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.

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