly thought-out diet. The biscuit alone is not good enough. Meares is excellent to a point but a little pig-headed & quite ignorant of the conditions here. One thing is certain, the dogs will never continue to drag heavy loads with men sitting on the sledges; we must all learn to run with the teams and the Russian custom must be dropped. Meares, I think, rather imagined himself racing to the Pole and back on a dog sledge. This journey has opened his eyes a good deal." [1]

Lt. Evans was waiting for them with the one remaining pony; two of the three he had turn back with had died along the way.

In the evening, a party arrived from the Discovery hut with Campbell's news of Amundsen.

"For many hours," wrote Cherry, who was in Scott's tent, "Scott could think of nothing else nor talk of anything else. Evidently a great shock for him -- he thinks it very unsporting since our plans for landing a party there [at King Edward VII Land] were known." [2]

"That the action is outside one's own code of honour is not necessarily to condemn it and under no condition will I be betrayed into a public expression of opinion," Scott wrote. "One thing only fixes itself definitely in my mind. The proper, as well as the wiser, course, for us is to proceed exactly as though this had not happened. To go forward and do our best for the honour of ht country without fear or panic."

"There is no doubt that Amundsen's plan is a very serious menace to ours. He has a shorter distance to the Pole by 60 miles -- I never thought he could have got so many dogs safely to the ice. His plan for running them seems excellent. But above and beyond all he can start his journey early in the season -- an impossible condition with ponies." [3]

"As for Amundsen's prospects of reaching the Pole," Wilson mused in his diary, "I don't think they are very good for I don't think his dogs -- though he has so large a number, 116, and good drivers with lots of experience -- I don't think he knows how bad an effect the monotony and the hard travelling surface of the Barrier is to animals. Another mistake he seems to have made is in building his hut on sea ice below the Barrier surface instead of on the Barrier itself. It will be a fortunate thing for him if the whole hut doesn't float out into Ross Sea. There are 8 in his party. However, he may be fortunate and his dogs may be a success, in which case he will probably reach the Pole this year, earlier than we can, for not only will he travel much faster with dogs and expert ski runners than we shall with ponies, but he will be able also to start earlier than we can as we don't want to expose the ponies to any October temperatures." [4]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 22 February, 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.420-421.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 24 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.367-368.
[3] R.F. Scott, diary, 22 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.368.
[4] E.A. Wilson, diary, 22 February, 1911, in Diary of the Terra Nova Expedition to the Antarctic, 1910-1912 (London : Blandford, 1972), p.107.

February 21, 2011

Tuesday, 21 February 1911


Meares and Osman before the start of the Southern Journey, photographed by Ponting, 28 August, 1911. [1]

Driving along in bad light, Wilson's team suddenly began to drop one after the other into a crevasse. Osman, the lead dog, dug in his feet and kept a foothold, struggling to bear the weight of those dogs now dangling from their harness into the abyss. Two of them slipped out of their harness to a ledge some sixty-five feet below, where, with amazing sang-froid, they curled up and went to sleep. Others, hanging in mid-air, fought with each other as they tried to get a purchase on either the wall of the crevasse or on each others' backs. Meares and Scott ran to help, after a few moments of uncertainty unloading Wilson's sledge to save the sleeping bags, tent, and cooker, then laying tent poles across the crevasse to take the weight off the now-choking Osman. They recovered eleven of the thirteen dogs, who, now running loose in their cut harnesses on the Barrier promptly began to fight with each other while Scott insisted on going down on a rope himself to rescue the two remaining dogs.

