Part 4 out of 10
the Russian custom must be dropped. Meares, I think, rather imagined
himself racing to the Pole and back on a dog sledge. This journey
has opened his eyes a good deal.
We reached Safety Camp (dist. 14 miles) at 4.30 A.M.; found Evans and
his party in excellent health, but, alas! with only ONE pony. As far as
I can gather Forde's pony only got 4 miles back from the Bluff Camp;
then a blizzard came on, and in spite of the most tender care from
Forde the pony sank under it. Evans says that Forde spent hours with
the animal trying to keep it going, feeding it, walking it about;
at last he returned to the tent to say that the poor creature had
fallen; they all tried to get it on its feet again but their efforts
were useless. It couldn't stand, and soon after it died.
Then the party marched some 10 miles, but the blizzard had had a
bad effect on Blossom--it seemed to have shrivelled him up, and
now he was terribly emaciated. After this march he could scarcely
move. Evans describes his efforts as pathetic; he got on 100 yards,
then stopped with legs outstretched and nose to the ground. They rested
him, fed him well, covered him with rugs; but again all efforts were
unavailing. The last stages came with painful detail. So Blossom is
also left on the Southern Road.
The last pony, James Pigg, as he is called, has thriven amazingly--of
course great care has been taken with him and he is now getting full
feed and very light work, so he ought to do well. The loss is severe;
but they were the two oldest ponies of our team and the two which
Oates thought of least use.
Atkinson and Crean have departed, leaving no trace--not even a note.
Crean had carried up a good deal of fodder, and some seal meat was
After a few hours' sleep we are off for Hut Point.
There are certain points in night marching, if only for the glorious
light effects which the coming night exhibits.
_Wednesday, February_ 22.--10 P.M. Safety Camp. Turned out at 11 this
morning after 4 hours' sleep.
Wilson, Meares, Evans, Cherry-Garrard, and I went to Hut Point. Found
a great enigma. The hut was cleared and habitable--but no one was
there. A pencil line on the wall said that a bag containing a mail
was inside, but no bag could be found. We puzzled much, then finally
decided on the true solution, viz. that Atkinson and Crean had gone
towards Safety Camp as we went to Hut Point--later we saw their sledge
track leading round on the sea ice. Then we returned towards Safety
Camp and endured a very bad hour in which we could see the two bell
tents but not the domed. It was an enormous relief to find the dome
securely planted, as the ice round Cape Armitage is evidently very
weak; I have never seen such enormous water holes off it.
But every incident of the day pales before the startling contents of
the mail bag which Atkinson gave me--a letter from Campbell setting
out his doings and the finding of Amundsen established in the Bay
One thing only fixes itself definitely in my mind. The proper, as
well as the wiser, course for us is to proceed exactly as though
this had not happened. To go forward and do our best for the honour
of the country without fear or panic.
There is no doubt that Amundsen's plan is a very serious menace
to ours. He has a shorter distance to the Pole by 60 miles--I never
thought he could have got so many dogs safely to the ice. His plan for
running them seems excellent. But above and beyond all he can start
his journey early in the season--an impossible condition with ponies.
The ice is still in at the Glacier Tongue: a very late date--it
looks as though it will not break right back this season, but off
Cape Armitage it is so thin that I doubt if the ponies could safely
be walked round.
_Thursday, February_ 23.--Spent the day preparing sledges, &c., for
party to meet Bowers at Corner Camp. It was blowing and drifting and
generally uncomfortable. Wilson and Meares killed three seals for
_Friday, February_ 24.--Roused out at 6. Started marching at 9. Self,
Crean, and Cherry-Garrard one sledge and tent; Evans, Atkinson, Forde,
second sledge and tent; Keohane leading his pony. We pulled on ski
in the forenoon; the second sledge couldn't keep up, so we changed
about for half the march. In the afternoon we pulled on foot. On the
whole I thought the labour greater on foot, so did Crean, showing
the advantage of experience.
There is no doubt that very long days' work could be done by men in
hard condition on ski.
The hanging back of the second sledge was mainly a question of
condition, but to some extent due to the sledge. We have a 10 ft.,
whilst the other party has a 12 ft.; the former is a distinct advantage
in this case.
It has been a horrid day. We woke to find a thick covering of sticky
ice crystals on everything--a frost _rime_. I cleared my ski before
breakfast arid found more on afterwards. There was the suggestion
of an early frosty morning at home--such a morning as develops
into a beautiful sunshiny day; but in our case, alas! such hopes
were shattered: it was almost damp, with temperature near zero and a
terribly bad light for travelling. In the afternoon Erebus and Terror
showed up for a while. Now it is drifting hard with every sign of
a blizzard--a beastly night. This marching is going to be very good
for our condition and I shall certainly keep people at it.
_Saturday, February_ 25.--Fine bright day--easy marching--covered 9
miles and a bit yesterday and the same to-day. Should reach Corner
Camp before lunch to-morrow.
Turned out at 3 A.M. and saw a short black line on the horizon
towards White Island. Thought it an odd place for a rock exposure
and then observed movement in it. Walked 1 1/2 miles towards it and
made certain that it was Oates, Bowers, and the ponies. They seemed
to be going very fast and evidently did not see our camp. To-day we
have come on their tracks, and I fear there are only four ponies left.
James Pigg, our own pony, limits the length of our marches. The
men haulers could go on much longer, and we all like pulling on
ski. Everyone must be practised in this.
_Sunday, February_ 26.--Marched on Corner Camp, but second main party
found going very hard and eventually got off their ski and pulled
on foot. James Pigg also found the surface bad, so we camped and had
lunch after doing 3 miles.
Except for our tent the camp routine is slack. Shall have to tell
people that we are out on business, not picnicking. It was another
3 miles to depot after lunch. Found signs of Bowers' party having
camped there and glad to see five pony walls. Left six full weeks'
provision: 1 bag of oats, 3/4 of a bale of fodder. Then Cherry-Garrard,
Crean, and I started for home, leaving the others to bring the pony
by slow stages. We covered 6 1/4 miles in direct line, then had some
tea and marched another 8. We must be less than 10 miles from Safety
Camp. Pitched tent at 10 P.M., very dark for cooking.
_Monday, February_ 27.--Awoke to find it blowing a howling
blizzard--absolutely confined to tent at present--to step outside is to
be covered with drift in a minute. We have managed to get our cooking
things inside and have had a meal. Very anxious about the ponies--am
wondering where they can be. The return party  has had two days
and may have got them into some shelter--but more probably they were
not expecting this blow--I wasn't. The wind is blowing force 8 or 9;
heavy gusts straining the tent; the temperature is evidently quite
low. This is poor luck.
_Tuesday, February_ 28.--Safety Camp. Packed up at 6 A.M. and marched
into Safety Camp. Found everyone very cold and depressed. Wilson
and Meares had had continuous bad weather since we left, Bowers and
Oates since their arrival. The blizzard had raged for two days. The
animals looked in a sorry condition but all were alive. The wind blew
keen and cold from the east. There could be no advantage in waiting
here, and soon all arrangements were made for a general shift to Hut
Point. Packing took a long time. The snowfall had been prodigious,
and parts of the sledges were 3 or 4 feet under drift. About 4 o'clock
the two dog teams got safely away. Then the pony party prepared to
go. As the clothes were stripped from the ponies the ravages of the
blizzard became evident. The animals without exception were terribly
emaciated, and Weary Willy was in a pitiable condition.
The plan was for the ponies to follow the dog tracks, our small party
to start last and get in front of the ponies on the sea ice. I was
very anxious about the sea ice passage owing to the spread of the
The ponies started, but Weary Willy, tethered last without a load,
immediately fell down. We tried to get him up and he made efforts,
but was too exhausted.
Then we rapidly reorganised. Cherry-Garrard and Crean went on whilst
Oates and Gran stayed with me. We made desperate efforts to save the
poor creature, got him once more on his legs and gave him a hot oat
mash. Then after a wait of an hour Oates led him off, and we packed
the sledge and followed on ski; 500 yards away from the camp the poor
creature fell again and I felt it was the last effort. We camped,
built a snow wall round him, and did all we possibly could to get him
on his feet. Every effort was fruitless, though the poor thing made
pitiful struggles. Towards midnight we propped him up as comfortably
as we could and went to bed.
_Wednesday, March_ 1, A.M.--Our pony died in the night. It is hard
to have got him back so far only for this. It is clear that these
blizzards are terrible for the poor animals. Their coats are not good,
but even with the best of coats it is certain they would lose condition
badly if caught in one, and we cannot afford to lose condition at
the beginning of a journey. It makes a late start _necessary for
Well, we have done our best and bought our experience at a heavy
cost. Now every effort must be bent on saving the remaining animals,
and it will be good luck if we get four back to Cape Evans, or even
three. Jimmy Pigg may have fared badly; Bowers' big pony is in a bad
way after that frightful blizzard. I cannot remember such a bad storm
in February or March: the temperature was -7 deg..
I note the events of the night of March 1 whilst they are yet fresh
in my memory.
_Thursday, March_ 2, A.M.--The events of the past 48 hours bid fair
to wreck the expedition, and the only one comfort is the miraculous
avoidance of loss of life. We turned out early yesterday, Oates,
Gran, and I, after the dismal night of our pony's death, and pulled
towards the forage depot  on ski. As we approached, the sky
looked black and lowering, and mirage effects of huge broken floes
loomed out ahead. At first I thought it one of the strange optical
illusions common in this region--but as we neared the depot all doubt
was dispelled. The sea was full of broken pieces of Barrier edge. My
thoughts flew to the ponies and dogs, and fearful anxieties assailed
my mind. We turned to follow the sea edge and suddenly discovered a
working crack. We dashed over this and slackened pace again after a
quarter of a mile. Then again cracks appeared ahead and we increased
pace as much as possible, not slackening again till we were in line
between the Safety Camp and Castle Rock. Meanwhile my first thought
was to warn Evans. We set up tent, and Gran went to the depot with
a note as Oates and I disconsolately thought out the situation. I
thought to myself that if either party had reached safety either on
the Barrier or at Hut Point they would immediately have sent a warning
messenger to Safety Camp. By this time the messenger should have been
with us. Some half-hour passed, and suddenly with a 'Thank God!' I
made certain that two specks in the direction of Pram Point were human
beings. I hastened towards them and found they were Wilson and Meares,
who had led the homeward way with the dog teams. They were astonished
to see me--they said they feared the ponies were adrift on the sea
ice--they had seen them with glasses from Observation Hill. They
thought I was with them. They had hastened out without breakfast:
we made them cocoa and discussed the gloomiest situation. Just
after cocoa Wilson discovered a figure making rapidly for the depot
from the west. Gran was sent off again to intercept. It proved to
be Crean--he was exhausted and a little incoherent. The ponies had
camped at 2.30 A.M. on the sea ice well beyond the seal crack on the
previous night. In the middle of the night...
