January 7, 2012

Sunday, 7 January 1912


The party depoted their skis and set off walking, but argued over the decision, and eventually Scott was persuaded to turn back and fetch them, losing an hour and a half, and doing only 9 miles for the day."Marching again," he wrote, "I found to my horror we could scarcely move the sledge on ski; the first hour was awful owing to the wretched coating of loose sandy snow. However, we persisted, and towards the latter end of our tiring march we began to make better progress, but the work is still awfully heavy. I must stick to the ski after this." [1]

"Bowers has a heavy time on foot," Scott added, "but nothing seems to tire him. Evans has a nasty cut on his hand (sledge-making). I hope it won't give trouble. Our food continues to amply satisfy. What luck to have hit on such an excellent ration."

Lt. Evans's party had collected their skis from the Three-Degree depot the night before. Crean and Evans were both suffering from snow-blindness in varying degrees. "We have had a very good day as far as travelling goes," Lashly wrote, "the wind has been behind us and is a great help to us. We have been on ski all day for the first time. It seems a good change to footing it, the one thing day after day gets on one's nerves. Crean's eyes are a bit better to-day, but far from being well. The temperature is pretty low, which dont improve the surface for hauling, but we seem to be getting along pretty well. We have no sledge meter so we have to go by guess. Mr. Evans says we done 17 1/2 miles, but I say 16 1/2. I am not going to over-estimate our day's run, as I am taking charge of the biscuits so that we dont over-step the mark. This we have all agreed to so that we should exactly know how we stand." [2]


A gale struck in the afternoon. "Luckily I was wearing my sealskin clothes, which I had left in the depot on the way south," Amundsen noted drily, "and now they were of great use." [3]

They had to steer by compass. "We did not have clear terrain and could not see our hands in front of our faces, so I thought it best to have two forerunners -- Bj[aaland] and Hass[el] roped together. A few hours after starting, we reached some hard, iced ridges, which hinted at the proximity of the huge crevasses we had passed on the way south. At that moment there was a break in the clouds, and not many metres in front of the leading forerunner (Bj.) lay one of the gaping crevasses."

Coming out of the blizzard, they had impenetrable black clouds behind them and blazing sunshine in front, and they found one of their cairns directly in their line of travel. "Not bad steering in the blizzard," Amundsen wrote. They reached the depot at 85° in the evening, gave the dogs double rations, and loaded the fresh supplies on the sledges.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 7 January, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] William Lashly, diary, 7 January, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.
[3] Roald Amundsen, diary, 8 January, 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.231.

No comments:

Post a Comment