February 29, 2012

Thursday, 29 February 1912


The Terra Nova left Cape Evans with the convalescent Lt. Evans and a number of the scientists on board, and made for Evans Cove to collect Campbell's Northern Party. Ice and bad weather kept them too far out, despite repeated attempts, and rather than have the ship be iced in, Pennell turned and headed for New Zealand on 7th March.

Despite a few upsets, and the dogs once running away with the half-loaded sledge, Cherry having flung himself on it but unable to stop them, he wrote in his diary, "If anybody had told me we could reach Bluff Depôt, nearly ninety miles, in four days, I would not have believed it. We have had a good clear day with much mirage. Dogs a bit tired." [1]

The six men of the Northern Party had been confined to their tents by a thirteen-day blizzard, hungry and anxious to sight the Terra Nova, by now some weeks later than expected. Around this time, an increasingly-worried Levick wrote, "Should the ship not appear by the 6th March, there will be small chance of her reaching us owing to the pack freezing in, and we shall conclude that she has gone down or been injured somehow, as of course she would never dream of leaving us here for the winter with only four weeks' provisions." [2]


[1] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XIII.
[2] George Murray Levick, diary? [date not given], quoted by Katherine Lambert in The Longest Winter (Washington DC : Smithsonian Books, c2004), p.122.

February 28, 2012

Wednesday, 28 February 1912


"Thermometer went below -40° last night," Scott wrote, "it was desperately cold for us, but we had a fair night. I decided to slightly increase food; the effect is undoubtedly good. Started marching in -32° with a slight north-westerly breeze -- blighting. Many cold feet this morning; long time over foot gear, but we are earlier. Shall camp earlier and get the chance of a good night, if not the reality. Things must be critical till we reach the depot, and the more I think of matters, the more I anticipate their remaining so after that event. Only 24 1/2 miles from the depot. The sun shines brightly, but there is little warmth in it. There is no doubt the middle of the Barrier is a pretty awful locality." [1]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 28 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 27, 2012

Tuesday, 27 February 1912


"Desperately cold last night," wrote Scott, "-33° when we got up, with -37° minimum. Some suffering from cold feet, but all got good rest. We must open out on food soon."

They had six days' food, three days' fuel, and thirty-one miles to go before the next depot.

"Pray God we have no further set-backs. We are naturally always discussing possibility of meeting dogs, where and when, &c. It is a critical position. We may find ourselves in safety at next depôt, but there is a horrid element of doubt." [1]

Wilson stopped keeping his diary.

En route to One Ton Depot, Cherry wrote, "It seemed that when we started in low drift that we should pick nothing up but by good luck or good I dont know what we got everything, motor then pony walls at 10m [sic] where we stopped & had a cup of tea. 48 1/2 miles in 2 days is more than I ever hoped for -- may our luck continue. Dogs pulling very fit & not done up." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 27 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 27 February, 1912. Scott Polar Research Institute.

February 26, 2012

Monday, 26 February 1912


"Bowers and Wilson now in front," wrote Scott. "Find great relief pulling behind with no necessity to keep attention on track." [1]

"Temp. -21°," he wrote in the evening. "Nine hours' solid marching has given us 11 1/2 miles. Only 43 miles from the next depôt. Wonderfully fine weather but cold, very cold. Nothing dries and we get our feet cold too often. We want more food yet and especially more fat. Fuel is woefully short. We can scarcely hope to get a better surface at this season, but I wish we could have some help from the wind, though it might shake us badly if the temp. didn't rise."

A blizzard at Cape Evans prevented Cherry-Garrard from starting out on the 25th as planned, but it had cleared enough by that night for him to leave at two a.m. His orders from Atkinson were, he wrote later, "1. To take 24 days' food for the two men, and 21 days' food for the two dog-teams, together with the food for the Polar Party. 2. To travel to One Ton Depôt as fast as possible and leave the food there. 3. If Scott had not arrived at One Ton Depôt before me I was to judge what to do. 4. That Scott was not in any way dependent on the dogs for his return. 5. That Scott had given particular instructions that the dogs were not to be risked in view of the sledging plans for next season." Since they had estimated the necessary daily distance for the rations they were using as 8.4 miles, and the averages of the outward journey and all of the returning parties were from 11 to 14 miles per day, Cherry's journey was seen not as a relief party but simply as helping to speed the polar party home.

