Part 3 out of 10
antiquity to it, but the diggers came to a patch of earth with skua
feathers, which rather knocks our theories on the head.
The wind began to drop at midday, and after lunch I went to the
ship. I was very glad to learn that she can hold steam at two hours'
notice on an expenditure of 13 cwt. The ice anchors had held well
during the blow.
As far as I can see the open water extends to an east and west line
which is a little short of the glacier tongue.
To-night the wind has dropped altogether and we return to the
glorious conditions of a week ago. I trust they may last for a few
days at least.
_Thursday, January_ 12.--Bright sun again all day, but in the afternoon
a chill wind from the S.S.W. Again we are reminded of the shelter
afforded by our position; to-night the anemometers on Observatory
Hill show a 20-mile wind--down in our valley we only have mild puffs.
Sledging began as usual this morning; seven ponies and the dog teams
were hard at it all the forenoon. I ran six journeys with five dogs,
driving them in the Siberian fashion for the first time. It was not
difficult, but I kept forgetting the Russian words at critical moments:
'Ki'--'right'; 'Tchui'--'left'; 'Itah'--'right ahead'; [here is a
blank in memory and in diary]--'get along'; 'Paw'--'stop.' Even my
short experience makes me think that we may have to reorganise this
driving to suit our particular requirements. I am inclined for smaller
teams and the driver behind the sledge. However, it's early days to
decide such matters, and we shall learn much on the depot journey.
Early in the afternoon a message came from the ship to say that all
stores had been landed. Nothing remains to be brought but mutton,
books and pictures, and the pianola. So at last we really are a
self-contained party ready for all emergencies. We are LANDED eight
days after our arrival--a very good record.
The hut could be inhabited at this moment, but probably we shall not
begin to live in it for a week. Meanwhile the carpenter will go on
steadily fitting up the dark room and various other compartments as
well as Simpson's Corner. 
The grotto party are making headway into the ice for our larder,
but it is slow and very arduous work. However, once made it will be
admirable in every way.
To-morrow we begin sending ballast off to the ship; some 30 tons will
be sledged off by the ponies. The hut and grotto parties will continue,
and the arrangements for the depot journey will be commenced. I
discussed these with Bowers this afternoon--he is a perfect treasure,
enters into one's ideas at once, and evidently thoroughly understands
the principles of the game.
I have arranged to go to Hut Point with Meares and some dogs to-morrow
to test the ice and see how the land lies. As things are at present
we ought to have little difficulty in getting the depot party away
any time before the end of the month, but the ponies will have to
cross the Cape  without loads. There is a way down on the south
side straight across, and another way round, keeping the land on the
north side and getting on ice at the Cape itself. Probably the ship
will take the greater part of the loads.
_Saturday, January_ 14.--The completion of our station is approaching
with steady progress. The wind was strong from the S.S.E. yesterday
morning, sweeping over the camp; the temperature fell to 15 deg., the sky
became overcast. To the south the land outlines were hazy with drift,
so my dog tour was abandoned. In the afternoon, with some moderation
of conditions, the ballast party went to work, and wrought so well
that more than 10 tons were got off before night. The organisation of
this work is extremely good. The loose rocks are pulled up, some 30 or
40 feet up the hillside, placed on our heavy rough sledges and rushed
down to the floe on a snow track; here they are laden on pony sledges
and transported to the ship. I slept on board the ship and found it
colder than the camp--the cabins were below freezing all night and
the only warmth existed in the cheery spirit of the company. The
cold snap froze the water in the boiler and Williams had to light
one of the fires this morning. I shaved and bathed last night (the
first time for 10 days) and wrote letters from breakfast till tea
time to-day. Meanwhile the ballast team has been going on merrily,
and to-night Pennell must have some 26 tons on board.
It was good to return to the camp and see the progress which had
been made even during such a short absence. The grotto has been much
enlarged and is, in fact, now big enough to hold all our mutton and
a considerable quantity of seal and penguin.
Close by Simpson and Wright have made surprising progress in excavating
for the differential magnetic hut. They have already gone in 7 feet
and, turning a corner, commenced the chamber, which is to be 13 feet
x 5 feet. The hard ice of this slope is a godsend and both grottoes
will be ideal for their purposes.
The cooking range and stove have been placed in the hut and now
chimneys are being constructed; the porch is almost finished as well
as the interior; the various carpenters are busy with odd jobs and
it will take them some time to fix up the many small fittings that
different people require.
I have been making arrangements for the depot journey, telling off
people for ponies and dogs, &c._9_
To-morrow is to be our first rest day, but next week everything will
be tending towards sledging preparations. I have also been discussing
and writing about the provisions of animals to be brought down in
the _Terra Nova_ next year.
The wind is very persistent from the S.S.E., rising and falling;
to-night it has sprung up again, and is rattling the canvas of
Some of the ponies are not turning out so well as I expected; they
are slow walkers and must inevitably impede the faster ones. Two of
the best had been told off for Campbell by Oates, but I must alter
the arrangement. 'Then I am not quite sure they are going to stand
the cold well, and on this first journey they may have to face pretty
severe conditions. Then, of course, there is the danger of losing
them on thin ice or by injury sustained in rough places. Although we
have fifteen now (two having gone for the Eastern Party) it is not at
all certain that we shall have such a number when the main journey is
undertaken next season. One can only be careful and hope for the best.'
_Sunday, January_ 15.--We had decided to observe this day as a 'day
of rest,' and so it has been.
At one time or another the majority have employed their spare hours
in writing letters.
We rose late, having breakfast at nine. The morning promised well and
the day fulfilled the promise: we had bright sunshine and practically
At 10 A.M. the men and officers streamed over from the ship, and we all
assembled on the beach and I read Divine Service, our first Service at
the camp and impressive in the open air. After Service I told Campbell
that I should have to cancel his two ponies and give him two others. He
took it like the gentleman he is, thoroughly appreciating the reason.
He had asked me previously to be allowed to go to Cape Royds over the
glacier and I had given permission. After our talk we went together
to explore the route, which we expected to find much crevassed. I
only intended to go a short way, but on reaching the snow above the
uncovered hills of our Cape I found the surface so promising and so
free from cracks that I went quite a long way. Eventually I turned,
leaving Campbell, Gran, and Nelson roped together and on ski to make
their way onward, but not before I felt certain that the route to
Cape Royds would be quite easy. As we topped the last rise we saw
Taylor and Wright some way ahead on the slope; they had come up by
a different route. Evidently they are bound for the same goal.
I returned to camp, and after lunch Meares and I took a sledge
and nine dogs over the Cape to the sea ice on the south side and
started for Hut Point. We took a little provision and a cooker and
our sleeping-bags. Meares had found a way over the Cape which was
on snow all the way except about 100 yards. The dogs pulled well,
and we went towards the Glacier Tongue at a brisk pace; found much of
the ice uncovered. Towards the Glacier Tongue there were some heaps
of snow much wind blown. As we rose the glacier we saw the _Nimrod_
depot some way to the right and made for it. We found a good deal
of compressed fodder and boxes of maize, but no grain crushed as
expected. The open water was practically up to the Glacier Tongue.
We descended by an easy slope 1/4 mile from the end of the Glacier
Tongue, but found ourselves cut off by an open crack some 15 feet
across and had to get on the glacier again and go some 1/2 mile
farther in. We came to a second crack, but avoided it by skirting to
the west. From this point we had an easy run without difficulty to
Hut Point. There was a small pool of open water and a longish crack
off Hut Point. I got my feet very wet crossing the latter. We passed
hundreds of seals at the various cracks.
On the arrival at the hut to my chagrin we found it filled with
snow. Shackleton reported that the door had been forced by the wind,
but that he had made an entrance by the window and found shelter
inside--other members of his party used it for shelter. But they
actually went away and left the window (which they had forced) open;
as a result, nearly the whole of the interior of the hut is filled
with hard icy snow, and it is now impossible to find shelter inside.
Meares and I were able to clamber over the snow to some extent and
to examine the neat pile of cases in the middle, but they will take
much digging out. We got some asbestos sheeting from the magnetic
hut and made the best shelter we could to boil our cocoa.
There was something too depressing in finding the old hut in
such a desolate condition. I had had so much interest in seeing
all the old landmarks and the huts apparently intact. To camp
outside and feel that all the old comfort and cheer had departed,
was dreadfully heartrending. I went to bed thoroughly depressed. It
stems a fundamental expression of civilised human sentiment that men
who come to such places as this should leave what comfort they can
to welcome those who follow.
_Monday, January_ 16.--We slept badly till the morning and,
therefore, late. After breakfast we went up the hills; there was a
keen S.E. breeze, but the sun shone and my spirits revived. There was
very much less snow everywhere than I had ever seen. The ski run was
completely cut through in two places, the Gap and Observation Hill
almost bare, a great bare slope on the side of Arrival Heights, and
on top of Crater Heights an immense bare table-land. How delighted
we should have been to see it like this in the old days! The pond was
thawed and the #confervae green in fresh water. The hole which we had
dug in the mound in the pond was still there, as Meares discovered
by falling into it up to his waist and getting very wet.
On the south side we could see the Pressure Ridges beyond Pram Point
as of old--Horseshoe Bay calm and unpressed--the sea ice pressed
on Pram Point and along the Gap ice foot, and a new ridge running
around C. Armitage about 2 miles off. We saw Ferrar's old thermometer
tubes standing out of the snow slope as though they'd been placed
yesterday. Vince's cross might have been placed yesterday--the paint
was so fresh and the inscription so legible.
The flagstaff was down, the stays having carried away, but in five
minutes it could be put up again. We loaded some asbestos sheeting
from the old magnetic hut on our sledges for Simpson, and by standing
1/4 mile off Hut Point got a clear run to Glacier Tongue. I had hoped
to get across the wide crack by going west, but found that it ran for
a great distance and had to get on the glacier at the place at which
we had left it. We got to camp about teatime. I found our larder
in the grotto completed and stored with mutton and penguins--the
temperature inside has never been above 27 deg., so that it ought to be
a fine place for our winter store. Simpson has almost completed the
differential magnetic cave next door. The hut stove was burning well
and the interior of the building already warm and homelike--a day or
two and we shall be occupying it.
I took Ponting out to see some interesting thaw effects on the ice
cliffs east of the Camp. I noted that the ice layers were pressing
out over thin dirt bands as though the latter made the cleavage lines
over which the strata slid.
