January 10, 2012

Wednesday, 10 January 1912


"T. -11°. Last depot 88° 29' S.; 159° 33' E.; Var. 180°. Terrible hard march in the morning," wrote Scott, "only covered 5.1 miles (geo.). Decided to leave depot at lunch camp. Built cairn and left one week's food together with sundry articles of clothing. We are down as close as we can go in the latter. We go forward with eighteen days' food. Yesterday I should have said certain to see us through, but now the surface is beyond words, and if it continues we shall have the greatest difficulty to keep our march long enough." [1]


Antarctic skua, February/March 2008. Photo by Mirko Thiessen. [2]

Amundsen, back on familiar ground, grew aware again of the race between himself and the British, and became impatient and testy. "[He] tolerates no opposition," Bjaaland wrote. "Sharp dispute over my goggles. Is he annoyed that I'm not using the Roaldish snow goggles?" [3] Bjaaland had made a pair based on the Eskimo design with slits, whereas Amundsen preferred glasses with tinted lenses.

Amundsen decided to sprint, running fifteen or twenty miles, camping for eight hours, going on again, regardless of day or night. They saw the last of the mountains, "a wonderful sight," Bjaaland said, "like a home of the trolls, glittering with silver and crystal" -- and two skuas, the first living creatures they had seen for over two months. "Good day, good day, dear skua-crow," wrote Bjaaland. "How are you doing? .... You go back to Lindstrøm and tell him we'll be there in 20 days and clean up his hot cakes, beef and fruit, even if it's green plums." [4]

Fourteen miles out from Framheim, Prestrud noticed Johansen peering intently out to sea. "On my asking him what in the world he was looking at," Prestrud recalled, "he replied 'I could almost swear it was a ship, but of course it's only a wretched iceberg.' We were just agreed upon this, when suddenly Johansen stopped short and began a hurried search for his long glass. 'Are you going to look at the Fram?' I asked ironically. 'Yes, I am,' he said; and while he turned the telescope upon the doubtful object far out in Ross Sea, we two stood waiting for a few endless seconds. 'It's the Fram sure enough, as large as life!' was the welcome announcement that broke our suspense. I glanced at Stubberud and saw his face expanding into its most amiable smile." [5]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 10 January, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Wikimedia Commons. The photograph used here is labelled Stercorarius chilensis; see Wikipedia on the "Brown skua" and e.g. Greg Lasley's page on the "Brown Skua (Catharacta antarctica)" for discussions of the taxonomy of Antarctic skuas.
[3] Olav Bjaaland, diary, 11 January 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.506.
[4] Olav Bjaaland, diary, 11 January 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.506.
[5] Kristian Prestrud, "The Eastern Sledge Journey", in Roald Amundsen's The South Pole, ch.15. Note that the date is given as 11th January 1912; see Hinks' note on dates in "The Observations of Amundsen and Scott at the South Pole" (The Geographical Journal, April 1944, p.169).

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