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.

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