Part 6 out of 10
difference to the Crozier Party if they can manage to build a hut,
and the experience gained will be everything for the Western Party
in the summer. With a satisfactory blubber stove it would never be
necessary to carry fuel on a coast journey, and we shall deserve well
of posterity if we can perfect one.
The Crozier journey is to be made to serve a good many trial ends. As I
have already mentioned, each man is to go on a different food scale,
with a view to determining the desirable proportion of fats and
carbohydrates. Wilson is also to try the effect of a double wind-proof
suit instead of extra woollen clothing.
If two suits of wind-proof will keep one as warm in the spring as a
single suit does in the summer, it is evident that we can face the
summit of Victoria Land with a very slight increase of weight.
I think the new crampons, which will also be tried on this journey,
are going to be a great success. We have returned to the last
_Discovery_ type with improvements; the magnalium sole plates of
our own crampons are retained but shod with 1/2-inch steel spikes;
these plates are rivetted through canvas to an inner leather sole,
and the canvas is brought up on all sides to form a covering to the
'finnesko' over which it is laced--they are less than half the weight
of an ordinary ski boot, go on very easily, and secure very neatly.
Midwinter Day, the turn of the season, is very close; it will be good
to have light for the more active preparations for the coming year.
_Wednesday, June_ 21.--The temperature low again, falling to -36 deg.. A
curious hazy look in the sky, very little wind. The cold is bringing
some minor troubles with the clockwork instruments in the open and
with the acetylene gas plant--no insuperable difficulties. Went for
a ski run round the bergs; found it very dark and uninteresting.
The temperature remained low during night and Taylor reported a very
fine display of Aurora.
_Thursday, June 22_.--MIDWINTER. The sun reached its maximum depression
at about 2.30 P.M. on the 22nd, Greenwich Mean Time: this is 2.30
A.M. on the 23rd according to the local time of the 180th meridian
which we are keeping. Dinner to-night is therefore the meal which is
nearest the sun's critical change of course, and has been observed
with all the festivity customary at Xmas at home.
At tea we broached an enormous Buzzard cake, with much gratitude to
its provider, Cherry-Garrard. In preparation for the evening our
'Union Jacks' and sledge flags were hung about the large table,
which itself was laid with glass and a plentiful supply of champagne
bottles instead of the customary mugs and enamel lime juice jugs. At
seven o'clock we sat down to an extravagant bill of fare as compared
with our usual simple diet.
Beginning on seal soup, by common consent the best decoction that our
cook produces, we went on to roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, fried
potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Then followed a flaming plum-pudding
and excellent mince pies, and thereafter a dainty savoury of anchovy
and cod's roe. A wondrous attractive meal even in so far as judged
by our simple lights, but with its garnishments a positive feast, for
withal the table was strewn with dishes of burnt almonds, crystallised
fruits, chocolates and such toothsome kickshaws, whilst the unstinted
supply of champagne which accompanied the courses was succeeded by
a noble array of liqueur bottles from which choice could be made in
the drinking of toasts.
I screwed myself up to a little speech which drew attention to the
nature of the celebration as a half-way mark not only in our winter
but in the plans of the Expedition as originally published. (I fear
there are some who don't realise how rapidly time passes and who have
barely begun work which by this time ought to be in full swing.)
We had come through a summer season and half a winter,and had before
us half a winter and a second summer. We ought to know how we stood
in every respect; we did know how we stood in regard to stores and
transport, and I especially thanked the officer in charge of stores
and the custodians of the animals. I said that as regards the future,
chance must play a part, but that experience showed me that it would
have been impossible to have chosen people more fitted to support me
in the enterprise to the South than those who were to start in that
direction in the spring. I thanked them all for having put their
shoulders to the wheel and given me this confidence.
We drank to the Success of the Expedition.
Then everyone was called on to speak, starting on my left and working
round the table; the result was very characteristic of the various
individuals--one seemed to know so well the style of utterance to
which each would commit himself.
Needless to say, all were entirely modest and brief; unexpectedly,
all had exceedingly kind things to say of me--in fact I was obliged
to request the omission of compliments at an early stage. Nevertheless
it was gratifying to have a really genuine recognition of my attitude
towards the scientific workers of the Expedition, and I felt very
warmly towards all these kind, good fellows for expressing it.
If good will and happy fellowship count towards success, very surely
shall we deserve to succeed. It was matter for comment, much applauded,
that there had not been a single disagreement between any two members
of our party from the beginning. By the end of dinner a very cheerful
spirit prevailed, and the room was cleared for Ponting and his lantern,
whilst the gramophone gave forth its most lively airs.
When the table was upended, its legs removed, and chairs arranged in
rows, we had quite a roomy lecture hall. Ponting had cleverly chosen
this opportunity to display a series of slides made from his own local
negatives. I have never so fully realised his work as on seeing these
beautiful pictures; they so easily outclass anything of their kind
previously taken in these regions. Our audience cheered vociferously.
After this show the table was restored for snapdragon, and a brew of
milk punch was prepared in which we drank the health of Campbell's
party and of our good friends in the _Terra Nova_. Then the table
was again removed and a set of lancers formed.
By this time the effect of stimulating liquid refreshment on men so
long accustomed to a simple life became apparent. Our biologist had
retired to bed, the silent Soldier bubbled with humour and insisted
on dancing with Anton. Evans, P.O., was imparting confidences in
heavy whispers. Pat' Keohane had grown intensely Irish and desirous
of political argument, whilst Clissold sat with a constant expansive
smile and punctuated the babble of conversation with an occasional
'Whoop' of delight or disjointed witticism. Other bright-eyed
individuals merely reached the capacity to enjoy that which under
ordinary circumstances might have passed without evoking a smile.
In the midst of the revelry Bowers suddenly appeared, followed by some
satellites bearing an enormous Christmas Tree whose branches bore
flaming candles, gaudy crackers, and little presents for all. The
presents, I learnt, had been prepared with kindly thought by Miss
Souper (Mrs. Wilson's sister) and the tree had been made by Bowers of
pieces of stick and string with coloured paper to clothe its branches;
the whole erection was remarkably creditable and the distribution of
the presents caused much amusement.
Whilst revelry was the order of the day within our hut, the elements
without seemed desirous of celebrating the occasion with equal emphasis
and greater decorum. The eastern sky was massed with swaying auroral
light, the most vivid and beautiful display that I had ever seen--fold
on fold the arches and curtains of vibrating luminosity rose and spread
across the sky, to slowly fade and yet again spring to glowing life.
The brighter light seemed to flow, now to mass itself in wreathing
folds in one quarter, from which lustrous streamers shot upward, and
anon to run in waves through the system of some dimmer figure as if
to infuse new life within it.
It is impossible to witness such a beautiful phenomenon without a
sense of awe, and yet this sentiment is not inspired by its brilliancy
but rather by its delicacy in light and colour, its transparency, and
above all by its tremulous evanescence of form. There is no glittering
splendour to dazzle the eye, as has been too often described; rather
the appeal is to the imagination by the suggestion of something
wholly spiritual, something instinct with a fluttering ethereal life,
serenely confident yet restlessly mobile.
One wonders why history does not tell us of 'aurora' worshippers, so
easily could the phenomenon be considered the manifestation of 'god'
or 'demon.' To the little silent group which stood at gaze before such
enchantment it seemed profane to return to the mental and physical
atmosphere of our house. Finally when I stepped within, I was glad
to find that there had been a general movement bedwards, and in the
next half-hour the last of the roysterers had succumbed to slumber.
Thus, except for a few bad heads in the morning, ended the High
Festival of Midwinter.
There is little to be said for the artificial uplifting of animal
spirits, yet few could take great exception to so rare an outburst
in a long run of quiet days.
After all we celebrated the birth of a season which for weal or woe
must be numbered amongst the greatest in our lives.
Awaiting the Crozier Party
_Friday, June_ 23--_Saturday, June_ 24.--Two quiet, uneventful days
and a complete return to routine.
_Sunday, June_ 25.--I find I have made no mention of Cherry-Garrard's
first number of the revived _South Polar Times_, presented to me on
It is a very good little volume, bound by Day in a really charming
cover of carved venesta wood and sealskin. The contributors are
anonymous, but I have succeeded in guessing the identity of the
The Editor has taken a statistical paper of my own on the plans
for the Southern Journey and a well-written serious article on the
Geological History of our region by Taylor. Except for editorial and
meteorological notes the rest is conceived in the lighter vein. The
verse is mediocre except perhaps for a quaint play of words in an
amusing little skit on the sleeping-bag argument; but an article
entitled 'Valhalla' appears to me to be altogether on a different
level. It purports to describe the arrival of some of our party at the
gates proverbially guarded by St. Peter; the humour is really delicious
and nowhere at all forced. In the jokes of a small community it is
rare to recognise one which would appeal to an outsider, but some
of the happier witticisms of this article seem to me fit for wider
circulation than our journal enjoys at present. Above all there is
distinct literary merit in it--a polish which leaves you unable to
suggest the betterment of a word anywhere.
I unhesitatingly attribute this effort to Taylor, but Wilson and
Garrard make Meares responsible for it. If they are right I shall
have to own that my judgment of attributes is very much at fault. I
must find out. 
A quiet day. Read Church Service as usual; in afternoon walked up the
Ramp with Wilson to have a quiet talk before he departs. I wanted to
get his ideas as to the scientific work done.
We agreed as to the exceptionally happy organisation of our party.
I took the opportunity to warn Wilson concerning the desirability of
complete understanding with Ponting and Taylor with respect to their
photographs and records on their return to civilisation.
The weather has been very mysterious of late; on the 23rd and 24th
it continuously threatened a blizzard, but now the sky is clearing
again with all signs of fine weather.
_Monday, June_ 26.--With a clear sky it was quite twilighty at
noon to-day. Already such signs of day are inspiriting. In the
afternoon the wind arose with drift and again the prophets predicted
a blizzard. After an hour or two the wind fell and we had a calm,
clear evening and night. The blizzards proper seem to be always
preceded by an overcast sky in accordance with Simpson's theory.
Taylor gave a most interesting lecture on the physiographic features
of the region traversed by his party in the autumn. His mind is very
luminous and clear and he treated the subject with a breadth of view
which was delightful. The illustrative slides were made from Debenham's
photographs, and many of them were quite beautiful. Ponting tells me
that Debenham knows quite a lot about photography and goes to work
in quite the right way.
The lecture being a precis of Taylor's report there is no need to
recapitulate its matter. With the pictures it was startling to realise
the very different extent to which tributary glaciers have carved the
channels in which they lie. The Canadian Glacier lies dead, but at
'grade' it has cut a very deep channel. The 'double curtain' hangs
at an angle of 25 deg., with practically no channel. Mention was made of
the difference of water found in Lake Bonney by me in December 1903
and the Western Party in February 1911. It seems certain that water
must go on accumulating in the lake during the two or three summer
months, and it is hard to imagine that all can be lost again by the
winter's evaporation. If it does, 'evaporation' becomes a matter of
There was an excellent picture showing the find of sponges on the
Koettlitz Glacier. Heaps of large sponges were found containing
corals and some shells, all representative of present-day fauna. How
on earth did they get to the place where found? There was a good
deal of discussion on the point and no very satisfactory solution
offered. Cannot help thinking that there is something in the thought
that the glacier may have been weighted down with rubble which finally
disengaged itself and allowed the ice to rise. Such speculations
Preparations for the start of the Crozier Party are now completed,
and the people will have to drag 253 lbs. per man--a big weight.