It has occurred to me that although the sea ice may freeze in our bays
early in March it will be a difficult thing to get ponies across it
owing to the cliff edges at the side. We must therefore be prepared
to be cut off for a longer time than I anticipated. I heard that all
the people who journeyed towards C. Royds yesterday reached their
destination in safety. Campbell, Levick, and Priestley had just
departed when I returned._10_
_Tuesday, January_ 17.--We took up our abode in the hut to-day
and are simply overwhelmed with its comfort. After breakfast this
morning I found Bowers making cubicles as I had arranged, but I soon
saw these would not fit in, so instructed him to build a bulkhead of
cases which shuts off the officers' space from the men's, I am quite
sure to the satisfaction of both. The space between my bulkhead and
the men's I allotted to five: Bowers, Oates, Atkinson, Meares, and
Cherry-Garrard. These five are all special friends and have already
made their dormitory very habitable. Simpson and Wright are near the
instruments in their corner. Next come Day and Nelson in a space which
includes the latter's 'Lab.' near the big window; next to this is a
space for three--Debenham, Taylor, and Gran; they also have already
made their space part dormitory and part workshop.
It is fine to see the way everyone sets to work to put things straight;
in a day or two the hut will become the most comfortable of houses,
and in a week or so the whole station, instruments, routine, men and
animals, &c., will be in working order.
It is really wonderful to realise the amount of work which has been
got through of late.
It will be a _fortnight to-morrow_ since we arrived in McMurdo Sound,
and here we are absolutely settled down and ready to start on our depot
journey directly the ponies have had a proper chance to recover from
the effects of the voyage. I had no idea we should be so expeditious.
It snowed hard all last night; there were about three or four inches
of soft snow over the camp this morning and Simpson tells me some
six inches out by the ship. The camp looks very white. During the
day it has been blowing very hard from the south, with a great deal
of drift. Here in this camp as usual we do not feel it much, but we
see the anemometer racing on the hill and the snow clouds sweeping
past the ship. The floe is breaking between the point and the ship,
though curiously it remains fast on a direct route to the ship. Now
the open water runs parallel to our ship road and only a few hundred
yards south of it. Yesterday the whaler was rowed in close to the
camp, and if the ship had steam up she could steam round to within
a few hundred yards of us. The big wedge of ice to which the ship is
holding on the outskirts of the Bay can have very little grip to keep
it in and must inevitably go out very soon. I hope this may result
in the ship finding a more sheltered and secure position close to us.
A big iceberg sailed past the ship this afternoon. Atkinson declares
it was the end of the Cape Barne Glacier. I hope they will know in
the ship, as it would be interesting to witness the birth of a glacier
in this region.
It is clearing to-night, but still blowing hard. The ponies don't
like the wind, but they are all standing the cold wonderfully and
all their sores are healed up.
_Wednesday, January_ 18.--The ship had a poor time last night; steam
was ordered, but the floe began breaking up fast at 1 A.M., and the
rest of the night was passed in struggling with ice anchors; steam
was reported ready just as the ship broke adrift. In the morning she
secured to the ice edge on the same line as before but a few hundred
yards nearer. After getting things going at the hut, I walked over and
suggested that Pennell should come round the corner close in shore. The
ice anchors were tripped and we steamed slowly in, making fast to
the floe within 200 yards of the ice foot and 400 yards of the hut.
For the present the position is extraordinarily comfortable. With a
southerly blow she would simply bind on to the ice, receiving great
shelter from the end of the Cape. With a northerly blow she might
turn rather close to the shore, where the soundings run to 3 fathoms,
but behind such a stretch of ice she could scarcely get a sea or swell
without warning. It looks a wonderfully comfortable little nook, but,
of course, one can be certain of nothing in this place; one knows from
experience how deceptive the appearance of security may be. Pennell
is truly excellent in his present position--he's invariably cheerful,
unceasingly watchful, and continuously ready for emergencies. I have
come to possess implicit confidence in him.
The temperature fell to 4 deg. last night, with a keen S.S.E. breeze; it
was very unpleasant outside after breakfast. Later in the forenoon
the wind dropped and the sun shone forth. This afternoon it fell
almost calm, but the sky clouded over again and now there is a
gentle warm southerly breeze with light falling snow and an overcast
sky. Rather significant of a blizzard if we had not had such a lot of
wind lately. The position of the ship makes the casual transport that
still proceeds very easy, but the ice is rather thin at the edge. In
the hut all is marching towards the utmost comfort.
Bowers has completed a storeroom on the south side, an excellent place
to keep our travelling provisions. Every day he conceives or carries
out some plan to benefit the camp. Simpson and Wright are worthy of
all admiration: they have been unceasingly active in getting things
to the fore and I think will be ready for routine work much earlier
than was anticipated. But, indeed, it is hard to specialise praise
where everyone is working so indefatigably for the cause.
Each man in his way is a treasure.
Clissold the cook has started splendidly, has served seal, penguin,
and skua now, and I can honestly say that I have never met these
articles of food in such a pleasing guise; 'this point is of the
greatest practical importance, as it means the certainty of good
health for any number of years.' Hooper was landed to-day, much to
his joy. He got to work at once, and will be a splendid help, freeing
the scientific people of all dirty work. Anton and Demetri are both
most anxious to help on all occasions; they are excellent boys.
_Thursday, January_ 19.--The hut is becoming the most comfortable
dwelling-place imaginable. We have made unto ourselves a truly
seductive home, within the walls of which peace, quiet, and comfort
Such a noble dwelling transcends the word 'hut,' and we pause to
give it a more fitting title only from lack of the appropriate
suggestion. What shall we call it?
'The word "hut" is misleading. Our residence is really a house of
considerable size, in every respect the finest that has ever been
erected in the Polar regions; 50 ft. long by 25 wide and 9 ft. to
'If you can picture our house nestling below this small hill on a long
stretch of black sand, with many tons of provision cases ranged in neat
blocks in front of it and the sea lapping the icefoot below, you will
have some idea of our immediate vicinity. As for our wider surroundings
it would be difficult to describe their beauty in sufficiently glowing
terms. Cape Evans is one of the many spurs of Erebus and the one that
stands closest under the mountain, so that always towering above us
we have the grand snowy peak with its smoking summit. North and south
of us are deep bays, beyond which great glaciers come rippling over
the lower slopes to thrust high blue-walled snouts into the sea. The
sea is blue before us, dotted with shining bergs or ice floes, whilst
far over the Sound, yet so bold and magnificent as to appear near,
stand the beautiful Western Mountains with their numerous lofty peaks,
their deep glacial valley and clear cut scarps, a vision of mountain
scenery that can have few rivals.
'Ponting is the most delighted of men; he declares this is the
most beautiful spot he has ever seen and spends all day and most
of the night in what he calls "gathering it in" with camera and
The wind has been boisterous all day, to advantage after the last snow
fall, as it has been drifting the loose snow along and hardening the
surfaces. The horses don't like it, naturally, but it wouldn't do to
pamper them so soon before our journey. I think the hardening process
must be good for animals though not for men; nature replies to it in
the former by growing a thick coat with wonderful promptitude. It seems
to me that the shaggy coats of our ponies are already improving. The
dogs seem to feel the cold little so far, but they are not so exposed.
A milder situation might be found for the ponies if only we could
picket them off the snow.
Bowers has completed his southern storeroom and brought the wing
across the porch on the windward side, connecting the roofing with
that of the porch. The improvement is enormous and will make the
greatest difference to those who dwell near the door.
The carpenter has been setting up standards and roof beams for the
stables, which will be completed in a few days. Internal affairs have
been straightening out as rapidly as before, and every hour seems to
add some new touch for the better.
This morning I overhauled all the fur sleeping-bags and found them
in splendid order--on the whole the skins are excellent. Since that
I have been trying to work out sledge details, but my head doesn't
seem half as clear on the subject as it ought to be.
I have fixed the 25th as the date for our departure. Evans is to get
all the sledges and gear ready whilst Bowers superintends the filling
of provision bags.
Griffith Taylor and his companions have been seeking advice as to their
Western trip. Wilson, dear chap, has been doing his best to coach them.
Ponting has fitted up his own dark room--doing the carpentering work
with extraordinary speed and to everyone's admiration. To-night he
made a window in the dark room in an hour or so.
Meares has become enamoured of the gramophone. We find we have
a splendid selection of records. The pianola is being brought in
sections, but I'm not at all sure it will be worth the trouble. Oates
goes steadily on with the ponies--he is perfectly excellent and
untiring in his devotion to the animals.
Day and Nelson, having given much thought to the proper fitting up
of their corner, have now begun work. There seems to be little doubt
that these ingenious people will make the most of their allotted space.
I have done quite a lot of thinking over the autumn journeys and a
lot remains to be done, mainly on account of the prospect of being
cut off from our winter quarters; for this reason we must have a
great deal of food for animals and men.
_Friday, January_ 20.--Our house has assumed great proportions. Bowers'
annexe is finished, roof and all thoroughly snow tight; an excellent
place for spare clothing, furs, and ready use stores, and its extension
affording complete protection to the entrance porch of the hut. The
stables are nearly finished--a thoroughly stout well-roofed lean-to
on the north side. Nelson has a small extension on the east side
and Simpson a prearranged projection on the S.E. corner, so that
on all sides the main building has thrown out limbs. Simpson has
almost completed his ice cavern, light-tight lining, niches, floor
and all. Wright and Forde have almost completed the absolute hut,
a patchwork building for which the framework only was brought--but
it will be very well adapted for our needs.
Gran has been putting 'record' on the ski runners. Record is a mixture
of vegetable tar, paraffin, soft soap, and linseed oil, with some
patent addition which prevents freezing--this according to Gran.
P.O. Evans and Crean have been preparing sledges; Evans shows himself
wonderfully capable, and I haven't a doubt as to the working of the
sledges he has fitted up.
We have been serving out some sledging gear and wintering boots. We are
delighted with everything. First the felt boots and felt slippers made
by Jaeger and then summer wind clothes and fur mits--nothing could be
better than these articles. Finally to-night we have overhauled and
served out two pairs of finnesko (fur boots) to each traveller. They
are excellent in quality. At first I thought they seemed small, but a
stiffness due to cold and dryness misled me--a little stretching and
all was well. They are very good indeed. I have an idea to use putties
to secure our wind trousers to the finnesko. But indeed the whole
time we are thinking of devices to make our travelling work easier.
'We have now tried most of our stores, and so far we have not found
a single article that is not perfectly excellent in quality and
preservation. We are well repaid for all the trouble which was taken in
selecting the food list and the firms from which the various articles
could best be obtained, and we are showering blessings on Mr. Wyatt's
head for so strictly safeguarding our interests in these particulars.
