Part 7 out of 10
happened by his being carried away on broken sea ice, and as far as
we know the open water has never been nearer than 10 or 12 miles at
the least. It is another enigma.
On Saturday last a balloon was sent up. The thread was found broken
a mile away. Bowers and Simpson walked many miles in search of the
instrument, but could find no trace of it. The theory now propounded
is that if there is strong differential movement in air currents,
the thread is not strong enough to stand the strain as the balloon
passes from one current to another. It is amazing, and forces the
employment of a new system. It is now proposed to discard the thread
and attach the instrument to a flag and staff, which it is hoped will
plant itself in the snow on falling.
The sun is shining into the hut windows--already sunbeams rest on
the opposite walls.
I have mentioned the curious cones which are the conspicuous feature
of our Ramp scenery--they stand from 8 to 20 feet in height, some
irregular, but a number quite perfectly conical in outline. To-day
Taylor and Gran took pick and crowbar and started to dig into
one of the smaller ones. After removing a certain amount of loose
rubble they came on solid rock, kenyte, having two or three irregular
cracks traversing the exposed surface. It was only with great trouble
they removed one or two of the smallest fragments severed by these
cracks. There was no sign of ice. This gives a great 'leg up' to the
'debris' cone theory.
Demetri and Clissold took two small teams of dogs to Cape Royds
to-day. They found some dog footprints near the hut, but think these
were not made by Julick. Demetri points far to the west as the scene
of that animal's adventures. Parties from C. Royds always bring a
number of illustrated papers which must have been brought down by
the _Nimrod_ on her last visit. The ostensible object is to provide
amusement for our Russian companions, but as a matter of fact everyone
finds them interesting.
_Tuesday, August_ 29.--I find that the card of the sunshine recorder
showed an hour and a half's burn yesterday and was very faintly
marked on Saturday; already, therefore, the sun has given us warmth,
even if it can only be measured instrumentally.
Last night Meares told us of his adventures in and about Lolo land,
a wild Central Asian country nominally tributary to Lhassa. He had no
pictures and very makeshift maps, yet he held us really entranced for
nearly two hours by the sheer interest of his adventures. The spirit
of the wanderer is in Meares' blood: he has no happiness but in the
wild places of the earth. I have never met so extreme a type. Even
now he is looking forward to getting away by himself to Hut Point,
tired already of our scant measure of civilisation.
He has keen natural powers of observation for all practical facts and
a quite prodigious memory for such things, but a lack of scientific
training causes the acceptance of exaggerated appearances, which
so often present themselves to travellers when unfamiliar objects
are first seen. For instance, when the spoor of some unknown beast
is described as 6 inches across, one shrewdly guesses that a cold
scientific measurement would have reduced this figure by nearly a half;
so it is with mountains, cliffs, waterfalls, &c. With all deduction
on this account the lecture was extraordinarily interesting. Meares
lost his companion and leader, poor Brook, on the expedition which
he described to us. The party started up the Yangtse, travelling from
Shanghai to Hankow and thence to Ichang by steamer--then by house-boat
towed by coolies through wonderful gorges and one dangerous rapid to
Chunking and Chengtu. In those parts the travellers always took the
three principal rooms of the inn they patronised, the cost 150 cash,
something less than fourpence--oranges 20 a penny--the coolies with
100 lb. loads would cover 30 to 40 miles a day--salt is got in bores
sunk with bamboos to nearly a mile in depth; it takes two or three
generations to sink a bore. The lecturer described the Chinese frontier
town Quanchin, its people, its products, chiefly medicinal musk pods
from musk deer. Here also the wonderful ancient damming of the river,
and a temple to the constructor, who wrote, twenty centuries ago,
'dig out your ditches, but keep your banks low.' On we were taken
along mountain trails over high snow-filled passes and across rivers
on bamboo bridges to Wassoo, a timber centre from which great rafts of
lumber are shot down the river, over fearsome rapids, freighted with
Chinamen. 'They generally come through all right,' said the lecturer.
Higher up the river (Min) live the peaceful Ching Ming people,
an ancient aboriginal stock, and beyond these the wild tribes, the
Lolo themselves. They made doubtful friends with a chief preparing
for war. Meares described a feast given to them in a barbaric hall
hung with skins and weapons, the men clad in buckskin dyed red,
and bristling with arms; barbaric dishes, barbaric music. Then the
hunt for new animals; the Chinese Tarkin, the parti-coloured bear,
blue mountain sheep, the golden-haired monkey, and talk of new fruits
and flowers and a host of little-known birds.