Day has made an excellent little blubber lamp for lighting; it has
an annular wick and talc chimney; a small circular plate over the
wick conducts the heat down and raises the temperature of combustion,
so that the result is a clear white flame.
We are certainly within measurable distance of using blubber in the
most effective way for both heating and lighting, and this is an
advance which is of very high importance to the future of Antarctic
_Tuesday, June_ 27.--The Crozier Party departed this morning
in good spirits--their heavy load was distributed on two 9-feet
sledges. Ponting photographed them by flashlight and attempted to get a
cinematograph picture by means of a flash candle. But when the candle
was ignited it was evident that the light would not be sufficient
for the purpose and there was not much surprise when the film proved
a failure. The three travellers found they could pull their load
fairly easily on the sea ice when the rest of us stood aside for the
trial. I'm afraid they will find much more difficulty on the Barrier,
but there was nothing now to prevent them starting, and off they went.
With helping contingent I went round the Cape. Taylor and Nelson
left at the Razor Back Island and report all well. Simpson, Meares
and Gran continued and have not yet returned.
Gran just back on ski; left party at 5 1/4 miles. Says Meares and
Simpson are returning on foot. Reports a bad bit of surface between
Tent Island and Glacier Tongue. It was well that the party had
assistance to cross this.
This winter travel is a new and bold venture, but the right men have
gone to attempt it. All good luck go with them.
Bowers reports that present consumption (midwinter) = 4 blocks per day
An occasional block is required for the absolute magnetic hut. He
reports 8 1/2 tons used since landing. This is in excess of 4 blocks
per day as follows:
8 1/2 tons in 150 days = 127 lbs. per diem.
= 889 lbs. per week, or nearly 8 cwt.
= 20 1/2 tons per year.
_Report August_ 4.
Used to date = 9 tons = 20,160 lbs.
Say 190 days at 106 lbs. per day.
Coal remaining 20 1/2 tons.
Estimate 8 tons to return of ship.
Total estimate for year, 17 tons. We should have 13 or 14 tons for
A FRESH MS. BOOK
_Quotations on the Flyleaf_
'Where the (Queen's) Law does not carry it is irrational to exact an
observance of other and weaker rules.'--RUDYARD KIPLING.
Confident of his good intentions but doubtful of his fortitude.
'So far as I can venture to offer an opinion on such a matter, the
purpose of our being in existence, the highest object that human
beings can set before themselves is not the pursuit of any such
chimera as the annihilation of the unknown; but it is simply the
unwearied endeavour to remove its boundaries a little further from
our little sphere of action.'--HUXLEY.
_Wednesday, June_ 28.--The temperature has been hovering around -30 deg.
with a clear sky--at midday it was exceptionally light, and even two
hours after noon I was able to pick my way amongst the boulders of
the Ramp. We miss the Crozier Party. Lectures have ceased during its
absence, so that our life is very quiet.
_Thursday, June_ 29.--It seemed rather stuffy in the hut last night--I
found it difficult to sleep, and noticed a good many others in like
case. I found the temperature was only 50 deg., but that the small uptake
on the stove pipe was closed. I think it would be good to have a
renewal of air at bed time, but don't quite know how to manage this.
It was calm all night and when I left the hut at 8.30. At 9 the wind
suddenly rose to 40 m.p.h. and at the same moment the temperature rose
10 deg.. The wind and temperature curves show this sudden simultaneous
change more clearly than usual. The curious circumstance is that
this blow comes out of a clear sky. This will be disturbing to our
theories unless the wind drops again very soon.
The wind fell within an hour almost as suddenly as it had arisen; the
temperature followed, only a little more gradually. One may well wonder
how such a phenomenon is possible. In the middle of a period of placid
calm and out of a clear sky there suddenly rushed upon one this volume
of comparatively warm air; it has come and gone like the whirlwind.
Whence comes it and whither goeth?
Went round the bergs after lunch on ski--splendid surface and quite
a good light.
We are now getting good records with the tide gauge after a great
deal of trouble. Day has given much of his time to the matter,
and after a good deal of discussion has pretty well mastered the
principles. We brought a self-recording instrument from New Zealand,
but this was passed over to Campbell. It has not been an easy matter
to manufacture one for our own use. The wire from the bottom weight
is led through a tube filled with paraffin as in _Discovery_ days,
and kept tight by a counter weight after passage through a block on
a stanchion rising 6 feet above the floe.
In his first instrument Day arranged for this wire to pass around a
pulley, the revolution of which actuated the pen of the recording
drum. This should have been successful but for the difficulty of
making good mechanical connection between the recorder and the
pulley. Backlash caused an unreliable record, and this arrangement
had to be abandoned. The motion of the wire was then made to actuate
the recorder through a hinged lever, and this arrangement holds, but
days and even weeks have been lost in grappling the difficulties of
adjustment between the limits of the tide and those of the recording
drum; then when all seemed well we found that the floe was not rising
uniformly with the water. It is hung up by the beach ice. When we
were considering the question of removing the whole apparatus to a
more distant point, a fresh crack appeared between it and the shore,
and on this 'hinge' the floe seems to be moving more freely.
_Friday, June_ 30, 1911.--The temperature is steadily falling; we are
descending the scale of negative thirties and to-day reached its limit,
-39 deg.. Day has manufactured a current vane, a simple arrangement:
up to the present he has used this near the Cape. There is little
doubt, however, that the water movement is erratic and irregular
inside the islands, and I have been anxious to get observations which
will indicate the movement in the 'Strait.' I went with him to-day to
find a crack which I thought must run to the north from Inaccessible
Island. We discovered it about 2 to 2 1/2 miles out and found it to
be an ideal place for such work, a fracture in the ice sheet which is
constantly opening and therefore always edged with thin ice. Have told
Day that I think a bottle weighted so as to give it a small negative
buoyancy, and attached to a fine line, should give as good results as
his vane and would be much handier. He now proposes to go one better
and put an electric light in the bottle.
We found that our loose dogs had been attacking a seal, and then
came across a dead seal which had evidently been worried to death
some time ago. It appears Demetri saw more seal further to the north,
and this afternoon Meares has killed a large one as well as the one
which was worried this morning.
It is good to find the seals so close, but very annoying to find that
the dogs have discovered their resting-place.
The long spell of fine weather is very satisfactory.
_Saturday, July_ 1, 1911.--We have designed new ski boots and I
think they are going to be a success. My object is to stick to the
Huitfeldt binding for sledging if possible. One must wear finnesko on
the Barrier, and with finnesko alone a loose binding is necessary. For
this we brought 'Finon' bindings, consisting of leather toe straps
and thong heel binding. With this arrangement one does not have good
control of his ski and stands the chance of a chafe on the 'tendon
Achillis.' Owing to the last consideration many had decided to go
with toe strap alone as we did in the _Discovery_. This brought into
my mind the possibility of using the iron cross bar and snap heel
strap of the Huitfeldt on a suitable overshoe.
Evans, P.O., has arisen well to the occasion as a boot maker, and has
just completed a pair of shoes which are very nearly what we require.
The soles have two thicknesses of seal skin cured with alum, stiffened
at the foot with a layer of venesta board, and raised at the heel on
a block of wood. The upper part is large enough to contain a finnesko
and is secured by a simple strap. A shoe weighs 13 oz. against 2
lbs. for a single ski boot--so that shoe and finnesko together are
less weight than a boot.
If we can perfect this arrangement it should be of the greatest use
Wright has been swinging the pendulum in his cavern. Prodigious
trouble has been taken to keep the time, and this object has been
immensely helped by the telephone communication between the cavern,
the transit instrument, and the interior of the hut. The timekeeper is
perfectly placed. Wright tells me that his ice platform proves to be
five times as solid as the fixed piece of masonry used at Potsdam. The
only difficulty is the low temperature, which freezes his breath on
the glass window of the protecting dome. I feel sure these gravity
results are going to be very good.
The temperature has been hanging in the minus thirties all day with
calm and clear sky, but this evening a wind has sprung up without
rise of temperature. It is now -32 deg., with a wind of 25 m.p.h.--a
pretty stiff condition to face outside!
_Sunday, July_ 2.--There was wind last night, but this morning found
a settled calm again, with temperature as usual about -35 deg.. The moon
is rising again; it came over the shoulder of Erebus about 5 P.M.,
in second quarter. It will cross the meridian at night, worse luck,
but such days as this will be pleasant even with a low moon; one is
very glad to think the Crozier Party are having such a peaceful time.
Sunday routine and nothing much to record.
_Monday, July_ 3.--Another quiet day, the sky more suspicious in
appearance. Thin stratus cloud forming and dissipating overhead,
curling stratus clouds over Erebus. Wind at Cape Crozier seemed
Our people have been far out on the floe. It is cheerful to see the
twinkling light of some worker at a water hole or hear the ring of
distant voices or swish of ski.
_Tuesday, July_ 4.--A day of blizzard and adventure.
The wind arose last night, and although the temperature advanced a
few degrees it remained at a very low point considering the strength
of the wind.
This forenoon it was blowing 40 to 45 m.p.h. with a temperature -25 deg.
to -28 deg.. No weather to be in the open.
In the afternoon the wind modified slightly. Taylor and Atkinson went
up to the Ramp thermometer screen. After this, entirely without my
knowledge, two adventurous spirits, Atkinson and Gran, decided to
start off over the floe, making respectively for the north and south
Bay thermometers, 'Archibald' and 'Clarence.' This was at 5.30; Gran
was back by dinner at 6.45, and it was only later that I learned that
he had gone no more than 200 or 300 yards from the land and that it
had taken him nearly an hour to get back again.
Atkinson's continued absence passed unnoticed until dinner was nearly
over at 7.15, although I had heard that the wind had dropped at the
beginning of dinner and that it remained very thick all round, with
light snow falling.
Although I felt somewhat annoyed, I had no serious anxiety at this
time, and as several members came out of the hut I despatched them
short distances to shout and show lanterns and arranged to have a
paraffin flare lit on Wind Vane Hill.
Evans, P.O., Crean and Keohane, being anxious for a walk, were sent
to the north with a lantern. Whilst this desultory search proceeded
the wind sprang up again from the south, but with no great force, and
meanwhile the sky showed signs of clearing and the moon appeared dimly
through the drifting clouds. With such a guide we momentarily looked
for the return of our wanderer, and with his continued absence our
anxiety grew. At 9.30 Evans, P.O., and his party returned without news
of him, and at last there was no denying the possibility of a serious
accident. Between 9.30 and 10 proper search parties were organised, and
I give the details to show the thoroughness which I thought necessary
to meet the gravity of the situation. I had by this time learnt that
Atkinson had left with comparatively light clothing and, still worse,
with leather ski boots on his feet; fortunately he had wind clothing.