'Our clothing is as good as good. In fact first and last, running
through the whole extent of our outfit, I can say with some pride
that there is not a single arrangement which I would have had altered.'
An Emperor penguin was found on the Cape well advanced in moult,
a good specimen skin. Atkinson found cysts formed by a tapeworm in
the intestines. It seems clear that this parasite is not transferred
from another host, and that its history is unlike that of any other
known tapeworm--in fact, Atkinson scores a discovery in parasitology
of no little importance.
The wind has turned to the north to-night and is blowing quite fresh. I
don't much like the position of the ship as the ice is breaking away
all the time. The sky is quite clear and I don't think the wind often
lasts long under such conditions.
The pianola has been erected by Rennick. He is a good fellow and one
feels for him much at such a time--it must be rather dreadful for
him to be returning when he remembers that he was once practically
one of the shore party._11_ The pianola has been his special care,
and it shows well that he should give so much pains in putting it
right for us.
Day has been explaining the manner in which he hopes to be able to
cope with the motor sledge difficulty. He is hopeful of getting things
right, but I fear it won't do to place more reliance on the machines.
Everything looks hopeful for the depot journey if only we can get
our stores and ponies past the Glacier Tongue.
We had some seal rissoles to-day so extraordinarily well cooked that
it was impossible to distinguish them from the best beef rissoles. I
told two of the party they were beef, and they made no comment till I
enlightened them after they had eaten two each. It is the first time
I have tasted seal without being aware of its particular flavour. But
even its own flavour is acceptable in our cook's hands--he really
_Saturday, January_ 21.--My anxiety for the ship was not
unfounded. Fearing a little trouble I went out of the hut in the middle
of the night and saw at once that she was having a bad time--the
ice was breaking with a northerly swell and the wind increasing,
with the ship on dead lee shore; luckily the ice anchors had been
put well in on the floe and some still held. Pennell was getting up
steam and his men struggling to replace the anchors.
We got out the men and gave some help. At 6 steam was up, and I was
right glad to see the ship back out to windward, leaving us to recover
anchors and hawsers.
She stood away to the west, and almost immediately after a large berg
drove in and grounded in the place she had occupied.
We spent the day measuring our provisions and fixing up clothing
arrangements for our journey; a good deal of progress has been made.
In the afternoon the ship returned to the northern ice edge; the
wind was still strong (about N. 30 W.) and loose ice all along the
edge--our people went out with the ice anchors and I saw the ship
pass west again. Then as I went out on the floe came the report that
she was ashore. I ran out to the Cape with Evans and saw that the
report was only too true. She looked to be firmly fixed and in a very
uncomfortable position. It looked as though she had been trying to
get round the Cape, and therefore I argued she must have been going a
good pace as the drift was making rapidly to the south. Later Pennell
told me he had been trying to look behind the berg and had been going
astern some time before he struck.
My heart sank when I looked at her and I sent Evans off in the whaler
to sound, recovered the ice anchors again, set the people to work,
and walked disconsolately back to the Cape to watch.
Visions of the ship failing to return to New Zealand and of sixty
people waiting here arose in my mind with sickening pertinacity,
and the only consolation I could draw from such imaginations was the
determination that the southern work should go on as before--meanwhile
the least ill possible seemed to be an extensive lightening of the
ship with boats as the tide was evidently high when she struck--a
terribly depressing prospect.
Some three or four of us watched it gloomily from the shore whilst
all was bustle on board, the men shifting cargo aft. Pennell tells
me they shifted 10 tons in a very short time.
The first ray of hope came when by careful watching one could see
that the ship was turning very slowly, then one saw the men running
from side to side and knew that an attempt was being made to roll her
off. The rolling produced a more rapid turning movement at first and
then she seemed to hang again. But only for a short time; the engines
had been going astern all the time and presently a slight movement
became apparent. But we only knew she was getting clear when we heard
cheers on board and more cheers from the whaler.
Then she gathered stern way and was clear. The relief was enormous.
The wind dropped as she came off, and she is now securely moored off
the northern ice edge, where I hope the greater number of her people
are finding rest. For here and now I must record the splendid manner
in which these men are working. I find it difficult to express my
admiration for the manner in which the ship is handled and worked
under these very trying circumstances.
From Pennell down there is not an officer or man who has not done his
job nobly during the past weeks, and it will be a glorious thing to
remember the unselfish loyal help they are giving us.
Pennell has been over to tell me all about it to-night; I think I
like him more every day.
Campbell and his party returned late this afternoon--I have not
Meares and Oates went to the Glacier Tongue and satisfied themselves
that the ice is good. It only has to remain another three days,
and it would be poor luck if it failed in that time.
_Sunday, January_ 22.--A quiet day with little to record.
The ship lies peacefully in the bay; a brisk northerly breeze in
the forenoon died to light airs in the evening--it is warm enough,
the temperature in the hut was 63 deg. this evening. We have had a long
busy day at clothing--everyone sewing away diligently. The Eastern
Party ponies were put on board the ship this morning.
_Monday, January_ 23.--Placid conditions last for a very short time in
these regions. I got up at 5 this morning to find the weather calm and
beautiful, but to my astonishment an opening lane of water between the
land and the ice in the bay. The latter was going out in a solid mass.
The ship discovered it easily, got up her ice anchors, sent a boat
ashore, and put out to sea to dredge. We went on with our preparations,
but soon Meares brought word that the ice in the south bay was going in
an equally rapid fashion. This proved an exaggeration, but an immense
piece of floe had separated from the land. Meares and I walked till
we came to the first ice. Luckily we found that it extends for some
2 miles along the rock of our Cape, and we discovered a possible way
to lead ponies down to it. It was plain that only the ponies could
go by it--no loads.
Since that everything has been rushed--and a wonderful day's work has
resulted; we have got all the forage and food sledges and equipment
off to the ship--the dogs will follow in an hour, I hope, with pony
harness, &c., that is everything to do with our depot party, except
As at present arranged they are to cross the Cape and try to get
over the Southern Road  to-morrow morning. One breathes a prayer
that the Road holds for the few remaining hours. It goes in one place
between a berg in open water and a large pool of the glacier face--it
may be weak in that part, and at any moment the narrow isthmus may
break away. We are doing it on a very narrow margin.
If all is well I go to the ship to-morrow morning after the ponies
have started, and then to Glacier Tongue.
Depot Laying To One Ton Camp
_Tuesday, January_ 24.--People were busy in the hut all last night--we
got away at 9 A.M. A boat from the _Terra Nova_ fetched the Western
Party and myself as the ponies were led out of the camp. Meares and
Wilson went ahead of the ponies to test the track. On board the ship I
was taken in to see Lillie's catch of sea animals. It was wonderful,
quantities of sponges, isopods, pentapods, large shrimps, corals,
&c., &c.--but the _piece de resistance_ was the capture of several
buckets full of cephalodiscus of which only seven pieces had been
previously caught. Lillie is immensely pleased, feeling that it alone
repays the whole enterprise.
In the forenoon we skirted the Island, getting 30 and 40 fathoms of
water north and west of Inaccessible Island. With a telescope we could
see the string of ponies steadily progressing over the sea ice past the
Razor Back Islands. As soon as we saw them well advanced we steamed on
to the Glacier Tongue. The open water extended just round the corner
and the ship made fast in the narrow angle made by the sea ice with
the glacier, her port side flush with the surface of the latter. I
walked over to meet the ponies whilst Campbell went to investigate a
broad crack in the sea ice on the Southern Road. The ponies were got
on to the Tongue without much difficulty, then across the glacier, and
picketed on the sea ice close to the ship. Meanwhile Campbell informed
me that the big crack was 30 feet across: it was evident we must get
past it on the glacier, and I asked Campbell to peg out a road clear
of cracks. Oates reported the ponies ready to start again after tea,
and they were led along Campbell's road, their loads having already
been taken on the floe--all went well until the animals got down on
the floe level and Oates led across an old snowed-up crack. His and
the next pony got across, but the third made a jump at the edge and
sank to its stomach in the middle. It couldn't move, and with such
struggles as it made it sank deeper till only its head and forelegs
showed above the slush. With some trouble we got ropes on these,
and hauling together pulled the poor creature out looking very weak
and miserable and trembling much.
We led the other ponies round farther to the west and eventually got
all out on the floe, gave them a small feed, and started them off with
their loads. The dogs meanwhile gave some excitement. Starting on
hard ice with a light load nothing could hold them, and they dashed
off over everything--it seemed wonderful that we all reached the
floe in safety. Wilson and I drive one team, whilst Evans and Meares
drive the other. I withhold my opinion of the dogs in much doubt as
to whether they are going to be a real success--but the ponies are
going to be real good. They work with such extraordinary steadiness,
stepping out briskly and cheerfully, following in each other's
tracks. The great drawback is the ease with which they sink in soft
snow: they go through in lots of places where the men scarcely make an
impression--they struggle pluckily when they sink, but it is trying to
watch them. We came with the loads noted below and one bale of fodder
(105 lbs.) added to each sledge. We are camped 6 miles from the glacier
and 2 from Hut Point--a cold east wind; to-night the temperature 19 deg..
_Autumn Party to start January 25, 1911_
12 men,  8 ponies, 26 dogs.
First load estimated 5385 lbs., including 14 weeks' food and fuel
for men--taken to Cache No. 1.
Ship transports following to Glacier Tongue:
130 Bales compressed fodder 13,650
24 Cases dog biscuit 1,400
10 Sacks of oats 1,600 ?
Teams return to ship to transport this load to Cache No. 1. Dog teams
also take on 500 lbs. of biscuit from Hut Point.
On all sledges
Sledge with straps and tank 52
Pony furniture 25
Driver's ski and sleeping-bag, &c. 40
Nos. 1 & 5
Cooker and primus instruments 40
Tank containing biscuit 172
Sack of oats 160
Tent and poles 28
Alpine rope 5
1 oil can and spirit can 15
Nos. 2 & 6
Tank contents: food bags 285
Ready provision bag 63
2 picks 20
Nos. 3 & 7
Tank contents: biscuit 196
Sack of oats 160
2 shovels 9
Nos. 4 & 8
Box with tools, &c. 35
Cookers, &c. 105
Tank contents food bags 252
Sack of oats 160
3 long bamboos and spare gear 15
Spare Gear per Man
2 pairs under socks
2 pairs outer socks
1 pair hair socks
1 pair night socks
1 pyjama jacket
1 pyjama trousers
1 woollen mits
Skein = 10 lbs.