"Scott's interest in the incident," Cherry recalled, "apart from the recovery of the dogs, was scientific. Since we were running across the line of cleavage when the dogs went down, it was to be expected that we should be crossing the crevasses at right angles, and not be travelling, as actually happened, parallel to, or along them. While we were getting him up the sixty odd feet to which we had lowered him he kept muttering: 'I wonder why this is running the way it is -- you expect to find them at right angles,' and when down the crevasse he wanted to go off exploring, but we managed to persuade him that the snow-ledge upon which he was standing was utterly unsafe, and indeed we could see the nothingness below through the blue holes in the shelf. Another regret was that we had no thermometer: the temperature of the inside of the Barrier is of great interest and a fairly reliable record of the average temperature throughout the year might have been obtained when so far down into it. Altogether we could congratulate ourselves on a fortunate ending to a nasty business. We expected several more miles of crevasses, and the wind was getting up, driving the surface drift like smoke over the ground, with a very black sky to the south. We pitched the tent, had a good meal and mended the dog harness which had been ruthlessly cut in clearing the dogs. Luckily we found no more crevasses for it was now blowing hard, and rescue work would have been difficult, and we pushed on as far as possible that night, doing eleven miles after lunch, and sixteen for the day. It had been strenuous, for we had been working in or over the crevasse for 2 1/2 hours, and dogs and men were tired out. It cleared and became quite warm as we camped. There was a pleasant air of friendship in the tent that night, rather more than usual. That is generally the result of this kind of business." [2]

"All is well that ends well," Scott wrote in his diary, "and certainly this was a most surprisingly happy ending to a very serious episode. We felt we must have refreshment, so camped and had a meal, congratulating ourselves on a really miraculous escape. If the sledge had gone down Meares and I must have been badly injured, if not killed outright. The dogs are wonderful, but have had a terrible shaking -- three of them are passing blood and have more or less serious internal injuries. Many were held up by a thin thong round the stomach, writhing madly to get free. One dog better placed in its harness stretched its legs full before and behind and just managed to claw either side of the gap -- it had continued attempts to climb throughout, giving vent to terrified howls. Two of the animals hanging together had been fighting at intervals when they swung into any position which allowed them to bite one another. The crevasse for the time being was an inferno, and the time must have been all too terribly long for the wretched creatures. It was twenty minutes past three when we had completed the rescue work, and the accident must have happened before one-thirty. Some of the animals must have been dangling for over an hour. I had a good opportunity of examining the crack." [3]


With Prestrud again as forerunner, the Norwegians set out on their second depot-laying journey. Their goal was 83°, or 82° at the least. All of the men went this time, except Lindstrøm, who would stay behind to look after the hut and the dogs not going on this journey. They took seven sledges with six dogs each, each sledge loaded with about 300 kilos (661 lbs.).


[1] Scott Polar Research Institute.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.5.
[3] R.F. Scott, diary, 21 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 19, 2011

Sunday, 19 February 1911


Dogs in camp, 1912, photographed by Debenham. [1]

"[Both ponies and dogs] are desperately hungry," wrote Scott. "Both eat their own excrement. With the ponies it does not seem so horrid, as there must be a good deal of grain, &c., which is not fully digested. It is the worst side of dog driving. All the rest is diverting. The way in which they keep up a steady jog trot for hour after hour is wonderful. Their legs seem steel springs, fatigue unknown -- for at the end of a tiring march any unusual incident will arouse them to full vigour."


[1] Scott Polar Research Institute.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 19 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 18, 2011

Saturday, 18 February 1911


The depot-laying party doubled up the ponies for the return journey. Scott and Cherry joined Wilson's and Meares' dog teams; Gran and Oates followed, each leading a team, with Bowers in the rear. They covered 23 miles, a distance that would have taken three days' travel on the outward journey.

"After lunch to our astonishment the ponies appeared, going strong," wrote Scott. "They were making for a camp some miles farther on, and meant to remain there. I'm very glad to have seen them making the pace so well. They don't propose to stop for lunch at all but to march right through 10 or 12 miles a day. I think they will have little difficulty in increasing this distance." [1]