The more-experienced Dimitri went in front most of the way, as Cherry's glasses fogged up constantly in the wind and drift. "Very tired," he wrote at Corner Camp just before midnight, "30 miles today in thick weather & 2 depots to find. We were dead on this one thank goodness." [3]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 26 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.8.
[3] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 26 February, 1912. Scott Polar Research Institute.

February 25, 2012

Sunday, 25 February 1912


"Lunch Temp. -12°," wrote Scott. "Managed just 6 miles this morning. Started somewhat despondent; not relieved when pulling seemed to show no improvement. Bit by bit surface grew better, less sastrugi, more glide, slight following wind for a time. Then we began to travel a little faster. But the pulling is still very hard; undulations disappearing but inequalities remain."

"Twenty-six Camp walls about 2 miles ahead, all tracks in sight -- Evans' track very conspicuous. This is something in favour, but the pulling is tiring us, though we are getting into better ski drawing again. Bowers hasn't quite the trick and is a little hurt at my criticisms, but I never doubted his heart. Very much easier -- write diary at lunch -- excellent meal -- now one pannikin very strong tea -- four biscuits and butter."

"Hope for better things this afternoon, but no improvement apparent. Oh! for a little wind -- Evans evidently had plenty." [1]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 25 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition : the Journals, v.1. Note that the published edition of the diary has "E. Evans evidently had plenty" in the last line, by which Scott usually meant P.O. Evans, when he surely must have meant Lt. Evans. Roland Huntford's edition merely says "Evans".

February 24, 2012

Saturday, 24 February 1912


They reached the Southern Barrier Depot, Scott wrote, and "[found the] store in order except shortage oil -- shall have to be very saving with fuel -- otherwise have ten full days' provision from to-night and shall have less than 70 miles to go." [1]

Notes from Meares, Atkinson, and Teddy Evans relieved their anxiety as to the supporting parties, although the one from Evans was "not very cheerful," Scott added. "Think he must have been a little anxious."

"There is no doubt we have been rising steadily since leaving the Shambles Camp. The coastal Barrier descends except where glaciers press out. Undulation still but flattening out. Surface soft on top, curiously hard below. Great difference now between night and day temperatures. Quite warm as I write in tent. We are on tracks with half-march cairn ahead; have covered 4 1/2 miles. Poor Wilson has a fearful attack snow-blindness consequent on yesterday's efforts. Wish we had more fuel."

That evening, in a temperature that had dropped to -17°, he wrote, "A little despondent again. We had a really terrible surface this afternoon and only covered 4 miles. We are on the track just beyond a lunch cairn. It really will be a bad business if we are to have this pulling all through. I don't know what to think, but the rapid closing of the season is ominous. It is great luck having the horsemeat to add to our ration. To-night we have had a real fine 'hoosh.' It is a race between the season and hard conditions and our fitness and good food."

Oates wrote his last diary entry.

"I'm right in it," Cherry wrote at Hut Point, "to take 2 dog teams out to meet Scott. Crean & Dimitri got in yesterday 12 noon with the news of Evans very bad with scurvy, dogs not started, & Silas or I was to take them out. Atch must stop with Evans here at Hut Point. Left C. Evans with Silas & D. [sic] at 2 pm. & got over without difficulty. Ice good & got outside Big Razorback. Atch settled I was to go." He was hampered by short-sightedness, had never driven dogs before and could not navigate. He nervously filled the front of his diary with notes to himself on the use of a compass, minute details on the Polar Party's estimated arrival dates, and the course from landmark to landmark. "Dimitri & other dog team came in this morning & I have spent the day in navigation, weights & dog training. Start tomorrow if possible, dogs had to rest today but now blizzing a bit. Of course I feel doubtful about my navigation, but what one can do one can do & Scott is not depending on the dog teams. I think he may be in to One Ton by the 30th & if so the dogs now can do little or nothing." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 24 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 24 February, 1912, Scott Polar Research Institute. In a letter home of 26 October 1911, Scott had written, "'Cherry' has just come to me with a very anxious face to say that I must not count on his navigating powers. For the moment I didn't know what he was driving at, but then I remembered that some months ago I said that it would be a good thing for all the officers going South to have some knowledge of navigation so that in emergency they would know how to steer a sledge home. It appears that 'Cherry' thereupon commenced aserious and arduous course of study of abstruse navigational problems which he found exceedingly tough and now despaired mastering. Of course there is not one chance in a hundred that he will ever have to consider navigation on our journey and in that one chance the problem must be of the simplest nature, but it makes matters much easier for me to have men who take the details of one's work so seriously and who strive so simply and honestly to make it successful" (quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1).

