August 22, 2011

Tuesday, 22 August 1911


First sun of the season on the Hut, 26th August, 1911.

The sun returned to Cape Evans. "We felt very young, sang and cheered --" wrote Scott in his diary, "we were reminded of a bright frosty morning in England -- everything sparkled and the air had the same crisp feel. There is little new to be said of the return of the sun in polar regions, yet it is such a very real and important event that one cannot pass it in silence. It changes the outlook on life of every individual, foul weather is robbed of its terrors; if it is stormy to-day it will be fine to-morrow or the next day, and each day's delay will mean a brighter outlook when the sky is clear." [2]


A driver with a loaded sledge at Framheim, date unknown but probably from a depot tour. [3]

The loaded sledges were hauled by block and tackle from the workshops; they had been ready for a month. Dogs were harnessed, twelve to each of the seven sledges, and run out to the edge of the Barrier to the line of flags that marked the route, and the sledges were left there ready to start when the weather turned. "Our polar journey has begun," wrote Amundsen in his diary. "May it be crowned with good fortune -- for that, the Almighty will help us." [4]

Everyone was allowed 20 lbs. (9 kg) of gear in addition to his sleeping bag. Each had spare underwear and mittens, socks, felt overboots, kamik (soft reindeer or sealskin boots) for wearing when not on the march, sennegrass (a type of sedge grass [
Carex vesicaria] traditionally used by the Sami as an insulator and absorbent inside boots), snow goggles, a felt hat to wear in the sun, face masks for low temperatures, a pocket mirror to check for frostbite on the face, and a man-hauling harness.


[1] Scott Polar Research Institute.
R.F. Scott, diary, 26 August, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[3] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket. There are surprisingly few photographs marking this first start of the Polar journey itself, but then the sun had not quite returned to the Bay of Whales, and it was probably too dark for their cameras.
[4] Roald Amundsen, diary, [23 August, 1911], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.404-405.

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