P.O. Evans was away first with Crean, Keohane, and Demetri, a light
sledge, a sleeping-bag, and a flask of brandy. His orders were to
search the edge of the land and glacier through the sweep of the Bay to
the Barne Glacier and to Cape Barne beyond, then to turn east along an
open crack and follow it to Inaccessible Island. Evans (Lieut.), with
Nelson, Forde, and Hooper, left shortly after, similarly equipped,
to follow the shore of the South Bay in similar fashion, then turn
out to the Razor Back and search there. Next Wright, Gran, and Lashly
set out for the bergs to look thoroughly about them and from thence
pass round and examine Inaccessible Island. After these parties got
away, Meares and Debenham started with a lantern to search to and fro
over the surface of our promontory. Simpson and Oates went out in a
direct line over the Northern floe to the 'Archibald' thermometer,
whilst Ponting and Taylor re-examined the tide crack towards the
Barne Glacier. Meanwhile Day went to and fro Wind Vane Hill to light
at intervals upon its crest bundles of tow well soaked in petrol. At
length Clissold and I were left alone in the hut, and as the hours went
by I grew ever more alarmed. It was impossible for me to conceive how
an able man could have failed to return to the hut before this or by
any means found shelter in such clothing in such weather. Atkinson had
started for a point a little more than a mile away; at 10.30 he had
been five hours away; what conclusion could be drawn? And yet I felt
it most difficult to imagine an accident on open floe with no worse
pitfall than a shallow crack or steep-sided snow drift. At least I
could feel that every spot which was likely to be the scene of such an
accident would be searched. Thus 11 o'clock came without change, then
11.30 with its 6 hours of absence. But at 11.45 I heard voices from
the Cape, and presently the adventure ended to my extreme relief when
Meares and Debenham led our wanderer home. He was badly frostbitten
in the hand and less seriously on the face, and though a good deal
confused, as men always are on such occasions, he was otherwise well.
His tale is confused, but as far as one can gather he did not go more
than a quarter of a mile in the direction of the thermometer screen
before he decided to turn back. He then tried to walk with the wind
a little on one side on the bearing he had originally observed, and
after some time stumbled on an old fish trap hole, which he knew to
be 200 yards from the Cape. He made this 200 yards in the direction
he supposed correct, and found nothing. In such a situation had he
turned east he must have hit the land somewhere close to the hut and
so found his way to it. The fact that he did not, but attempted to
wander straight on, is clear evidence of the mental condition caused
by that situation. There can be no doubt that in a blizzard a man has
not only to safeguard the circulation in his limbs, but must struggle
with a sluggishness of brain and an absence of reasoning power which
is far more likely to undo him.
In fact Atkinson has really no very clear idea of what happened to him
after he missed the Cape. He seems to have wandered aimlessly up wind
till he hit an island; he walked all round this; says he couldn't
see a yard at this time; fell often into the tide crack; finally
stopped under the lee of some rocks; here got his hand frostbitten
owing to difficulty of getting frozen mit on again, finally got it on;
started to dig a hole to wait in. Saw something of the moon and left
the island; lost the moon and wanted to go back; could find nothing;
finally stumbled on another island, perhaps the same one; waited
again, again saw the moon, now clearing; shaped some sort of course
by it--then saw flare on Cape and came on rapidly--says he shouted to
someone on Cape quite close to him, greatly surprised not to get an
answer. It is a rambling tale to-night and a half thawed brain. It is
impossible to listen to such a tale without appreciating that it has
been a close escape or that there would have been no escape had the
blizzard continued. The thought that it would return after a short
lull was amongst the worst with me during the hours of waiting.
2 A.M.--The search parties have returned and all is well again, but
we must have no more of these very unnecessary escapades. Yet it is
impossible not to realise that this bit of experience has done more
than all the talking I could have ever accomplished to bring home to
our people the dangers of a blizzard.
_Wednesday, July_ 5.--Atkinson has a bad hand to-day, immense blisters
on every finger giving them the appearance of sausages. To-night
Ponting has photographed the hand.
As I expected, some amendment of Atkinson's tale as written last
night is necessary, partly due to some lack of coherency in the tale
as first told and partly a reconsideration of the circumstances by
It appears he first hit Inaccessible Island, and got his hand
frostbitten before he reached it. It was only on arrival in its lee
that he discovered the frostbite. He must have waited there some
time, then groped his way to the western end thinking he was near
the Ramp. Then wandering away in a swirl of drift to clear some
irregularities at the ice foot, he completely lost the island when
he could only have been a few yards from it.
He seems in this predicament to have clung to the old idea of walking
up wind, and it must be considered wholly providential that on this
course he next struck Tent Island. It was round this island that he
walked, finally digging himself a shelter on its lee side under the
impression that it was Inaccessible Island. When the moon appeared he
seems to have judged its bearing well, and as he travelled homeward
he was much surprised to see the real Inaccessible Island appear on
his left. The distance of Tent Island, 4 to 5 miles, partly accounts
for the time he took in returning. Everything goes to confirm the
fact that he had a very close shave of being lost altogether.
For some time past some of the ponies have had great irritation of
the skin. I felt sure it was due to some parasite, though the Soldier
thought the food responsible and changed it.
To-day a tiny body louse was revealed under Atkinson's microscope
after capture from 'Snatcher's' coat. A dilute solution of carbolic is
expected to rid the poor beasts of their pests, but meanwhile one or
two of them have rubbed off patches of hair which they can ill afford
to spare in this climate. I hope we shall get over the trouble quickly.
The day has been gloriously fine again, with bright moonlight all the
afternoon. It was a wondrous sight to see Erebus emerge from soft filmy
clouds of mist as though some thin veiling had been withdrawn with
infinite delicacy to reveal the pure outline of this moonlit mountain.
_Thursday, July_ 6, _continued_.--The temperature has taken a
plunge--to -46 deg. last night. It is now -45 deg., with a ten-mile breeze
from the south. Frostbiting weather!
Went for a short run on foot this forenoon and a longer one on ski
this afternoon. The surface is bad after the recent snowfall. A new
pair of sealskin overshoes for ski made by Evans seem to be a complete
success. He has modified the shape of the toe to fit the ski irons
better. I am very pleased with this arrangement.
I find it exceedingly difficult to settle down to solid work just at
present and keep putting off the tasks which I have set myself.
The sun has not yet risen a degree of the eleven degrees below our
horizon which it was at noon on Midwinter Day, and yet to-day there
was a distinct red in the northern sky. Perhaps such sunset colours
have something to do with this cold snap.
_Friday, July_ 7.--The temperature fell to -49 deg. last night--our record
so far, and likely to remain so, one would think. This morning it was
fine and calm, temperature -45 deg.. But this afternoon a 30-mile wind
sprang up from the S.E., and the temperature only gradually rose
to -30 deg., never passing above that point. I thought it a little too
strenuous and so was robbed of my walk.
The dogs' coats are getting pretty thick, and they seem to take
matters pretty comfortably. The ponies are better, I think, but I
shall be glad when we are sure of having rid them of their pest.
I was the victim of a very curious illusion to-day. On our small
heating stove stands a cylindrical ice melter which keeps up the
supply of water necessary for the dark room and other scientific
instruments. This iron container naturally becomes warm if it is not
fed with ice, and it is generally hung around with socks and mits which
require drying. I put my hand on the cylindrical vessel this afternoon
and withdrew it sharply with the sensation of heat. To verify the
impression I repeated the action two or three times, when it became
so strong that I loudly warned the owners of the socks, &c., of the
peril of burning to which they were exposed. Upon this Meares said,
'But they filled the melter with ice a few minutes ago,' and then,
coming over to feel the surface himself, added, 'Why, it's cold,
sir.' And indeed so it was. The slightly damp chilled surface of the
iron had conveyed to me the impression of excessive heat.
There is nothing intrinsically new in this observation; it has often
been noticed that metal surfaces at low temperatures give a sensation
of burning to the bare touch, but none the less it is an interesting
variant of the common fact.
Apropos. Atkinson is suffering a good deal from his hand: the frostbite
was deeper than I thought; fortunately he can now feel all his fingers,
though it was twenty-four hours before sensation returned to one
_Monday, July_ 10.--We have had the worst gale I have ever known in
these regions and have not yet done with it.
The wind started at about mid-day on Friday, and increasing in
violence reached an average of 60 miles for one hour on Saturday, the
gusts at this time exceeding 70 m.p.h. This force of wind, although
exceptional, has not been without parallel earlier in the year, but
the extraordinary feature of this gale was the long continuance of
a very cold temperature. On Friday night the thermometer registered
-39 deg.. Throughout Saturday and the greater part of Sunday it did
not rise above -35 deg.. Late yesterday it was in the minus twenties,
and to-day at length it has risen to zero.
Needless to say no one has been far from the hut. It was my turn for
duty on Saturday night, and on the occasions when I had to step out of
doors I was struck with the impossibility of enduring such conditions
for any length of time. One seemed to be robbed of breath as they
burst on one--the fine snow beat in behind the wind guard, and ten
paces against the wind were sufficient to reduce one's face to the
verge of frostbite. To clear the anemometer vane it is necessary to go
to the other end of the hut and climb a ladder. Twice whilst engaged
in this task I had literally to lean against the wind with head bent
and face averted and so stagger crab-like on my course. In those two
days of really terrible weather our thoughts often turned to absentees
at Cape Crozier with the devout hope that they may be safely housed.
They are certain to have been caught by this gale, but I trust
before it reached them they had managed to get up some sort of
shelter. Sometimes I have imagined them getting much more wind than
we do, yet at others it seems difficult to believe that the Emperor
penguins have chosen an excessively wind-swept area for their rookery.
To-day with the temperature at zero one can walk about outside without
inconvenience in spite of a 50-mile wind. Although I am loath to
believe it there must be some measure of acclimatisation, for it
is certain we should have felt to-day's wind severely when we first
arrived in McMurdo Sound.
_Tuesday, July_ 11.--Never was such persistent bad weather. To-day the
temperature is up to 5 deg. to 7 deg., the wind 40 to 50 m.p.h., the air
thick with snow, and the moon a vague blue. This is the fourth day
of gale; if one reflects on the quantity of transported air (nearly
4,000 miles) one gets a conception of the transference which such a
gale effects and must conclude that potentially warm upper currents
are pouring into our polar area from more temperate sources.
The dogs are very gay and happy in the comparative warmth. I have been
going to and fro on the home beach and about the rocky knolls in its
environment--in spite of the wind it was very warm. I dug myself a
hole in a drift in the shelter of a large boulder and lay down in it,
and covered my legs with loose snow. It was so warm that I could have
slept very comfortably.
I have been amused and pleased lately in observing the manners
and customs of the persons in charge of our stores; quite a number
of secret caches exist in which articles of value are hidden from
public knowledge so that they may escape use until a real necessity
arises. The policy of every storekeeper is to have something up his
sleeve for a rainy day. For instance, Evans (P.O.), after thoroughly
examining the purpose of some individual who is pleading for a piece
of canvas, will admit that he may have a small piece somewhere which
could be used for it, when, as a matter of fact, he possesses quite
a number of rolls of that material.
Tools, metal material, leather, straps and dozens of items are
administered with the same spirit of jealous guardianship by Day,
Lashly, Oates and Meares, while our main storekeeper Bowers even
affects to bemoan imaginary shortages. Such parsimony is the best
guarantee that we are prepared to face any serious call.