February 23, 2012

Friday, 23 February 1912


Bowers' sharp eyes spotted an old cairn. "Our spirits rose accordingly," noted Scott. They did a little over eight miles in seven hours, and in the afternoon camped within a few miles of the next depot. "We cannot see it, but, given fine weather, we cannot miss it. We are, therefore, extraordinarily relieved." [1]

Dimitri and the dog team arrived back at Cape Evans with Crean and a note from Atkinson, who was at Hut Point. Atch suggested that he must stay with the seriously-ill Lt. Evans, and either Wright or Cherry-Garrard should take the dogs out to One Ton. The two left for Hut Point almost at once; there it was decided that since Simpson was to depart with the Terra Nova, Wright must be in charge of the meteorological work at Cape Evans, and so Cherry should make the trip.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 23 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 22, 2012

Thursday, 22 February 1912


"Sledging in a High Wind -- E. A. Wilson, del." [1]

The uncertainty of not knowing the precise location of the next cairns was taking its toll. "There is little doubt we are in for a rotten critical time going home," wrote Scott, "and the lateness of the season may make it really serious. Shortly after starting to-day the wind grew very fresh from the S.E. with strong surface drift. We lost the faint track immediately, though covering ground fairly rapidly. Lunch came without sight of the cairn we had hoped to pass. In the afternoon, Bowers being sure we were too far to the west, steered out. Result, we have passed another pony camp without seeing it.... It's a gloomy position, more especially as one sees the same difficulty returning even when we have corrected the error." [2]

Lashly and Lt. Evans arrived at Hut Point at one in the afternoon. "Mr. Evans is alright and asleep," Lashly wrote. "We are looking for a mail now. How funny we should always be looking for something else, now we are safe." [3] Crean and Dimitri were off again almost at once to get to the ship.


[1] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.13.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 22 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[3] William Lashly, diary, 22 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.12.

February 21, 2012

Wednesday, 21 February 1912


"Gloomy and overcast when we started; a good deal warmer," wrote Scott, noting a lunch-time temperature of -9 1/2°, and a few degrees less in the evening. "The marching almost as bad as yesterday. Heavy toiling all day, inspiring gloomiest thoughts at times. Rays of comfort when we picked up tracks and cairns. At lunch we seemed to have missed the way, but an hour or two after we passed the last pony walls, and since, we struck a tent ring, ending the march actually on our old pony-tracks. There is a critical spot here with a long stretch between cairns. If we can tide that over we get on the regular cairn route, and with luck should stick to it; but everything depends on the weather. We never won a march of 8 1/2 miles with greater difficulty, but we can't go on like this. We are drawing away from the land and perhaps may get better things in a day or two. I devoutly hope so." [1]


Three weeks into their journey, Hassel wrote in his diary, "Amundsen today sent a list aft in which he asks every man to answer the question whether they will go north, yes or no. Everyone answered no, except Beck (the ice pilot)." A few days later, after Amundsen had sounded out each man individually, Hassel added, "Amundsen has now spoken to everyone and asked who will go north, with the exception of Ludwig Hansen. All have said yes (!) except Bjaaland." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 21 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Sverre Hassel, diary, 21 and 24 February, 1912, in Dagboksnotater fra Sydpolen (Skien : Vågemots miniforlag, 1997), p.10-11.

February 20, 2012

Tuesday, 20 February 1912


Scott headed this entry "Monday", although it was in fact Tuesday, and from here on the days of the week were one behind -- a mistake that was silently corrected in the published edition of his diary. "Same terrible surface," he wrote, "four hours' hard plodding in morning brought us to our Desolation Camp, where we had the four-day blizzard." They had done seven miles. "Terribly slow progress, but we hope for better things as we clear the land." [1]

Out near Corner Camp, Lashly waited with Lt. Evans, passing the time by talking about the progress of the Polar party and the condition of the ice at Hut Point, but mostly of what they were going to eat when they got home. "I think we have got everything that is good down on our list," Lashly noted. "Of course New Zealand have got to be answerable for a good deal: plenty of apples we are going to have and some nice home-made cake, not too rich, as we think we can eat more." When they heard dogs, he was out of the tent in a second, to see Atkinson and Dimitri. "It seems to me we are in a new world, a weight is off my mind and I can once more see a bright spot in the sky for us all, the gloom is now removed. The bliz is bad outside, and Doctor and Dimitri is gone and turned in, so will [I] once more, but sleep is out of the question." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 20 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1. See also Roland Huntford's Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.281.
[2] William Lashly, diary, 20 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.

