December 20, 2011

Wednesday, 20 December 1911


"Camp under the Wild Mountains, 20 December 1911." [1]

At evening camp, Scott told off the next returning party. "Atkinson, Wright, Cherry-Garrard, and Keohane. All are disappointed -- poor Wright rather bitterly, I fear. I dread this necessity of choosing -- nothing could be more heartrending. I calculated our programme to start from 85° 10' with 12 units of food [one unit was a week's supplies for four men] and eight men. We ought to be in this position to-morrow night, less one day's food. After all our harassing trouble one cannot but be satisfied with such a prospect." [2]

"Aitch [sic], Cherry, Keohane and I turn back tomorrow night," Wright fumed in his diary. "Scott a fool. Teddy goes on. I have to make course back. Too wild to write more tonight. Teddy slack trace 7/8th of today." [3] Later he recalled more calmly, "Cherry was, I know, very disappointed and so was I. The reason for my disappointment was that I was quite certain that both Cherry and I were in better shape than at least one who was chosen to go on. I must have shown my disappointment since the Owner, most kindly, softened the blow by pointing out that I would have the responsibility as navigator of the party, of seeing that we did not get lost on the way back. It did soften the blow to a great extent. I was not entirely happy but soon recovered and indeed, probably took this responsibility too seriously." [4]

"This evening has been rather a shock," Cherry wrote in his diary. "As I was getting my finnesko on to the top of my ski beyond the tent Scott came up to me, and said that he was afraid he had rather a blow for me. Of course I knew what he was going to say, but could hardly grasp that I was going back -- to-morrow night. The returning party is to be Atch, Silas, Keohane and self." [5]

"Scott was very put about, said he had been thinking a lot about it but had come to the conclusion that the seamen with their special knowledge, would be needed: to rebuild the sledge, I suppose. Wilson told me it was a toss-up whether Titus or I should go on: that being so I think Titus will help him more than I can. I said all I could think of -- he seemed so cut up about it, saying 'I think, somehow, it is specially hard on you.' I said I hoped I had not disappointed him, and he caught hold of me and said 'No -- no -- No,' so if that is the case all is well. He told me that at the bottom of the glacier he was hardly expecting to go on himself: I don't know what the trouble is, but his foot is troubling him, and also, I think, indigestion."


Amundsen raised the daily allowance of pemmican from 350g to 400g per man. "God reward him for that," Bjaaland wrote. "Now I'm so full and satisfied, I can't express it in words." [6]


[1] "The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott", 5 October 2011, "Scott took this impressive image to capture the interesting geological features around Mount Wild. On the sledge in the camp, two figures can be seen sketching. On the left, Apsley Cherry Garrard is drawing the view towards Mount Buckley; on the right, Edward Wilson is making detailed sketches and notes of the geological features so clearly visible in Scott's photograph. The other figure that can be seen is probably Birdie Bowers.... Scott returned his camera to base with the First Supporting Party as they departed from the top of the Beardmore Glacier towards Cape Evans.... Bowers, with his lighter camera, was chosen by Scott to become the photographer for the final pole party."
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 20 December, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[3] Charles S. Wright, diary, 20 December, 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.476.
[4] Charles S. Wright, Silas : the Antarctic Diaries and Memoir of Charles S. Wright (Columbus : Ohio State University, 1993), quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.476.
[5] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 20 December, 1911, quoted in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.10.
[6] Olav Bjaaland, diary, 21 December 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.497.

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