_Wednesday, July_ 12.--All night and to-day wild gusts of wind shaking
the hut; long, ragged, twisted wind-cloud in the middle heights. A
watery moon shining through a filmy cirrostratus--the outlook
wonderfully desolate with its ghostly illumination and patchy clouds
of flying snow drift. It would be hardly possible for a tearing, raging
wind to make itself more visible. At Wind Vane Hill the anemometer has
registered 68 miles between 9 and 10 A.M.--a record. The gusts at the
hut frequently exceed 70 m.p.h.--luckily the temperature is up to 5 deg.,
so that there is no hardship for the workers outside.
_Thursday, July_ 13.--The wind continued to blow throughout the night,
with squalls of even greater violence than before; a new record was
created by a gust of 77 m.p.h. shown by the anemometer.
The snow is so hard blown that only the fiercest gusts raise the
drifting particles--it is interesting to note the balance of nature
whereby one evil is eliminated by the excess of another.
For an hour after lunch yesterday the gale showed signs of moderation
and the ponies had a short walk over the floe. Out for exercise at this
time I was obliged to lean against the wind, my light overall clothes
flapping wildly and almost dragged from me; later when the wind rose
again it was quite an effort to stagger back to the hut against it.
This morning the gale still rages, but the sky is much clearer;
the only definite clouds are those which hang to the southward of
Erebus summit, but the moon, though bright, still exhibits a watery
appearance, showing that there is still a thin stratus above us.
The work goes on very steadily--the men are making crampons and
ski boots of the new style. Evans is constructing plans of the Dry
Valley and Koettlitz Glacier with the help of the Western Party. The
physicists are busy always, Meares is making dog harness, Oates ridding
the ponies of their parasites, and Ponting printing from his negatives.
Science cannot be served by 'dilettante' methods, but demands a mind
spurred by ambition or the satisfaction of ideals.
Our most popular game for evening recreation is chess; so many players
have developed that our two sets of chessmen are inadequate.
_Friday, July_ 14.--We have had a horrible fright and are not yet
out of the wood.
At noon yesterday one of the best ponies, 'Bones,' suddenly went off
his feed--soon after it was evident that he was distressed and there
could be no doubt that he was suffering from colic. Oates called my
attention to it, but we were neither much alarmed, remembering the
speedy recovery of 'Jimmy Pigg' under similar circumstances. Later
the pony was sent out for exercise with Crean. I passed him twice
and seemed to gather that things were well, but Crean afterwards told
me that he had had considerable trouble. Every few minutes the poor
beast had been seized with a spasm of pain, had first dashed forward
as though to escape it and then endeavoured to lie down. Crean had
had much difficulty in keeping him in, and on his legs, for he is
a powerful beast. When he returned to the stable he was evidently
worse, and Oates and Anton patiently dragged a sack to and fro
under his stomach. Every now and again he attempted to lie down,
and Oates eventually thought it wiser to let him do so. Once down,
his head gradually drooped until he lay at length, every now and again
twitching very horribly with the pain and from time to time raising
his head and even scrambling to his legs when it grew intense. I don't
think I ever realised before how pathetic a horse could be under such
conditions; no sound escapes him, his misery can only be indicated by
those distressing spasms and by dumb movements of the head turned with
a patient expression always suggestive of appeal. Although alarmed
by this time, remembering the care with which the animals are being
fed I could not picture anything but a passing indisposition. But as
hour after hour passed without improvement, it was impossible not to
realise that the poor beast was dangerously ill. Oates administered
an opium pill and later on a second, sacks were heated in the oven and
placed on the poor beast; beyond this nothing could be done except to
watch--Oates and Crean never left the patient. As the evening wore
on I visited the stable again and again, but only to hear the same
tale--no improvement. Towards midnight I felt very downcast. It is so
very certain that we cannot afford to lose a single pony--the margin
of safety has already been far overstepped, we are reduced to face
the circumstance that we must keep all the animals alive or greatly
So far everything has gone so well with them that my fears of a loss
had been lulled in a growing hope that all would be well--therefore
at midnight, when poor 'Bones' had continued in pain for twelve hours
and showed little sign of improvement, I felt my fleeting sense of
security rudely shattered.
It was shortly after midnight when I was told that the animal seemed
a little easier. At 2.30 I was again in the stable and found the
improvement had been maintained; the horse still lay on its side
with outstretched head, but the spasms had ceased, its eye looked
less distressed, and its ears pricked to occasional noises. As I
stood looking it suddenly raised its head and rose without effort to
its legs; then in a moment, as though some bad dream had passed, it
began to nose at some hay and at its neighbour. Within three minutes
it had drunk a bucket of water and had started to feed.
I went to bed at 3 with much relief. At noon to-day the immediate
cause of the trouble and an indication that there is still risk were
disclosed in a small ball of semi-fermented hay covered with mucus
and containing tape worms; so far not very serious, but unfortunately
attached to this mass was a strip of the lining of the intestine.
Atkinson, from a humanly comparative point of view, does not think
this is serious if great care is taken with the food for a week or so,
and so one can hope for the best.
Meanwhile we have had much discussion as to the first cause of the
difficulty. The circumstances possibly contributing are as follows:
fermentation of the hay, insufficiency of water, overheated stable,
a chill from exercise after the gale--I think all these may have had
a bearing on the case. It can scarcely be coincidence that the two
ponies which have suffered so far are those which are nearest the stove
end of the stable. In future the stove will be used more sparingly,
a large ventilating hole is to be made near it and an allowance of
water is to be added to the snow hitherto given to the animals. In
the food line we can only exercise such precautions as are possible,
but one way or another we ought to be able to prevent any more danger
of this description.
_Saturday, July_ 15.--There was strong wind with snow this morning
and the wind remained keen and cold in the afternoon, but to-night
it has fallen calm with a promising clear sky outlook. Have been
up the Ramp, clambering about in my sealskin overshoes, which seem
Oates thinks a good few of the ponies have got worms and we are
considering means of ridding them. 'Bones' seems to be getting on
well, though not yet quite so buckish as he was before his trouble. A
good big ventilator has been fitted in the stable. It is not easy
to get over the alarm of Thursday night--the situation is altogether
_Sunday, July_ 16.--Another slight alarm this morning. The pony
'China' went off his feed at breakfast time and lay down twice. He
was up and well again in half an hour; but what on earth is it that
is disturbing these poor beasts?
Usual Sunday routine. Quiet day except for a good deal of wind off
and on. The Crozier Party must be having a wretched time.
_Monday, July_ 17.--The weather still very unsettled--the wind comes
up with a rush to fade in an hour or two. Clouds chase over the sky
in similar fashion: the moon has dipped during daylight hours, and
so one way and another there is little to attract one out of doors.
Yet we are only nine days off the 'light value' of the day when we
left off football--I hope we shall be able to recommence the game in
I am glad that the light is coming for more than one reason. The gale
and consequent inaction not only affected the ponies, Ponting is not
very fit as a consequence--his nervous temperament is of the quality
to take this wintering experience badly--Atkinson has some difficulty
in persuading him to take exercise--he managed only by dragging him
out to his own work, digging holes in the ice. Taylor is another
backslider in the exercise line and is not looking well. If we can
get these people to run about at football all will be well. Anyway
the return of the light should cure all ailments physical and mental.
_Tuesday, July_ 18.--A very brilliant red sky at noon to-day and
enough light to see one's way about.
This fleeting hour of light is very pleasant, but of course dependent
on a clear sky, very rare. Went round the outer berg in the afternoon;
it was all I could do to keep up with 'Snatcher' on the homeward
round--speaking well for his walking powers.
_Wednesday, July_ 19.--Again calm and pleasant. The temperature is
gradually falling down to -35 deg.. Went out to the old working crack
 north of Inaccessible Island--Nelson and Evans had had great
difficulty in rescuing their sounding sledge, which had been left
near here before the gale. The course of events is not very clear,
but it looks as though the gale pressed up the crack, raising broken
pieces of the thin ice formed after recent opening movements. These
raised pieces had become nuclei of heavy snow drifts, which in turn
weighing down the floe had allowed water to flow in over the sledge
level. It is surprising to find such a big disturbance from what
appears to be a simple cause. This crack is now joined, and the
contraction is taking on a new one which has opened much nearer to
us and seems to run to C. Barne.
We have noticed a very curious appearance of heavenly bodies when
setting in a north-westerly direction. About the time of midwinter the
moon observed in this position appeared in a much distorted shape of
blood red colour. It might have been a red flare or distant bonfire,
but could not have been guessed for the moon. Yesterday the planet
Venus appeared under similar circumstances as a ship's side-light
or Japanese lantern. In both cases there was a flickering in the
light and a change of colour from deep orange yellow to blood red,
but the latter was dominant.
_Thursday, July_ 20, _Friday_ 21, _Saturday_ 22.--There is very little
to record--the horses are going on well, all are in good form, at
least for the moment. They drink a good deal of water in the morning.
_Saturday, July_ 22, _continued_.--This and the better ventilation
of the stable make for improvement we think--perhaps the increase of
salt allowance is also beneficial.
To-day we have another raging blizzard--the wind running up to 72
m.p.h. in gusts--one way and another the Crozier Party must have had
a pretty poor time.  I am thankful to remember that the light
will be coming on apace now.
_Monday, July_ 24.--The blizzard continued throughout yesterday
(Sunday), in the evening reaching a record force of 82 m.p.h. The
vane of our anemometer is somewhat sheltered: Simpson finds the hill
readings 20 per cent. higher. Hence in such gusts as this the free
wind must reach nearly 100 m.p.h.--a hurricane force. To-day Nelson
found that his sounding sledge had been turned over. We passed a quiet
Sunday with the usual Service to break the week-day routine. During
my night watch last night I could observe the rapid falling of the
wind, which on dying away left a still atmosphere almost oppressively
warm at 7 deg.. The temperature has remained comparatively high to-day. I
went to see the crack at which soundings were taken a week ago--then
it was several feet open with thin ice between--now it is pressed up
into a sharp ridge 3 to 4 feet high: the edge pressed up shows an 18
inch thickness--this is of course an effect of the warm weather.
_Tuesday, July_ 25, _Wednesday, July_ 26.--There is really very little
to be recorded in these days, life proceeds very calmly if somewhat
monotonously. Everyone seems fit, there is no sign of depression. To
all outward appearance the ponies are in better form than they have
ever been; the same may be said of the dogs with one or two exceptions.
The light comes on apace. To-day (Wednesday) it was very beautiful at
noon: the air was very clear and the detail of the Western Mountains
was revealed in infinitely delicate contrasts of light.
_Thursday, July_ 27, _Friday, July_ 28.--Calmer days: the sky rosier:
the light visibly advancing. We have never suffered from low spirits,
so that the presence of day raises us above a normal cheerfulness to
the realm of high spirits.
The light, merry humour of our company has never been eclipsed, the
good-natured, kindly chaff has never ceased since those early days
of enthusiasm which inspired them--they have survived the winter days
of stress and already renew themselves with the coming of spring. If
pessimistic moments had foreseen the growth of rifts in the bond forged
by these amenities, they stand prophetically falsified; there is no
longer room for doubt that we shall come to our work with a unity of
purpose and a disposition for mutual support which have never been
equalled in these paths of activity. Such a spirit should tide us
[over] all minor difficulties. It is a good omen.