_Friday, March_ 3, A.M.--I was interrupted when writing yesterday
and continue my story this morning.... In the middle of the night
at 4.30 Bowers got out of the tent and discovered the ice had broken
all round him: a crack ran under the picketing line, and one pony had
disappeared. They had packed with great haste and commenced jumping
the ponies from floe to floe, then dragging the loads over after--the
three men must have worked splendidly and fearlessly. At length they
had worked their way to heavier floes lying near the Barrier edge,
and at one time thought they could get up, but soon discovered that
there were gaps everywhere off the high Barrier face. In this dilemma
Crean volunteering was sent off to try to reach me. The sea was like
a cauldron at the time of the break up, and killer whales were putting
their heads up on all sides. Luckily they did not frighten the ponies.
He travelled a great distance over the sea ice, leaping from floe
to floe, and at last found a thick floe from which with help of ski
stick he could climb the Barrier face. It was a desperate venture,
but luckily successful.
As soon as I had digested Crean's news I sent Gran back to Hut Point
with Wilson and Meares and started with my sledge, Crean, and Oates
for the scene of the mishap. We stopped at Safety Camp to load some
provisions and oil and then, marching carefully round, approached
the ice edge. To my joy I caught sight of the lost party. We got our
Alpine rope and with its help dragged the two men to the surface. I
pitched camp at a safe distance from the edge and then we all started
salvage work. The ice had ceased to drift and lay close and quiet
against the Barrier edge. We got the men at 5.30 P.M. and all the
sledges and effects on to the Barrier by 4 A.M. As we were getting
up the last loads the ice showed signs of drifting off, and we saw
it was hopeless to try and move the ponies. The three poor beasts had
to be left on their floe for the moment, well fed. None of our party
had had sleep the previous night and all were dog tired. I decided we
must rest, but turned everyone out at 8.30 yesterday morning. Before
breakfast we discovered the ponies had drifted away. We had tried
to anchor their floe with the Alpine rope, but the anchors had
drawn. It was a sad moment. At breakfast we decided to pack and
follow the Barrier edge: this was the position when I last wrote,
but the interruption came when Bowers, who had taken the binoculars,
announced that he could see the ponies about a mile to the N.W. We
packed and went on at once. We found it easy enough to get down
to the poor animals and decided to rush them for a last chance of
life. Then there was an unfortunate mistake: I went along the Barrier
edge and discovered what I thought and what proved to be a practicable
way to land a pony, but the others meanwhile, a little overwrought,
tried to leap Punch across a gap. The poor beast fell in; eventually
we had to kill him--it was awful. I recalled all hands and pointed
out my road. Bowers and Oates went out on it with a sledge and worked
their way to the remaining ponies, and started back with them on the
same track. Meanwhile Cherry and I dug a road at the Barrier edge. We
saved one pony; for a time I thought we should get both, but Bowers'
poor animal slipped at a jump and plunged into the water: we dragged
him out on some brash ice--killer whales all about us in an intense
state of excitement. The poor animal couldn't rise, and the only
merciful thing was to kill it. These incidents were too terrible.
At 5 P.M. we sadly broke our temporary camp and marched back to the
one I had first pitched. Even here it seemed unsafe, so I walked
nearly two miles to discover cracks: I could find none, and we turned
in about midnight.
So here we are ready to start our sad journey to Hut Point. Everything
out of joint with the loss of the ponies, but mercifully with all
the party alive and well.
_Saturday, March_ 4, A.M.--We had a terrible pull at the start
yesterday, taking four hours to cover some three miles to march on the
line between Safety Camp and Fodder Depot. From there Bowers went to
Safety Camp and found my notes to Evans had been taken. We dragged on
after lunch to the place where my tent had been pitched when Wilson
first met me and where we had left our ski and other loads. All these
had gone. We found sledge tracks leading in towards the land and
at length marks of a pony's hoofs. We followed these and some ski
tracks right into the land, coming at length to the highest of the
Pram Point ridges. I decided to camp here, and as we unpacked I saw
four figures approaching. They proved to be Evans and his party. They
had ascended towards Castle Rock on Friday and found a good camp site
on top of the Ridge. They were in good condition. It was a relief
to hear they had found a good road up. They went back to their camp
later, dragging one of our sledges and a light load. Atkinson is to
go to Hut Point this morning to tell Wilson about us. The rest ought
to meet us and help us up the hill--just off to march up the hill,
hoping to avoid trouble with the pony._14_
_Sunday, March_ 5, A.M.--Marched up the hill to Evans' Camp under
Castle Rock. Evans' party came to meet us and helped us up with the
loads--it was a steep, stiff pull; the pony was led up by Oates. As
we camped for lunch Atkinson and Gran appeared, the former having
been to Hut Point to carry news of the relief. I sent Gran on to
Safety Camp to fetch some sugar and chocolate, left Evans, Oates, and
Keohane in camp, and marched on with remaining six to Hut Point. It
was calm at Evans' Camp, but blowing hard on the hill and harder at
Hut Point. Found the hut in comparative order and slept there.
At Discovery Hut
_Monday, March_ 6, A.M.--Roused the hands at 7.30. Wilson, Bowers,
Garrard, and I went out to Castle Rock. We met Evans just short of
his camp and found the loads had been dragged up the hill. Oates
and Keohane had gone back to lead on the ponies. At the top of the
ridge we harnessed men and ponies to the sledges and made rapid
progress on a good surface towards the hut. The weather grew very
thick towards the end of the march, with all signs of a blizzard. We
unharnessed the ponies at the top of Ski slope--Wilson guided them
down from rock patch to rock patch; the remainder of us got down a
sledge and necessaries over the slope. It is a ticklish business to
get the sledge along the ice foot, which is now all blue ice ending
in a drop to the sea. One has to be certain that the party has good
foothold. All reached the hut in safety. The ponies have admirably
comfortable quarters under the verandah.
After some cocoa we fetched in the rest of the dogs from the Gap and
another sledge from the hill. It had ceased to snow and the wind had
gone down slightly. Turned in with much relief to have all hands and
the animals safely housed.
_Tuesday, March_ 7, A.M.--Yesterday went over to Pram Point with
Wilson. We found that the corner of sea ice in Pram Point Bay had
not gone out--it was crowded with seals. We killed a young one and
carried a good deal of the meat and some of the blubber back with us.
Meanwhile the remainder of the party had made some progress towards
making the hut more comfortable. In the afternoon we all set to in
earnest and by supper time had wrought wonders.
We have made a large L-shaped inner apartment with packing-cases,
the intervals stopped with felt. An empty kerosene tin and some
firebricks have been made into an excellent little stove, which has
been connected to the old stove-pipe. The solider fare of our meals
is either stewed or fried on this stove whilst the tea or cocoa is
being prepared on a primus.
The temperature of the hut is low, of course, but in every other
respect we are absolutely comfortable. There is an unlimited quantity
of biscuit, and our discovery at Pram Point means an unlimited
supply of seal meat. We have heaps of cocoa, coffee, and tea, and a
sufficiency of sugar and salt. In addition a small store of luxuries,
chocolate, raisins, lentils, oatmeal, sardines, and jams, which will
serve to vary the fare. One way and another we shall manage to be
very comfortable during our stay here, and already we can regard it
as a temporary home.
_Thursday, March_ 9, A.M.--Yesterday and to-day very busy about the
hut and overcoming difficulties fast. The stove threatened to exhaust
our store of firewood. We have redesigned it so that it takes only a
few chips of wood to light it and then continues to give great heat
with blubber alone. To-day there are to be further improvements to
regulate the draught and increase the cooking range. We have further
housed in the living quarters with our old _Discovery_ winter awning,
and begin already to retain the heat which is generated inside. We are
beginning to eat blubber and find biscuits fried in it to be delicious.
We really have everything necessary for our comfort and only need
a little more experience to make the best of our resources. The
weather has been wonderfully, perhaps ominously, fine during the
last few days. The sea has frozen over and broken up several times
already. The warm sun has given a grand opportunity to dry all gear.
Yesterday morning Bowers went with a party to pick up the stores
rescued from the floe last week. Evans volunteered to join the party
with Meares, Keohane, Atkinson, and Gran. They started from the hut
about 10 A.M.; we helped them up the hill, and at 7.30 I saw them reach
the camp containing the gear, some 12 miles away. I don't expect them
in till to-morrow night.
It is splendid to see the way in which everyone is learning the
ropes, and the resource which is being shown. Wilson as usual leads
in the making of useful suggestions and in generally providing for
our wants. He is a tower of strength in checking the ill-usage of
clothes--what I have come to regard as the greatest danger with
_Friday, March_ 10, A.M.--Went yesterday to Castle Rock with Wilson
to see what chance there might be of getting to Cape Evans. 
The day was bright and it was quite warm walking in the sun. There
is no doubt the route to Cape Evans lies over the worst corner of
Erebus. From this distance the whole mountain side looks a mass of
crevasses, but a route might be found at a level of 3000 or 4000 ft.
The hut is getting warmer and more comfortable. We have very excellent
nights; it is cold only in the early morning. The outside temperatures
range from 8 deg. or so in the day to 2 deg. at night. To-day there is a strong
S.E. wind with drift. We are going to fetch more blubber for the stove.
_Saturday, March 11, A.M._--Went yesterday morning to Pram Point to
fetch in blubber--wind very strong to Gap but very little on Pram
In the evening went half-way to Castle Rock; strong bitter cold wind on
summit. Could not see the sledge party, but after supper they arrived,
having had very hard pulling. They had had no wind at all till they
approached the hut. Their temperatures had fallen to -10 deg. and -15 deg.,
but with bright clear sunshine in the daytime. They had thoroughly
enjoyed their trip and the pulling on ski.
Life in the hut is much improved, but if things go too fast there
will be all too little to think about and give occupation in the hut.
It is astonishing how the miscellaneous assortment of articles
remaining in and about the hut have been put to useful purpose.
This deserves description._15_
_Monday, March_ 13, A.M.--The weather grew bad on Saturday night
and we had a mild blizzard yesterday. The wind went to the south
and increased in force last night, and this morning there was quite
a heavy sea breaking over the ice foot. The spray came almost up to
the dogs. It reminds us of the gale in which we drove ashore in the
_Discovery._ We have had some trouble with our blubber stove and got
the hut very full of smoke on Saturday night. As a result we are all as
black as sweeps and our various garments are covered with oily soot. We
look a fearful gang of ruffians. The blizzard has delayed our plans
and everyone's attention is bent on the stove, the cooking, and the
various internal arrangements. Nothing is done without a great amount
of advice received from all quarters, and consequently things are
pretty well done. The hut has a pungent odour of blubber and blubber
smoke. We have grown accustomed to it, but imagine that ourselves and
our clothes will be given a wide berth when we return to Cape Evans.
_Wednesday, March_ 15, A.M.--It was blowing continuously from the
south throughout Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday--I never remember such
a persistent southerly wind.
Both Monday and Tuesday I went up Crater Hill. I feared that our floe
at Pram Point would go, but yesterday it still remained, though the
cracks are getting more open. We should be in a hole if it went. 
As I came down the hill yesterday I saw a strange figure advancing and
found it belonged to Griffith Taylor. He and his party had returned
safely. They were very full of their adventures. The main part of
their work seems to be rediscovery of many facts which were noted but
perhaps passed over too lightly in the _Discovery_--but it is certain
that the lessons taught by the physiographical and ice features will
now be thoroughly explained. A very interesting fact lies in the
continuous bright sunshiny weather which the party enjoyed during
the first four weeks of their work. They seem to have avoided all
our stormy winds and blizzards.