February 19, 2012

Monday, 19 February 1912


"We have struggled out 4.6 miles in a short day over a really terrible surface," wrote Scott, "it has been like pulling over desert sand, not the least glide in the world. If this goes on we shall have a bad time.... It is perhaps premature to be anxious about covering distance. In all other respects things are improving. We have our sleeping-bags spread on the sledge and they are drying, but, above all, we have our full measure of food again. To-night we had a sort of stew fry of pemmican and horseflesh, and voted it the best hoosh we had ever had on a sledge journey. The absence of poor Evans is a help to the commissariat, but if he had been here in a fit state we might have got along faster. I wonder what is in store for us, with some little alarm at the lateness of the season." [1]

Waiting with Lt. Evans, Lashly wrote, "It was very thick this morning, but cleared as the day advanced, but we could not see Hut Point. I wonder if poor old Tom reached alright. We have very little food now except biscuit, but oil is better. We have got 1/2 gallon and if relief dont come for some time we shall be able to have hot water when all other things are gone. I have thought out a plan for the future, in case of no relief coming, but of course we took all things into consideration in case of failure, but we must hope for the best. Of course I know it is no use thinking of Mr. Evans being able to move any further as he cant stand at all, the only thing is, we may have missed the dogs, if so there is still a chance of someone being at Hut Point. I am cold now and cannot write more to-night. We lose the sun at midnight now. If all had went well we should have been home by now." [2]

Crean staggered into the Discovery hut alone, to report that Lt. Evans was out near Corner Camp, seriously ill with scurvy and being looked after by Lashly. "[The Doctor] gave me a tot first," Crean recalled, "and then a feed of porridge -- but I couldn't keep it down: thats the first time in my life that ever it happened, and it was the brandy that did it." [3] Atkinson then set out with Dimitri and the dogs to bring them in.

Scott's message to Lt. Evans for the dogs to meet him between 82 and 83 deg. was forgotten.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 19 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] William Lashly, diary, 19 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.
[3] Tom Crean, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.12.

February 18, 2012

Sunday, 18 February 1912


Within half an hour after P.O. Evans' death, the remaining party struck camp and got down to the Lower Barrier Depot, and gave themselves five hours' sleep "after the horrible night." A short march then took them across the divide to Shambles Camp. "Here with plenty of horsemeat we have had a fine supper, to be followed by others such, and so continue a more plentiful era if we can keep good marches up. New life seems to come with greater food almost immediately, but I am anxious about the Barrier surfaces." [1]

With the supplies available at the intermediary depots, they had four weeks' full rations to cover the 240 miles to One Ton Depot, allowing an average daily march of eight to nine miles.

Hauling the semi-conscious Lt. Evans on a sledge in bitter temperatures and with low food, Lashly and Crean decided that Crean would go on ahead to fetch help. "We had about a day's provisions with extra biscuit taken from the motor, and a little extra oil taken from the same place, so we gave Crean what he thought he could manage to accomplish the Journey of 30 miles geographical on, which was a little chocolate and biscuits. We put him up a little drink, but he would not carry it. What a pity we did not have some ski," Lashly observed, "but we [had] dumped them to save weight." With only three biscuits and a little chocolate, Crean set out on the thirty-some miles to Hut Point. Lashly himself went on a mile or so to Corner Camp where he picked up what supplies he could, and a piece of fabric to make a signal flag. "I found a note left at Corner Camp by Mr. Day saying there was a lot of very bad crevasses between there and the sea ice, especially off White Island. This put me in a bit of a fix, as I, of course, at once thought of Crean. He being on foot was more likely to go down than he would had he been on ski. I did not tell Mr. Evans anything about the crevasses, as I certainly thought it would be best kept from him. I just told him the note was there and all was well." [2]

The Second Western Geological Party on the deck of the Terra Nova, 1912. From left, Taylor, Debenham, Gran, and Forde. [3]

Pennell in the Terra Nova was unable to pick up Campbell's Northern Party at Evans Cove but sighted the Second Western Geological Party trekking south and collected them.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 18 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Journey, v.1.
[2] William Lashly, diary, 18 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.
[3] Scott Polar Research Institute.