Oates, sharing a tent with Gran, found the young Norwegian "dirty and lazy" and had had a row or two with him. [2] Now, Gran recalled, "Oates told me straight out that what he had against me was not personal; it was just that I was a foreigner. With all his heart he hated all foreigners, because all foreigners hated England. The rest of the world led by Germany was just waiting to attack his Motherland, and destroy it if they could. I was about to reply when Bowers quickly intervened: 'Could be something in what you say, Oates, but all the same I wager what you will that Gran would be with us if England is forced into war through no fault of her own.' 'Would you?' asked Oates. 'Of course,' I replied, and the next instant he grasped my hand. From this moment, the closed book opened, and Oates and I became the best of friends". [3]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 18 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1. It is easy to suspect that the ponies knew they were heading for home.
[2] Quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingley in Captain Oates : Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, c1982), p.114.
[3] Tryggve Gran, note to diary entry of 18 February, 1911, quoted in The Norwegian With Scott : Tryggve Gran's Antarctic Diary 1910-1913 ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.60. Gran did volunteer for the Royal Flying Corps when war broke out in 1914, was rejected because of Norway's neutrality, and applied again under a false identity as a Canadian. He served with distinction from 1916 to the end of the war. His career in the Second World War was, however, not so commendable; see Wikipedia.

February 17, 2011

Friday, 17 February 1911


Deciding that the ponies could take no more of the relentless southern drift, Scott decided to turn back. They were at 79° 29' S. They called the place One Ton Depot, for the amount of stores it contained, and marked it with a single flag; the route from the previous depot was not marked at all.

Scott noted in his diary the amount of stores depoted, by weight and ration: seven weeks' full provision bags for 1 unit [four men], two days' provision bags for 1 unit, eight weeks' tea, six weeks' extra butter, seven weeks' full ration of biscuit, twelve weeks' worth of oil for 1 unit, five sacks of oats, four bales of fodder, a tank of dog biscuit, miscellaneous dog harness, two sledges, two pairs of skis and one of poles, a thermometer, and a tin each of cocoa and matches, "considerably over a ton of stuff. It is a pity we couldn't get to 80°, but as it is we shall have a good leg up for next year and can at least feed the ponies full up to this point." [1]

"[It] wasn't quite where we had planned it to be," Gran wrote in his diary of the depot. "I am rather disappointed and foresee difficulties with the complicated transport arrangements. Of one thing I am certain, that we shall need luck if we are to reach the Pole next year." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 17 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Tryggve Gran, diary, 17 February, 1911, in The Norwegian with Scott ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.59.

February 16, 2011

Thursday, 16 February 1911


After marching a little less than seven miles, the depot party made camp. They had wanted to reach 80° -- it was 79° 28 1/2'. Scott thought that three of the five ponies could go on, but the temperature had dropped to -21° with a stiff breeze, and some of the men were showing signs of frostbite.

Oates wanted to put down Gran's pony, which was worn out, and continue on south with the four remaining ponies, but Scott refused. "He had, as he himself put it, felt quite sick on account of the animal's sufferings," Gran wrote later. "Even thought Oates was of course a highly disciplined officer, he felt obliged on this occasion to press his views on his chief: 'Sir, I'm afraid you'll come to regret not taking my advice.' 'Regret it or not,' replied Scott, 'I have taken my decision as a Christian gentleman.'" [1]

At Cape Adare, the Northern Party watched the Terra Nova put out to sea. They would not see it again for nearly a year.


[1] Tryggve Gran, note added later to diary entry of 16 February, 1911, in The Norwegian with Scott ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.59.

February 15, 2011

Wednesday, 15 February 1911


On arrival back at Framheim, Amundsen found that they had missed the departure of the Fram by twelve hours. "It made a melancholy, forlorn impression on us all. But the time will come, I hope, when we meet again with work well done." [1]

While they had been away, Stubberud and Bjaaland had dug a passage in the snow around the hut and roofed it in by an extension to the eaves. "Besides its protective function, it will also have great use as a store for all kinds of things. For example, here [Lindstrøm] can cut out shelves and have his fresh meat. The snow he cuts out he can use for fresh water.... Two things are achieved thereby. I. Always having reliably clean snow for water available -- and that is particularly difficult here, with so many puppies loose and mucking up the place. II. Not to be compelled to go under open skies to fetch snow. If we have a lot of bad weather, this will be of considerable importance." [2]

Wisting, in charge during Amundsen's absence, had also hauled one of Fram's boats several miles inland, as a life-boat in case the Barrier calved and the ice-hut drifted out to sea.

Amundsen was already planning the next depot-laying journey for a week hence, with everyone except Lindstrøm, who would stay behind to look after Framheim and the remaining dogs.