But I must leave Griffith Taylor to tell his own story, which will
certainly be a lengthy one. The party gives Evans [P.O.] a very
To-day we have a large seal-killing party. I hope to get in a good
fortnight's allowance of blubber as well as meat, and pray that our
floe will remain.
_Friday, March_ 17, A.M.--We killed eleven seals at Pram Point on
Wednesday, had lunch on the Point, and carried some half ton of the
blubber and meat back to camp--it was a stiff pull up the hill.
Yesterday the last Corner Party started: Evans, Wright, Crean, and
Forde in one team; Bowers, Oates, Cherry-Garrard, and Atkinson in the
other. It was very sporting of Wright to join in after only a day's
rest. He is evidently a splendid puller.
Debenham has become principal cook, and evidently enjoys the task.
Taylor is full of good spirits and anecdote, an addition to the party.
Yesterday after a beautifully fine morning we got a strong northerly
wind which blew till the middle of the night, crowding the young
ice up the Strait. Then the wind suddenly shifted to the south,
and I thought we were in for a blizzard; but this morning the wind
has gone to the S.E.--the stratus cloud formed by the north wind is
dissipating, and the damp snow deposited in the night is drifting. It
looks like a fine evening.
Steadily we are increasing the comforts of the hut. The stove has
been improved out of all recognition; with extra stove-pipes we get
no back draughts, no smoke inside, whilst the economy of fuel is
Insulation inside and out is the subject we are now attacking.
The young ice is going to and fro, but the sea refuses to freeze over
so far--except in the region of Pram Point, where a bay has remained
for some four days holding some pieces of Barrier in its grip. These
pieces have come from the edge of the Barrier and some are crumbling
already, showing a deep and rapid surface deposit of snow and therefore
the probability that they are drifted sea ice not more than a year
or two old, the depth of the drift being due to proximity to an old
I have just taken to pyjama trousers and shall don an extra shirt--I
have been astonished at the warmth which I have felt throughout in
light clothing. So far I have had nothing more than a singlet and
jersey under pyjama jacket and a single pair of drawers under wind
trousers. A hole in the drawers of ancient date means that one place
has had no covering but the wind trousers, yet I have never felt cold
about the body.
In spite of all little activities I am impatient of our wait here. But
I shall be impatient also in the main hut. It is ill to sit still
and contemplate the ruin which has assailed our transport. The
scheme of advance must be very different from that which I first
contemplated. The Pole is a very long way off, alas!
Bit by bit I am losing all faith in the dogs--I'm afraid they will
never go the pace we look for.
_Saturday, March_ 18, A.M.--Still blowing and drifting. It seems as
though there can be no peace at this spot till the sea is properly
frozen over. It blew very hard from the S.E. yesterday--I could
scarcely walk against the wind. In the night it fell calm; the moon
shone brightly at midnight. Then the sky became overcast and the
temperature rose to +11. Now the wind is coming in spurts from the
south--all indications of a blizzard.
With the north wind of Friday the ice must have pressed up on Hut
Point. A considerable floe of pressed up young ice is grounded under
the point, and this morning we found a seal on this. Just as the party
started out to kill it, it slid off into the water--it had evidently
finished its sleep--but it is encouraging to have had a chance to
capture a seal so close to the hut.
_Monday, March_ 20.--On Saturday night it blew hard from the south,
thick overhead, low stratus and drift. The sea spray again came over
the ice foot and flung up almost to the dogs; by Sunday morning the
wind had veered to the S.E., and all yesterday it blew with great
violence and temperature down to -11 deg. and -12 deg..
We were confined to the hut and its immediate environs. Last night the
wind dropped, and for a few hours this morning we had light airs only,
the temperature rising to -2 deg..
The continuous bad weather is very serious for the dogs. We have
strained every nerve to get them comfortable, but the changes of wind
made it impossible to afford shelter in all directions. Some five or
six dogs are running loose, but we dare not allow the stronger animals
such liberty. They suffer much from the cold, but they don't get worse.
The small white dog which fell into the crevasse on our home journey
died yesterday. Under the best circumstances I doubt if it could have
lived, as there had evidently been internal injury and an external
sore had grown gangrenous. Three other animals are in a poor way,
but may pull through with luck.
We had a stroke of luck to-day. The young ice pressed up off Hut
Point has remained fast--a small convenient platform jutting out
from the point. We found two seals on it to-day and killed them--thus
getting a good supply of meat for the dogs and some more blubber for
our fire. Other seals came up as the first two were being skinned,
so that one may now hope to keep up all future supplies on this side
of the ridge.
As I write the wind is blowing up again and looks like returning to
the south. The only comfort is that these strong cold winds with no
sun must go far to cool the waters of the Sound.
The continuous bad weather is trying to the spirits, but we are fairly
comfortable in the hut and only suffer from lack of exercise to work
off the heavy meals our appetites demand.
_Tuesday, March_ 21.--The wind returned to the south at 8 last
night. It gradually increased in force until 2 A.M., when it
was blowing from the S.S.W., force 9 to 10. The sea was breaking
constantly and heavily on the ice foot. The spray carried right over
the Point--covering all things and raining on the roof of the hut. Poor
Vince's cross, some 30 feet above the water, was enveloped in it.
Of course the dogs had a very poor time, and we went and released
two or three, getting covered in spray during the operation--our wind
clothes very wet.
This is the third gale from the south since our arrival here. Any
one of these would have rendered the Bay impossible for a ship, and
therefore it is extraordinary that we should have entirely escaped
such a blow when the _Discovery_ was in it in 1902.
The effects of this gale are evident and show that it is a most unusual
occurrence. The rippled snow surface of the ice foot is furrowed in
all directions and covered with briny deposit--a condition we have
never seen before. The ice foot at the S.W. corner of the bay is
broken down, bare rock appearing for the first time.
The sledges, magnetic huts, and in fact every exposed object on the
Point are thickly covered with brine. Our seal floe has gone, so it
is good-bye to seals on this side for some time.
The dogs are the main sufferers by this continuance of phenomenally
terrible weather. At least four are in a bad state; some six or seven
others are by no means fit and well, but oddly enough some ten or a
dozen animals are as fit as they can be. Whether constitutionally
harder or whether better fitted by nature or chance to protect
themselves it is impossible to say--Osman, Czigane, Krisravitsa,
Hohol, and some others are in first-rate condition, whilst Lappa is
better than he has ever been before.
It is so impossible to keep the dogs comfortable in the traces and
so laborious to be continually attempting it, that we have decided
to let the majority run loose. It will be wonderful if we can avoid
one or two murders, but on the other hand probably more would die if
we kept them in leash.
We shall try and keep the quarrelsome dogs chained up.
The main trouble that seems to come on the poor wretches is the icing
up of their hindquarters; once the ice gets thoroughly into the coat
the hind legs get half paralysed with cold. The hope is that the
animals will free themselves of this by running about.
Well, well, fortune is not being very kind to us. This month will have
sad memories. Still I suppose things might be worse; the ponies are
well housed and are doing exceedingly well, though we have slightly
increased their food allowance.
Yesterday afternoon we climbed Observation Hill to see some examples of
spheroidal weathering--Wilson knew of them and guided. The geologists
state that they indicate a columnar structure, the tops of the columns
being weathered out.
The specimens we saw were very perfect. Had some interesting
instruction in geology in the evening. I should not regret a stay
here with our two geologists if only the weather would allow us to
This morning the wind moderated and went to the S.E.; the sea
naturally fell quickly. The temperature this morning was + 17 deg.;
minimum +11 deg.. But now the wind is increasing from the S.E. and it is
momentarily getting colder.
_Thursday, March_ 23, A.M.--No signs of depot party, which to-night
will have been a week absent. On Tuesday afternoon we went up to
the Big Boulder above Ski slope. The geologists were interested,
and we others learnt something of olivines, green in crystal form
or oxidized to bright red, granites or granulites or quartzites,
hornblende and feldspars, ferrous and ferric oxides of lava acid,
basic, plutonic, igneous, eruptive--schists, basalts &c. All such
things I must get clearer in my mind. 
Tuesday afternoon a cold S.E. wind commenced and blew all night.
Yesterday morning it was calm and I went up Crater Hill. The sea
of stratus cloud hung curtain-like over the Strait--blue sky east
and south of it and the Western Mountains bathed in sunshine, sharp,
clear, distinct, a glorious glimpse of grandeur on which the curtain
gradually descended. In the morning it looked as though great pieces
of Barrier were drifting out. From the hill one found these to be
but small fragments which the late gale had dislodged, leaving in
places a blue wall very easily distinguished from the general white
of the older fractures. The old floe and a good extent of new ice
had remained fast in Pram Point Bay. Great numbers of seals up as
usual. The temperature was up to +20 deg. at noon. In the afternoon a very
chill wind from the east, temperature rapidly dropping till zero in
the evening. The Strait obstinately refuses to freeze.
We are scoring another success in the manufacture of blubber lamps,
which relieves anxiety as to lighting as the hours of darkness
The young ice in Pram Point Bay is already being pressed up.
_Friday, March_ 24, A.M.--Skuas still about, a few--very shy--very
dark in colour after moulting.
Went along Arrival Heights yesterday with very keen over-ridge wind--it
was difficult to get shelter. In the evening it fell calm and has
remained all night with temperature up to + 18 deg.. This morning it is
snowing with fairly large flakes.
Yesterday for the first time saw the ice foot on the south side of the
bay, a wall some 5 or 6 ft. above water and 12 or 14 ft. below; the
sea bottom quite clear with the white wall resting on it. This must
be typical of the ice foot all along the coast, and the wasting of
caves at sea level alone gives the idea of an overhanging mass. Very
curious and interesting erosion of surface of the ice foot by waves
during recent gale.
The depot party returned yesterday morning. They had thick weather
on the outward march and missed the track, finally doing 30 miles
between Safety Camp and Corner Camp. They had a hard blow up to force
8 on the night of our gale. Started N.W. and strongest S.S.E.
The sea wants to freeze--a thin coating of ice formed directly the
wind dropped; but the high temperature does not tend to thicken it
rapidly and the tide makes many an open lead. We have been counting
our resources and arranging for another twenty days' stay.
_Saturday, March_ 25, A.M.--We have had two days of surprisingly
warm weather, the sky overcast, snow falling, wind only in light
airs. Last night the sky was clearing, with a southerly wind, and this
morning the sea was open all about us. It is disappointing to find
the ice so reluctant to hold; at the same time one supposes that the
cooling of the water is proceeding and therefore that each day makes
it easier for the ice to form--the sun seems to have lost all power,
but I imagine its rays still tend to warm the surface water about the
noon hours. It is only a week now to the date which I thought would
see us all at Cape Evans.