February 17, 2012

Saturday, 17 February 1912


P.O. Evans seemed a little better in the morning, and got into his harness but could not pull. "He asked Bowers to lend him a piece of string," Scott wrote. "I cautioned him to come on as quickly as he could, and he answered cheerfully as I thought. We had to push on, and the remainder of us were forced to pull very hard, sweating heavily. Abreast the Monument Rock we stopped, and seeing Evans a long way astern, I camped for lunch. There was no alarm at first." [1]

Oates recorded in his diary, "After lunch, as Evans was not up, we went back on ski for him, Scott and I leading and we found him on his hands and knees in the snow in a most pitiable condition." Evans said that he thought he must have fainted. "He was unable to walk, and the other three went back for the empty sledge and we brought him into the tent where he died at 12.30 a.m." [2]

"On discussing the symptoms," Scott went on, "we think he began to get weaker just before we reached the Pole, and that his downward path was accelerated first by the shock of his frostbitten fingers, and later by falls during rough travelling on the glacier, further by his loss of all confidence in himself. Wilson thinks it certain he must have injured his brain by a fall. It is a terrible thing to lose a companion in this way, but calm reflection shows that there could not have been a better ending to the terrible anxieties of the past week. Discussion of the situation at lunch yesterday shows us what a desperate pass we were in with a sick man on our hands at such a distance from home."


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 17 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] L.E.G. Oates, diary, 17 February, 1912, quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingly in Captain Oates, Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, 1982), p.159.

February 16, 2012

Friday, 16 February 1912


"Evans has nearly broken down in brain, we think," wrote Scott. "He is absolutely changed from his normal self-reliant self." [1]

Oates brusquely noted, "Camp at 8.15 owing to poor Evans having a partial collapse. He first had to get out of his harness and hold on to the sledge and later he said he could not get on. If he does not get by tomorrow God knows how we are going to get him home. We could not possibly carry him on the sledge." [2]

Wilson, more charitably, thought that Evans' collapse "had much to do with the fact that he has never been sick in his life and is now helpless with his hands frost-bitten." [3]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 16 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] L.E.G. Oates, diary, 16 February, 1912, quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingly in Captain Oates, Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, 1982), p.158.
[2] E.A. Wilson, diary, 16 February, 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.534.

February 15, 2012

Thursday, 15 February 1912


"Again we are running short of provision," wrote Scott. "We don't know our distance from the depot, but imagine about 20 miles. Heavy march -- did 13 3/4 (geo.). We are pulling for food and not very strong evidently. In the afternoon it was overcast; land blotted out for a considerable interval. We have reduced food, also sleep; feeling rather done. Trust 1 1/2 days or 2 at most will see us at depot." [1]

Oates noted equally tersely, "Evans is quite worn out with the work and how he is going to do the 400 odd miles we have still to do I don't know." [2]

The Terra Nova left to collect Debenham's Second Western Party at Granite Harbour on the western side of McMurdo Sound, and four days later headed north for Terra Nova Bay.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 15 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] L.E.G. Oates, diary, 15 February, 1912, quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingly in Captain Oates, Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, 1982), p.158.

February 14, 2012

Wednesday, 14 February 1912


"[A] fairly good march," wrote Scott, after six and a half miles along a line of moraines that led them out onto the glacier.

"There is no getting away from the fact that we are not going strong. Probably none of us: Wilson's leg still troubles him and he doesn't like to trust himself on ski; but the worst case is Evans, who is giving us serious anxiety. This morning he suddenly disclosed a huge blister on his foot. It delayed us on the march, when he had to have his crampon readjusted. Sometimes I fear he is going from bad to worse, but I trust he will pick up again when we come to steady work on ski like this afternoon. He is hungry and so is Wilson. We can't risk opening out our food again, and as cook at present I am serving something under full allowance. We are inclined to get slack and slow with our camping arrangements, and small delays increase. I have talked of the matter to-night and hope for improvement. We cannot do distance without the ponies. The next depot [43] some 30 miles away and nearly 3 days' food in hand." [1]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 14 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 13, 2012

Tuesday, 13 February 1912


In a clear moment, Wilson caught sight of the depot flag. "It was an immense relief," Scott wrote, "and we were soon in possession of our 3 1/2 days' food. The relief to all is inexpressible; needless to say, we camped and had a meal."

