December 27, 2011

Wednesday, 27 December 1911


Bowers accidentally broke the thermometer on the hypsometer, an instrument for determining altitude by the boiling point of water. "[I] got an unusual outburst of wrath in consequence," he wrote in chagrin, "in fact my name is mud just at present. It is rather sad to get into the dirt tub with one's leader at this juncture, but accidents will happen." [1] Scott now had no accurate way to measure altitude, having brought only one thermometer.

"We marched off well after lunch on a soft, snowy surface," Scott wrote that evening, "then came to slippery hard sastrugi and kept a good pace; but I felt this meant something wrong, and on topping a short rise we were once more in the midst of crevasses and disturbances. For an hour it was dreadfully trying -- had to pick a road, tumbled into crevasses, and got jerked about abominably. At the summit of the ridge we came into another 'pit' or 'whirl,' which seemed the centre of the trouble -- is it a submerged mountain peak? During the last hour and a quarter we pulled out on to soft snow again and moved well. Camped at 6.45, having covered 13 1/3 miles (geo.). Steering the party is no light task. One cannot allow one's thoughts to wander as others do, and when, as this afternoon, one gets amongst disturbances, I find it is very worrying and tiring." [2]


[1] H.R. Bowers, diary, 27 December, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.469. Amundsen had four thermometers, in case of accidents.
[2] R. F. Scott, diary, 27 December, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition : the Journals, v.1.

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