The warmth of the air has produced a comparatively uncomfortable state
of affairs in the hut. The ice on the inner roof is melting fast,
dripping on the floor and streaming down the sides. The increasing
cold is checking the evil even as I write. Comfort could only be
ensured in the hut either by making a clean sweep of all the ceiling
ice or by keeping the interior at a critical temperature little
_Sunday, March_ 26, P.M.--Yesterday morning went along Arrival Heights
in very cold wind. Afternoon to east side Observation Hill. As
afternoon advanced, wind fell. Glorious evening--absolutely calm,
smoke ascending straight. Sea frozen over--looked very much like
final freezing, but in night wind came from S.E., producing open
water all along shore. Wind continued this morning with drift,
slackened in afternoon; walked over Gap and back by Crater Heights
to Arrival Heights.
Sea east of Cape Armitage pretty well covered with ice; some open
pools--sea off shore west of the Cape frozen in pools, open lanes
close to shore as far as Castle Rock. Bays either side of Glacier
Tongue _look_ fairly well frozen. Hut still dropping water badly.
Held service in hut this morning, read Litany. One skua seen to-day.
_Monday, March_ 27, P.M.--Strong easterly wind on ridge to-day rushing
down over slopes on western side.
Ice holding south from about Hut Point, but cleared 1/2 to 3/4
mile from shore to northward. Cleared in patches also, I am told,
on both sides of Glacier Tongue, which is annoying. A regular local
wind. The Barrier edge can be seen clearly all along, showing there
is little or no drift. Have been out over the Gap for walk. Glad to
say majority of people seem anxious to get exercise, but one or two
like the fire better.
The dogs are getting fitter each day, and all save one or two have
excellent coats. I was very pleased to find one or two of the animals
voluntarily accompanying us on our walk. It is good to see them
trotting against a strong drift.
_Tuesday, March_ 28.--Slowly but surely the sea is freezing over. The
ice holds and thickens south of Hut Point in spite of strong easterly
wind and in spite of isolated water holes which obstinately remain
open. It is difficult to account for these--one wonders if the air
currents shoot downward on such places; but even so it is strange
that they do not gradually diminish in extent. A great deal of ice
seems to have remained in and about the northern islets, but it is
too far to be sure that there is a continuous sheet.
We are building stabling to accommodate four more ponies under the
eastern verandah. When this is complete we shall be able to shelter
seven animals, and this should be enough for winter and spring
_Thursday, March_ 30.--The ice holds south of Hut Point, though not
thickening rapidly--yesterday was calm and the same ice conditions
seemed to obtain on both sides of the Glacier Tongue. It looks as
though the last part of the road to become safe will be the stretch
from Hut Point to Turtleback Island. Here the sea seems disinclined
to freeze even in calm weather. To-day there is more strong wind from
the east. White horse all along under the ridge.
The period of our stay here seems to promise to lengthen. It is
trying--trying--but we can live, which is something. I should not
be greatly surprised if we had to wait till May. Several skuas were
about the camp yesterday. I have seen none to-day.
Two rorquals were rising close to Hut Point this morning--although
the ice is nowhere thick it was strange to see them making for the
open leads and thin places to blow.
_Friday, March_ 31.--I studied the wind blowing along the ridge
yesterday and came to the conclusion that a comparatively thin shaft of
air was moving along the ridge from Erebus. On either side of the ridge
it seemed to pour down from the ridge itself--there was practically
no wind on the sea ice off Pram Point, and to the westward of Hut
Point the frost smoke was drifting to the N.W. The temperature ranges
about zero. It seems to be almost certain that the perpetual wind is
due to the open winter. Meanwhile the sea refuses to freeze over.
Wright pointed out the very critical point which zero temperature
represents in the freezing of salt water, being the freezing
temperature of concentrated brine--a very few degrees above or below
zero would make all the difference to the rate of increase of the
Yesterday the ice was 8 inches in places east of Cape Armitage and 6
inches in our Bay: it was said to be fast to the south of the Glacier
Tongue well beyond Turtleback Island and to the north out of the
Islands, except for a strip of water immediately north of the Tongue.
We are good for another week in pretty well every commodity and shall
then have to reduce luxuries. But we have plenty of seal meat, blubber
and biscuit, and can therefore remain for a much longer period if needs
be. Meanwhile the days are growing shorter and the weather colder.
_Saturday, April_ 1.--The wind yesterday was blowing across the Ridge
from the top down on the sea to the west: very little wind on the
eastern slopes and practically none at Pram Point. A seal came up
in our Bay and was killed. Taylor found a number of fish frozen into
the sea ice--he says there are several in a small area.
The pressure ridges in Pram Point Bay are estimated by Wright to
have set up about 3 feet. This ice has been 'in' about ten days. It
is now safe to work pretty well anywhere south of Hut Point.
Went to Third Crater (next Castle Rock) yesterday. The ice seems to
be holding in the near Bay from a point near Hulton Rocks to Glacier;
also in the whole of the North Bay except for a tongue of open water
immediately north of the Glacier.
The wind is the same to-day as yesterday, and the open water apparently
not reduced by a square yard. I'm feeling impatient.
_Sunday, April_ 2, A.M.--Went round Cape Armitage to Pram Point on
sea ice for first time yesterday afternoon. Ice solid everywhere,
except off the Cape, where there are numerous open pools. Can only
imagine layers of comparatively warm water brought to the surface
by shallows. The ice between the pools is fairly shallow. One
Emperor killed off the Cape. Several skuas seen--three seals up in
our Bay--several off Pram Point in the shelter of Horse Shoe Bay. A
great many fish on sea ice--mostly small, but a second species 5 or
6 inches long: imagine they are chased by seals and caught in brashy
ice where they are unable to escape. Came back over hill: glorious
sunset, brilliant crimson clouds in west.
Returned to find wind dropping, the first time for three days. It
turned to north in the evening. Splendid aurora in the night; a bright
band of light from S.S.W. to E.N.E. passing within 10 deg. of the zenith
with two waving spirals at the summit. This morning sea to north
covered with ice. Min. temp, for night -5 deg., but I think most of the
ice was brought in by the wind. Things look more hopeful. Ice now
continuous to Cape Evans, but very thin as far as Glacier Tongue;
three or four days of calm or light winds should make everything firm.
_Wednesday, April_ 5, A.M.--The east wind has continued with a short
break on Sunday for five days, increasing in violence and gradually
becoming colder and more charged with snow until yesterday, when we
had a thick overcast day with falling and driving snow and temperature
down to -11 deg..
Went beyond Castle Rock on Sunday and Monday mornings with Griffith
Think the wind fairly local and that the Strait has frozen over to
the north, as streams of drift snow and ice crystals (off the cliffs)
were building up the ice sheet towards the wind. Monday we could see
the approaching white sheet--yesterday it was visibly closer to land,
though the wind had not decreased. Walking was little pleasure on
either day: yesterday climbed about hills to see all possible. No one
else left the hut. In the evening the wind fell and freezing continued
during night (min.--17 deg.). This morning there is ice everywhere. I
cannot help thinking it has come to stay. In Arrival Bay it is 6
to 7 inches thick, but the new pools beyond have only I inch of the
regular elastic sludgy new ice. The sky cleared last night, and this
morning we have sunshine for the first time for many days. If this
weather holds for a day we shall be all right. We are getting towards
the end of our luxuries, so that it is quite time we made a move--we
are very near the end of the sugar.
The skuas seem to have gone, the last was seen on Sunday. These birds
were very shy towards the end of their stay, also very dark in plumage;
they did not seem hungry, and yet it must have been difficult for
them to get food.
The seals are coming up in our Bay--five last night. Luckily the
dogs have not yet discovered them or the fact that the sea ice will
Had an interesting talk with Taylor on agglomerate and basaltic dykes
of Castle Rock. The perfection of the small cone craters below Castle
Rock seem to support the theory we have come to, that there have been
volcanic disturbances since the recession of the greater ice sheet.
It is a great thing having Wright to fog out the ice problems,
and he has had a good opportunity of observing many interesting
things here. He is keeping notes of ice changes and a keen eye on
ice phenomena; we have many discussions.
Yesterday Wilson prepared a fry of seal meat with penguin blubber. It
had a flavour like cod-liver oil and was not much appreciated--some
ate their share, and I think all would have done so if we had had
sledging appetites--shades of _Discovery_ days!!_16_
This Emperor weighed anything from 88 to 96 lbs., and therefore
approximated to or exceeded the record.
The dogs are doing pretty well with one or two exceptions. Deek is
the worst, but I begin to think all will pull through.
_Thursday, April_ 6, A.M.--The weather continued fine and clear
yesterday--one of the very few fine days we have had since our arrival
at the hut.
The sun shone continuously from early morning till it set behind the
northern hills about 5 P.M. The sea froze completely, but with only
a thin sheet to the north. A fairly strong northerly wind sprang up,
causing this thin ice to override and to leave several open leads
near the land. In the forenoon I went to the edge of the new ice
with Wright. It looked at the limit of safety and we did not venture
far. The over-riding is interesting: the edge of one sheet splits as
it rises and slides over the other sheet in long tongues which creep
onward impressively. Whilst motion lasts there is continuous music,
a medley of high pitched but tuneful notes--one might imagine small
birds chirping in a wood. The ice sings, we say.
P.M.--In the afternoon went nearly two miles to the north over the
young ice; found it about 3 1/2 inches thick. At supper arranged
programme for shift to Cape Evans--men to go on Saturday--dogs
Sunday--ponies Monday--all subject to maintenance of good weather
_Friday, April_ 7.--Went north over ice with Atkinson, Bowers, Taylor,
Cherry-Garrard; found the thickness nearly 5 inches everywhere except
in open water leads, which remain open in many places. As we got away
from the land we got on an interesting surface of small pancakes,
much capped and pressed up, a sort of mosaic. This is the ice which
was built up from lee side of the Strait, spreading across to windward
against the strong winds of Monday and Tuesday.
Another point of interest was the manner in which the overriding ice
sheets had scraped the under floes.
Taylor fell in when rather foolishly trying to cross a thinly covered
lead--he had a very scared face for a moment or two whilst we hurried
to the rescue, but hauled himself out with his ice axe without our
help and walked back with Cherry.
The remainder of us went on till abreast of the sulphur cones under
Castle Rock, when we made for the shore, and with a little mutual
help climbed the cliff and returned by land.
As far as one can see all should be well for our return to-morrow,
but the sky is clouding to-night and a change of weather seems
imminent. Three successive fine days seem near the limit in this
We have picked up quite a number of fish frozen in the ice--the larger
ones about the size of a herring and the smaller of a minnow. We
imagined both had been driven into the slushy ice by seals, but
to-day Gran found a large fish frozen in the act of swallowing a
small one. It looks as though both small and large are caught when
one is chasing the other.
We have achieved such great comfort here that one is half sorry to
leave--it is a fine healthy existence with many hours spent in the
open and generally some interesting object for our walks abroad. The
hill climbing gives excellent exercise--we shall miss much of it at
Cape Evans. But I am anxious to get back and see that all is well at
the latter, as for a long time I have been wondering how our beach
has withstood the shocks of northerly winds. The thought that the hut
may have been damaged by the sea in one of the heavy storms will not
A Sketch of the Life at Hut Point
We gather around the fire seated on packing-cases to receive them
with a hunk of butter and a steaming pannikin of tea, and life is well
worth living. After lunch we are out and about again; there is little
to tempt a long stay indoors and exercise keeps us all the fitter.