[1] Roald Amundsen, diary, 16 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.349.
[2] Roald Amundsen, diary, 16 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.350.

February 14, 2011

Tuesday, 14 February 1911


Gran and his pony again dropping behind, Scott consulted Oates as to what they might manage, "and he cheerfully proposed 15 miles [half again their usual distance] for the day! This piqued me somewhat and I marched till the sledge meter showed 6 1/2 miles." [1]

By that time Gran and Weary Willy were almost a mile behind. "What happened never became clear," Cherry wrote. "Poor Weary, it seems, was in difficulties in a snow-drift: the dogs of one team being very hungry took charge of their sledge and in a moment were on the horse, to all purposes a pack of ravenous wolves. Gran and Weary made a good fight and the dogs were driven off, but Weary came into camp without his sledge, covered with blood and looking very sick." [2]

"The incident is deplorable and the blame widespread," Scott wrote, but naming only himself "for not supervising these matters more effectively and for allowing W.W. to get so far behind."


The first depot-laying party returned to Framheim, a trip of about 160 nautical miles in five days.

"A fine performance of our dogs this, "Amundsen noted with satisfaction in his diary, "40 geographical miles yesterday -- of which 10 miles with heavy load and then 51 1/2 miles today -- I think they will hold their own with the ponies on the Barrier." [3]


[1] R. F. Scott, diary, 14 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedtition, v.1.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.5.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 15 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.347.

February 13, 2011

Monday, 13 February 1911


By now, Scott, realising that they were not going to get as far south as he had hoped, had decided to send back the weakest ponies, in order to get as many of them back alive as possible. Oates wanted to press on with at least some of the ponies, then slaughter and depot them for dog food on the coming Polar journey, but Scott was against this idea. P.O. Evans, Keohane, and Forde were sent back with Blossom, Blucher, and Jimmy Pigg, the three weakest ponies.

"During the day," Gran wrote, "a new plan has been worked out. When our goal is reached, Scott, Wilson, Meares and Cherry will return with the dogs on foot, while Bowers, Oates and I will lead the horses back. That is the plan now." [1]

Huts at Cape Adare, photographed 21 February 2011 by Bruce McKinlay. The two structures on the right are those from Borchgrevink's Southern Cross Expedition of 1898-1900, and the one on the left was put up by the Northern Party in 1911. [2]

The Terra Nova with Campbell's Northern Party put in at Cape Adare, and began to unload their stores and prefabricated hut. Campbell was to survey the area and make magnetic observations. Levick was zoologist, photographer, stores officer, and doctor. Priestley was geologist, meteorologist, and microbiologist. Abbott was carpenter, Dickason the cook, and Browning assisted both Priestley with his meteorological work and Dickason in the galley.


Tent camp with sledges, probably from the first depot-laying trip. The depot (marked with flags) stands near the tent. [2]

The Norwegians reached their goal of 80° S, built their depot, and turned for home. Amundsen was determined to not repeat the mistakes of Scott's and Shackleton's previous journeys, and on the way out had placed bamboo stakes with numbered black flags every eight miles to mark the route.

On the return journey, as these flags proved to be too far apart, they filled the gaps with frozen stockfish from the dogs' rations, stuck in the snow, alternating with boards from a broken-up packing case, every quarter-mile.

"It was much easier to travel down here than up North during the Gjøa expedition," Hanssen noted. [3]


[1] Tryggve Gran, diary, 12 February, 1911, in The Norwegian with Scott ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.57.
[2] Bruce McKinlay. Licensed under Creative Commons.
[3] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[3] Helmer Hanssen, Gjennem Isbaksen, p.83, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.347.

February 12, 2011

Sunday, 12 February 1911


"Sunday night (February 12)," Cherry recalled, "we started from Bluff Depôt and did seven miles before lunch against a considerable drift and wind. It was pretty cold, and ten minutes after we left our lunch camp with the ponies it was blowing a full blizzard. The dog party had not started, so we camped and slept five in the four-man tent, and it was by no means uncomfortable. Probably this was the time when Scott first thought of taking a five-man party to the Pole." [1]

Gran noted, "We have not quite crossed the 79th parallel but are not much short of it. One thing is nevertheless certain, that I have now come farther south than Borchgrevink and am therefore the Norwegian who has been nearest the Pole -- provided, that is, Amundsen hasn't pushed farther south on the other side of the continent." [2] The depot party did not yet, of course, know that Amundsen was at the Bay of Whales.