More adventures among the wild tribes of the mountains; the white
lamas, the black lamas and phallic worship. Curious prehistoric caves
with ancient terra-cotta figures resembling only others found in
Japan and supplying a curious link. A feudal system running with well
oiled wheels, the happiest of communities. A separation (temporary)
from Brook, who wrote in his diary that tribes were very friendly and
seemed anxious to help him, and was killed on the day following--the
truth hard to gather--the recovery of his body, &c.
As he left the country the Nepaulese ambassador arrives, returning
from Pekin with large escort and bound for Lhassa: the ambassador
half demented: and Meares, who speaks many languages, is begged by
ambassador and escort to accompany the party. He is obliged to miss
this chance of a lifetime.
This is the meagrest outline of the tale which Meares adorned with a
hundred incidental facts--for instance, he told us of the Lolo trade
in green waxfly--the insect is propagated seasonally by thousands of
Chinese who subsist on the sale of the wax produced, but all insects
die between seasons. At the commencement of each season there is a
market to which the wild hill Lolos bring countless tiny bamboo boxes,
each containing a male and female insect, the breeding of which is
their share in the industry.
We are all adventurers here, I suppose, and wild doings in wild
countries appeal to us as nothing else could do. It is good to know
that there remain wild corners of this dreadfully civilised world.
We have had a bright fine day. This morning a balloon was sent up
without thread and with the flag device to which I have alluded. It
went slowly but steadily to the north and so over the Barne Glacier. It
was difficult to follow with glasses frequently clouding with the
breath, but we saw the instrument detached when the slow match burned
out. I'm afraid there is no doubt it fell on the glacier and there
is little hope of recovering it. We have now decided to use a thread
again, but to send the bobbin up with the balloon, so that it unwinds
from that end and there will be no friction where it touches the snow
This investigation of upper air conditions is proving a very difficult
matter, but we are not beaten yet.
_Wednesday, August_ 30.--Fine bright day. The thread of the balloon
sent up to-day broke very short off through some fault in the cage
holding the bobbin. By good luck the instrument was found in the
North Bay, and held a record.
This is the fifth record showing a constant inversion of temperature
for a few hundred feet and then a gradual fall, so that the temperature
of the surface is not reached again for 2000 or 3000 feet. The
establishment of this fact repays much of the trouble caused by
_Thursday, August_ 31.--Went round about the Domain and Ramp with
Wilson. We are now pretty well decided as to certain matters that
puzzled us at first. The Ramp is undoubtedly a moraine supported on
the decaying end of the glacier. A great deal of the underlying ice is
exposed, but we had doubts as to whether this ice was not the result
of winter drifting and summer thawing. We have a little difference of
opinion as to whether this morainic material has been brought down in
surface layers or pushed up from the bottom ice layers, as in Alpine
glaciers. There is no doubt that the glacier is retreating with
comparative rapidity, and this leads us to account for the various
ice slabs about the hut as remains of the glacier, but a puzzling
fact confronts this proposition in the discovery of penguin feathers
in the lower strata of ice in both ice caves. The shifting of levels
in the morainic material would account for the drying up of some
lakes and the terrace formations in others, whilst curious trenches
in the ground are obviously due to cracks in the ice beneath. We are
now quite convinced that the queer cones on the Ramp are merely the
result of the weathering of big blocks of agglomerate. As weathering
results they appear unique. We have not yet a satisfactory explanation
of the broad roadway faults that traverse every small eminence in our
immediate region. They must originate from the unequal weathering of
lava flows, but it is difficult to imagine the process. The dip of the
lavas on our Cape corresponds with that of the lavas of Inaccessible
Island, and points to an eruptive centre to the south and not towards
Erebus. Here is food for reflection for the geologists.
The wind blew quite hard from the N.N.W. on Wednesday night, fell
calm in the day, and came from the S.E. with snow as we started to
return from our walk; there was a full blizzard by the time we reached
Preparations: The Spring Journey
_Friday, September_ 1.--A very windy night, dropping to gusts in
morning, preceding beautifully calm, bright day. If September holds
as good as August we shall not have cause of complaint. Meares and
Demetri started for Hut Point just before noon. The dogs were in fine
form. Demetri's team came over the hummocky tide crack at full gallop,
depositing the driver on the snow. Luckily some of us were standing
on the floe. I made a dash at the bow of the sledge as it dashed
past and happily landed on top; Atkinson grasped at the same object,
but fell, and was dragged merrily over the ice. The weight reduced
the pace, and others soon came up and stopped the team. Demetri was
very crestfallen. He is extremely active and it's the first time he's
There is no real reason for Meares' departure yet awhile, but he
chose to go and probably hopes to train the animals better when he
has them by themselves. As things are, this seems like throwing out
the advance guard for the summer campaign.