The falling light and approach of supper drives us home again with
good appetites about 5 or 6 o'clock, and then the cooks rival one
another in preparing succulent dishes of fried seal liver. A single
dish may not seem to offer much opportunity of variation, but a lot
can be done with a little flour, a handful of raisins, a spoonful of
curry powder, or the addition of a little boiled pea meal. Be this as
it may, we never tire of our dish and exclamations of satisfaction
can be heard every night--or nearly every night, for two nights ago
[April 4] Wilson, who has proved a genius in the invention of 'plats,'
almost ruined his reputation. He proposed to fry the seal liver
in penguin blubber, suggesting that the latter could be freed from
all rankness. The blubber was obtained and rendered down with great
care, the result appeared as delightfully pure fat free from smell;
but appearances were deceptive; the 'fry' proved redolent of penguin,
a concentrated essence of that peculiar flavour which faintly lingers
in the meat and should not be emphasised. Three heroes got through
their pannikins, but the rest of us decided to be contented with
cocoa and biscuit after tasting the first mouthful. After supper we
have an hour or so of smoking and conversation--a cheering, pleasant
hour--in which reminiscences are exchanged by a company which has
very literally had world-wide experience. There is scarce a country
under the sun which one or another of us has not travelled in, so
diverse are our origins and occupations. An hour or so after supper
we tail off one by one, spread out our sleeping-bags, take off our
shoes and creep into comfort, for our reindeer bags are really warm
and comfortable now that they have had a chance of drying, and the
hut retains some of the heat generated in it. Thanks to the success
of the blubber lamps and to a fair supply of candles, we can muster
ample light to read for another hour or two, and so tucked up in our
furs we study the social and political questions of the past decade.
We muster no less than sixteen. Seven of us pretty well cover the floor
of one wing of the L-shaped enclosure, four sleep in the other wing,
which also holds the store, whilst the remaining five occupy the annexe
and affect to find the colder temperature more salubrious. Everyone
can manage eight or nine hours' sleep without a break, and not a few
would have little difficulty in sleeping the clock round, which goes
to show that our extremely simple life is an exceedingly healthy one,
though with faces and hands blackened with smoke, appearances might
not lead an outsider to suppose it.
_Sunday, April_ 9, A.M.--On Friday night it grew overcast and the
wind went to the south. During the whole of yesterday and last
night it blew a moderate blizzard--the temperature at highest +5 deg.,
a relatively small amount of drift. On Friday night the ice in the
Strait went out from a line meeting the shore 3/4 mile north of Hut
Point. A crack off Hut Point and curving to N.W. opened to about 15
or 20 feet, the opening continuing on the north side of the Point. It
is strange that the ice thus opened should have remained.
Ice cleared out to the north directly wind commenced--it didn't wait
a single instant, showing that our journey over it earlier in the day
was a very risky proceeding--the uncertainty of these conditions is
beyond words, but there shall be no more of this foolish venturing
on young ice. This decision seems to put off the return of the ponies
to a comparatively late date.
Yesterday went to the second crater, Arrival Heights, hoping to see
the condition of the northerly bays, but could see little or nothing
owing to drift. A white line dimly seen on the horizon seemed to
indicate that the ice drifted out has not gone far.
Some skuas were seen yesterday, a very late date. The seals disinclined
to come on the ice; one can be seen at Cape Armitage this morning,
but it is two or three days since there was one up in our Bay. It
will certainly be some time before the ponies can be got back.
_Monday, April_ 10, P.M.--Intended to make for Cape Evans this
morning. Called hands early, but when we were ready for departure after
breakfast, the sky became more overcast and snow began to fall. It
continued off and on all day, only clearing as the sun set. It would
have been the worst condition possible for our attempt, as we could
not have been more than 100 yards.
Conditions look very unfavourable for the continued freezing of
_Thursday, April_ 13.--Started from Hut Point 9 A.M. Tuesday. Party
consisted of self, Bowers, P.O. Evans, Taylor, one tent; Evans,
Gran, Crean, Debenham, and Wright, second tent. Left Wilson in
charge at Hut Point with Meares, Forde, Keohane, Oates, Atkinson, and
Cherry-Garrard. All gave us a pull up the ski slope; it had become a
point of honour to take this slope without a 'breather.' I find such
an effort trying in the early morning, but had to go through with it.
Weather fine; we marched past Castle Rock, east of it; the snow
was soft on the slopes, showing the shelter afforded--continued to
traverse the ridge for the first time--found quite good surface much
wind swept--passed both cones on the ridge on the west side. Caught a
glimpse of fast ice in the Bays either side of Glacier as expected,
but in the near Bay its extent was very small. Evidently we should
have to go well along the ridge before descending, and then the
problem would be how to get down over the cliffs. On to Hulton Rocks
7 1/2 miles from the start--here it was very icy and wind swept,
inhospitable--the wind got up and light became bad just at the critical
moment, so we camped and had some tea at 2 P.M. A clearance half an
hour later allowed us to see a possible descent to the ice cliffs,
but between Hulton Rocks and Erebus all the slope was much cracked
and crevassed. We chose a clear track to the edge of the cliffs,
but could find no low place in these, the lowest part being 24 feet
sheer drop. Arriving here the wind increased, the snow drifting off
the ridge--we had to decide quickly; I got myself to the edge and
made standing places to work the rope; dug away at the cornice, well
situated for such work in harness. Got three people lowered by the
Alpine rope--Evans, Bowers, and Taylor--then sent down the sledges,
which went down in fine style, fully packed--then the remainder of the
party. For the last three, drove a stake hard down in the snow and
used the rope round it, the men being lowered by people below--came
down last myself. Quite a neat and speedy bit of work and all done
in 20 minutes without serious frostbite--quite pleased with the result.
We found pulling to Glacier Tongue very heavy over the surface of
ice covered with salt crystals, and reached Glacier Tongue about
5.30; found a low place and got the sledges up the 6 ft. wall pretty
easily. Stiff incline, but easy pulling on hard surface--the light
was failing and the surface criss-crossed with innumerable cracks;
several of us fell in these with risk of strain, but the north side
was well snow-covered and easy, with a good valley leading to a low
ice cliff--here a broken piece afforded easy descent. I decided to
push on for Cape Evans, so camped for tea at 6. At 6.30 found darkness
suddenly arrived; it was very difficult to see anything--we got down
on the sea ice, very heavy pulling, but plodded on for some hours; at
10 arrived close under little Razor Back Island, and not being able
to see anything ahead, decided to camp and got to sleep at 11.30 in
no very comfortable circumstances.
The wind commenced to rise during night. We found a roaring blizzard
in the morning. We had many alarms for the safety of the ice on
which the camp was pitched. Bowers and Taylor climbed the island;
reported wind terrific on the summit--sweeping on either side but
comparatively calm immediately to windward and to leeward. Waited
all day in hopes of a lull; at 3 I went round the island myself with
Bowers, and found a little ice platform close under the weather
side; resolved to shift camp here. It took two very cold hours,
but we gained great shelter, the cliffs rising almost sheer from the
tents. Only now and again a whirling wind current eddied down on the
tents, which were well secured, but the noise of the wind sweeping
over the rocky ridge above our heads was deafening; we could scarcely
hear ourselves speak. Settled down for our second night with little
comfort, and slept better, knowing we could not be swept out to sea,
but provisions were left only for one more meal.
During the night the wind moderated and we could just see outline
I roused the party at 7 A.M. and we were soon under weigh, with a
desperately cold and stiff breeze and frozen clothes; it was very
heavy pulling, but the distance only two miles. Arrived off the point
about ten and found sea ice continued around it. It was a very great
relief to see the hut on rounding it and to hear that all was well.
Another pony, Hackenschmidt, and one dog reported dead, but this
certainly is not worse than expected. All the other animals are in
Delighted with everything I see in the hut. Simpson has done wonders,
but indeed so has everyone else, and I must leave description to a
_Friday, April_ 14.--Good Friday. Peaceful day. Wind continuing 20
to 30 miles per hour.
Had divine service.
_Saturday, April_ 15.--Weather continuing thoroughly bad. Wind
blowing from 30 to 40 miles an hour all day; drift bad, and to-night
snow falling. I am waiting to get back to Hut Point with relief
stores. To-night sent up signal light to inform them there of our
safe arrival--an answering flare was shown.
_Sunday, April_ 16.--Same wind as yesterday up to 6 o'clock, when it
fell calm with gusts from the north.
Have exercised the ponies to-day and got my first good look at them. I
scarcely like to express the mixed feelings with which I am able to
regard this remnant.
Freezing of Bays. Cape Evans
_March_ 15.--General young ice formed.
_March_ 19.--Bay cleared except strip inside Inaccessible and
Razor Back Islands to Corner Turk's Head.
_March_ 20.--Everything cleared.
_March_ 25.--Sea froze over inside Islands for good.
_March_ 28.--Sea frozen as far as seen.
_March_ 30.--Remaining only inside Islands.
_April_ 1.--Limit Cape to Island.
_April_ 6.--Present limit freezing in Strait and in North Bay.
_April_ 9.--Strait cleared except former limit and _some_ ice in
North Bay likely to remain.
Home Impressions and an Excursion
_Impressions on returning to the Hut, April_ 13, 1911
In choosing the site of the hut on our Home Beach I had thought of
the possibility of northerly winds bringing a swell, but had argued,
firstly, that no heavy northerly swell had ever been recorded in the
Sound; secondly, that a strong northerly wind was bound to bring pack
which would damp the swell; thirdly, that the locality was excellently
protected by the Barne Glacier, and finally, that the beach itself
showed no signs of having been swept by the sea, the rock fragments
composing it being completely angular.
When the hut was erected and I found that its foundation was only
11 feet above the level of the sea ice, I had a slight misgiving,
but reassured myself again by reconsidering the circumstances that
afforded shelter to the beach.
The fact that such question had been considered makes it easier to
understand the attitude of mind that readmitted doubt in the face of
The event has justified my original arguments, but I must confess a
sense of having assumed security without sufficient proof in a case
where an error of judgment might have had dire consequences.
It was not until I found all safe at the Home Station that I realised
how anxious I had been concerning it. In a normal season no thought
of its having been in danger would have occurred to me, but since the
loss of the ponies and the breaking of the Glacier Tongue I could not
rid myself of the fear that misfortune was in the air and that some
abnormal swell had swept the beach; gloomy thoughts of the havoc that
might have been wrought by such an event would arise in spite of the
sound reasons which had originally led me to choose the site of the
hut as a safe one.
The late freezing of the sea, the terrible continuance of wind and
the abnormalities to which I have referred had gradually strengthened
the profound distrust with which I had been forced to regard our
mysterious Antarctic climate until my imagination conjured up many
forms of disaster as possibly falling on those from whom I had parted
for so long.
We marched towards Cape Evans under the usually miserable conditions
which attend the breaking of camp in a cold wind after a heavy
blizzard. The outlook was dreary in the grey light of early morning,
our clothes were frozen stiff and our fingers, wet and cold in the
tent, had been frostbitten in packing the sledges.