"Yesterday was the worst experience of the trip and gave a horrid feeling of insecurity. Now we are right up, we must march. In future food must be worked so that we do not run so short if the weather fails us. We mustn't get into a hole like this again. Greatly relieved to find that both the other parties got through safely." [1]

To the north, Lt. Evans could now go no further on his own. Lashly had seen this coming, and they had left behind some of their gear a few days earlier to lighten their sledge. "So we stopped and camped," he wrote, "and decided to drop everything we can possibly do without, so we have only got our sleeping bags, cooker, and what little food and oil we have left. Our load is not much, but Mr. Evans on the sledge makes it pretty heavy work for us both, but he says he is comfortable now. This morning he wished us to leave him, but this we could not think of. We shall stand by him to the end one way or other, so we are the masters to-day. He has got to do as we wish and we hope to pull him through. This morning when we depôted all our gear I changed my socks and got my foot badly frostbitten, and the only way was to fetch it round. So although Mr. Evans was so bad he proposed to stuff it on his stomach to try and get it right again. I did not like to risk such a thing as he is certainly very weak, but we tried it, and it succeeded in bringing it round, thanks to his thoughtfulness, and I shall never forget the kindness bestowed on me at a critical time in our travels, but I think we could go to any length of trouble to assist one another; in such time and such a place we must trust in a higher power to pull us through. When we pack up now and have to move off we have to get everything ready before we attempt to move the tent, as it is impossible for our leader now to stand, therefore it is necessary to get him ready before we start. We then pull the sledge alongside his bag and lift him on to it and strap him on. It is a painful piece of work and he takes it pretty well, but we can't help hurting him, as it is very awkward to lift him, the snow being soft and the light so bad, but he dont complain. The only thing we hear him grind his teeth." [2]

Atkinson and Dimitri and the two dog teams left Cape Evans for Hut Point. This was a week or so earlier than he had planned, because the sea ice -- the means of getting from one place to the other -- was beginning to break up.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 13 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] William Lashly, diary, 13 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII. He does not mention his diary, but he obviously kept that with him as well.

February 12, 2012

Monday, 12 February 1912


"We are in a rather nasty hole tonight," wrote Oates in his diary. "Got among bad crevasses and pressure, all blue ice. We struggled in this chaos until about 9 p.m., when we were absolutely done." [1]

"By a fatal chance we kept too far to the left," Scott wrote, "and then we struck uphill and, tired and despondent, arrived in a horrid maze of crevasses and fissures. Divided councils caused our course to be erratic after this, and finally, at 9 P.M. we landed in the worst place of all. After discussion we decided to camp, and here we are, after a very short supper and one meal only remaining in the food bag; the depot doubtful in locality. We must get there to-morrow. Meanwhile we are cheerful with an effort. It's a tight place, but luckily we've been well fed up to the present. Pray God we have fine weather to-morrow." [2]

"It's an extraordinary thing about Evans," added Oates, "he's lost his guts and behaves like an old woman or worse. He's quite worn out with the work, and how he's going to do the 400 odd miles we've still got to do, I don't know." [3]


[1] L.E.G. Oates, diary, 12 February, 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.520.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 12 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[3] L.E.G. Oates, diary, 12 February, 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.521.

February 11, 2012

Sunday, 11 February 1912


Without a marked route, a maze of crevasses led to uncertainty. "For three hours we plunged on on ski," Scott wrote, "first thinking we were too much to the right, then too much to the left; meanwhile the disturbance got worse and my spirits received a very rude shock. There were times when it seemed almost impossible to find a way out of the awful turmoil in which we found ourselves. At length, arguing that there must be a way on our left, we plunged in that direction. It got worse, harder, more icy and crevassed. We could not manage our ski and pulled on foot, falling into crevasses every minute."

After twelve hours' march, Scott could write, "I think we are on or about the right track now," but that night at dinner they made their three remaining pemmican meals into four.


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 11 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 9, 2012

Friday, 9 February 1912


Lashly, Crean, and Lt. Evans reached the depot at One Ton. "Oh, what a God-send to get a change of food!" Lashly wrote with feeling. "We have taken enough food for 9 days, which if we still keep up our present rate of progress it ought to take us in to Hut Point. We cannot take too heavy a load, as there is only the two of us pulling now, and this our last port of call before we reach Hut Point, but things are not looking any too favourable for us, as our leader is gradually getting lower every day. It is almost impossible for him to get along, and we are still 120 miles from Hut Point." [1]

At Cape Evans, unloading of the Terra Nova began.


The Fram crossed the Antarctic Circle on her way to Hobart, "[creeping] forwards," Bjaaland wrote, "miserably slowly, headwinds and fog and rain and high seas on the beam." [2]

Amundsen spent hours every day in his cabin reading a year's worth of newspapers, preparing his telegrams and writing his story for the press, and writing the lecture he would give in the coming months. Nilsen translated this for him into English.