I have been working very hard at sledging figures with Bowers' able
assistance. The scheme develops itself in the light of these figures,
and I feel that our organisation will not be found wanting, yet there
is an immense amount of detail, and every arrangement has to be more
than usually elastic to admit of extreme possibilities of the full
success or complete failure of the motors.
I think our plan will carry us through without the motors (though
in that case nothing else must fail), and will take full advantage
of such help as the motors may give. Our spring travelling is to
be limited order. E. Evans, Gran, and Forde will go out to find and
re-mark 'Corner Camp.' Meares will then carry out as much fodder as
possible with the dogs. Simpson, Bowers, and I are going to stretch
our legs across to the Western Mountains. There is no choice but to
keep the rest at home to exercise the ponies. It's not going to be a
light task to keep all these frisky little beasts in order, as their
food is increased. To-day the change in masters has taken place:
by the new arrangement
Wilson takes Nobby
Cherry-Garrard takes Michael
Wright takes Chinaman
Atkinson takes Jehu.
The new comers seem very pleased with their animals, though they are
by no means the pick of the bunch.
_Sunday, September_ 3.--The weather still remains fine, the temperature
down in the minus thirties. All going well and everyone in splendid
spirits. Last night Bowers lectured on Polar clothing. He had worked
the subject up from our Polar library with critical and humorous
ability, and since his recent journey he must be considered as
entitled to an authoritative opinion of his own. The points in our
clothing problems are too technical and too frequently discussed
to need special notice at present, but as a result of a new study
of Arctic precedents it is satisfactory to find it becomes more and
more evident that our equipment is the best that has been devised for
the purpose, always excepting the possible alternative of skins for
spring journeys, an alternative we have no power to adopt. In spite
of this we are making minor improvements all the time.
_Sunday, September_ 10.--A whole week since the last entry in my
diary. I feel very negligent of duty, but my whole time has been
occupied in making detailed plans for the Southern journey. These are
finished at last, I am glad to say; every figure has been checked
by Bowers, who has been an enormous help to me. If the motors are
successful, we shall have no difficulty in getting to the Glacier,
and if they fail, we shall still get there with any ordinary degree of
good fortune. To work three units of four men from that point onwards
requires no small provision, but with the proper provision it should
take a good deal to stop the attainment of our object. I have tried to
take every reasonable possibility of misfortune into consideration,
and to so organise the parties as to be prepared to meet them. I
fear to be too sanguine, yet taking everything into consideration I
feel that our chances ought to be good. The animals are in splendid
form. Day by day the ponies get fitter as their exercise increases,
and the stronger, harder food toughens their muscles. They are
very different animals from those which we took south last year,
and with another month of training I feel there is not one of them
but will make light of the loads we shall ask them to draw. But we
cannot spare any of the ten, and so there must always be anxiety of
the disablement of one or more before their work is done.
E. R. Evans, Forde, and Gran left early on Saturday for Corner Camp. I
hope they will have no difficulty in finding it. Meares and Demetri
came back from Hut Point the same afternoon--the dogs are wonderfully
fit and strong, but Meares reports no seals up in the region, and as he
went to make seal pemmican, there was little object in his staying. I
leave him to come and go as he pleases, merely setting out the work
he has to do in the simplest form. I want him to take fourteen bags
of forage (130 lbs. each) to Corner Camp before the end of October
and to be ready to start for his supporting work soon after the pony
party--a light task for his healthy teams. Of hopeful signs for the
future none are more remarkable than the health and spirit of our
people. It would be impossible to imagine a more vigorous community,
and there does not seem to be a single weak spot in the twelve good
men and true who are chosen for the Southern advance. All are now
experienced sledge travellers, knit together with a bond of friendship
that has never been equalled under such circumstances. Thanks to
these people, and more especially to Bowers and Petty Officer Evans,
there is not a single detail of our equipment which is not arranged
with the utmost care and in accordance with the tests of experience.