A few comforting signs of life appeared as we approached the Cape; some
old footprints in the snow, a long silk thread from the meteorologist's
balloon; but we saw nothing more as we neared the rocks of the
promontory and the many grounded bergs which were scattered off it.
To my surprise the fast ice extended past the Cape and we were able
to round it into the North Bay. Here we saw the weather screen on Wind
Vane Hill, and a moment later turned a small headland and brought the
hut in full view. It was intact--stables, outhouses and all; evidently
the sea had left it undisturbed. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. We
watched two figures at work near the stables and wondered when they
would see us. In a moment or two they did so, and fled inside the
hut to carry the news of our arrival. Three minutes later all nine
occupants  were streaming over the floe towards us with shouts
of welcome. There were eager inquiries as to mutual welfare and it
took but a minute to learn the most important events of the quiet
station life which had been led since our departure. These under the
circumstances might well be considered the deaths of one pony and
one dog. The pony was that which had been nicknamed Hackenschmidt
from his vicious habit of using both fore and hind legs in attacking
those who came near him. He had been obviously of different breed from
the other ponies, being of lighter and handsomer shape, suggestive
of a strain of Arab blood. From no cause which could be discovered
either by the symptoms of his illness or the post-mortem held by
Nelson could a reason be found for his death. In spite of the best
feeding and every care he had gradually sickened until he was too
weak to stand, and in this condition there had been no option but to
put him out of misery. Anton considers the death of Hackenschmidt to
have been an act of 'cussedness'--the result of a determination to do
no work for the Expedition!! Although the loss is serious I remember
doubts which I had as to whether this animal could be anything but
a source of trouble to us. He had been most difficult to handle all
through, showing a vicious, intractable temper. I had foreseen great
difficulties with him, especially during the early part of any journey
on which he was taken, and this consideration softened the news of
his death. The dog had been left behind in a very sick condition,
and this loss was not a great surprise.
These items were the worst of the small budget of news that awaited
me; for the rest, the hut arrangements had worked out in the most
satisfactory manner possible and the scientific routine of observations
was in full swing. After our primitive life at Cape Armitage it
was wonderful to enter the precincts of our warm, dry Cape Evans
home. The interior space seemed palatial, the light resplendent,
and the comfort luxurious. It was very good to eat in civilised
fashion, to enjoy the first bath for three months, and have contact
with clean, dry clothing. Such fleeting hours of comfort (for custom
soon banished their delight) are the treasured remembrance of every
Polar traveller. They throw into sharpest contrast the hardships of
the past and the comforts of the present, and for the time he revels
in the unaccustomed physical contentment that results.
I was not many hours or even minutes in the hut before I was haled
round to observe in detail the transformation which had taken place
during my absence, and in which a very proper pride was taken by
those who had wrought it.
Simpson's Corner was the first visited. Here the eye travelled over
numerous shelves laden with a profusion of self-recording instruments,
electric batteries and switchboards, whilst the ear caught the
ticking of many clocks, the gentle whir of a motor and occasionally
the trembling note of an electric bell. But such sights and sounds
conveyed only an impression of the delicate methodical means by which
the daily and hourly variations of our weather conditions were being
recorded--a mere glimpse of the intricate arrangements of a first-class
meteorological station--the one and only station of that order which
has been established in Polar regions. It took me days and even months
to realise fully the aims of our meteorologist and the scientific
accuracy with which he was achieving them. When I did so to an adequate
extent I wrote some description of his work which will be found in the
following pages of this volume.  The first impression which I am
here describing was more confused; I appreciated only that by going to
'Simpson's Corner' one could ascertain at a glance how hard the wind
was blowing and had been blowing, how the barometer was varying, to
what degree of cold the thermometer had descended; if one were still
more inquisitive he could further inform himself as to the electrical
tension of the atmosphere and other matters of like import. That such
knowledge could be gleaned without a visit to the open air was an
obvious advantage to those who were clothing themselves to face it,
whilst the ability to study the variation of a storm without exposure
savoured of no light victory of mind over matter.
The dark room stands next to the parasitologist's side of the bench
which flanks Sunny Jim's Corner--an involved sentence. To be more
exact, the physicists adjust their instruments and write up books at
a bench which projects at right angles to the end wall of the hut;
the opposite side of this bench is allotted to Atkinson, who is to
write with his back to the dark room. Atkinson being still absent
his corner was unfurnished, and my attention was next claimed by
the occupant of the dark room beyond Atkinson's limit. The art of
photography has never been so well housed within the Polar regions and
rarely without them. Such a palatial chamber for the development of
negatives and prints can only be justified by the quality of the work
produced in it, and is only justified in our case by the possession
of such an artist as Ponting. He was eager to show me the results
of his summer work, and meanwhile my eye took in the neat shelves
with their array of cameras, &c., the porcelain sink and automatic
water tap, the two acetylene gas burners with their shading screens,
and the general obviousness of all conveniences of the photographic
art. Here, indeed, was encouragement for the best results, and to
the photographer be all praise, for it is mainly his hand which has
executed the designs which his brain conceived. In this may be clearly
seen the advantage of a traveller's experience. Ponting has had to fend
for himself under primitive conditions in a new land; the result is a
'handy man' with every form of tool and in any circumstances. Thus,
when building operations were to the fore and mechanical labour
scarce, Ponting returned to the shell of his apartment with only the
raw material for completing it. In the shortest possible space of
time shelves and tanks were erected, doors hung and windows framed,
and all in a workmanlike manner commanding the admiration of all
beholders. It was well that speed could be commanded for such work,
since the fleeting hours of the summer season had been altogether too
few to be spared from the immediate service of photography. Ponting's
nervous temperament allowed no waste of time--for him fine weather
meant no sleep; he decided that lost opportunities should be as rare
as circumstances would permit.
This attitude was now manifested in the many yards of cinematograph
film remaining on hand and yet greater number recorded as having been
sent back in the ship, in the boxes of negatives lying on the shelves
and a well-filled album of prints.
Of the many admirable points in this work perhaps the most notable
are Ponting's eye for a picture and the mastery he has acquired of ice
subjects; the composition of most of his pictures is extraordinarily
good, he seems to know by instinct the exact value of foreground
and middle distance and of the introduction of 'life,' whilst with
more technical skill in the manipulation of screens and exposures he
emphasises the subtle shadows of the snow and reproduces its wondrously
transparent texture. He is an artist in love with his work, and it
was good to hear his enthusiasm for results of the past and plans of
Long before I could gaze my fill at the contents of the dark room I
was led to the biologists' cubicle; Nelson and Day had from the first
decided to camp together, each having a habit of methodical neatness;
both were greatly relieved when the arrangement was approved, and
they were freed from the chance of an untidy companion. No attempt
had been made to furnish this cubicle before our departure on the
autumn journey, but now on my return I found it an example of the best
utilisation of space. The prevailing note was neatness; the biologist's
microscope stood on a neat bench surrounded by enamel dishes, vessels,
and books neatly arranged; behind him, when seated, rose two neat
bunks with neat, closely curtained drawers for clothing and neat
reflecting sconces for candles; overhead was a neat arrangement for
drying socks with several nets, neatly bestowed. The carpentering
to produce this effect had been of quite a high order, and was in
very marked contrast with that exhibited for the hasty erections in
other cubicles. The pillars and boarding of the bunks had carefully
finished edges and were stained to mahogany brown. Nelson's bench
is situated very conveniently under the largest of the hut windows,
and had also an acetylene lamp, so that both in summer and winter he
has all conveniences for his indoor work.
Day appeared to have been unceasingly busy during my absence. Everyone
paid tribute to his mechanical skill and expressed gratitude for the
help he had given in adjusting instruments and generally helping
forward the scientific work. He was entirely responsible for the
heating, lighting, and ventilating arrangements, and as all these
appear satisfactory he deserved much praise. Particulars concerning
these arrangements I shall give later; as a first impression it is
sufficient to note that the warmth and lighting of the hut seemed as
good as could be desired, whilst for our comfort the air seemed fresh
and pure. Day had also to report some progress with the motor sledges,
but this matter also I leave for future consideration.
My attention was very naturally turned from the heating arrangements
to the cooking stove and its custodian, Clissold. I had already
heard much of the surpassingly satisfactory meals which his art had
produced, and had indeed already a first experience of them. Now I
was introduced to the cook's corner with its range and ovens, its
pots and pans, its side tables and well-covered shelves. Much was to
be gathered therefrom, although a good meal by no means depends only
on kitchen conveniences. It was gratifying to learn that the stove had
proved itself economical and the patent fuel blocks a most convenient
and efficient substitute for coal. Save for the thickness of the
furnace cheeks and the size of the oven Clissold declared himself
wholly satisfied. He feared that the oven would prove too small to
keep up a constant supply of bread for all hands; nevertheless he
introduced me to this oven with an air of pride which I soon found
to be fully justified. For connected therewith was a contrivance
for which he was entirely responsible, and which in its ingenuity
rivalled any of which the hut could boast. The interior of the oven
was so arranged that the 'rising' of the bread completed an electric
circuit, thereby ringing a bell and switching on a red lamp. Clissold
had realised that the continuous ringing of the bell would not be
soothing to the nerves of our party, nor the continuous burning of
the lamp calculated to prolong its life, and he had therefore added
the clockwork mechanism which automatically broke the circuit after
a short interval of time; further, this clockwork mechanism could be
made to control the emersion of the same warning signals at intervals
of time varied according to the desire of the operator;--thus because,
when in bed, he would desire a signal at short periods, but if absent
from the hut he would wish to know at a glance what had happened
when he returned. Judged by any standard it was a remarkably pretty
little device, but when I learnt that it had been made from odds and
ends, such as a cog-wheel or spring here and a cell or magnet there,
begged from other departments, I began to realise that we had a very
exceptional cook. Later when I found that Clissold was called in to
consult on the ailments of Simpson's motor and that he was capable of
constructing a dog sledge out of packing cases, I was less surprised,
because I knew by this time that he had had considerable training in
mechanical work before he turned his attention to pots and pans.
My first impressions include matters to which I was naturally eager to
give an early half-hour, namely the housing of our animals. I found
herein that praise was as justly due to our Russian boys as to my
Anton with Lashly's help had completed the furnishing of the
stables. Neat stalls occupied the whole length of the 'lean to,' the
sides so boarded that sprawling legs could not be entangled beneath
and the front well covered with tin sheet to defeat the 'cribbers.' I
could but sigh again to think of the stalls that must now remain empty,
whilst appreciating that there was ample room for the safe harbourage
of the ten beasts that remain, be the winter never so cold or the
winds so wild.
Later we have been able to give double space to all but two or three
of our animals, in which they can lie down if they are so inclined.
The ponies look fairly fit considering the low diet on which they
have been kept; their coats were surprisingly long and woolly in
contrast with those of the animals I had left at Hut Point. At this
time they were being exercised by Lashly, Anton, Demetri, Hooper,
and Clissold, and as a rule were ridden, the sea having only recently
frozen. The exercise ground had lain on the boulder-strewn sand of
the home beach and extending towards the Skua lake; and across these
stretches I soon saw barebacked figures dashing at speed, and not
a few amusing incidents in which horse and rider parted with abrupt
lack of ceremony. I didn't think this quite the most desirable form
of exercise for the beasts, but decided to leave matters as they were
till our pony manager returned.