Books, diaries, tobacco, &c. 2 ,,
Vest and drawers
Two pairs socks
Sledge straps and tanks 54
Drivers' ski and bags 80
Cooker primus and instruments 50
Tank contents: biscuit 221
Alpine rope 5
Lamps and candles 4
2 shovels 9
Ready provision bag 63
Sledge meter 2
Sledge straps and tanks 54
Drivers' ski and bags 80
Tank contents: food bags 324
Tent and poles 33
10-ft. sledge: men's harness, extra tent.
_Thursday, January 26_.--Yesterday I went to the ship with a dog
team. All went well till the dogs caught sight of a whale breeching
in the 30 ft. lead and promptly made for it! It was all we could do
to stop them before we reached the water.
Spent the day writing letters and completing arrangements for the
ship--a brisk northerly breeze sprang up in the night and the ship
bumped against the glacier until the pack came in as protection from
the swell. Ponies and dogs arrived about 1 P.M., and at 5 we all went
out for the final start.
A little earlier Pennell had the men aft and I thanked them for
their splendid work. They have behaved like bricks and a finer lot of
fellows never sailed in a ship. It was good to get their hearty send
off. Before we could get away Ponting had his half-hour photographing
us, the ponies and the dog teams--I hope he will have made a good
thing of it. It was a little sad to say farewell to all these good
fellows and Campbell and his men. I do most heartily trust that all
will be successful in their ventures, for indeed their unselfishness
and their generous high spirit deserves reward. God bless them.
So here we are with all our loads. One wonders what the upshot will
be. It will take three days to transport the loads to complete safety;
the break up of the sea ice ought not to catch us before that. The
wind is from the S.E. again to-night.
_Friday, January_ 27.--Camp 2. Started at 9.30 and moved a load of
fodder 3 3/4 miles south--returned to camp to lunch--then shifted
camp and provisions. Our weights are now divided into three loads:
two of food for ponies, one of men's provisions with some ponies'
food. It is slow work, but we retreat slowly but surely from the
chance of going out on the sea ice.
We are camped about a mile south of C. Armitage. After camping I went
to the east till abreast of Pram Point, finding the ice dangerously
thin off C. Armitage. It is evident we must make a considerable
detour to avoid danger. The rest of the party went to the _Discovery_
hut to see what could be done towards digging it out. The report is
unfavourable, as I expected. The drift inside has become very solid--it
would take weeks of work to clear it. A great deal of biscuit and some
butter, cocoa, &c., was seen, so that we need not have any anxiety
about provisions if delayed in returning to Cape Evans.
The dogs are very tired to-night. I have definitely handed the
control of the second team to Wilson. He was very eager to have
it and will do well I'm sure--but certainly also the dogs will not
pull heavy loads--500 pounds proved a back-breaking load for 11 dogs
to-day--they brought it at a snail's pace. Meares has estimated to
give them two-thirds of a pound of biscuit a day. I have felt sure
he will find this too little.
The ponies are doing excellently. Their loads run up to 800 and 900
lbs. and they make very light of them. Oates said he could have gone
on for some time to-night.
_Saturday, January_ 28.--Camp 2. The ponies went back for the last load
at Camp 1, and I walked south to find a way round the great pressure
ridge. The sea ice south is covered with confused irregular sastrugi
well remembered from _Discovery_ days. The pressure ridge is new. The
broken ice of the ridge ended east of the spot I approached and the
pressure was seen only in a huge domed wave, the hollow of which
on my left was surrounded with a countless number of seals--these
lay about sleeping or apparently gambolling in the shallow water. I
imagine the old ice in this hollow has gone well under and that the
seals have a pool above it which may be warmer on such a bright day.
It was evident that the ponies could be brought round by this route,
and I returned to camp to hear that one of the ponies (Keohane's)
had gone lame. The Soldier took a gloomy view of the situation,
but he is not an optimist. It looks as though a tendon had been
strained, but it is not at all certain. Bowers' pony is also weak in
the forelegs, but we knew this before: it is only a question of how
long he will last. The pity is that he is an excellently strong pony
otherwise. Atkinson has a bad heel and laid up all day--his pony was
tied behind another sledge, and went well, a very hopeful sign.
In the afternoon I led the ponies out 2 3/4 miles south to the
crossing of the pressure ridge, then east 1 1/4 till we struck the
barrier edge and ascended it. Going about 1/2 mile in we dumped the
loads--the ponies sank deep just before the loads were dropped, but
it looked as though the softness was due to some rise in the surface.
We saw a dark object a quarter of a mile north as we reached the
Barrier. I walked over and found it to be the tops of two tents more
than half buried--Shackleton's tents we suppose. A moulting Emperor
penguin was sleeping between them. The canvas on one tent seemed
intact, but half stripped from the other.
The ponies pulled splendidly to-day, as also the dogs, but we have
decided to load both lightly from now on, to march them easily, and
to keep as much life as possible in them. There is much to be learnt
as to their powers of performance.
Keohane says 'Come on, lad, you'll be getting to the Pole' by way of
cheering his animal--all the party is cheerful, there never were a
better set of people.
_Sunday, January_ 29.--Camp 2. This morning after breakfast I
read prayers. Excellent day. The seven good ponies have made two
journeys to the Barrier, covering 18 geographical miles, half with
good loads--none of them were at all done. Oates' pony, a spirited,
nervous creature, got away at start when his head was left for a
moment and charged through the camp at a gallop; finally his sledge
cannoned into another, the swingle tree broke, and he galloped away,
kicking furiously at the dangling trace. Oates fetched him when he
had quieted down, and we found that nothing had been hurt or broken
but the swingle tree.
Gran tried going on ski with his pony. All went well while he was
alongside, but when he came up from the back the swish of the ski
frightened the beast, who fled faster than his pursuer--that is,
the pony and load were going better than the Norwegian on ski.
Gran is doing very well. He has a lazy pony and a good deal of work
to get him along, and does it very cheerfully.
The dogs are doing excellently--getting into better condition
They ran the first load 1 mile 1200 yards past the stores on the
Barrier, to the spot chosen for 'Safety Camp,' the big home depot.
I don't think that any part of the Barrier is likely to go, but it's
just as well to be prepared for everything, and our camp must deserve
its distinctive title of 'Safety.'
In the afternoon the dogs ran a second load to the same place--covering
over 24 geographical miles in the day--an excellent day's work._12_
Evans and I took a load out on foot over the pressure ridge. The camp
load alone remains to be taken to the Barrier. Once we get to Safety
Camp we can stay as long as we like before starting our journey. It
is only when we start that we must travel fast.
Most of the day it has been overcast, but to-night it has cleared
again. There is very little wind. The temperatures of late have been
ranging from 9 deg. at night to 24 deg. in the day. Very easy circumstances
_Monday, January_ 30.--Camp 3. Safety Camp. Bearings: Lat. 77.55; Cape
Armitage N. 64 W.; Camel's Hump of Blue Glacier left, extreme; Castle
Rock N. 40 W. Called the camp at 7.30. Finally left with ponies at
11.30. There was a good deal to do, which partly accounts for delays,
but we shall have to 'buck up' with our camp arrangement. Atkinson
had his foot lanced and should be well in a couple of days.
I led the lame pony; his leg is not swelled, but I fear he's developed
a permanent defect--there are signs of ring bone and the hoof is split.
A great shock came when we passed the depoted fodder and made for
this camp. The ponies sank very deep and only brought on their loads
with difficulty, getting pretty hot. The distance was but 1 1/2
miles, but it took more out of them than the rest of the march. We
camped and held a council of war after lunch. I unfolded my plan,
which is to go forward with five weeks' food for men and animals: to
depot a fortnight's supply after twelve or thirteen days and return
here. The loads for ponies thus arranged work out a little over 600
lbs., for the dog teams 700 lbs., both apart from sledges. The ponies
ought to do it easily if the surface is good enough for them to walk,
which is doubtful--the dogs may have to be lightened--such as it is,
it is the best we can do under the circumstances!
This afternoon I went forward on ski to see if the conditions
changed. In 2 or 3 miles I could see no improvement.
Bowers, Garrard, and the three men went and dug out the _Nimrod_
tent. They found a cooker and provisions and remains of a hastily
abandoned meal. One tent was half full of hard ice, the result of
thaw. The Willesden canvas was rotten except some material used for
the doors. The floor cloth could not be freed.
The Soldier doesn't like the idea of fetching up the remainder of the
loads to this camp with the ponies. I think we will bring on all we
can with the dogs and take the risk of leaving the rest.
The _Nimrod_ camp was evidently made by some relief or ship party,
and if that has stood fast for so long there should be little fear
for our stuff in a single season. To-morrow we muster stores, build
the depot, and pack our sledges.
_Tuesday, January_ 31.--Camp 3. We have everything ready to
start--but this afternoon we tried our one pair of snow-shoes on
'Weary Willy.' The effect was magical. He strolled around as though
walking on hard ground in places where he floundered woefully without
them. Oates hasn't had any faith in these shoes at all, and I thought
that even the quietest pony would need to be practised in their use.
Immediately after our experiment I decided that an effort must be
made to get more, and within half an hour Meares and Wilson were on
their way to the station more than 20 miles away. There is just the
chance that the ice may not have gone out, but it is a very poor one
I fear. At present it looks as though we might double our distance
with the snow-shoes.
Atkinson is better to-day, but not by any means well, so that the
delay is in his favour. We cannot start on till the dogs return with
or without the shoes. The only other hope for this journey is that the
Barrier gets harder farther out, but I feel that the prospect of this
is not very bright. In any case it is something to have discovered
the possibilities of these shoes.
Low temperature at night for first time. Min. 2.4 deg.. Quite warm in tent.
_Wednesday, February_ 1.--Camp 3. A day of comparative inactivity and
some disappointment. Meares and Wilson returned at noon, reporting
the ice out beyond the Razor Back Island--no return to Cape Evans--no
pony snow-shoes--alas! I have decided to make a start to-morrow without
them. Late to-night Atkinson's foot was examined: it is bad and there's
no possibility of its getting right for some days. He must be left
behind--I've decided to leave Crean with him. Most luckily we now
have an extra tent and cooker. How the ponies are to be led is very
doubtful. Well, we must do the best that circumstances permit. Poor
Atkinson is in very low spirits.
I sent Gran to the _Discovery_ hut with our last mail. He went on
ski and was nearly 4 hours away, making me rather anxious, as the
wind had sprung up and there was a strong surface-drift; he narrowly
missed the camp on returning and I am glad to get him back.
Our food allowance seems to be very ample, and if we go on as at
present we shall thrive amazingly.