"Today we have had a lot of loose snow," Amundsen wrote in his diary. "For us on skis it was the most magnificent going. How men & horses are going to get through in these conditions I cannot understand, not to mention an automobile. The Thermos flask is a splendid invention. We fill it every morning with boiling chocolate and drink it piping hot at noon. Not bad for the middle of the Barrier." [3]


[1] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.5.
[2] Tryggve Gran, diary, 12 February, 1911, quoted in The Norwegian with Scott ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, c1984), p.56.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 13 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.347.

February 10, 2011

Friday, 10 February 1911


The dogs being fed, on an unidentified sledge journey. [1]

The Norwegians soon learned the most effective order of running: first Prestrud on ski, then Helmer Hanssen with the lead dog team and steering compass, then Johansen with his team and a second compass, and lastly Amundsen with the third team, a spare compass, and the sledgemeter, a wheel attached to the back of the sledge that measured the distance that had been run.

Amundsen had learned in the Arctic that dogs preferred to have someone ahead of them to follow.

"[Amundsen] had trouble with his dog team," wrote Johansen, "in the end he had to take off his reindeer trousers and ski in shirt and underpants. The temperature was 12 degrees below zero. One can do this sort of thing here, where colds do not exist." By "shirt and underpants" he meant the Netsilik reindeer fur underclothes, which proved to be too warm. The boots, however, "of which so much was expected, turned out to be unusable in the cold. Both Prestrud and I got blisters from them. And at supper today I had to put on kamikks [Eskimo sealskin boots] instead." [2]

"The dogs pull magnificently, and the going on the barrier is ideal," Amundsen wrote. "Cannot understand what the English mean when they say that dogs cannot be used here." [3]


[1] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[2] Hjalmar Johansen, diary, 11 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.348.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 11 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.347.

February 9, 2011

Thursday, 9 February 1911


Amundsen, Prestrud, Johansen, and Helmer Hanssen started out on the first of their depot-laying journeys, taking three sledges, eighteen dogs, and a half-ton of supplies. They hoped to reach 80°. Bjaaland, Hassel, Wisting, and Stubberud accompanied them as far as the Barrier to help get the sledges up the slope. "It was a hard push," Amundsen noted. [1]


[1] Roald Amundsen, diary, [10 February 1911?], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.347.

February 8, 2011

Wednesday, 8 February 1911


"Laying a depot. H. & P’s biscuits. Feb. 8th 1911", photographed by Ponting. [1]

After bad weather had kept them at Corner Camp from 4th to 7th February, the depot-laying party moved on. "The ponies were much shaken by the blizzard," Scott wrote in his diary. "One supposes they did not sleep -- all look listless and two or three are visibly thinner than before. But the worst case by far is Forde's little pony; he was reduced to a weight little exceeding 400 lbs. on his sledge and caved in altogether on the second part of the march. The load was reduced to 200 lbs., and finally Forde pulled this in, leading the pony. The poor thing is a miserable scarecrow and never ought to have been brought.... The dogs are in fine form -- the blizzard has only been a pleasant rest for them." [1]

Campbell and the Terra Nova arrived off Cape Evans with the news of Amundsen. He landed the two ponies he'd taken for the exploration of King Edward VII Land, as South Victoria Land was mountainous and unsuitable for ponies. They had to be swum ashore through the icy water.

In order to get the news to Scott as quickly as possible, Campbell took the ship up McMurdo Sound to Hut Point, before it headed off to put the now-renamed Northern Party ashore at, as it turned out, Cape Adare, where they would winter.


