January 1, 2012

Monday, 1 January 1912


"Stick of chocolate to celebrate the New Year," wrote Scott. "The supporting party not in very high spirits, they have not managed matters well for themselves. Prospects seem to get brighter -- only 170 miles to go and plenty of food left." [1]

That evening, with an extra cup of tea in the newly-double-lined tent, the five officers sat up until two in the morning, writing and talking. Oates, Lt. Evans recalled, "talked on and on, and his big, kind, brown eyes sparkled as he recalled little boyish escapades at Eton. ... [He] talked for some hours. At length Captain Scott reached out and affectionately seized him in the way that was itself characteristic of our leader, and said, 'You funny old thing, you have quite come out of your shell, Soldier. Do you know, we have all sat here talking for nearly four hours?'... [That night,] we warmed to each other in a way that we had never thought of, quite oblivious to cold, hardship, scant rations, or the great monotony of sledge hauling." [2]


The Norwegians reached the Devil's Glacier, but having arrived back at a different spot had hit a path between the chasms and avoided the Devil's Ballroom completely. "We were bloody lucky," Amundsen wrote with obvious relief. "In a few hours the whole glacier was conquered." [3]

They still were not completely certain where they were, and thus of the location of their next depot at the edge of the glacier. "The Captain thinks we are East of the depot," Bjaaland wrote, "so do the others. I, on the other hand, believe just as firmly that were are a little to the West. Tomorrow we shall see." [4]


[1] R.F. Scott, 1 January, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition : the Journals, v.1. This is apparently a bowdlerized version, as Roland Huntford gives the phrase as "they have mismanaged matters for themselves" (Race for the South Pole, p.216).
[2] E.R.G.R. Evans, "My Recollections of a Gallant Comrade", Strand Magazine, December 1913, quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingly in Captain Oates, Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, 1982), p.152.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 2 January 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.500.
[4] Olav Bjaaland, diary, 2 January 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.500.

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