It is good to have arrived at a point where one can run over facts
and figures again and again without detecting a flaw or foreseeing
I do not count on the motors--that is a strong point in our case--but
should they work well our earlier task of reaching the Glacier will
be made quite easy. Apart from such help I am anxious that these
machines should enjoy some measure of success and justify the time,
money, and thought which have been given to their construction. I
am still very confident of the possibility of motor traction, whilst
realising that reliance cannot be placed on it in its present untried
evolutionary state--it is satisfactory to add that my own view is the
most cautious one held in our party. Day is quite convinced he will go
a long way and is prepared to accept much heavier weights than I have
given him. Lashly's opinion is perhaps more doubtful, but on the whole
hopeful. Clissold is to make the fourth man of the motor party. I have
already mentioned his mechanical capabilities. He has had a great deal
of experience with motors, and Day is delighted to have his assistance.
We had two lectures last week--the first from Debenham dealing with
General Geology and having special reference to the structures of
our region. It cleared up a good many points in my mind concerning
the gneissic base rocks, the Beacon sand-stone, and the dolerite
intrusions. I think we shall be in a position to make fairly good
field observations when we reach the southern land.
The scientific people have taken keen interest in making their
lectures interesting, and the custom has grown of illustrating
them with lantern slides made from our own photographs, from books,
or from drawings of the lecturer. The custom adds to the interest
of the subject, but robs the reporter of notes. The second weekly
lecture was given by Ponting. His store of pictures seems unending
and has been an immense source of entertainment to us during the
winter. His lectures appeal to all and are fully attended. This time
we had pictures of the Great Wall and other stupendous monuments of
North China. Ponting always manages to work in detail concerning the
manners and customs of the peoples in the countries of his travels;
on Friday he told us of Chinese farms and industries, of hawking and
other sports, most curious of all, of the pretty amusement of flying
pigeons with aeolian whistling pipes attached to their tail feathers.
Ponting would have been a great asset to our party if only on account
of his lectures, but his value as pictorial recorder of events
becomes daily more apparent. No expedition has ever been illustrated
so extensively, and the only difficulty will be to select from the
countless subjects that have been recorded by his camera--and yet not
a single subject is treated with haste; the first picture is rarely
counted good enough, and in some cases five or six plates are exposed
before our very critical artist is satisfied.
This way of going to work would perhaps be more striking if it were not
common to all our workers here; a very demon of unrest seems to stir
them to effort and there is now not a single man who is not striving
his utmost to get good results in his own particular department.
It is a really satisfactory state of affairs all round. If the
Southern journey comes off, nothing, not even priority at the Pole,
can prevent the Expedition ranking as one of the most important that
ever entered the polar regions.
On Friday Cherry-Garrard produced the second volume of the S.P.T.--on
the whole an improvement on the first. Poor Cherry perspired over
the editorial, and it bears the signs of labour--the letterpress
otherwise is in the lighter strain: Taylor again the most important
contributor, but now at rather too great a length; Nelson has supplied
a very humorous trifle; the illustrations are quite delightful, the
highwater mark of Wilson's ability. The humour is local, of course,
but I've come to the conclusion that there can be no other form of
The weather has not been good of late, but not sufficiently bad to
interfere with exercise, &c.
_Thursday, September_ 14.--Another interregnum. I have been
exceedingly busy finishing up the Southern plans, getting instruction
in photographing, and preparing for our jaunt to the west. I held
forth on the 'Southern Plans' yesterday; everyone was enthusiastic,
and the feeling is general that our arrangements are calculated to
make the best of our resources. Although people have given a good
deal of thought to various branches of the subject, there was not a
suggestion offered for improvement. The scheme seems to have earned
full confidence: it remains to play the game out.
The last lectures of the season have been given. On Monday Nelson
gave us an interesting little resume of biological questions, tracing
the evolutionary development of forms from the simplest single-cell
To-night Wright tackled 'The Constitution of Matter' with the latest
ideas from the Cavendish Laboratory: it was a tough subject, yet one
carries away ideas of the trend of the work of the great physicists,
of the ends they achieve and the means they employ. Wright is inclined
to explain matter as velocity; Simpson claims to be with J.J. Thomson
in stressing the fact that gravity is not explained.
These lectures have been a real amusement and one would be sorry
enough that they should end, were it not for so good a reason.
I am determined to make some better show of our photographic work
on the Southern trip than has yet been accomplished--with Ponting
as a teacher it should be easy. He is prepared to take any pains
to ensure good results, not only with his own work but with that of
others--showing indeed what a very good chap he is.
To-day I have been trying a colour screen--it is an extraordinary
addition to one's powers.
To-morrow Bowers, Simpson, Petty Officer Evans, and I are off to
the west. I want to have another look at the Ferrar Glacier, to
measure the stakes put out by Wright last year, to bring my sledging
impressions up to date (one loses details of technique very easily),
and finally to see what we can do with our cameras. I haven't decided
how long we shall stay away or precisely where we shall go; such
vague arrangements have an attractive side.
