December 30, 2011

Saturday, 30 December 1911


"Scott's own diary of this first fortnight on the plateau shows the immense shove of the man," Cherry wrote later, "he was getting every inch out of the miles, every ounce out of his companions. Also he was in a hurry, he always was. That blizzard which had delayed him just before the Gateway, and the resulting surfaces which had delayed him in the lower reaches of the glacier! One can feel the averages running through his brain: so many miles to-day: so many more to-morrow. When shall we come to an end of this pressure? Can we go straight or must we go more west? And then the great undulating waves with troughs eight miles wide, and the buried mountains, causing whirlpools in the ice -- how immense, and how annoying. The monotonous march: the necessity to keep the mind concentrated to steer amongst disturbances: the relief of a steady plod when the disturbances cease for a time: then more pressure and more crevasses. Always slog on, slog on. Always a fraction of a mile more. On December 30 he writes, 'We have caught up Shackleton's dates.'" [1]


"The dogs are in splendid form now," wrote Amundsen, "hale and hearty. Passed 87° S.Lat. last night at 11 o'clock. As usual we have done our 15 nautical miles in 5 hours. W. always sets sail on his sledge and it helps him a great deal." [2]


[1] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XI.
[2] Roald Amundsen, diary, 31 December 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.214.

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