_Thursday, February_ 2.--Camp 4. Made a start at last. Roused out at 7,
left camp about 10.30. Atkinson and Crean remained behind--very hard
on the latter. Atkinson suffering much pain and mental distress at
his condition--for the latter I fear I cannot have much sympathy, as
he ought to have reported his trouble long before. Crean will manage
to rescue some more of the forage from the Barrier edge--I am very
sorry for him.
On starting with all the ponies (I leading Atkinson's) I saw with
some astonishment that the animals were not sinking deeply, and to my
pleased surprise we made good progress at once. This lasted for more
than an hour, then the surface got comparatively bad again--but still
most of the ponies did well with it, making 5 miles. Birdie's 
animal, however, is very heavy and flounders where the others walk
fairly easily. He is eager and tries to go faster as he flounders. As
a result he was brought in, in a lather. I inquired for our one set
of snow-shoes and found they had been left behind. The difference
in surface from what was expected makes one wonder whether better
conditions may not be expected during the night and in the morning,
when the temperatures are low. My suggestion that we should take to
night marching has met with general approval. Even if there is no
improvement in the surface the ponies will rest better during the
warmer hours and march better in the night.
So we are resting in our tents, waiting to start to-night. Gran has
gone back for the snow-shoes--he volunteered good-naturedly--certainly
his expertness on ski is useful.
Last night the temperature fell to -6 deg. after the wind dropped--to-day
it is warm and calm.
The seductive folds of the sleeping-bag.
The hiss of the primus and the fragrant steam of the cooker issuing
from the tent ventilator.
The small green tent and the great white road.
The whine of a dog and the neigh of our steeds.
The driving cloud of powdered snow.
The crunch of footsteps which break the surface crust.
The wind blown furrows.
The blue arch beneath the smoky cloud.
The crisp ring of the ponies' hoofs and the swish of the following
The droning conversation of the march as driver encourages or chides
The patter of dog pads.
The gentle flutter of our canvas shelter.
Its deep booming sound under the full force of a blizzard.
The drift snow like finest flour penetrating every hole and
corner--flickering up beneath one's head covering, pricking sharply
as a sand blast.
The sun with blurred image peeping shyly through the wreathing drift
giving pale shadowless light.
The eternal silence of the great white desert. Cloudy columns of snow
drift advancing from the south, pale yellow wraiths, heralding the
coming storm, blotting out one by one the sharp-cut lines of the land.
The blizzard, Nature's protest--the crevasse, Nature's pitfall--that
grim trap for the unwary--no hunter could conceal his snare so
perfectly--the light rippled snow bridge gives no hint or sign of
the hidden danger, its position unguessable till man or beast is
floundering, clawing and struggling for foothold on the brink.
The vast silence broken only by the mellow sounds of the marching
_Friday, February_ 3, 8 A.M.--Camp 5. Roused the camp at 10 P.M. and
we started marching at 12.30. At first surface bad, but gradually
improving. We had two short spells and set up temporary camp to feed
ourselves and ponies at 3.20. Started again at 5 and marched till
7. In all covered 9 miles. Surface seemed to have improved during the
last part of the march till just before camping time, when Bowers, who
was leading, plunged into soft snow. Several of the others following
close on his heels shared his fate, and soon three ponies were plunging
and struggling in a drift. Garrard's pony, which has very broad feet,
found hard stuff beyond and then my pony got round. Forde and Keohane
led round on comparatively hard ground well to the right, and the
entangled ponies were unharnessed and led round from patch to patch
till firmer ground was reached. Then we camped and the remaining loads
were brought in. Then came the _triumph of the snow-shoe_ again. We
put a set on Bowers' big pony--at first he walked awkwardly (for a
few minutes only) then he settled down, was harnessed to his load,
brought that in and another also--all over places into which he had
been plunging. If we had more of these shoes we could certainly put
them on seven out of eight of our ponies--and after a little I think
on the eighth, Oates' pony, as certainly the ponies so shod would draw
their loads over the soft snow patches without any difficulty. It is
trying to feel that so great a help to our work has been left behind
at the station.
It is pathetic to see the ponies floundering in the soft patches. The
first sink is a shock to them and seems to brace them to action. Thus
they generally try to rush through when they feel themselves
sticking. If the patch is small they land snorting and agitated on
the harder surface with much effort. And if the patch is extensive
they plunge on gamely until exhausted. Most of them after a bit
plunge forward with both forefeet together, making a series of jumps
and bringing the sledge behind them with jerks. This is, of course,
terribly tiring for them. Now and again they have to stop, and it is
horrid to see them half engulfed in the snow, panting and heaving from
the strain. Now and again one falls and lies trembling and temporarily
exhausted. It must be terribly trying for them, but it is wonderful
to see how soon they recover their strength. The quiet, lazy ponies
have a much better time than the eager ones when such troubles arise.
The soft snow which gave the trouble is evidently in the hollow of one
of the big waves that continue through the pressure ridges at Cape
Crozier towards the Bluff. There are probably more of these waves,
though we crossed several during the last part of the march--so far
it seems that the soft parts are in patches only and do not extend
the whole length of the hollow. Our course is to pick a way with
the sure-footed beasts and keep the others back till the road has
What extraordinary uncertainties this work exhibits! Every day some
new fact comes to light--some new obstacle which threatens the gravest
obstruction. I suppose this is the reason which makes the game so
well worth playing.
The more I think of our sledging outfit the more certain I am that
we have arrived at something near a perfect equipment for civilised
man under such conditions.
The border line between necessity and luxury is vague enough.
We might save weight at the expense of comfort, but all possible saving
would amount to but a mere fraction of one's loads. Supposing it were
a grim struggle for existence and we were forced to drop everything
but the barest necessities, the total saving on this three weeks'
journey would be:
Fuel for cooking 100
Cooking apparatus 45
Personal clothing, &c., say 100
Tent, say 30
Instruments, &c. 100
This is half of one of ten sledge loads, or about one-twentieth of
the total weight carried. If this is the only part of our weights
which under any conceivable circumstances could be included in
the category of luxuries, it follows the sacrifice to comfort is
negligible. Certainly we could not have increased our mileage by
making such a sacrifice.
But beyond this it may be argued that we have an unnecessary amount
of food: 32 oz. per day per man is our allowance. I well remember
the great strait of hunger to which we were reduced in 1903 after
four or five weeks on 26 oz., and am perfectly confident that we
were steadily losing stamina at that time. Let it be supposed that
4 oz. per day per man might conceivably be saved. We have then a
3 lbs. a day saved in the camp, or 63 lbs. in the three weeks, or
1/100th part of our present loads.
The smallness of the fractions on which the comfort and physical
well-being of the men depend is due to the fact of travelling with
animals whose needs are proportionately so much greater than those of
the men. It follows that it must be sound policy to keep the men of a
sledge party keyed up to a high pitch of well-fed physical condition
as long as they have animals to drag their loads. The time for short
rations, long marches and carefullest scrutiny of detail comes when
the men are dependent on their own traction efforts.
6 P.M.--It has been blowing from the S.W., but the wind is dying
away--the sky is overcast--I write after 9 hours' sleep, the others
still peacefully slumbering. Work with animals means long intervals
of rest which are not altogether easily occupied. With our present
routine the dogs remain behind for an hour or more, trying to hit
off their arrival in the new camp soon after the ponies have been
picketed. The teams are pulling very well, Meares' especially. The
animals are getting a little fierce. Two white dogs in Meares' team
have been trained to attack strangers--they were quiet enough on board
ship, but now bark fiercely if anyone but their driver approaches the
team. They suddenly barked at me as I was pointing out the stopping
place to Meares, and Osman, my erstwhile friend, swept round and
nipped my leg lightly. I had no stick and there is no doubt that if
Meares had not been on the sledge the whole team, following the lead
of the white dogs, would have been at me in a moment.
Hunger and fear are the only realities in dog life: an empty stomach
makes a fierce dog. There is something almost alarming in the sudden
fierce display of natural instinct in a tame creature. Instinct
becomes a blind, unreasoning, relentless passion. For instance the
dogs are as a rule all very good friends in harness: they pull side
by side rubbing shoulders, they walk over each other as they settle
to rest, relations seem quite peaceful and quiet. But the moment food
is in their thoughts, however, their passions awaken; each dog is
suspicious of his neighbour, and the smallest circumstance produces
a fight. With like suddenness their rage flares out instantaneously
if they get mixed up on the march--a quiet, peaceable team which has
been lazily stretching itself with wagging tails one moment will become
a set of raging, tearing, fighting devils the next. It is such stern
facts that resign one to the sacrifice of animal life in the effort
to advance such human projects as this.
The Corner Camp. [Bearings: Obs. Hill < Bluff 86 deg.; Obs. Hill < Knoll
80 1/2 deg.; Mt. Terror N. 4 W.; Obs. Hill N. 69 W.]
_Saturday, February_ 4, 8 A.M., 1911.--Camp 6. A satisfactory night
march covering 10 miles and some hundreds of yards.
Roused party at 10, when it was blowing quite hard from the S.E.,
with temperature below zero. It looked as though we should have a
pretty cold start, but by the end of breakfast the wind had dropped
and the sun shone forth.
Started on a bad surface--ponies plunging a good deal for 2 miles or
so, Bowers' 'Uncle Bill' walking steadily on his snow-shoes. After this
the surface improved and the marching became steadier. We camped for
lunch after 5 miles. Going still better in the afternoon, except that
we crossed several crevasses. Oates' pony dropped his legs into two
of these and sank into one--oddly the other ponies escaped and we were
the last. Some 2 miles from our present position the cracks appeared to
cease, and in the last march we have got on to quite a hard surface on
which the ponies drag their loads with great ease. This part seems to
be swept by the winds which so continually sweep round Cape Crozier,
and therefore it is doubtful if it extends far to the south, but for
the present the going should be good. Had bright moonshine for the
march, but now the sky has clouded and it looks threatening to the
south. I think we may have a blizzard, though the wind is northerly
The ponies are in very good form; 'James Pigg' remarkably recovered
from his lameness.
8 P.M.--It is blowing a blizzard--wind moderate--temperature mild.
The deep, dreamless sleep that follows the long march and the
The surface crust which breaks with a snap and sinks with a snap,
startling men and animals.
Custom robs it of dread but not of interest to the dogs, who come to
imagine such sounds as the result of some strange freak of hidden
creatures. They become all alert and spring from side to side,
hoping to catch the creature. The hope clings in spite of continual
A dog must be either eating, asleep, or _interested_. His eagerness
to snatch at interest, to chain his attention to something, is almost
pathetic. The monotony of marching kills him.