_Saturday, July_ 29, _Sunday, July_ 30.--Two quiet days, temperature
low in the minus thirties--an occasional rush of wind lasting for
but a few minutes.
One of our best sledge dogs, 'Julick,' has disappeared. I'm afraid
he's been set on by the others at some distant spot and we shall see
nothing more but his stiffened carcass when the light returns. Meares
thinks the others would not have attacked him and imagines he has
fallen into the water in some seal hole or crack. In either case I'm
afraid we must be resigned to another loss. It's an awful nuisance.
Gran went to C. Royds to-day. I asked him to report on the open
water, and so he went on past the Cape. As far as I can gather he
got half-way to C. Bird before he came to thin ice; for at least 5
or 6 miles past C. Royds the ice is old and covered with wind-swept
snow. This is very unexpected. In the _Discovery_ first year the ice
continually broke back to the Glacier Tongue: in the second year it
must have gone out to C. Royds very early in the spring if it did
not go out in the winter, and in the _Nimrod_ year it was rarely fast
beyond C. Royds. It is very strange, especially as this has been the
windiest year recorded so far. Simpson says the average has exceeded
20 m.p.h. since the instruments were set up, and this figure has for
comparison 9 and 12 m.p.h. for the two _Discovery_ years. There remains
a possibility that we have chosen an especially wind-swept spot for
our station. Yet I can scarcely believe that there is generally more
wind here than at Hut Point.
I was out for two hours this morning--it was amazingly pleasant
to be able to see the inequalities of one's path, and the familiar
landmarks bathed in violet light. An hour after noon the northern
sky was intensely red.
_Monday, July_ 31.--It was overcast to-day and the light not quite
so good, but this is the last day of another month, and August means
One begins to wonder what the Crozier Party is doing. It has been
away five weeks.
The ponies are getting buckish. Chinaman squeals and kicks in the
stable, Nobby kicks without squealing, but with even more purpose--last
night he knocked down a part of his stall. The noise of these animals
is rather trying at night--one imagines all sorts of dreadful things
happening, but when the watchman visits the stables its occupants
blink at him with a sleepy air as though the disturbance could not
possibly have been there!
There was a glorious northern sky to-day; the horizon was clear and the
flood of red light illuminated the under side of the broken stratus
cloud above, producing very beautiful bands of violet light. Simpson
predicts a blizzard within twenty-four hours--we are interested to
_Tuesday, August_ 1.--The month has opened with a very beautiful
day. This morning I took a circuitous walk over our land 'estate,'
winding to and fro in gulleys filled with smooth ice patches or loose
sandy soil, with a twofold object. I thought I might find the remains
of poor Julick--in this I was unsuccessful; but I wished further to
test our new crampons, and with these I am immensely pleased--they
possess every virtue in a footwear designed for marching over smooth
ice--lightness, warmth, comfort, and ease in the putting on and off.
The light was especially good to-day; the sun was directly reflected
by a single twisted iridescent cloud in the north, a brilliant and
most beautiful object. The air was still, and it was very pleasant to
hear the crisp sounds of our workers abroad. The tones of voices, the
swish of ski or the chipping of an ice pick carry two or three miles
on such days--more than once to-day we could hear the notes of some
blithe singer--happily signalling the coming of the spring and the sun.
This afternoon as I sit in the hut I find it worthy of record that two
telephones are in use: the one keeping time for Wright who works at
the transit instrument, and the other bringing messages from Nelson
at his ice hole three-quarters of a mile away. This last connection
is made with a bare aluminium wire and earth return, and shows that
we should have little difficulty in completing our circuit to Hut
Point as is contemplated.
Account of the Winter Journey
_Wednesday, August_ 2.--The Crozier Party returned last night after
enduring for five weeks the hardest conditions on record. They looked
more weather-worn than anyone I have yet seen. Their faces were scarred
and wrinkled, their eyes dull, their hands whitened and creased with
the constant exposure to damp and cold, yet the scars of frostbite
were very few and this evil had never seriously assailed them. The
main part of their afflictions arose, and very obviously arose, from
sheer lack of sleep, and to-day after a night's rest our travellers
are very different in appearance and mental capacity.
The story of a very wonderful performance must be told by the
actors. It is for me now to give but an outline of the journey and
to note more particularly the effects of the strain which they have
imposed on themselves and the lessons which their experiences teach
for our future guidance.
Wilson is very thin, but this morning very much his keen, wiry
self--Bowers is quite himself to-day. Cherry-Garrard is slightly
puffy in the face and still looks worn. It is evident that he has
suffered most severely--but Wilson tells me that his spirit never
wavered for a moment. Bowers has come through best, all things
considered, and I believe he is the hardest traveller that ever
undertook a Polar journey, as well as one of the most undaunted;
more by hint than direct statement I gather his value to the party,
his untiring energy and the astonishing physique which enables him
to continue to work under conditions which are absolutely paralysing
to others. Never was such a sturdy, active, undefeatable little man.
So far as one can gather, the story of this journey in brief is much
as follows: The party reached the Barrier two days after leaving
C. Evans, still pulling their full load of 250 lbs. per man; the
snow surface then changed completely and grew worse and worse as they
advanced. For one day they struggled on as before, covering 4 miles,
but from this onward they were forced to relay, and found the half
load heavier than the whole one had been on the sea ice. Meanwhile
the temperature had been falling, and now for more than a week the
thermometer fell below -60 deg.. On one night the minimum showed -71 deg.,
and on the next -77 deg., 109 deg. of frost. Although in this truly fearful
cold the air was comparatively still, every now and again little puffs
of wind came eddying across the snow plain with blighting effect. No
civilised being has ever encountered such conditions before with only
a tent of thin canvas to rely on for shelter. We have been looking
up the records to-day and find that Amundsen on a journey to the
N. magnetic pole in March encountered temperatures similar in degree
and recorded a minimum of 79 deg.; but he was with Esquimaux who built
him an igloo shelter nightly; he had a good measure of daylight;
the temperatures given are probably 'unscreened' from radiation, and
finally, he turned homeward and regained his ship after five days'
absence. Our party went outward and remained absent for _five weeks_.
It took the best part of a fortnight to cross the coldest region,
and then rounding C. Mackay they entered the wind-swept area. Blizzard
followed blizzard, the sky was constantly overcast and they staggered
on in a light which was little better than complete darkness;
sometimes they found themselves high on the slopes of Terror on the
left of their track, and sometimes diving into the pressure ridges
on the right amidst crevasses and confused ice disturbance. Reaching
the foothills near C. Crozier, they ascended 800 feet, then packed
their belongings over a moraine ridge and started to build a hut. It
took three days to build the stone walls and complete the roof with
the canvas brought for the purpose. Then at last they could attend
to the object of the journey.
The scant twilight at midday was so short that they must start in the
dark and be prepared for the risk of missing their way in returning
without light. On the first day in which they set forth under these
conditions it took them two hours to reach the pressure ridges, and to
clamber over them roped together occupied nearly the same time; finally
they reached a place above the rookery where they could hear the
birds squawking, but from which they were quite unable to find a way
down. The poor light was failing and they returned to camp. Starting
again on the following day they wound their way through frightful ice
disturbances under the high basalt cliffs; in places the rock overhung,
and at one spot they had to creep through a small channel hollowed in
the ice. At last they reached the sea ice, but now the light was so
far spent they were obliged to rush everything. Instead of the 2000
or 3000 nesting birds which had been seen here in _Discovery_ days,
they could now only count about 100; they hastily killed and skinned
three to get blubber for their stove, and collecting six eggs, three
of which alone survived, they dashed for camp.
It is possible the birds are deserting this rookery, but it is also
possible that this early date found only a small minority of the
birds which will be collected at a later one. The eggs, which have not
yet been examined, should throw light on this point. Wilson observed
yet another proof of the strength of the nursing instinct in these
birds. In searching for eggs both he and Bowers picked up rounded
pieces of ice which these ridiculous creatures had been cherishing
with fond hope.
The light had failed entirely by the time the party were clear of
the pressure ridges on their return, and it was only by good luck
they regained their camp.
That night a blizzard commenced, increasing in fury from moment to
moment. They now found that the place chosen for the hut for shelter
was worse than useless. They had far better have built in the open,
for the fierce wind, instead of striking them directly, was deflected
on to them in furious whirling gusts. Heavy blocks of snow and rock
placed on the roof were whirled away and the canvas ballooned up,
tearing and straining at its securings--its disappearance could only
be a question of time. They had erected their tent with some valuables
inside close to the hut; it had been well spread and more than amply
secured with snow and boulders, but one terrific gust tore it up and
whirled it away. Inside the hut they waited for the roof to vanish,
wondering what they could do if it went, and vainly endeavouring to
make it secure. After fourteen hours it went, as they were trying
to pin down one corner. The smother of snow was on them, and they
could only dive for their sleeping-bags with a gasp. Bowers put his
head out once and said, 'We're all right,' in as near his ordinary
tones as he could compass. The others replied 'Yes, we're all right,'
and all were silent for a night and half a day whilst the wind howled
on; the snow entered every chink and crevasse of the sleeping-bags,
and the occupants shivered and wondered how it would all end.
This gale was the same (July 23) in which we registered our maximum
wind force, and it seems probable that it fell on C. Crozier even
more violently than on us.
The wind fell at noon the following day; the forlorn travellers crept
from their icy nests, made shift to spread their floor-cloth overhead,
and lit their primus. They tasted their first food for forty-eight
hours and began to plan a means to build a shelter on the homeward
route. They decided that they must dig a large pit nightly and cover
it as best they could with their floorcloth. But now fortune befriended
them; a search to the north revealed the tent lying amongst boulders a
quarter of a mile away, and, strange to relate, practically uninjured,
a fine testimonial for the material used in its construction. On the
following day they started homeward, and immediately another blizzard
fell on them, holding them prisoners for two days. By this time the
miserable condition of their effects was beyond description. The
sleeping-bags were far too stiff to be rolled up, in fact they were
so hard frozen that attempts to bend them actually split the skins;
the eiderdown bags inside Wilson's and C.-G.'s reindeer covers served
but to fitfully stop the gaps made by such rents. All socks, finnesko,
and mits had long been coated with ice; placed in breast pockets or
inside vests at night they did not even show signs of thawing, much
less of drying. It sometimes took C.-G. three-quarters of an hour to
get into his sleeping-bag, so flat did it freeze and so difficult was
it to open. It is scarcely possible to realise the horrible discomforts
of the forlorn travellers as they plodded back across the Barrier
with the temperature again constantly below -60 deg.. In this fashion
they reached Hut Point and on the following night our home quarters.
Wilson is disappointed at seeing so little of the penguins, but to me
and to everyone who has remained here the result of this effort is the
appeal it makes to our imagination as one of the most gallant stories
in Polar History. That men should wander forth in the depth of a Polar
night to face the most dismal cold and the fiercest gales in darkness
is something new; that they should have persisted in this effort in
spite of every adversity for five full weeks is heroic. It makes a
tale for our generation which I hope may not be lost in the telling.
Moreover the material results are by no means despicable. We shall
know now when that extraordinary bird the Emperor penguin lays its
eggs, and under what conditions; but even if our information remains
meagre concerning its embryology, our party has shown the nature of
the conditions which exist on the Great Barrier in winter. Hitherto we
have only imagined their severity; now we have proof, and a positive
light is thrown on the local climatology of our Strait.