Johansen, miserable and disappointed, wrote to his wife, "When one is so far away and left to one's self in the great loneliness, one broods about one thing or the other... For my part, I can still be glad that I have not suffered any injury, but still possess my indomitable strength.... I did not get to the Pole. I naturally would have liked to.... The main thing is that ... we did good work [on King Edward VII Land]. But you know the great public asks who has been to the Pole. Well, I don't care. I dare to say that nevertheless I have also helped the Southern party to reach the Pole, even if I couldn't be on the final assault, and I know that I was appreciated by those with whom I worked.... Ah well, as things are, it has all turned out for the best." [3]


[1] William Lashly, diary, 9 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.
[2] Olav Bjaaland, diary, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.530.
[3] Hjalmar Johansen, letter to his wife, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.531.

February 8, 2012

Thursday, 8 February 1912


In a spell of calm and sunshine after weeks of cold Plateau winds, Scott sent Bowers on ski towards Mount Darwin to collect rock samples. "He obtained several specimens, all of much the same type, a close-grained granite rock which weathers red. Hence the pink limestone." [1]

"The moraine was obviously so interesting," Scott went on in his old manner, "that when we had advanced some miles and got out of the wind, I decided to camp and spend the rest of the day geologising. It has been extremely interesting. We found ourselves under perpendicular cliffs of Beacon sandstone, weathering rapidly and carrying veritable coal seams. From the last Wilson, with his sharp eyes, has picked several plant impressions, the last a piece of coal with beautifully traced leaves in layers, also some excellently preserved impressions of thick stems, showing cellular structure. In one place we saw the cast of small waves on the sand. To-night Bill has got a specimen of limestone with archeo-cyathus -- the trouble is one cannot imagine where the stone comes from; it is evidently rare, as few specimens occur in the moraine. There is a good deal of pure white quartz. Altogether we have had a most interesting afternoon, and the relief of being out of the wind and in a warmer temperature is inexpressible. I hope and trust we shall all buck up again now that the conditions are more favourable. We have been in shadow all the afternoon, but the sun has just reached us, a little obscured by night haze. A lot could be written on the delight of setting foot on rock after 14 weeks of snow and ice and nearly 7 out of sight of aught else. It is like going ashore after a sea voyage."

"The specimens collected by [Wilson] and Lt. Bowers," Debenham later wrote, "are perhaps the most important of all the geological results [of the expedition]. The plant fossils collected by this party are the best preserved of any yet found in this quadrant of the Antarctic, and are of the character best suited to settle a long-standing controversy between geologists as to the nature of the former union between Antarctica and Australasia." [2]

"To-day have been very favourable and fine," wrote Lashly, "we had a good breeze and set sail after lunch. If we get a good day to-morrow we hope to reach One Ton. Mr. Evans have passed a good deal of blood to-day, which makes things look a lot worse. I have to do nearly everything for him now." [3]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 8 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Frank Debenham, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.493.
[3] William Lashly, diary, 8 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.

February 7, 2012

Wednesday, 7 February 1912


At breakfast, there was what Scott called a "panic" and Wilson a "discussion" when it was discovered that a box of biscuit was missing. [1] Bowers, Scott wrote, was "dreadfully disturbed about it. The shortage is a full day's allowance." [2]

They found a note from Lt. Evans to say that they had passed safely through on 14th January -- "half a day longer between depots than we have been," noted Scott.

That day they began the descent of the Beardmore, and reached the depot at the upper glacier in the evening.


[1] Roland Huntford, in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.519.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 7 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 6, 2012

Tuesday, 6 February 1912


"Lunch 7900; Supper 7210," wrote Scott. "Temp. -15°. We've had a horrid day and not covered good mileage. On turning out found sky overcast; a beastly position amidst crevasses. Luckily it cleared just before we started. We went straight for Mt. Darwin, but in half an hour found ourselves amongst huge open chasms, unbridged, but not very deep, I think. We turned to the north between two, but to our chagrin they converged into chaotic disturbance. We had to retrace our steps for a mile or so, then struck to the west and got on to a confused sea of sastrugi, pulling very hard; we put up the sail, Evans' nose suffered, Wilson very cold, everything horrid. Camped for lunch in the sastrugi; the only comfort, things looked clearer to the west and we were obviously going downhill. In the afternoon we struggled on, got out of sastrugi and turned over on glazed surface, crossing many crevasses -- very easy work on ski. Towards the end of the march we realised the certainty of maintaining a more or less straight course to the depot, and estimate distance 10 to 15 miles."