[1] Scott Polar Research Institute.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 8 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 6, 2011

Monday, 6 February 1911


The blizzard raged on. "The poor horses are having a hard time and are so frozen they can hardly eat," wrote Gran. [1]


Framheim, February 1911. [2]

"We have now pitched 14 of the 16-man tents here," wrote Amundsen in his diary. "It looks like a little town." [3] Half of the tents were for the dogs to sleep in, and the rest were for storage of dog food and other supplies.

"Now there is so little to fetch on board, that there is only work for a few sledges a day. I have therefore decided to go south with 3 men -- Johansen, Prestrud and Helmer Hanssen -- to put out depots. The other 4 will stay here at the base and continue working." [4]

In a letter to Leon that would go with the Fram, Amundsen wrote, "It is true, I have raised wages by 50% for everyone who will remain aboard the ship. I do not know whether the expedition coffers can stand this but it will have to stand the test. You best understand what must be done and just arrange everything in the way you think best." He outlined his plans for laying depots for the journey to the Pole -- Leon was going to reveal these to the press -- then added, "Assuming Nansen is interested, then let him know this. I thought I might write to him from here, but I am so uncertain what he makes of it all that I have refrained. Send him my regards.... It seems to me, as things, now stand, that this contest might interest the world."


[1] Tryggve Gran, diary, 6 February, 1911, quoted in The Norwegian With Scott : Tryggve Gran's Antarctic Diary 1910-1913 ([London] : National Maritime Museum, c1984), p.55.
[2] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 6 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in The Amundsen Photographs (London : Hodder & Stoughton, c1987), p.85.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in The Amundsen Photographs (London : Hodder & Stoughton, c1987), p.86.
[4] Roald Amundsen, letter to Leon Amundsen, 7 February, 1911, quoted by Tor Bomann-Larsen in Roald Amundsen (Stroud, Gloucestershire : Sutton, c2006, c1995), p.91.

February 5, 2011

Sunday, 5 February 1911


A blizzard kept the depot party in camp. The dogs could curl up and sleep in the snow, but the ponies suffered terribly. The wind, Cherry wrote later, "is raging chaos. It is blowing a full gale: the air is full of falling snow, and the wind drives this along and adds to it the loose snow which is lying on the surface of the Barrier. Fight your way a few steps away from the tent, and it will be gone. Lose your sense of direction and there is nothing to guide you back." [1]

Campbell directed the Terra Nova back to McMurdo Sound with the news of Amundsen, amongst "heavy arguments in wardroom about the rights and wrongs of Amundsen's party and the chances of our being able to beat them. Their experience and number of dogs seem to leave us very little." [2]

"Well!," Priestley wrote in his diary that night, "we have left the Norwegians and our thoughts are full, too full of them at present. The impression they have left me with is that of a set of men of distinctive personality, and evidently inured to hardship, good goers and pleasant and good-humoured. All these qualities combine to make them very dangerous rivals, but even did one not want to, one cannot help liking them individually in spite of the rivalry." [3]


The day after the Terra Nova's visit, wrote Amundsen, "our hut was baptised and given the name 'Framheim' ["Home of Fram"]. The idea was Prestrud's. We had the ship's party, or as they are called, the pirates, for a house warming." [4] They had to visit in shifts, four to lunch and six to supper, as they could not all leave the ship at the same time.


[1] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.5.
[2] Wilfred Bruce, diary, 5 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.360.
[3] Raymond Priestley, diary, [5 February, 1911], quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.425.
[4] Roald Amundsen, diary, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in The Amundsen Photographs (London : Hodder & Stoughton, c1987), p.85.

February 4, 2011

Saturday, 4 February 1911

The Fram, from the Terra Nova. [1]

Fram with the Terra Nova in the distance. [2]

A few hours before midnight, the Terra Nova put into the Bay of Whales.

Scott had always doubted the existence of this Bay, and Priestley was cheered to find that they had now "wonderfully upheld" Shackleton's observations. [3]

"[It was] satisfactory to find ... everybody backing up the Shackleton expedition," Priestley went on, "and I turned in ... feeling quite cheerful and believing that there would be a good chance of ... finding a home on the Barrier here -- our last hope of surveying King Edward's Land. However, Man proposes but God disposes and I was waked at one o'clock by Lillie with the astounding news that we had sighted a ship at anchor to the sea ice in the Bay. All was confusion on board for a few minutes, everybody rushing up on deck with cameras and clothes. It was no false alarm, there she was within a few hundred yards of us and what is more, those of us who had read Nansen's books recognized the Fram."