Demetri had only five or six dogs left in charge, but these looked
fairly fit, all things considered, and it was evident the boy was bent
on taking every care of them, for he had not only provided shelters,
but had built a small 'lean to' which would serve as a hospital for
any animal whose stomach or coat needed nursing.
Such were in broad outline the impressions I received on my first
return to our home station; they were almost wholly pleasant and,
as I have shown, in happy contrast with the fears that had assailed
me on the homeward route. As the days went by I was able to fill in
the detail in equally pleasant fashion, to watch the development of
fresh arrangements and the improvement of old ones. Finally, in this
way I was brought to realise what an extensive and intricate but
eminently satisfactory organisation I had made myself responsible for.
_Notes on Flyleaf of Fresh MS. Book_
Genus Homo, Species Sapiens!
Wm. Barents' house in Novaya Zemlya built 1596. Found by Capt. Carlsen
1871 (275 years later) intact, everything inside as left! What of
The ocean girt continent.
'Might have seemed almost heroic if any higher end than excessive
love of gain and traffic had animated the design.'--MILTON.
'He is not worthy to live at all, who, for fear and danger of death
shunneth his country's service or his own honour, since death is
inevitable and the fame of virtue immortal.'--SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT.
There is no part of the world that _can_ not be reached by man. When
the 'can be' is turned to 'has been' the Geographical Society will
have altered its status.
'At the whirring loom of time unawed
I weave the living garment of God.'--GOETHE.
By all means think yourself big but don't think everyone else small!
The man who knows everyone's job isn't much good at his own.
'When you are attacked unjustly avoid the appearance of evil, but
avoid also the appearance of being too good!' 'A man can't be too good,
but he can appear too good.'
_Monday, April_ 17.--Started from C. Evans with two 10 ft. sledges.
Party 1. Self, Lashly, Day, Demetri.
,, 2. Bowers, Nelson, Crean, Hooper.
We left at 8 A.M., taking our personal equipment, a week's provision
of sledging food, and butter, oatmeal, flour, lard, chocolate, &c.,
for the hut.
Two of the ponies hauled the sledges to within a mile of the Glacier
Tongue; the wind, which had been north, here suddenly shifted to S.E.,
very biting. (The wind remained north at C. Evans during the afternoon,
the ponies walked back into it.) Sky overcast, very bad light. Found
the place to get on the glacier, but then lost the track-crossed
more or less direct, getting amongst many cracks. Came down in bay
near the open water--stumbled over the edge to an easy drift. More
than once on these trips I as leader have suddenly disappeared from
the sight of the others, affording some consternation till they got
close enough to see what has happened. The pull over sea ice was very
heavy and in face of strong wind and drift. Every member of the party
was frostbitten about the face, several with very cold feet. Pushed
on after repairs. Found drift streaming off the ice cliff, a new
cornice formed and our rope buried at both ends. The party getting
cold, I decided to camp, have tea, and shift foot gear. Whilst tea
was preparing, Bowers and I went south, then north, along the cliffs
to find a place to ascend--nearly everywhere ascent seemed impossible
in the vicinity of Hulton Rocks or north, but eventually we found an
overhanging cornice close to our rope.
After lunch we unloaded a sledge, which, held high on end by four men,
just reached the edge of the cornice. Clambering up over backs and
up sledge I used an ice-axe to cut steps over the cornice and thus
managed to get on top, then cut steps and surmounted the edge of the
cornice. Helped Bowers up with the rope; others followed--then the
gear was hauled up piecemeal. For Crean, the last man up, we lowered
the sledge over the cornice and used a bowline in the other end of
the rope on top of it. He came up grinning with delight, and we all
thought the ascent rather a cunning piece of work. It was fearfully
cold work, but everyone working with rare intelligence, we eventually
got everything up and repacked the sledge; glad to get in harness
again. Then a heavy pull up a steep slope in wretched light, making
detour to left to avoid crevasses. We reached the top and plodded on
past the craters as nearly as possible as on the outward route. The
party was pretty exhausted and very wet with perspiration. Approaching
Castle Rock the weather and light improved. Camped on Barrier Slope
north of Castle Rock about 9 P.M. Night cold but calm, -38 deg. during
night; slept pretty well.
_Tuesday, April_ 18.--Hut Point. Good moonlight at 7 A.M.--had
breakfast. Broke camp very quickly--Lashly splendid at camp work as of
old--very heavy pull up to Castle Rock, sweated much. This sweating in
cold temperature is a serious drawback. Reached Hut Point 1 P.M. Found
all well in excellent spirits--didn't seem to want us much!!
Party reported very bad weather since we left, cold blizzard, then
continuous S.W. wind with -20 deg. and below. The open water was right
up to Hut Point, wind absolutely preventing all freezing along
shore. Wilson reported skua gull seen Monday.
Found party much shorter of blubber than I had expected--they were
only just keeping themselves supplied with a seal killed two days
before and one as we arrived.
Actually less fast ice than when we left!
_Wednesday, April_ 19.--Hut Point. Calm during night, sea froze over
at noon, 4 1/2 inches thick off Hut Point, showing how easily the
sea will freeze when the chance is given.
Three seals reported on the ice; all hands out after breakfast and the
liver and blubber of all three seals were brought in. This relieves
one of a little anxiety, leaving a twelve days' stock, in which time
other seals ought to be coming up. I am making arrangements to start
back to-morrow, but at present it is overcast and wind coming up from
the south. This afternoon, all ice frozen last night went out quietly;
the sea tried to freeze behind it, but the wind freshened soon. The
ponies were exercised yesterday and to-day; they look pretty fit,
but their coats are not so good as those in winter quarters--they
want fatty foods.
Am preparing to start to-morrow, satisfied that the _Discovery_ Hut
is very comfortable and life very liveable in it. The dogs are much
the same, all looking pretty fit except Vaida and Rabchick--neither of
which seem to get good coats. I am greatly struck with the advantages
of experience in Crean and Lashly for all work about camps.
_Thursday, April_ 20.--Hut Point. Everything ready for starting this
morning, but of course it 'blizzed.' Weather impossible--much wind
and drift from south. Wind turned to S.E. in afternoon--temperatures
low. Went for walk to Cape Armitage, but it is really very
unpleasant. The wind blowing round the Cape is absolutely blighting,
force 7 and temperature below -30 deg.. Sea a black cauldron covered with
dark frost smoke. No ice can form in such weather.
_Friday, April_ 21.--Started homeward at 10.30.
Left Meares in charge of station with Demetri to help with dogs,
Lashly and Keohane to look out for ponies, Nelson and Day and Forde
to get some idea of the life and experience. Homeward party, therefore:
As usual all hands pulled up Ski slope, which we took without a
halt. Lashly and Demetri came nearly to Castle Rock--very cold
side wind and some frostbites. We reached the last downward slope
about 2.30; at the cliff edge found the cornice gone--heavy wind and
drift worse than before, if anything. We bustled things, and after
tantalising delays with the rope got Bowers and some others on the
floe, then lowered the sledges packed; three men, including Crean and
myself, slid down last on the Alpine rope--doubled and taken round
an ash stave, so that we were able to unreeve the end and recover
the rope--we recovered also most of the old Alpine rope, all except a
piece buried in snow on the sea ice and dragged down under the slush,
just like the _Discovery_ boats; I could not have supposed this could
happen in so short a time._17_
By the time all stores were on the floe, with swirling drift about
us, everyone was really badly cold--one of those moments for quick
action. We harnessed and dashed for the shelter of the cliffs; up
tents, and hot tea as quick as possible; after this and some shift of
foot gear all were much better. Heavy plod over the sea ice, starting
at 4.30--very bad light on the glacier, and we lost our way as usual,
stumbling into many crevasses, but finally descended in the old place;
by this time sweating much. Crean reported our sledge pulling much more
heavily than the other one. Marched on to Little Razor Back Island
without halt, our own sledge dragging fearfully. Crean said there
was great difference in the sledges, though loads were equal. Bowers
politely assented when I voiced this sentiment, but I'm sure he and his
party thought it the plea of tired men. However there was nothing like
proof, and he readily assented to change sledges. The difference was
really extraordinary; we felt the new sledge a featherweight compared
with the old, and set up a great pace for the home quarters regardless
of how much we perspired. We arrived at the hut (two miles away) ten
minutes ahead of the others, who by this time were quite convinced
as to the difference in the sledges.
The difference was only marked when pulling over the salt-covered
sea ice; on snow the sledges seemed pretty much the same. It is due
to the grain of the wood in the runners and is worth looking into.
We all arrived bathed in sweat--our garments were soaked through, and
as we took off our wind clothes showers of ice fell on the floor. The
accumulation was almost incredible and shows the whole trouble of
sledging in cold weather. It would have been very uncomfortable to
have camped in the open under such conditions, and assuredly a winter
and spring party cannot afford to get so hot if they wish to retain
any semblance of comfort.
Our excellent cook had just the right meal prepared for us--an enormous
dish of rice and figs, and cocoa in a bucket! The hut party were all
very delighted to see us, and the fittings and comforts of the hut
are amazing to the newcomers.
_Saturday, April_ 22.--Cape Evans, Winter Quarters. The sledging
season is at an end. It's good to be back in spite of all the losses
we have sustained.
To-day we enjoy a very exceptional calm. The sea is freezing over
of course, but unfortunately our view from Observatory Hill is very
limited. Oates and the rest are exercising the ponies. I have been
sorting my papers and getting ready for the winter work.
The Work and the Workers
_Sunday, April_ 23.--Winter Quarters. The last day of the sun and
a very glorious view of its golden light over the Barne Glacier. We
could not see the sun itself on account of the Glacier, the fine ice
cliffs of which were in deep shadow under the rosy rays.
_Impression_.--The long mild twilight which like a silver clasp unites
to-day with yesterday; when morning and evening sit together hand in
hand beneath the starless sky of midnight.
It blew hard last night and most of the young ice has gone as
expected. Patches seem to be remaining south of the Glacier Tongue and
the Island and off our own bay. In this very queer season it appears
as though the final freezing is to be reached by gradual increments
to the firmly established ice.
Had Divine Service. Have only seven hymn-books, those brought on
shore for our first Service being very stupidly taken back to the ship.
I begin to think we are too comfortable in the hut and hope it will
not make us slack; but it is good to see everyone in such excellent
spirits--so far not a rift in the social arrangements.
_Monday, April 24_.--A night watchman has been instituted mainly for
the purpose of observing the aurora, of which the displays have been
feeble so far. The observer is to look round every hour or oftener
if there is aught to be seen. He is allowed cocoa and sardines with
bread and butter--the cocoa can be made over an acetylene Bunsen
burner, part of Simpson's outfit. I took the first turn last night;
the remainder of the afterguard follow in rotation. The long night
hours give time to finish up a number of small tasks--the hut remains
quite warm though the fires are out.