This is the fearfullest difficulty for the dog driver on a snow plain
without leading marks or objects in sight. The dog is almost human
in its demand for living interest, yet fatally less than human in
its inability to foresee.
The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment. The human being
can live and support discomfort for a future.
_Sunday, February_ 5.--Corner Camp, No. 6. The blizzard descended on
us at about 4 P.M. yesterday; for twenty-four hours it continued with
moderate wind, then the wind shifting slightly to the west came with
much greater violence. Now it is blowing very hard and our small frail
tent is being well tested. One imagines it cannot continue long as at
present, but remembers our proximity to Cape Crozier and the length
of the blizzards recorded in that region. As usual we sleep and eat,
conversing as cheerfully as may be in the intervals. There is scant
news of our small outside world--only a report of comfort and a rumour
that Bowers' pony has eaten one of its putties!!
11 P.M.--Still blowing hard--a real blizzard now with dusty, floury
drift--two minutes in the open makes a white figure. What a wonderful
shelter our little tent affords! We have just had an excellent meal,
a quiet pipe, and fireside conversation within, almost forgetful for
the time of the howling tempest without;--now, as we lie in our bags
warm and comfortable, one can scarcely realise that 'hell' is on the
other side of the thin sheet of canvas that protects us.
_Monday, February_ 6.--Corner Camp, No. 6. 6 P.M. The wind increased
in the night. It has been blowing very hard all day. No fun to be
out of the tent--but there are no shirkers with us. Oates has been
out regularly to feed the ponies; Meares and Wilson to attend to the
dogs--the rest of us as occasion required. The ponies are fairly
comfortable, though one sees now what great improvements could be
made to the horse clothes. The dogs ought to be quite happy. They are
curled snugly under the snow and at meal times issue from steaming warm
holes. The temperature is high, luckily. We are comfortable enough in
the tent, but it is terribly trying to the patience--over fifty hours
already and no sign of the end. The drifts about the camp are very
deep--some of the sledges almost covered. It is the old story, eat and
sleep, sleep and eat--and it's surprising how much sleep can be put in.
_Tuesday, February_ 7, 5 P.M.--Corner Camp, No. 6. The wind kept on
through the night, commencing to lull at 8 A.M. At 10 A.M. one could
see an arch of clear sky to the S.W. and W., White Island, the Bluff,
and the Western Mountains clearly defined. The wind had fallen very
light and we were able to do some camp work, digging out sledges and
making the ponies more comfortable. At 11 a low dark cloud crept over
the southern horizon and there could be no doubt the wind was coming
upon us again. At 1 P.M. the drift was all about us once more and
the sun obscured. One began to feel that fortune was altogether too
hard on us--but now as I write the wind has fallen again to a gentle
breeze, the sun is bright, and the whole southern horizon clear. A
good sign is the freedom of the Bluff from cloud. One feels that we
ought to have a little respite for the next week, and now we must
do everything possible to tend and protect our ponies. All looks
promising for the night march.
_Wednesday, February_ 8.--No. 7 Camp. Bearings: Lat. 78 deg. 13';
Mt. Terror N. 3 W.; Erebus 23 1/2 Terror 2nd peak from south; Pk. 2
White Island 74 Terror; Castle Rk. 43 Terror. Night march just
completed. 10 miles, 200 yards. The ponies were much shaken by the
blizzard. One supposes they did not sleep--all look listless and two
or three are visibly thinner than before. But the worst case by far
is Forde's little pony; he was reduced to a weight little exceeding
400 lbs. on his sledge and caved in altogether on the second part of
the march. The load was reduced to 200 lbs., and finally Forde pulled
this in, leading the pony. The poor thing is a miserable scarecrow and
never ought to have been brought--it is the same pony that did so badly
in the ship. To-day it is very fine and bright. We are giving a good
deal of extra food to the animals, and my hope is that they will soon
pick up again--but they cannot stand more blizzards in their present
state. I'm afraid we shall not get very far, but at all hazards we
must keep the greater number of the ponies alive. The dogs are in
fine form--the blizzard has only been a pleasant rest _for them_.
_Memo_.--Left No. 7 Camp. 2 bales of fodder.
_Thursday, February_ 9.--No. 8 Camp. Made good 11 miles. Good night
march; surface excellent, but we are carrying very light loads
with the exception of one or two ponies. Forde's poor 'Misery' is
improving slightly. It is very keen on its feed. Its fate is much in
doubt. Keohane's 'Jimmy Pigg' is less lame than yesterday. In fact
there is a general buck up all round.
It was a coldish march with light head wind and temperature 5 deg. or 6 deg.
below zero, but it was warm in the sun all yesterday and promises to be
warm again to-day. If such weather would hold there would be nothing to
fear for the ponies. We have come to the conclusion that the principal
cause of their discomfort is the comparative thinness of their coats.
We get the well-remembered glorious views of the Western Mountains,
but now very distant. No crevasses to-day. I shall be surprised if
we pass outside all sign of them.
One begins to see how things ought to be worked next year if the
ponies hold out. Ponies and dogs are losing their snow blindness.
_Friday, February_ 10.--No. 9 Camp. 12 miles 200 yards. Cold march,
very chilly wind, overcast sky, difficult to see surface or course.
Noticed sledges, ponies, &c., cast shadows all round.
Surface very good and animals did splendidly.
We came over some undulations during the early part of the march,
but the last part appeared quite flat. I think I remember observing
the same fact on our former trip.
The wind veers and backs from S. to W. and even to N., coming in
gusts. The sastrugi are distinctly S.S.W. There isn't a shadow of
doubt that the prevailing wind is along the coast, taking the curve
of the deep bay south of the Bluff.
The question now is: Shall we by going due southward keep this hard
surface? If so, we should have little difficulty in reaching the
Beardmore Glacier next year.
We turn out of our sleeping-bags about 9 P.M. Somewhere about 11.30 I
shout to the Soldier 'How are things?' There is a response suggesting
readiness, and soon after figures are busy amongst sledges and
ponies. It is chilling work for the fingers and not too warm for the
feet. The rugs come off the animals, the harness is put on, tents and
camp equipment are loaded on the sledges, nosebags filled for the next
halt; one by one the animals are taken off the picketing rope and yoked
to the sledge. Oates watches his animal warily, reluctant to keep such
a nervous creature standing in the traces. If one is prompt one feels
impatient and fretful whilst watching one's more tardy fellows. Wilson
and Meares hang about ready to help with odds and ends. Still we wait:
the picketing lines must be gathered up, a few pony putties need
adjustment, a party has been slow striking their tent. With numbed
fingers on our horse's bridle and the animal striving to turn its
head from the wind one feels resentful. At last all is ready. One says
'All right, Bowers, go ahead,' and Birdie leads his big animal forward,
starting, as he continues, at a steady pace. The horses have got cold
and at the word they are off, the Soldier's and one or two others
with a rush. Finnesko give poor foothold on the slippery sastrugi,
and for a minute or two drivers have some difficulty in maintaining
the pace on their feet. Movement is warming, and in ten minutes the
column has settled itself to steady marching.
The pace is still brisk, the light bad, and at intervals one or another
of us suddenly steps on a slippery patch and falls prone. These are
the only real incidents of the march--for the rest it passes with
a steady tramp and slight variation of formation. The weaker ponies
drop a bit but not far, so that they are soon up in line again when
the first halt is made. We have come to a single halt in each half
march. Last night it was too cold to stop long and a very few minutes
found us on the go again.
As the end of the half march approaches I get out my whistle. Then
at a shrill blast Bowers wheels slightly to the left, his tent mates
lead still farther out to get the distance for the picket lines;
Oates and I stop behind Bowers and Evans, the two other sledges of
our squad behind the two other of Bowers'. So we are drawn up in camp
formation. The picket lines are run across at right angles to the line
of advance and secured to the two sledges at each end. In a few minutes
ponies are on the lines covered, tents up again and cookers going.
Meanwhile the dog drivers, after a long cold wait at the old camp,
have packed the last sledge and come trotting along our tracks. They
try to time their arrival in the new camp immediately after our own
and generally succeed well. The mid march halt runs into an hour to an
hour and a half, and at the end we pack up and tramp forth again. We
generally make our final camp about 8 o'clock, and within an hour
and a half most of us are in our sleeping-bags. Such is at present
the daily routine. At the long halt we do our best for our animals
by building snow walls and improving their rugs, &c.
_Saturday, February_ 11.--No. 10 Camp. Bearings: Lat. 78 deg. 47'. Bluff
S. 79 W.; Left extreme Bluff 65 deg.; Bluff A White Island near Sound. 11
miles. Covered 6 and 5 miles between halts. The surface has got a good
deal softer. In the next two marches we should know more certainly,
but it looks as though the conditions to the south will not be so
good as those we have had hitherto.
Blossom, Evans' pony, has very small hoofs and found the going very
bad. It is less a question of load than one of walking, and there is
no doubt that some form of snow-shoe would help greatly. The question
is, what form?
All the ponies were a little done when we stopped, but the weather
is favourable for a good rest; there is no doubt this night marching
is the best policy.
Even the dogs found the surface more difficult to-day, but they are
pulling very well. Meares has deposed Osman in favour of Rabchick,
as the former was getting either very disobedient or very deaf. The
change appears excellent. Rabchick leads most obediently.
Mem. for next year. A stout male bamboo shod with a spike to sound
_Sunday, February_ 12.--No. 11 Camp. 10 miles. Depot one Bale
of Fodder. Variation 150 E. South True = N. 30 E. by compass. The
surface is getting decidedly worse. The ponies sink quite deep every
now and again. We marched 6 1/4 miles before lunch, Blossom dropping
considerably behind. He lagged more on the second march and we halted
at 9 miles. Evans said he might be dragged for another mile and we
went on for that distance and camped.
The sky was overcast: very dark and snowy looking in the south--very
difficult to steer a course. Mt. Discovery is in line with the south
end of the Bluff from the camp and we are near the 79th parallel. We
must get exact bearings for this is to be called the 'Bluff Camp'
and should play an important part in the future. Bearings: Bluff 36 deg.
13'; Black Island Rht. Ex. I have decided to send E. Evans, Forde,
and Keohane back with the three weakest ponies which they have been
leading. The remaining five ponies which have been improving in
condition will go on for a few days at least, and we must see how
near we can come to the 80th parallel.
To-night we have been making all the necessary arrangements for this
plan. Cherry-Garrard is to come into our tent.