Experience of Sledging Rations and Equipment
For our future sledge work several points have been most satisfactorily
settled. The party went on a very simple food ration in different
and extreme proportions; they took pemmican, butter, biscuit and
tea only. After a short experience they found that Wilson, who had
arranged for the greatest quantity of fat, had too much of it, and
C.-G., who had gone for biscuit, had more than he could eat. A middle
course was struck which gave a general proportion agreeable to all, and
at the same time suited the total quantities of the various articles
carried. In this way we have arrived at a simple and suitable ration
for the inland plateau. The only change suggested is the addition
of cocoa for the evening meal. The party contented themselves with
hot water, deeming that tea might rob them of their slender chance
On sleeping-bags little new can be said--the eiderdown bag may be a
useful addition for a short time on a spring journey, but they soon
get iced up.
Bowers did not use an eiderdown bag throughout, and in some miraculous
manner he managed to turn his reindeer bag two or three times during
the journey. The following are the weights of sleeping-bags before
Starting Weight. Final Weight.
Wilson, reindeer and eiderdown 17 40
Bowers, reindeer only 17 33
C.-Garrard, reindeer and
eiderdown 18 45
This gives some idea of the ice collected.
The double tent has been reported an immense success. It weighed about
35 lbs. at starting and 60 lbs. on return: the ice mainly collected
on the inner tent.
The crampons are much praised, except by Bowers, who has an eccentric
attachment to our older form. We have discovered a hundred details
of clothes, mits, and footwear: there seems no solution to the
difficulties which attach to these articles in extreme cold; all Wilson
can say, speaking broadly, is 'the gear is excellent, excellent.' One
continues to wonder as to the possibilities of fur clothing as made by
the Esquimaux, with a sneaking feeling that it may outclass our more
civilised garb. For us this can only be a matter of speculation, as it
would have been quite impossible to have obtained such articles. With
the exception of this radically different alternative, I feel sure
we are as near perfection as experience can direct.
At any rate we can now hold that our system of clothing has come
through a severer test than any other, fur included.
_Effect of Journey_.--Wilson lost 3 1/2 lbs.; Bowers lost 2 1/2 lbs.;
C.-Garrard lost 1 lb.
The Return of the Sun
_Thursday, August_ 3.--We have had such a long spell of fine clear
weather without especially low temperatures that one can scarcely
grumble at the change which we found on waking this morning, when
the canopy of stratus cloud spread over us and the wind came in
those fitful gusts which promise a gale. All day the wind force has
been slowly increasing, whilst the temperature has risen to -15 deg.,
but there is no snow falling or drifting as yet. The steam cloud of
Erebus was streaming away to the N.W. this morning; now it is hidden.
Our expectations have been falsified so often that we feel ourselves
wholly incapable as weather prophets--therefore one scarce dares
to predict a blizzard even in face of such disturbance as exists. A
paper handed to Simpson by David,  and purporting to contain a
description of approaching signs, together with the cause and effect
of our blizzards, proves equally hopeless. We have not obtained a
single scrap of evidence to verify its statements, and a great number
of our observations definitely contradict them. The plain fact is
that no two of our storms have been heralded by the same signs.
The low Barrier temperatures experienced by the Crozier Party has
naturally led to speculation on the situation of Amundsen and his
Norwegians. If his thermometers continuously show temperatures below
-60 deg., the party will have a pretty bad winter and it is difficult to
see how he will keep his dogs alive. I should feel anxious if Campbell
was in that quarter. 
_Saturday, August_ 5.--The sky has continued to wear a disturbed
appearance, but so far nothing has come of it. A good deal of light
snow has been falling to-day; a brisk northerly breeze is drifting
it along, giving a very strange yet beautiful effect in the north,
where the strong red twilight filters through the haze.
The Crozier Party tell a good story of Bowers, who on their return
journey with their recovered tent fitted what he called a 'tent
downhaul' and secured it round his sleeping-bag and himself. If the
tent went again, he determined to go with it.
Our lecture programme has been renewed. Last night Simpson gave a
capital lecture on general meteorology. He started on the general
question of insolation, giving various tables to show proportion of
sun's heat received at the polar and equatorial regions. Broadly, in
latitude 80 deg. one would expect about 22 per cent, of the heat received
at a spot on the equator.
He dealt with the temperature question by showing interesting tabular
comparisons between northern and southern temperatures at given
latitudes. So far as these tables go they show the South Polar summer
to be 15 deg. colder than the North Polar, but the South Polar winter 3 deg.
warmer than the North Polar, but of course this last figure would be
completely altered if the observer were to winter on the Barrier. I
fancy Amundsen will not concede those 3 deg.!!
From temperatures our lecturer turned to pressures and the upward
turn of the gradient in high southern latitudes, as shown by the
_Discovery_ Expedition. This bears of course on the theory which
places an anticyclone in the South Polar region. Lockyer's theories
came under discussion; a good many facts appear to support them. The
westerly winds of the Roaring Forties are generally understood to be a
succession of cyclones. Lockyer's hypothesis supposes that there are
some eight or ten cyclones continually revolving at a rate of about
10 deg. of longitude a day, and he imagines them to extend from the 40th
parallel to beyond the 60th, thus giving the strong westerly winds
in the forties and easterly and southerly in 60 deg. to 70 deg.. Beyond 70 deg.
there appears to be generally an irregular outpouring of cold air from
the polar area, with an easterly component significant of anticyclone
Simpson evolved a new blizzard theory on this. He supposes the surface
air intensely cooled over the continental and Barrier areas, and the
edge of this cold region lapped by warmer air from the southern limits
of Lockyer's cyclones. This would produce a condition of unstable
equilibrium, with great potentiality for movement. Since, as we have
found, volumes of cold air at different temperatures are very loath
to mix, the condition could not be relieved by any gradual process,
but continues until the stream is released by some minor cause, when,
the ball once started, a huge disturbance results. It seems to be
generally held that warm air is passing polewards from the equator
continuously at the high levels. It is this potentially warm air
which, mixed by the disturbance with the cold air of the interior,
gives to our winds so high a temperature.
Such is this theory--like its predecessor it is put up for cockshies,
and doubtless by our balloon work or by some other observations it
will be upset or modified. Meanwhile it is well to keep one's mind
alive with such problems, which mark the road of advance.
_Sunday, August_ 6.--Sunday with its usual routine. Hymn singing has
become a point on which we begin to take some pride to ourselves. With
our full attendance of singers we now get a grand volume of sound.
The day started overcast. Chalky is an excellent adjective to describe
the appearance of our outlook when the light is much diffused and
shadows poor; the scene is dull and flat.
In the afternoon the sky cleared, the moon over Erebus gave a straw
colour to the dissipating clouds. This evening the air is full of ice
crystals and a stratus forms again. This alternation of clouded and
clear skies has been the routine for some time now and is accompanied
by the absence of wind which is delightfully novel.
The blood of the Crozier Party, tested by Atkinson, shows a very slight
increase of acidity--such was to be expected, and it is pleasing to
note that there is no sign of scurvy. If the preserved foods had
tended to promote the disease, the length of time and severity of
conditions would certainly have brought it out. I think we should be
safe on the long journey.
I have had several little chats with Wilson on the happenings of
the journey. He says there is no doubt Cherry-Garrard felt the
conditions most severely, though he was not only without complaint,
but continuously anxious to help others.
Apropos, we both conclude that it is the younger people that have the
worst time; Gran, our youngest member (23), is a very clear example,
and now Cherry-Garrard at 26.
Wilson (39) says he never felt cold less than he does now; I suppose
that between 30 and 40 is the best all round age. Bowers is a wonder of
course. He is 29. When past the forties it is encouraging to remember
that Peary was 52!!
_Thursday, August_ 10.--There has been very little to record of late
and my pen has been busy on past records.
The weather has been moderately good and as before wholly
incomprehensible. Wind has come from a clear sky and from a clouded
one; we had a small blow on Tuesday but it never reached gale force;
it came without warning, and every sign which we have regarded as a
warning has proved a bogey. The fact is, one must always be prepared
for wind and never expect it.
The daylight advances in strides. Day has fitted an extra sash to
our window and the light admitted for the first time through triple
glass. With this device little ice collects inside.
The ponies are very fit but inclined to be troublesome: the quiet
beasts develop tricks without rhyme or reason. Chinaman still kicks and
squeals at night. Anton's theory is that he does it to warm himself,
and perhaps there is something in it. When eating snow he habitually
takes too large a mouthful and swallows it; it is comic to watch him,
because when the snow chills his inside he shuffles about with all four
legs and wears a most fretful, aggrieved expression: but no sooner has
the snow melted than he seizes another mouthful. Other ponies take
small mouthfuls or melt a large one on their tongues--this act also
produces an amusing expression. Victor and Snippets are confirmed
wind suckers. They are at it all the time when the manger board is
in place, but it is taken down immediately after feeding time, and
then they can only seek vainly for something to catch hold of with
their teeth. 'Bones' has taken to kicking at night for no imaginable
reason. He hammers away at the back of his stall merrily; we have
covered the boards with several layers of sacking, so that the noise
is cured, if not the habit. The annoying part of these tricks is that
they hold the possibility of damage to the pony. I am glad to say
all the lice have disappeared; the final conquest was effected with
a very simple remedy--the infected ponies were washed with water in
which tobacco had been steeped. Oates had seen this decoction used
effectively with troop horses. The result is the greater relief,
since we had run out of all the chemicals which had been used for
the same purpose.
I have now definitely told off the ponies for the Southern Journey, and
the new masters will take charge on September 1. They will continually
exercise the animals so as to get to know them as well as possible. The
arrangement has many obvious advantages. The following is the order:
Bowers Victor. Evans (P.O.) Snatcher.
Wilson Nobby. Crean Bones.
Atkinson Jehu. Keohane Jimmy Pigg.
Wright Chinaman. Oates Christopher.
Cherry-Garrard Michael. Myself & Oates Snippets.
The first balloon of the season was sent up yesterday by Bowers and
Simpson. It rose on a southerly wind, but remained in it for 100 feet
or less, then for 300 or 400 feet it went straight up, and after that
directly south over Razor Back Island. Everything seemed to go well,
the thread, on being held, tightened and then fell slack as it should
do. It was followed for two miles or more running in a straight line
for Razor Back, but within a few hundred yards of the Island it came
to an end. The searchers went round the Island to try and recover the
clue, but without result. Almost identically the same thing happened
after the last ascent made, and we are much puzzled to find the cause.
The continued proximity of the south moving air currents above is
The Crozier Party are not right yet, their feet are exceedingly sore,
and there are other indications of strain. I must almost except Bowers,
who, whatever his feelings, went off as gaily as usual on the search
for the balloon.
Saw a very beautiful effect on my afternoon walk yesterday: the full
moon was shining brightly from a quarter exactly opposite to the fading
twilight and the icebergs were lit on one side by the yellow lunar
light and on the other by the paler white daylight. The first seemed
to be gilded, while the diffused light of day gave to the other a deep,
cold, greenish-blue colour--the contrast was strikingly beautiful.
_Friday, August_ 11.--The long-expected blizzard came in the night;
it is still blowing hard with drift.