"Food is low and weather uncertain, so that many hours of the day were anxious; but this evening, though we are not as far advanced as I expected, the outlook is much more promising. Evans is the chief anxiety now; his cuts and wounds suppurate, his nose looks very bad, and altogether he shows considerable signs of being played out. Things may mend for him on the glacier, and his wounds get some respite under warmer conditions. I am indeed glad to think we shall so soon have done with plateau conditions. It took us 27 days to reach the Pole and 21 days back -- in all 48 days -- nearly 7 weeks in low temperature with almost incessant wind." [1]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 6 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

February 5, 2012

Monday, 5 February 1912


P.O. Evans was deteriorating rapidly. Bitterly disappointed over the loss of the Pole -- it would have meant financial security to him, promotion and the chance to open a little pub in a comfortable retirement -- he was now becoming listless and apathetic. [1]

Scott was not especially sympathetic towards invalids, and expected his men to bear their suffering with English stoicism. "Our faces are much cut up by all the winds we have had, mine least of all; the others tell me they feel their noses more going with than against the wind. Evans' nose is almost as bad as his fingers. He is a good deal crocked up," he noted, adding in a remarked edited out of the published journals, "and very stupid about himself." [2]

The Terra Nova arrived at Cape Evans. Simpson decided to change his plans and go home, handing over his work to Wright; Meares had already intended to take the ship back.

Debenham's Second Western Geological Party began trekking south, after waiting for the Terra Nova for twenty days.


[1] Roland Huntford, in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.522, citing interviews with Tryggve Gran.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 5 February, 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.271.

February 4, 2012

Sunday, 4 February 1912


Beginning to descend to the glacier, Scott and Evans fell up to their waists in a crevasse, then Evans a second time. In the evening, Scott wrote that the condition of the party was not improving, "especially Evans, who is becoming rather dull and incapable." [1]

Bowers stopped keeping his diary.

Lashly, Crean, and Lt. Evans reached the depot at Mount Hooper in the evening. Lt. Evans was by now seriously ill. "We have taken out our food and left nearly all the pemmican as we dont require it on account of none of us caring for it," Lashly wrote, "therefore we are leaving it behind for the others. They may require it. We have left our note and wished them every success on their way, but we have decided it is best not to say anything about Mr. Evans being ill or suffering from scurvy. This old cairn have stood the weather and is still a huge thing." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 4 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] William Lashly, diary, 4 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.

February 3, 2012

Saturday, 3 February 1912


Lashly wrote, "This morning we were forced to put Mr. Evans on his ski and strap him on, as he could not lift his legs. I looked at them again and found they are rapidly getting worse, things are looking serious on his part, but we have been trying to pump him up he will get through alright, but he begins to think different himself, but if we get to One Ton and can get a change of food it may relieve him. He is a brick, there is plenty of pluck: one cannot but admire such pluck. The light have been dreadful all day and I seemed to have got a bit depressed at times, not being able to see anything to know where I was on the course or not and not getting a word from Mr. Evans. I deliberately went off the course to see if anyone was taking notice but to my surprise I was quickly told I was off the course. This I thought, but wanted to know if he was looking out, which he was." [1]


[1] William Lashly, diary, 3 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.

February 1, 2012

Thursday, 1 February 1912


"Started well in the afternoon and came down a steep slope in quick time," wrote Scott, "then the surface turned real bad -- sandy drifts -- very heavy pulling. Working on past 8 P.M. we just fetched a lunch cairn of December 29, when we were only a week out from the depôt [Upper Glacier Depot]. It ought to be easy to get in with a margin, having 8 days' food in hand (full feeding). We have opened out on the 1/7th increase and it makes a lot of difference. Wilson's leg much better. Evans' fingers now very bad, two nails coming off, blisters burst."

"We had a very fine day but a very heavy pull," wrote Lashly to the north, "but we did 13 miles. Mr. Evans and myself have been out 100 days to-day. I have had to change my shirt again. This is the last clean side I have got. I have been wearing two shirts and each side will now have done duty next the skin, as I have changed round each month, and I have certainly found the benefit of it, and on the point we all three agree. Mr. Evans is still gradually worse: it is no good closing our eyes to the fact. We must push on as we have a long way to go yet." [1]


[1] William Lashly, diary, 1 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.