_Monday, February_ 13.--No. 12 Camp. 9 miles 150 yds. The wind got up
from the south with drift before we started yesterday--all appearance
of a blizzard. But we got away at 12.30 and marched through drift for
7 miles. It was exceedingly cold at first. Just at starting the sky
cleared in the wonderfully rapid fashion usual in these regions. We
saw that our camp had the southern edge of the base rock of the Bluff
in line with Mt. Discovery, and White Island well clear of the eastern
slope of Mt. Erebus. A fairly easy alignment to pick up.
At lunch time the sky lightened up and the drift temporarily ceased. I
thought we were going to get in a good march, but on starting again
the drift came thicker than ever and soon the course grew wild. We
went on for 2 miles and then I decided to camp. So here we are with a
full blizzard blowing. I told Wilson I should camp if it grew thick,
and hope he and Meares have stopped where they were. They saw Evans
start back from No. 11 Camp before leaving. I trust they have got
in something of a march before stopping. This continuous bad weather
is exceedingly trying, but our own ponies are quite comfortable this
time, I'm glad to say. We have built them extensive snow walls behind
which they seem to get quite comfortable shelter. We are five in a
tent yet fairly comfortable.
Our ponies' coats are certainly getting thicker and I see no reason
why we shouldn't get to the 80th parallel if only the weather would
give us a chance.
Bowers is wonderful. Throughout the night he has worn no head-gear
but a common green felt hat kept on with a chin stay and affording no
cover whatever for the ears. His face and ears remain bright red. The
rest of us were glad to have thick Balaclavas and wind helmets. I have
never seen anyone so unaffected by the cold. To-night he remained
outside a full hour after the rest of us had got into the tent. He
was simply pottering about the camp doing small jobs to the sledges,
&c. Cherry-Garrard is remarkable because of his eyes. He can only see
through glasses and has to wrestle with all sorts of inconveniences
in consequence. Yet one could never guess it--for he manages somehow
to do more than his share of the work.
_Tuesday, February_ 14.--13 Camp. 7 miles 650 yards. A disappointing
day: the weather had cleared, the night was fine though cold,
temperature well below zero with a keen S.W. breeze. Soon after the
start we struck very bad surface conditions. The ponies sank lower
than their hocks frequently and the soft patches of snow left by the
blizzard lay in sandy heaps, making great friction for the runners. We
struggled on, but found Gran with Weary Willy dropping to the rear. I
consulted Oates as to distance and he cheerfully proposed 15 miles
for the day! This piqued me somewhat and I marched till the sledge
meter showed 6 1/2 miles. By this time Weary Willy had dropped about
three-quarters of a mile and the dog teams were approaching. Suddenly
we heard much barking in the distance, and later it was evident that
something had gone wrong. Oates and then I hurried back. I met Meares,
who told me the dogs of his team had got out of hand and attacked
Weary Willy when they saw him fall. Finally they had been beaten off
and W.W. was being led without his sledge. W.W. had been much bitten,
but luckily I think not seriously: he appears to have made a gallant
fight, and bit and shook some of the dogs with his teeth. Gran did
his best, breaking his ski stick. Meares broke his dog stick--one way
and another the dogs must have had a rocky time, yet they seemed to
bear charmed lives when their blood is up, as apparently not one of
them has been injured.
After lunch four of us went back and dragged up the load. It taught us
the nature of the surface more than many hours of pony leading!! The
incident is deplorable and the blame widespread. I find W.W.'s load
was much heavier than that of the other ponies.
I blame myself for not supervising these matters more effectively
and for allowing W.W. to get so far behind.
We started off again after lunch, but when we had done two-thirds of a
mile, W.W.'s condition made it advisable to halt. He has been given a
hot feed, a large snow wall, and some extra sacking--the day promises
to be quiet and warm for him, and one can only hope that these measures
will put him right again. But the whole thing is very annoying.
_Memo_.--Arrangements for ponies.
1. Hot bran or oat mashes.
2. Clippers for breaking wires of bales.
3. Pickets for horses.
4. Lighter ponies to take 10 ft. sledges?
The surface is so crusty and friable that the question of snow-shoes
again becomes of great importance.
All the sastrugi are from S.W. by S. to S.W. and all the wind that
we have experienced in this region--there cannot be a doubt that the
wind sweeps up the coast at all seasons.
A point has arisen as to the deposition. David  called the crusts
seasonal. This must be wrong; they mark blizzards, but after each
blizzard fresh crusts are formed only over the patchy heaps left by the
blizzard. A blizzard seems to leave heaps which cover anything from
one-sixth to one-third of the whole surface--such heaps presumably
turn hollows into mounds with fresh hollows between--these are filled
in turn by ensuing blizzards. If this is so, the only way to get at
the seasonal deposition would be to average the heaps deposited and
multiply this by the number of blizzards in the year.
_Monday, February_ 15.--14 Camp. 7 miles 775 yards. The surface was
wretched to-day, the two drawbacks of yesterday (the thin crusts which
let the ponies through and the sandy heaps which hang on the runners)
if anything exaggerated.
Bowers' pony refused work at intervals for the first time. His hind
legs sink very deep. Weary Willy is decidedly better. The Soldier
takes a gloomy view of everything, but I've come to see that this is
a characteristic of him. In spite of it he pays every attention to
the weaker horses.
We had frequent halts on the march, but managed 4 miles before lunch
and 3 1/2 after.
The temperature was -15 deg. at the lunch camp. It was cold sitting in
the tent waiting for the ponies to rest. The thermometer is now -7 deg.,
but there is a bright sun and no wind, which makes the air feel
quite comfortable: one's socks and finnesko dry well. Our provision
allowance is working out very well. In fact all is well with us except
the condition of the ponies. The more I see of the matter the more
certain I am that we must save all the ponies to get better value out
of them next year. It would have been ridiculous to have worked some
out this year as the Soldier wished. Even now I feel we went too far
with the first three.
One thing is certain. A good snow-shoe would be worth its weight in
gold on this surface, and if we can get something really practical
we ought to greatly increase our distances next year.
_Mems_.--Storage of biscuit next year, lashing cases on sledges.
Look into sledgemeter.
Picket lines for ponies.
Food tanks to be size required.
Two sledges altered to take steel runners.
Stowage of pony food. Enough sacks for ready bags.
_Thursday, February_ 16.--6 miles 1450 yards. 15 Camp. The surface
a good deal better, but the ponies running out. Three of the five
could go on without difficulty. Bowers' pony might go on a bit,
but Weary Willy is a good deal done up, and to push him further
would be to risk him unduly, so to-morrow we turn. The temperature
on the march to-night fell to -21 deg. with a brisk S.W. breeze. Bowers
started out as usual in his small felt hat, ears uncovered. Luckily
I called a halt after a mile and looked at him. His ears were quite
white. Cherry and I nursed them back whilst the patient seemed to
feel nothing but intense surprise and disgust at the mere fact of
possessing such unruly organs. Oates' nose gave great trouble. I got
frostbitten on the cheek lightly, as also did Cherry-Garrard.
Tried to march in light woollen mits to great discomfort.
_Friday, February_ 17.--Camp 15. Lat. 79 deg. 28 1/2' S. It clouded over
yesterday--the temperature rose and some snow fell. Wind from the
south, cold and biting, as we turned out. We started to build the
depot. I had intended to go on half a march and return to same camp,
leaving Weary Willy to rest, but under the circumstances did not like
to take risk.
Stores left in depot:
Lat. 79 deg. 29'. Depot.
245 7 weeks' full provision bags for 1 unit
12 2 days' provision bags for 1 unit
8 8 weeks' tea
31 6 weeks' extra butter
176 176 lbs. biscuit (7 weeks full biscuit)
85 8 1/2 gallons oil (12 weeks oil for 1 unit)
850 5 sacks of oats
424 4 bales of fodder
250 Tank of dog biscuit
100 2 cases of biscuit
1 skein white line
1 set breast harness
2 12 ft. sledges
2 pair ski, 1 pair ski sticks
1 Minimum Thermometer
1 tin Rowntree cocoa
1 tin matches
With packing we have landed considerably over a ton of stuff. It is a
pity we couldn't get to 80 deg., but as it is we shall have a good leg up
for next year and can at least feed the ponies full up to this point.
Our Camp 15 is very well marked, I think. Besides the flagstaff and
black flag we have piled biscuit boxes, filled and empty, to act as
reflectors--secured tea tins to the sledges, which are planted upright
in the snow. The depot cairn is more than 6 ft. above the surface,
very solid and large; then there are the pony protection walls;
altogether it should show up for many miles.
I forgot to mention that looking back on the 15th we saw a cairn
built on a camp 12 1/2 miles behind--it was miraged up.
It seems as though some of our party will find spring journeys pretty
trying. Oates' nose is always on the point of being frostbitten;
Meares has a refractory toe which gives him much trouble--this is
the worst prospect for summit work. I have been wondering how I shall
stick the summit again, this cold spell gives ideas. I think I shall
be all right, but one must be prepared for a pretty good doing.
Adventure and Peril
_Saturday, February_ 18.--Camp 12. North 22 miles 1996 yards. I
scattered some oats 50 yards east of depot.  The minimum
thermometer showed -16 deg. when we left camp: _inform Simpson!_
The ponies started off well, Gran leading my pony with Weary Willy
behind, the Soldier leading his with Cherry's behind, and Bowers
steering course as before with a light sledge. 
We started half an hour later, soon overtook the ponies, and luckily
picked up a small bag of oats which they had dropped. We went on for
10 3/4 miles and stopped for lunch. After lunch to our astonishment
the ponies appeared, going strong. They were making for a camp some
miles farther on, and meant to remain there. I'm very glad to have
seen them making the pace so well. They don't propose to stop for
lunch at all but to march right through 10 or 12 miles a day. I think
they will have little difficulty in increasing this distance.
For the dogs the surface has been bad, and one or another of us on
either sledge has been running a good part of the time. But we have
covered 23 miles: three marches out. We have four days' food for them
and ought to get in very easily.
As we camp late the temperature is evidently very low and there is a
low drift. Conditions are beginning to be severe on the Barrier and
I shall be glad to get the ponies into more comfortable quarters.
_Sunday, February_ 19.--Started 10 P.M. Camped 6.30. Nearly 26
miles to our credit. The dogs went very well and the surface became
excellent after the first 5 or 6 miles. At the Bluff Camp, No. 11,
we picked up Evans' track and found that he must have made excellent
progress. No. 10 Camp was much snowed up: I should imagine our light
blizzard was severely felt along this part of the route. We must look
out to-morrow for signs of Evans being 'held up.'