Yesterday evening Oates gave his second lecture on 'Horse
management.' He was brief and a good deal to the point. 'Not born
but made' was his verdict on the good manager of animals. 'The horse
has no reasoning power at all, but an excellent memory'; sights and
sounds recall circumstances under which they were previously seen or
heard. It is no use shouting at a horse: ten to one he will associate
the noise with some form of trouble, and getting excited, will set out
to make it. It is ridiculous for the rider of a bucking horse to shout
'Whoa!'--'I know,' said the Soldier, 'because I have done it.' Also
it is to be remembered that loud talk to one horse may disturb other
horses. The great thing is to be firm and quiet.
A horse's memory, explained the Soldier, warns it of events to come. He
gave instances of hunters and race-horses which go off their feed and
show great excitement in other ways before events for which they are
prepared; for this reason every effort should be made to keep the
animals quiet in camp. Rugs should be put on directly after a halt
and not removed till the last moment before a march.
After a few hints on leading the lecturer talked of possible
improvements in our wintering arrangements. A loose box for each
animal would be an advantage, and a small amount of litter on which
he could lie down. Some of our ponies lie down, but rarely for
more than 10 minutes--the Soldier thinks they find the ground too
cold. He thinks it would be wise to clip animals before the winter
sets in. He is in doubt as to the advisability of grooming. He passed
to the improvements preparing for the coming journey--the nose bags,
picketing lines, and rugs. He proposes to bandage the legs of all
ponies. Finally he dealt with the difficult subjects of snow blindness
and soft surfaces: for the first he suggested dyeing the forelocks,
which have now grown quite long. Oates indulges a pleasant conceit in
finishing his discourses with a merry tale. Last night's tale evoked
shouts of laughter, but, alas! it is quite unprintable! Our discussion
hinged altogether on the final subjects of the lecture as concerning
snow blindness--the dyed forelocks seem inadequate, and the best
suggestion seems the addition of a sun bonnet rather than blinkers,
or, better still, a peak over the eyes attached to the headstall. I
doubt if this question will be difficult to settle, but the snow-shoe
problem is much more serious. This has been much in our minds of late,
and Petty Officer Evans has been making trial shoes for Snatcher on
vague ideas of our remembrance of the shoes worn for lawn mowing.
Besides the problem of the form of the shoes, comes the question of
the means of attachment. All sorts of suggestions were made last night
as to both points, and the discussion cleared the air a good deal. I
think that with slight modification our present pony snow-shoes made
on the grating or racquet principle may prove best after all. The only
drawback is that they are made for very soft snow and unnecessarily
large for the Barrier; this would make them liable to be strained on
hard patches. The alternative seems to be to perfect the principle
of the lawn mowing shoe, which is little more than a stiff bag over
Perhaps we shall come to both kinds: the first for the quiet animals
and the last for the more excitable. I am confident the matter is of
_Monday, August_ 14.--Since the comparatively short storm of Friday, in
which we had a temperature of -30 deg. with a 50 m.p.h. wind, we have had
two delightfully calm days, and to-day there is every promise of the
completion of a third. On such days the light is quite good for three
to four hours at midday and has a cheering effect on man and beast.
The ponies are so pleased that they seize the slightest opportunity
to part company with their leaders and gallop off with tail and heels
flung high. The dogs are equally festive and are getting more exercise
than could be given in the dark. The two Esquimaux dogs have been taken
in hand by Clissold, as I have noted before. He now takes them out with
a leader borrowed from Meares, usually little 'Noogis.' On Saturday
the sledge capsized at the tide crack; Clissold was left on the snow
whilst the team disappeared in the distance. Noogis returned later,
having eaten through his harness, and the others were eventually found
some two miles away, 'foul' of an ice hummock. Yesterday Clissold
took the same team to Cape Royds; they brought back a load of 100
lbs. a dog in about two hours. It would have been a good performance
for the best dogs in the time, and considering that Meares pronounced
these two dogs useless, Clissold deserves a great deal of credit.
Yesterday we had a really successful balloon ascent: the balloon ran
out four miles of thread before it was released, and the instrument
fell without a parachute. The searchers followed the clue about 2 1/2
miles to the north, when it turned and came back parallel to itself,
and only about 30 yards distant from it. The instrument was found
undamaged and with the record properly scratched.
Nelson has been out a good deal more of late. He has got a good little
run of serial temperatures with water samples, and however meagre
his results, they may be counted as exceedingly accurate; his methods
include the great scientific care which is now considered necessary
for this work, and one realises that he is one of the few people who
have been trained in it. Yesterday he got his first net haul from
the bottom, with the assistance of Atkinson and Cherry-Garrard.
Atkinson has some personal interest in the work. He has been
getting remarkable results himself and has discovered a host of new
parasites in the seals; he has been trying to correlate these with
like discoveries in the fishes, in hope of working out complete life
histories in both primary and secondary hosts.
But the joint hosts of the fishes may be the mollusca or other
creatures on which they feed, and hence the new fields for Atkinson
in Nelson's catches. There is a relative simplicity in the round of
life in its higher forms in these regions that would seem especially
hopeful for the parasitologist.
My afternoon walk has become a pleasure; everything is beautiful in
this half light and the northern sky grows redder as the light wanes.
_Tuesday, August_ 15.--The instrument recovered from the balloon shows
an ascent of 2 1/2 miles, and the temperature at that height only 5 deg.
or 6 deg. C. below that at the surface. If, as one must suppose, this
layer extends over the Barrier, it would there be at a considerably
higher temperature than the surface Simpson has imagined a very cold
surface layer on the Barrier.
The acetylene has suddenly failed, and I find myself at this moment
writing by daylight for the first time.
The first addition to our colony came last night, when 'Lassie'
produced six or seven puppies--we are keeping the family very quiet
and as warm as possible in the stable.
It is very pleasant to note the excellent relations which our young
Russians have established with other folk; they both work very hard,
Anton having most to do. Demetri is the more intelligent and begins
to talk English fairly well. Both are on the best terms with their
mess-mates, and it was amusing last night to see little Anton jamming
a felt hat over P.O. Evans' head in high good humour.
Wright lectured on radium last night.
The transformation of the radio-active elements suggestive of
the transmutation of metals was perhaps the most interesting idea
suggested, but the discussion ranged mainly round the effect which
the discovery of radio-activity has had on physics and chemistry
in its bearing on the origin of matter, on geology as bearing on the
internal heat of the earth, and on medicine in its curative powers. The
geologists and doctors admitted little virtue to it, but of course
the physicists boomed their own wares, which enlivened the debate.
_Thursday, August_ 17.--The weather has been extremely kind to us of
late; we haven't a single grumble against it. The temperature hovers
pretty constantly at about -35 deg., there is very little wind and the
sky is clear and bright. In such weather one sees well for more than
three hours before and after noon, the landscape unfolds itself, and
the sky colours are always delicate and beautiful. At noon to-day
there was bright sunlight on the tops of the Western Peaks and on
the summit and steam of Erebus--of late the vapour cloud of Erebus
has been exceptionally heavy and fantastic in form.
The balloon has become a daily institution. Yesterday the instrument
was recovered in triumph, but to-day the threads carried the searchers
in amongst the icebergs and soared aloft over their crests--anon the
clue was recovered beyond, and led towards Tent Island, then towards
Inaccessible, then back to the bergs. Never was such an elusive
thread. Darkness descended with the searchers on a strong scent for
the Razor Backs: Bowers returned full of hope.
The wretched Lassie has killed every one of her litter. She is mother
for the first time, and possibly that accounts for it. When the poor
little mites were alive she constantly left them, and when taken
back she either trod on them or lay on them, till not one was left
alive. It is extremely annoying.
As the daylight comes, people are busier than ever. It does one good
to see so much work going on.
_Friday, August_ 18.--Atkinson lectured on 'Scurvy' last night. He
spoke clearly and slowly, but the disease is anything but precise. He
gave a little summary of its history afloat and the remedies long in
use in the Navy.
He described the symptoms with some detail. Mental depression,
debility, syncope, petechiae, livid patches, spongy gums, lesions,
swellings, and so on to things that are worse. He passed to some of the
theories held and remedies tried in accordance with them. Ralph came
nearest the truth in discovering decrease of chlorine and alkalinity
of urine. Sir Almroth Wright has hit the truth, he thinks, in finding
increased acidity of blood--acid intoxication--by methods only possible
in recent years.
This acid condition is due to two salts, sodium hydrogen carbonate
and sodium hydrogen phosphate; these cause the symptoms observed
and infiltration of fat in organs, leading to feebleness of heart
action. The method of securing and testing serum of patient was
described (titration, a colorimetric method of measuring the percentage
of substances in solution), and the test by litmus paper of normal
or super-normal solution. In this test the ordinary healthy man shows
normal 30 to 50: the scurvy patient normal 90.
Lactate of sodium increases alkalinity of blood, but only within
narrow limits, and is the only chemical remedy suggested.
So far for diagnosis, but it does not bring us much closer to the
cause, preventives, or remedies. Practically we are much as we were
before, but the lecturer proceeded to deal with the practical side.
In brief, he holds the first cause to be tainted food, but secondary
or contributory causes may be even more potent in developing the
disease. Damp, cold, over-exertion, bad air, bad light, in fact
any condition exceptional to normal healthy existence. Remedies
are merely to change these conditions for the better. Dietetically,
fresh vegetables are the best curatives--the lecturer was doubtful of
fresh meat, but admitted its possibility in polar climate; lime juice
only useful if regularly taken. He discussed lightly the relative
values of vegetable stuffs, doubtful of those containing abundance
of phosphates such as lentils. He touched theory again in continuing
the cause of acidity to bacterial action--and the possibility of
infection in epidemic form. Wilson is evidently slow to accept the
'acid intoxication' theory; his attitude is rather 'non proven.' His
remarks were extremely sound and practical as usual. He proved the
value of fresh meat in polar regions.
Scurvy seems very far away from us this time, yet after our _Discovery_
experience, one feels that no trouble can be too great or no precaution
too small to be adopted to keep it at bay. Therefore such an evening
as last was well spent.
It is certain we shall not have the disease here, but one cannot
foresee equally certain avoidance in the southern journey to come. All
one can do is to take every possible precaution.
Ran over to Tent Island this afternoon and climbed to the top--I have
not been there since 1903. Was struck with great amount of loose sand;
it seemed to get smaller in grain from S. to N. Fine view from top
of island: one specially notices the gap left by the breaking up of
the Glacier Tongue.
The distance to the top of the island and back is between 7 and
8 statute miles, and the run in this weather is fine healthy
exercise. Standing on the island to-day with a glorious view of
mountains, islands, and glaciers, I thought how very different must be
the outlook of the Norwegians. A dreary white plain of Barrier behind
and an uninviting stretch of sea ice in front. With no landmarks,
nothing to guide if the light fails, it is probable that they venture
but a very short distance from their hut.
The prospects of such a situation do not smile on us.
The weather remains fine--this is the sixth day without wind.
_Sunday, August_ 20.--The long-expected blizzard came yesterday--a
good honest blow, the drift vanishing long before the wind. This and
the rise of temperature (to 2 deg.) has smoothed and polished all ice
or snow surfaces. A few days ago I could walk anywhere in my soft
finnesko with sealskin soles; to-day it needed great caution to
prevent tumbles. I think there has been a good deal of ablation.