Simpson has been practising with balloons during our absence. This
morning he sent one up for trial. The balloon is of silk and has a
capacity of 1 cubic metre. It is filled with hydrogen gas, which is
made in a special generator. The generation is a simple process. A
vessel filled with water has an inverted vessel within it; a pipe
is led to the balloon from the latter and a tube of india-rubber is
attached which contains calcium hydrate. By tipping the tube the amount
of calcium hydrate required can be poured into the generator. As the
gas is made it passes into the balloon or is collected in the inner
vessel, which acts as a bell jar if the stop cock to the balloon
The arrangements for utilising the balloon are very pretty.
An instrument weighing only 2 1/4 oz. and recording the temperature and
pressure is attached beneath a small flag and hung 10 to 15 ft. below
the balloon with balloon silk thread; this silk thread is of such fine
quality that 5 miles of it only weighs 4 ozs., whilst its breaking
strain is 1 1/4 lbs. The lower part of the instrument is again attached
to the silk thread, which is cunningly wound on coned bobbins from
which the balloon unwinds it without hitch or friction as it ascends.
In order to spare the silk any jerk as the balloon is released two
pieces of string united with a slow match carry the strain between
the instrument and the balloon until the slow match is consumed.
The balloon takes about a quarter of an hour to inflate; the slow
match is then lit, and the balloon released; with a weight of 8
oz. and a lifting power of 2 1/2 lbs. it rises rapidly. After it
is lost to ordinary vision it can be followed with glasses as mile
after mile of thread runs out. Theoretically, if strain is put on the
silk thread it should break between the instrument and the balloon,
leaving the former free to drop, when the thread can be followed up
and the instrument with its record recovered.
To-day this was tried with a dummy instrument, but the thread broke
close to the bobbins. In the afternoon a double thread was tried,
and this acted successfully.
To-day I allotted the ponies for exercise. Bowers, Cherry-Garrard,
Hooper, Clissold, P.O. Evans, and Crean take animals, besides Anton
and Oates. I have had to warn people that they will not necessarily
lead the ponies which they now tend.
Wilson is very busy making sketches.
_Tuesday, April_ 28.--It was comparatively calm all day yesterday
and last night, and there have been light airs only from the south
to-day. The temperature, at first comparatively high at -5 deg., has
gradually fallen to -13 deg.; as a result the Strait has frozen over at
last and it looks as though the Hut Point party should be with us
before very long. If the blizzards hold off for another three days the
crossing should be perfectly safe, but I don't expect Meares to hurry.
Although we had very good sunset effects at Hut Point, Ponting and
others were much disappointed with the absence of such effects at Cape
Evans. This was probably due to the continual interference of frost
smoke; since our return here and especially yesterday and to-day the
sky and sea have been glorious in the afternoon.
Ponting has taken some coloured pictures, but the result is not very
satisfactory and the plates are much spotted; Wilson is very busy
with pencil and brush.
Atkinson is unpacking and setting up his sterilizers and
incubators. Wright is wrestling with the electrical instruments. Evans
is busy surveying the Cape and its vicinity. Oates is reorganising
the stable, making bigger stalls, &c. Cherry-Garrard is building a
stone house for taxidermy and with a view to getting hints for making
a shelter at Cape Crozier during the winter. Debenham and Taylor are
taking advantage of the last of the light to examine the topography
of the peninsula. In fact, everyone is extraordinarily busy.
I came back with the impression that we should not find our winter
walks so interesting as those at Hut Point, but I'm rapidly altering my
opinion; we may miss the hill climbing here, but in every direction
there is abundance of interest. To-day I walked round the shores
of the North Bay examining the kenyte cliffs and great masses of
morainic material of the Barne Glacier, then on under the huge blue
ice cliffs of the Glacier itself. With the sunset lights, deep shadows,
the black islands and white bergs it was all very beautiful.
Simpson and Bowers sent up a balloon to-day with a double thread
and instrument attached; the line was checked at about 3 miles,
and soon after the instrument was seen to disengage. The balloon at
first went north with a light southerly breeze till it reached 300
or 400 ft., then it turned to the south but did not travel rapidly;
when 2 miles of thread had gone it seemed to be going north again or
rising straight upward.
In the afternoon Simpson and Bowers went to recover their treasure,
but somewhere south of Inaccessible Island they found the thread
broken and the light was not good enough to continue the search.
The sides of the galley fire have caved in--there should have been
cheeks to prevent this; we got some fire clay cement to-day and
plastered up the sides. I hope this will get over the difficulty,
but have some doubt.
_Wednesday, April_ 26.--Calm. Went round Cape Evans--remarkable
effects of icicles on the ice foot, formed by spray of southerly gales.
_Thursday, April_ 27.--The fourth day in succession without wind,
but overcast. Light snow has fallen during the day--to-night the wind
comes from the north.
We should have our party back soon. The temperature remains about -5 deg.
and the ice should be getting thicker with rapidity.
Went round the bergs off Cape Evans--they are very beautiful,
especially one which is pierced to form a huge arch. It will be
interesting to climb around these monsters as the winter proceeds.
To-day I have organised a series of lectures for the winter; the people
seem keen and it ought to be exceedingly interesting to discuss so
many diverse subjects with experts.
We have an extraordinary diversity of talent and training in our
people; it would be difficult to imagine a company composed of
experiences which differed so completely. We find one hut contains
an experience of every country and every clime! What an assemblage
of motley knowledge!
_Friday, April_ 28.--Another comparatively calm day--temp. -12 deg.,
clear sky. Went to ice caves on glacier S. of Cape; these are really
very wonderful. Ponting took some photographs with long exposure
and Wright got some very fine ice crystals. The Glacier Tongue comes
close around a high bluff headland of kenyte; it is much cracked and
curiously composed of a broad wedge of white neve over blue ice. The
faults in the dust strata in these surfaces are very mysterious and
should be instructive in the explanation of certain ice problems.
It looks as though the sea had frozen over for good. If no further
blizzard clears the Strait it can be said for this season that:
The Bays froze over on March 25.
The Strait ,, ,, ,, April 22.
,, ,, dissipated April 29.
,, ,, froze over on April 30.
Later. The Hut Point record of freezing is:
Night 24th-25th. Ice forming mid-day 25th, opened
26th. Ice all out, sound apparently open.
27th. Strait apparently freezing.
Early 28th. Ice over whole Strait.
29th. All ice gone.
30th. Freezing over.
May 4th. Broad lead opened along land to Castle
Rock, 300 to 400 yds. wide.
Party intended to start on 11th, if weather fine.
Very fine display of aurora to-night, one of the brightest I have ever
seen--over Erebus; it is conceded that a red tinge is seen after the
movement of light.
_Saturday, April_ 29.--Went to Inaccessible Island with Wilson. The
agglomerates, kenytes, and lavas are much the same as those at Cape
Evans. The Island is 540 ft. high, and it is a steep climb to reach
the summit over very loose sand and boulders. From the summit one
has an excellent view of our surroundings and the ice in the Strait,
which seemed to extend far beyond Cape Royds, but had some ominous
cracks beyond the Island.
We climbed round the ice foot after descending the hill and found
it much broken up on the south side; the sea spray had washed far up
It is curious to find that all the heavy seas come from the south
and that it is from this direction that protection is most needed.
There is some curious weathering on the ice blocks on the N. side;
also the snow drifts show interesting dirt bands. The island had a good
sprinkling of snow, which will all be gone, I expect, to-night. For
as we reached the summit we saw a storm approaching from the south;
it had blotted out the Bluff, and we watched it covering Black Island,
then Hut Point and Castle Rock. By the time we started homeward it
was upon us, making a harsh chatter as it struck the high rocks and
sweeping along the drift on the floe.
The blow seems to have passed over to-night and the sky is clear
again, but I much fear the ice has gone out in the Strait. There is
an ominous black look to the westward.
_Sunday, April_ 30.--As I feared last night, the morning light revealed
the havoc made in the ice by yesterday's gale. From Wind Vane Hill (66
feet) it appeared that the Strait had not opened beyond the island,
but after church I went up the Ramp with Wilson and steadily climbed
over the Glacier ice to a height of about 650 feet. From this elevation
one could see that a broad belt of sea ice had been pushed bodily
to seaward, and it was evident that last night the whole stretch of
water from Hut Point to Turtle Island must have been open--so that
our poor people at Hut Point are just where they were.
The only comfort is that the Strait is already frozen again; but what
is to happen if every blow clears the sea like this?
Had an interesting walk. One can go at least a mile up the glacier
slope before coming to crevasses, and it does not appear that these
would be serious for a good way farther. The view is magnificent,
and on a clear day like this, one still enjoys some hours of daylight,
or rather twilight, when it is possible to see everything clearly.
Have had talks of the curious cones which are such a feature of
the Ramp--they are certainly partly produced by ice and partly by
weathering. The ponds and various forms of ice grains interest us.
To-night have been naming all the small land features of our vicinity.
_Tuesday, May_ 2.--It was calm yesterday. A balloon was sent up in
the morning, but only reached a mile in height before the instrument
was detached (by slow match).
In the afternoon went out with Bowers and his pony to pick up
instrument, which was close to the shore in the South Bay. Went on past
Inaccessible Island. The ice outside the bergs has grown very thick, 14
inches or more, but there were freshly frozen pools beyond the Island.
In the evening Wilson opened the lecture series with a paper on
'Antarctic Flying Birds.' Considering the limits of the subject the
discussion was interesting. The most attractive point raised was
that of pigmentation. Does the absence of pigment suggest absence of
reserve energy? Does it increase the insulating properties of the
hair or feathers? Or does the animal clothed in white radiate less
of his internal heat? The most interesting example of Polar colouring
here is the increased proportion of albinos amongst the giant petrels
found in high latitudes.
To-day have had our first game of football; a harassing southerly
wind sprang up, which helped my own side to the extent of three goals.
This same wind came with a clear sky and jumped up and down in force
throughout the afternoon, but has died away to-night. In the afternoon
I saw an ominous lead outside the Island which appeared to extend a
long way south. I'm much afraid it may go across our pony track from
Hut Point. I am getting anxious to have the hut party back, and begin
to wonder if the ice to the south will ever hold in permanently now
that the Glacier Tongue has gone.
_Wednesday, May_ 3.--Another calm day, very beautiful and clear. Wilson
and Bowers took our few dogs for a run in a sledge. Walked myself out
over ice in North Bay--there are a good many cracks and pressures
with varying thickness of ice, showing how tide and wind shift the
thin sheets--the newest leads held young ice of 4 inches.
The temperature remains high, the lowest yesterday -13 deg.; it should
be much lower with such calm weather and clear skies. A strange fact
is now very commonly noticed: in calm weather there is usually a
difference of 4 deg. or 5 deg. between the temperature at the hut and that
on Wind Vane Hill (64 feet), the latter being the higher. This shows
an inverted temperature.
As I returned from my walk the southern sky seemed to grow darker,
and later stratus cloud was undoubtedly spreading up from that
direction--this at about 5 P.M. About 7 a moderate north wind sprang
up. This seemed to indicate a southerly blow, and at about 9 the wind
shifted to that quarter and blew gustily, 25 to 35 m.p.h. One cannot
see the result on the Strait, but I fear it means that the ice has