A 1965 map of the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, from aerial photographs taken 1958-1962 by the USGS. 
Instead of the blue ice that Shackleton had found at the foot of the Beardmore, there was soft, deep snow. The going was easy enough at first, but as the incline steepened the pulling became "extraordinarily fatiguing".
"[Lt.] Evans' party could not keep up, and Wilson told me some very alarming news concerning it," wrote Scott. "It appears that Atkinson says that Wright is getting played out and Lashly is not so fit as he was owing to the heavy pulling since the blizzard. I have not felt satisfied about this party. The finish of the march to-day showed clearly that something was wrong. They fell a long way behind, had to take off ski, and took nearly half an hour to come up a few hundred yards. True, the surface was awful and growing worse every moment. It is a very serious business if the men are going to crack up. As for myself, I never felt fitter and my party can easily hold its own. P.O. Evans, of course, is a tower of strength, but Oates and Wilson are doing splendidly also." 
"Four long days more," Bjaaland wrote in his diary, "and there's the Pole." 
The polar plateau sits about 2,835 meters (9,306 ft) above sea level. Amundsen noted that the altitude was having an effect on them: it was hard to work, and breathing was an effort. "[But] we'll get our breath back, if only we win." 
 United States Geological Survey, "Mount Elizabeth" map.
 R.F. Scott, diary, 10 December, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
 Olav Bjaaland, diary, 11 December 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.484.
 Roald Amundsen, diary, 11 December 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.484.