"An eruption of Erebus would fall flat after that," Bruce remarked. [4] "Curses loud & deep were heard everywhere, and we ran close by her & made fast to the floe ahead without them knowing." [5]

This astonishment is not particularly surprising, for although the British knew that Amundsen was in the Antarctic, they had no idea where, indeed, had assumed either Graham Land or the Weddell Sea.

The Norwegians were perhaps rather more alarmed than astonished.

"We had long expected her [the Terra Nova]," Gjertsen wrote in his diary, "to come into the bay when she went Eastwards with the party [for] King Edward's Land. Our watchman ... saw two men go ashore, put on skis, and, with reasonably good speed for foreigners, rush off up towards the barrier, following the dogs' tracks. 'Well,' thought the watchman, 'if they have any nefarious intentions, (one of our constant subjects of discussion was how the Englishmen would take our challenge) the dogs will manage that job, and get them to turn round all right. It'll be worse if they sneak up to Fram, where I'm alone on watch. Best to be ready for all eventualities.' After this profound monologue, he dashed into the charthouse, carefully loaded 9 bullets into our old Farman gun (which when at peace we used for hunting seals), dug out an old English grammar, and looked up, on page 11, 'How are you this morning' and similar expressions. Thus armed to the teeth, both physically and mentally, he crept out on watch again. He might have been waiting 1/2 an hour, partly occupied in checking sight and trigger, partly swotting items of grammar, when suddenly a shock went through him. The Englishmen were coming down again, with a course straight for Fram.... He looked carefully: No, they had no weapons; if so, it must be a revolver in a pocket -- Suddenly he remembered a verse from his childhood, 'Be brave when danger threatens, etc.' and immediately became very brave. He put down the gun and the grammar just under his coat, so that both could be retrieved in a hurry, raised himself and calmly awaited the Englishmen's movements." [6]

Terra Nova to the left, and Fram. [7]

At six in the morning, Gjertsen continued, Amundsen and the others "came galloping down. Never before had it gone so swimmingly, and once down on the flat ice, they formed a line and there was a veritable race to reach the ship. The Englishmen [were] absolutely flabbergasted. No, they had never dreamt that dogs could run in that way before a sledge, and already they felt contempt for their dear ponies. Suddenly they were gripped by wild excitement, cheered, and waved their caps. Our drivers returned their greetings and cracked their whips." [8]

Campbell and his party at Framheim. At center, without a hat, is Amundsen, with Johansen at his right. Hassel is fourth from the left, with a fair beard. The man in the white jumper is probably Campbell. [9]

Campbell (who spoke Norwegian), Pennell, and Levick, the eastern party's surgeon, were invited to breakfast in the new hut, where Lindstrøm served them all hotcakes, and then they were given a tour of the Fram. "[Everyone] broke out in eulogies over how nice and comfortably we lived," Gjertsen said. "When they saw that every man had his own cabin, and everyone had a large common saloon, their eyes grew wide with astonishment. No, they had seen nothing like this before." Upon hearing how the officers' mess on the Terra Nova lay directly underneath the ponies, "one of Fram's crew was immediately seized by the deepest sympathy, and gave his melancholy informant ... a tot of aquavit to strengthen himself. The Englishman was wild with enthusiasm. Yes, it was 'a wonderful ship'."