The old tracks show better here than on the softer surface. During this
journey both ponies and dogs have had what under ordinary circumstances
would have been a good allowance of food, yet both are desperately
hungry. Both eat their own excrement. With the ponies it does not
seem so horrid, as there must be a good deal of grain, &c., which
is not fully digested. It is the worst side of dog driving. All the
rest is diverting. The way in which they keep up a steady jog trot
for hour after hour is wonderful. Their legs seem steel springs,
fatigue unknown--for at the end of a tiring march any unusual
incident will arouse them to full vigour. Osman has been restored
to leadership. It is curious how these leaders come off and go off,
all except old Stareek, who remains as steady as ever.
We are all acting like seasoned sledge travellers now, such is the
force of example. Our tent is up and cooker going in the shortest
time after halt, and we are able to break camp in exceptionally good
time. Cherry-Garrard is cook. He is excellent, and is quickly learning
all the tips for looking after himself and his gear.
What a difference such care makes is apparent now, but was more so when
he joined the tent with all his footgear iced up, whilst Wilson and
I nearly always have dry socks and finnesko to put on. This is only
a point amongst many in which experience gives comfort. Every minute
spent in keeping one's gear dry and free of snow is very well repaid.
_Monday, February_ 20.--29 miles. Lunch. Excellent run on hard
wind-swept surface--_covered nearly seventeen miles_. Very cold at
starting and during march. Suddenly wind changed and temperature rose
so that at the moment of stopping for final halt it appeared quite
warm, almost sultry. On stopping found we had covered 29 miles,
some 35 statute miles. The dogs are weary but by no means played
out--during the last part of the journey they trotted steadily with a
wonderfully tireless rhythm. I have been off the sledge a good deal
and trotting for a good many miles, so should sleep well. E. Evans
has left a bale of forage at Camp 8 and has not taken on the one which
he might have taken from the depot--facts which show that his ponies
must have been going strong. I hope to find them safe and sound the
day after to-morrow.
We had the most wonderfully beautiful sky effects on the march with
the sun circling low on the southern horizon. Bright pink clouds
hovered overhead on a deep grey-blue background. Gleams of bright
sunlit mountains appeared through the stratus.
Here it is most difficult to predict what is going to happen. Sometimes
the southern sky looks dark and ominous, but within half an hour all
has changed--the land comes and goes as the veil of stratus lifts and
falls. It seems as though weather is made here rather than dependent
on conditions elsewhere. It is all very interesting.
_Tuesday, February_ 21.--New Camp about 12 miles from Safety Camp. 15
1/2 miles. We made a start as usual about 10 P.M. The light was
good at first, but rapidly grew worse till we could see little of
the surface. The dogs showed signs of wearying. About an hour and a
half after starting we came on mistily outlined pressure ridges. We
were running by the sledges. Suddenly Wilson shouted 'Hold on to
the sledge,' and I saw him slip a leg into a crevasse. I jumped to
the sledge, but saw nothing. Five minutes after, as the teams were
trotting side by side, the middle dogs of our team disappeared. In
a moment the whole team were sinking--two by two we lost sight of
them, each pair struggling for foothold. Osman the leader exerted
all his great strength and kept a foothold--it was wonderful to see
him. The sledge stopped and we leapt aside. The situation was clear
in another moment. We had been actually travelling along the bridge
of a crevasse, the sledge had stopped on it, whilst the dogs hung
in their harness in the abyss, suspended between the sledge and
the leading dog. Why the sledge and ourselves didn't follow the
dogs we shall never know. I think a fraction of a pound of added
weight must have taken us down. As soon as we grasped the position,
we hauled the sledge clear of the bridge and anchored it. Then we
peered into the depths of the crack. The dogs were howling dismally,
suspended in all sorts of fantastic positions and evidently terribly
frightened. Two had dropped out of their harness, and we could see
them indistinctly on a snow bridge far below. The rope at either
end of the chain had bitten deep into the snow at the side of the
crevasse, and with the weight below, it was impossible to move it. By
this time Wilson and Cherry-Garrard, who had seen the accident,
had come to our assistance. At first things looked very bad for our
poor team, and I saw little prospect of rescuing them. I had luckily
inquired about the Alpine rope before starting the march, and now
Cherry-Garrard hurriedly brought this most essential aid. It takes
one a little time to make plans under such sudden circumstances,
and for some minutes our efforts were rather futile. We could get
not an inch on the main trace of the sledge or on the leading rope,
which was binding Osman to the snow with a throttling pressure. Then
thought became clearer. We unloaded our sledge, putting in safety our
sleeping-bags with the tent and cooker. Choking sounds from Osman made
it clear that the pressure on him must soon be relieved. I seized the
lashing off Meares' sleeping-bag, passed the tent poles across the
crevasse, and with Meares managed to get a few inches on the leading
line; this freed Osman, whose harness was immediately cut.
Then securing the Alpine rope to the main trace we tried to haul up
together. One dog came up and was unlashed, but by this time the rope
had cut so far back at the edge that it was useless to attempt to get
more of it. But we could now unbend the sledge and do that for which
we should have aimed from the first, namely, run the sledge across the
gap and work from it. We managed to do this, our fingers constantly
numbed. Wilson held on to the anchored trace whilst the rest of us
laboured at the leader end. The leading rope was very small and I was
fearful of its breaking, so Meares was lowered down a foot or two to
secure the Alpine rope to the leading end of the trace; this done,
the work of rescue proceeded in better order. Two by two we hauled
the animals up to the sledge and one by one cut them out of their
harness. Strangely the last dogs were the most difficult, as they
were close under the lip of the gap, bound in by the snow-covered
rope. Finally, with a gasp we got the last poor creature on to firm
snow. We had recovered eleven of the thirteen._13a_
Then I wondered if the last two could not be got, and we paid down the
Alpine rope to see if it was long enough to reach the snow bridge on
which they were coiled. The rope is 90 feet, and the amount remaining
showed that the depth of the bridge was about 65 feet. I made a
bowline and the others lowered me down. The bridge was firm and I got
hold of both dogs, which were hauled up in turn to the surface. Then
I heard dim shouts and howls above. Some of the rescued animals had
wandered to the second sledge, and a big fight was in progress. All
my rope-tenders had to leave to separate the combatants; but they
soon returned, and with some effort I was hauled to the surface.
All is well that ends well, and certainly this was a most surprisingly
happy ending to a very serious episode. We felt we must have
refreshment, so camped and had a meal, congratulating ourselves on
a really miraculous escape. If the sledge had gone down Meares and
I _must_ have been badly injured, if not killed outright. The dogs
are wonderful, but have had a terrible shaking--three of them are
passing blood and have more or less serious internal injuries. Many
were held up by a thin thong round the stomach, writhing madly
to get free. One dog better placed in its harness stretched its
legs full before and behind and just managed to claw either side
of the gap--it had continued attempts to climb throughout, giving
vent to terrified howls. Two of the animals hanging together had
been fighting at intervals when they swung into any position which
allowed them to bite one another. The crevasse for the time being
was an inferno, and the time must have been all too terribly long for
the wretched creatures. It was twenty minutes past three when we had
completed the rescue work, and the accident must have happened before
one-thirty. Some of the animals must have been dangling for over an
hour. I had a good opportunity of examining the crack.
The section seemed such as I have shown. It narrowed towards the east
and widened slightly towards the west. In this direction there were
curious curved splinters; below the snow bridge on which I stood the
opening continued, but narrowing, so that I think one could not have
fallen many more feet without being wedged. Twice I have owed safety
to a snow bridge, and it seems to me that the chance of finding some
obstruction or some saving fault in the crevasse is a good one,
but I am far from thinking that such a chance can be relied upon,
and it would be an awful situation to fall beyond the limits of the
We went on after lunch, and very soon got into soft snow and regular
surface where crevasses are most unlikely to occur. We have pushed on
with difficulty, for the dogs are badly cooked and the surface tries
them. We are all pretty done, but luckily the weather favours us. A
sharp storm from the south has been succeeded by ideal sunshine which
is flooding the tent as I write. It is the calmest, warmest day we
have had since we started sledging. We are only about 12 miles from
Safety Camp, and I trust we shall push on without accident to-morrow,
but I am anxious about some of the dogs. We shall be lucky indeed if
My companions to-day were excellent; Wilson and Cherry-Garrard if
anything the most intelligently and readily helpful.
I begin to think that there is no avoiding the line of cracks running
from the Bluff to Cape Crozier, but my hope is that the danger does
not extend beyond a mile or two, and that the cracks are narrower
on the pony road to Corner Camp. If eight ponies can cross without
accident I do not think there can be great danger. Certainly we must
rigidly adhere to this course on all future journeys. We must try and
plot out the danger line.  I begin to be a little anxious about
the returning ponies.
I rather think the dogs are being underfed--they have weakened badly
in the last few days--more than such work ought to entail. Now they
are absolutely ravenous.
Meares has very dry feet. Whilst we others perspire freely and our
skin remains pink and soft his gets horny and scaly. He amused us
greatly to-night by scraping them. The sound suggested the whittling
of a hard wood block and the action was curiously like an attempt to
shape the feet to fit the finnesko!
Summary of Marches Made on the Depot Journey
Distances in Geographical Miles. Variation 152 E.
Safety No. 3 to 4 E. 4 2000
S. 64 E. 4 500 |
4 to 5 S. 77 E. 1 312 | 9.359
S. 60 E. 3 1575 |
5 to 6 S. 48 E. 10 270 Var. 149 1/2 E.
Corner 6 to 7 S. 10 145
7 to 8 S. ? 11 198
8 to 9 S. 12 325
9 to 10 S. 11 118
Bluff Camp 10 to 11 S. 10 226 Var. 152 1/2 E.
11 to 12 S. 9 150
12 to 13 S. 7 650
13 to 14 S. 7 Bowers 775
14 to 15 S. 8 1450
15 to 12 N. 22 1994
between 9 & 10 N. 48 1825
Lunch 8 Camp N. 65 1720
7 Camp N. 77 1820
20th-21st N. 30 to 35 W. 93 950
Safety Camp N. & W. 107 1125
_Wednesday, February_ 22.--Safety Camp. Got away at 10 again: surface
fairly heavy: dogs going badly.
The dogs are as thin as rakes; they are ravenous and very tired. I feel
this should not be, and that it is evident that they are underfed. The
ration must be increased next year and we _must_ have some properly
thought out diet. The biscuit alone is not good enough. Meares is
excellent to a point, but ignorant of the conditions here. One thing
is certain, the dogs will never continue to drag heavy loads with men
sitting on the sledges; we must all learn to run with the teams and