November 14, 2011

Tuesday, 14 November 1911


"Another horrid march in a terrible light, surface very bad," Scott had written the day before. "Ponies came through all well, but they are being tried hard by the surface conditions." A falling snow made the surfaces soft. "The camp is very silent and cheerless, signs that things are going awry."

Debenham, back at Cape Evans, wrote in a letter home, "I must tell you what I think of [Scott]. I am afraid I am very disappointed in him, tho' my faith died very hard. There's no doubt he can be very nice and the interest he takes in our scientific work is immense, he is also a fine sledger himself and as an organiser is splendid. But there I'm afraid one must stop. His temper is very uncertain and leads him to absurd lengths even in simple arguments. In crises he acts very peculiarly. In one, where Atkinson was lost for 6 hours in a blizzard, I thought he acted splendidly but in all the others I have been quite disgusted with him. What he decides is often enough the right thing I expect, but he loses all control of his tongue and makes us all feel wild ... but it is difficult to judge one's leader.... But the marvellous part of it is that the Owner is the single exception to a general sense of comradeship and jollity amongst all of us." [1]

Mount Ruth Gade, 1911. [2]

The fog that had almost completely obscured their surroundings lifted. "Our course," Amundsen wrote, "is now pointing exactly towards a high mountain -- we call it the Beehive Mountain," later renamed Mount Ruth Gade. "Probably we will reach it at about 86° S. lat. Today we estimated that ranged B and C were ca. 20 nautical miles away." [3]

"Today the terrain has been better than ever," he added. "Long stretches like a ball-room floor. Skiing brilliant. Meridian altitude gave 84°29' -- navigational error 3 nautical miles too little."


[1] Frank Debenham, letter to his mother, 14 November, 1911, quoted by Diana Preston in A First Rate Tragedy : Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, c1998), p.161-162.
[2] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 15 November, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.124.

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