Nilsen, after being shown over the Terra Nova in return, noted laconically, "I must confess it did not look very inviting." [10]

Johansen was not impressed either. "They should go to New Zealand immediately," he wrote in his diary. "They had a hard journey. Had been leaking and the bulwark was knocked in. But they were in good spirits and extremely courteous to us, though they nevertheless had not expected to meet us here. Something they repeatedly assured us." [11]

Amundsen told the British to land and make their base wherever they wanted, but, as Priestley put it, "we cannot according to etiquette trench on their country for winter quarters." [12] Campbell was deeply disappointed, having regarded the exploration of King Edward Land as "the thing of the whole expedition, " its only truly original work. [13] When Amundsen asked casually about the motor sledges, Campbell told him that one was "already on terra firma." He was referring, of course, to the one at the bottom of McMurdo Sound, but further information was neither asked for nor given. [14]

"It appears that ... Capt. Amundsen ... is going to have a run for the Pole so it will prove a very exciting affair," Dickason, one of the British seamen, wrote in his diary. "He has dogs for sledge work and all his men are good on ski." [15]


[1] Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand. The catalogue record of this photograph identifies it as "The ship Terra Nova arriving at the Bay of Whales in 1910, to find the Norwegian expedition.... Photographed from 'Fram', the ship of Amundsen, by an unidentified photographer". It is clearly, however, the smoke-stackless, not to mention stocky and straight-sided, Fram.
[2] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[3] Raymond Priestley, diary, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.342.
[4] Wilfred Bruce, letter to Kathleen Scott, 27 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.342.
[5] Wilfred Bruce, letter to Kathleen Scott, 27 February, 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.424.
[6] Lt. H.F. Gjertsen, diary, 4 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.341. The watchman was Beck, according to Gjertsen's account in ch.16 of The South Pole.
[7] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[8] Lt. H.F. Gjertsen, diary, 4 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.341.
[9] Scott Polar Research Institute. The SPRI labels this photograph as being taken by Debenham, but he was in Victoria Land with Taylor, Wright, and P.O. Evans from January to March 1911; Levick probably took it, as he was quite interested in photography and had had lessons from Ponting.
[10] Thorvald Nilsen, diary, 4 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.344.
[11] Hjalmar Johansen, diary, 4 February 1911, published as Dagbok fra Sydpolen (Skien : Vågemot Miniforlag, 2007), p.6.
[12] Raymond Priestley, diary, 4 February, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.344.
[13] Victor Campbell [?], 27 February, 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.424.
[14] Katherine Lambert, in The Longest Winter (Washington DC : Smithsonian, 2004, originally Hell with a Capital H, Pimlico, 2002) is the only writer yet found to state that the Norwegians did in fact find out that one of Scott's sledges had been lost: "Unfortunately, a member of the Eastern Party had let slip the fact that one of these machines was even then reposing on the floor of McMurdo Sound, a fact noted by Nilsen in his diary -- 'at 200 fathoms on the ice they had lost their best automobile.' Amundsen must have been profoundly relieved to hear this snippet of news" (p.53). Lambert does not give a citation for this or any of the diary quotes in this chapter.
[15] Harry Dickason, diary, 4 February 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.18.

February 3, 2011

Friday, 3 February 1911


They shifted from day to night marching, in hopes of a better surface for the ponies, to no avail. "Then came the triumph of the snow-shoe again," wrote Scott. "If we had more of these shoes we could certainly put them on seven out of eight of our ponies ... as certainly the ponies so shod would draw their loads over the soft snow patches without any difficulty. It is trying to feel that so great a help to our work has been left behind at the station." [1]

Oates, sharing a tent with Gran and Keohane, wrote to his mother, "The surface of the barrier is very bad for travelling as the summer sun has melted the crust on the snow to a certain extent and the ponies break through almost to their knees.... These poor ponies are having a perfectly wretched time they have their summer coats on and this wind which is blowing now is bitterly cold for them I don't know how they will get on atal [sic], the dogs have bucked up a lot but don't drag much of a load. These reindeer sleeping bags are beastly smelly things but wonderfully warm in fact you could not get any sleep without one. I am very fit indeed it is marvellous how little one feels the cold I suppose it is owing to always being out in it. I have had no snow blindness yet as most people have and I hardly wear goggles atal the reason of this is I think that my eyes are sunk fairly well into my head and so don't get affected so quickly. This is a wonderful country and a great delight to travel in but one can hardly call it travelling for pleasure with 8 ponies to look after and if you take off your mitts you lose the use of your hands almost at once." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 3 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] L.E.G. Oates, letter to Caroline Oates, [date not given], quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingley in Captain Oates : Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, c1982), p.112.