The sky is clear to-day, but the wind still strong though warm. I
went along the shore of the North Bay and climbed to the glacier over
one of the drifted faults in the ice face. It is steep and slippery,
but by this way one can arrive above the Ramp without touching rock
and thus avoid cutting soft footwear.
The ice problems in our neighbourhood become more fascinating and
elusive as one re-examines them by the returning light; some will
_Monday, August_ 21.--Weights and measurements last evening. We have
remained surprisingly constant. There seems to have been improvement
in lung power and grip is shown by spirometer and dynamometer, but
weights have altered very little. I have gone up nearly 3 lbs. in
winter, but the increase has occurred during the last month, when I
have been taking more exercise. Certainly there is every reason to
be satisfied with the general state of health.
The ponies are becoming a handful. Three of the four exercised to-day
so far have run away--Christopher and Snippets broke away from Oates
and Victor from Bowers. Nothing but high spirits, there is no vice in
these animals; but I fear we are going to have trouble with sledges
and snow-shoes. At present the Soldier dare not issue oats or the
animals would become quite unmanageable. Bran is running low; he
wishes he had more of it.
_Tuesday, August_ 22.--I am renewing study of glacier problems;
the face of the ice cliff 300 yards east of the homestead is full of
enigmas. Yesterday evening Ponting gave us a lecture on his Indian
travels. He is very frank in acknowledging his debt to guide-books
for information, nevertheless he tells his story well and his slides
are wonderful. In personal reminiscence he is distinctly dramatic--he
thrilled us a good deal last night with a vivid description of a
sunrise in the sacred city of Benares. In the first dim light the
waiting, praying multitude of bathers, the wonderful ritual and its
incessant performance; then, as the sun approaches, the hush--the
effect of thousands of worshippers waiting in silence--a silence
to be felt. Finally, as the first rays appear, the swelling roar
of a single word from tens of thousands of throats: 'Ambah!' It was
artistic to follow this picture of life with the gruesome horrors of
the ghat. This impressionist style of lecturing is very attractive
and must essentially cover a great deal of ground. So we saw Jeypore,
Udaipore, Darjeeling, and a confusing number of places--temples,
monuments and tombs in profusion, with remarkable pictures of the
wonderful Taj Mahal--horses, elephants, alligators, wild boars, and
flamingoes--warriors, fakirs, and nautch girls--an impression here
and an impression there.
It is worth remembering how attractive this style can be--in lecturing
one is inclined to give too much attention to connecting links which
join one episode to another. A lecture need not be a connected story;
perhaps it is better it should not be.
It was my night on duty last night and I watched the oncoming of a
blizzard with exceptional beginnings. The sky became very gradually
overcast between 1 and 4 A.M. About 2.30 the temperature rose on a
steep grade from -20 deg. to -3 deg.; the barometer was falling, rapidly for
these regions. Soon after 4 the wind came with a rush, but without
snow or drift. For a time it was more gusty than has ever yet been
recorded even in this region. In one gust the wind rose from 4 to 68
m.p.h. and fell again to 20 m.p.h. within a minute; another reached 80
m.p.h., but not from such a low point of origin. The effect in the hut
was curious; for a space all would be quiet, then a shattering blast
would descend with a clatter and rattle past ventilator and chimneys,
so sudden, so threatening, that it was comforting to remember the solid
structure of our building. The suction of such a gust is so heavy that
even the heavy snow-covered roof of the stable, completely sheltered
on the lee side of the main building, is violently shaken--one could
well imagine the plight of our adventurers at C. Crozier when their
roof was destroyed. The snow which came at 6 lessened the gustiness
and brought the ordinary phenomena of a blizzard. It is blowing hard
to-day, with broken windy clouds and roving bodies of drift. A wild
day for the return of the sun. Had it been fine to-day we should have
seen the sun for the first time; yesterday it shone on the lower
foothills to the west, but to-day we see nothing but gilded drift
clouds. Yet it is grand to have daylight rushing at one.
_Wednesday, August_ 23.--We toasted the sun in champagne last night,
coupling Victor Campbell's name as his birthday coincides. The return
of the sun could not be appreciated as we have not had a glimpse of
it, and the taste of the champagne went wholly unappreciated; it was
a very mild revel. Meanwhile the gale continues. Its full force broke
last night with an average of nearly 70 m.p.h. for some hours: the
temperature has been up to 10 deg. and the snowfall heavy. At seven this
morning the air was thicker with whirling drift than it has ever been.
It seems as though the violence of the storms which succeed our rare
spells of fine weather is in proportion to the duration of the spells.
_Thursday, August_ 24.--Another night and day of furious wind
and drift, and still no sign of the end. The temperature has been
as high as 16 deg.. Now and again the snow ceases and then the drift
rapidly diminishes, but such an interval is soon followed by fresh
clouds of snow. It is quite warm outside, one can go about with
head uncovered--which leads me to suppose that one does get hardened
to cold to some extent--for I suppose one would not wish to remain
uncovered in a storm in England if the temperature showed 16 degrees
of frost. This is the third day of confinement to the hut: it grows
tedious, but there is no help, as it is too thick to see more than
a few yards out of doors.
_Friday, August_ 25.--The gale continued all night and it blows hard
this morning, but the sky is clear, the drift has ceased, and the few
whale-back clouds about Erebus carry a promise of improving conditions.
Last night there was an intensely black cloud low on the northern
horizon--but for earlier experience of the winter one would have sworn
to it as a water sky; but I think the phenomenon is due to the shadow
of retreating drift clouds. This morning the sky is clear to the north,
so that the sea ice cannot have broken out in the Sound.
During snowy gales it is almost necessary to dress oneself in wind
clothes if one ventures outside for the briefest periods--exposed
woollen or cloth materials become heavy with powdery crystals in a
minute or two, and when brought into the warmth of the hut are soon
wringing wet. Where there is no drift it is quicker and easier to
slip on an overcoat.
It is not often I have a sentimental attachment for articles of
clothing, but I must confess an affection for my veteran uniform
overcoat, inspired by its persistent utility. I find that it
is twenty-three years of age and can testify to its strenuous
existence. It has been spared neither rain, wind, nor salt sea spray,
tropic heat nor Arctic cold; it has outlived many sets of buttons,
from their glittering gilded youth to green old age, and it supports
its four-stripe shoulder straps as gaily as the single lace ring
of the early days which proclaimed it the possession of a humble
sub-lieutenant. Withal it is still a very long way from the fate of
the 'one-horse shay.'
Taylor gave us his final physiographical lecture last night. It was
completely illustrated with slides made from our own negatives,
Ponting's Alpine work, and the choicest illustrations of certain
scientific books. The preparation of the slides had involved a good
deal of work for Ponting as well as for the lecturer. The lecture
dealt with ice erosion, and the pictures made it easy to follow
the comparison of our own mountain forms and glacial contours with
those that have received so much attention elsewhere. Noticeable
differences are the absence of moraine material on the lower surfaces
of our glaciers, their relatively insignificant movement, their
steep sides, &c.... It is difficult to convey the bearing of the
difference or similarity of various features common to the pictures
under comparison without their aid. It is sufficient to note that the
points to which the lecturer called attention were pretty obvious
and that the lecture was exceedingly instructive. The origin of
'cirques' or 'cwms,' of which we have remarkably fine examples,
is still a little mysterious--one notes also the requirement of
observation which might throw light on the erosion of previous ages.
After Taylor's effort Ponting showed a number of very beautiful slides
of Alpine scenery--not a few are triumphs of the photographer's art. As
a wind-up Ponting took a flashlight photograph of our hut converted
into a lecture hall: a certain amount of faking will be required,
but I think this is very allowable under the circumstances.
Oates tells me that one of the ponies, 'Snippets,' will eat
blubber! the possible uses of such an animal are remarkable!
The gravel on the north side of the hut against which the stable is
built has been slowly but surely worn down, leaving gaps under the
boarding. Through these gaps and our floor we get an unpleasantly
strong stable effluvium, especially when the wind is strong. We are
trying to stuff the holes up, but have not had much success so far.
_Saturday, August_ 26.--A dying wind and clear sky yesterday, and
almost calm to-day. The noon sun is cut off by the long low foot
slope of Erebus which runs to Cape Royds. Went up the Ramp at noon
yesterday and found no advantage--one should go over the floe to
get the earliest sight, and yesterday afternoon Evans caught a last
glimpse of the upper limb from that situation, whilst Simpson saw
the same from Wind Vane Hill.
The ponies are very buckish and can scarcely be held in at exercise;
it seems certain that they feel the return of daylight. They were
out in morning and afternoon yesterday. Oates and Anton took out
Christopher and Snippets rather later. Both ponies broke away within
50 yards of the stable and galloped away over the floe. It was nearly
an hour before they could be rounded up. Such escapades are the result
of high spirits; there is no vice in the animals.
We have had comparatively little aurora of late, but last night was
an exception; there was a good display at 3 A.M.
P.M.--Just before lunch the sunshine could be seen gilding the floe,
and Ponting and I walked out to the bergs. The nearest one has been
overturned and is easily climbed. From the top we could see the
sun clear over the rugged outline of C. Barne. It was glorious to
stand bathed in brilliant sunshine once more. We felt very young,
sang and cheered--we were reminded of a bright frosty morning in
England--everything sparkled and the air had the same crisp feel. There
is little new to be said of the return of the sun in polar regions,
yet it is such a very real and important event that one cannot pass
it in silence. It changes the outlook on life of every individual,
foul weather is robbed of its terrors; if it is stormy to-day it will
be fine to-morrow or the next day, and each day's delay will mean a
brighter outlook when the sky is clear.
Climbed the Ramp in the afternoon, the shouts and songs of men and
the neighing of horses borne to my ears as I clambered over its kopjes.
We are now pretty well convinced that the Ramp is a moraine resting
on a platform of ice.
The sun rested on the sunshine recorder for a few minutes, but
made no visible impression. We did not get our first record in the
_Discovery_ until September. It is surprising that so little heat
should be associated with such a flood of light.
_Sunday, August_ 27.--Overcast sky and chill south-easterly
wind. Sunday routine, no one very active. Had a run to South Bay over
_Monday, August_ 28.--Ponting and Gran went round the bergs late
last night. On returning they saw a dog coming over the floe from the
north. The animal rushed towards and leapt about them with every sign
of intense joy. Then they realised that it was our long lost Julick.
His mane was crusted with blood and he smelt strongly of seal
blubber--his stomach was full, but the sharpness of back-bone showed
that this condition had only been temporary, daylight he looks very
fit and strong, and he is evidently very pleased to be home again.
We are absolutely at a loss to account for his adventures. It
is exactly a month since he was missed--what on earth can have
happened to him all this time? One would give a great deal to hear
his tale. Everything is against the theory that he was a wilful
absentee--his previous habits and his joy at getting back. If he wished
to get back, he cannot have been lost anywhere in the neighbourhood,
for, as Meares says, the barking of the station dogs can be heard
at least 7 or 8 miles away in calm weather, besides which there are
tracks everywhere and unmistakable landmarks to guide man or beast. I
cannot but think the animal has been cut off, but this can only have