We have had a fine week, but the temperature remains low in the
twenties, and to-day has dropped to -35 deg.. I shouldn't wonder if we
get a cold snap.
_Sunday, October_ 1.--Returned on Thursday from a remarkably
pleasant and instructive little spring journey, after an absence
of thirteen days from September 15. We covered 152 geographical
miles by sledging (175 statute miles) in 10 marching days. It took
us 2 1/2 days to reach Butter Point (28 1/2 miles geog.), carrying a
part of the Western Party stores which brought our load to 180 lbs. a
man. Everything very comfortable; double tent great asset. The 16th:
a most glorious day till 4 P.M., then cold southerly wind. We captured
many frost-bites. Surface only fairly good; a good many heaps of loose
snow which brought sledge up standing. There seems a good deal more
snow this side of the Strait; query, less wind.
Bowers insists on doing all camp work; he is a positive wonder. I
never met such a sledge traveller.
The sastrugi all across the strait have been across, the main S. by
E. and the other E.S.E., but these are a great study here; the hard
snow is striated with long wavy lines crossed with lighter wavy
lines. It gives a sort of herringbone effect.
After depositing this extra load we proceeded up the Ferrar Glacier;
curious low ice foot on left, no tide crack, sea ice very thinly
covered with snow. We are getting delightfully fit. Bowers treasure
all round, Evans much the same. Simpson learning fast. Find the camp
life suits me well except the turning out at night! three times last
night. We were trying nose nips and face guards, marching head to
wind all day.
We reached Cathedral Rocks on the 19th. Here we found the stakes placed
by Wright across the glacier, and spent the remainder of the day and
the whole of the 20th in plotting their position accurately. (Very
cold wind down glacier increasing. In spite of this Bowers wrestled
with theodolite. He is really wonderful. I have never seen anyone
who could go on so long with bare fingers. My own fingers went
every few moments.)We saw that there had been movement and roughly
measured it as about 30 feet. (The old Ferrar Glacier is more lively
than we thought.) After plotting the figures it turns out that the
movement varies from 24 to 32 feet at different stakes--this is 7 1/2
months. This is an extremely important observation, the first made on
the movement of the coastal glaciers; it is more than I expected to
find, but small enough to show that the idea of comparative stagnation
was correct. Bowers and I exposed a number of plates and films in
the glacier which have turned out very well, auguring well for the
management of the camera on the Southern journey.
On the 21st we came down the glacier and camped at the northern
end of the foot. (There appeared to be a storm in the Strait;
cumulus cloud over Erebus and the whalebacks. Very stormy look
over Lister occasionally and drift from peaks; but all smiling in
our Happy Valley. Evidently this is a very favoured spot.) From
thence we jogged up the coast on the following days, dipping into
New Harbour and climbing the moraine, taking angles and collecting
rock specimens. At Cape Bernacchi we found a quantity of pure quartz
_in situ_, and in it veins of copper ore. I got a specimen with two
or three large lumps of copper included. This is the first find of
minerals suggestive of the possibility of working.
The next day we sighted a long, low ice wall, and took it at first
for a long glacier tongue stretching seaward from the land. As we
approached we saw a dark mark on it. Suddenly it dawned on us that
the tongue was detached from the land, and we turned towards it half
recognising familiar features. As we got close we saw similarity to
our old Erebus Glacier Tongue, and finally caught sight of a flag
on it, and suddenly realised that it might be the piece broken off
our old Erebus Glacier Tongue. Sure enough it was; we camped near
the outer end, and climbing on to it soon found the depot of fodder
left by Campbell and the line of stakes planted to guide our ponies
in the autumn. So here firmly anchored was the huge piece broken
from the Glacier Tongue in March, a huge tract about 2 miles long,
which has turned through half a circle, so that the old western end
is now towards the east. Considering the many cracks in the ice mass
it is most astonishing that it should have remained intact throughout
its sea voyage.
At one time it was suggested that the hut should be placed on this
Tongue. What an adventurous voyage the occupants would have had! The
Tongue which was 5 miles south of C. Evans is now 40 miles W.N.W. of
From the Glacier Tongue we still pushed north. We reached Dunlop
Island on the 24th just before the fog descended on us, and got a
view along the stretch of coast to the north which turns at this point.
Dunlop Island has undoubtedly been under the sea. We found regular
terrace beaches with rounded waterworn stones all over it; its height
is 65 feet. After visiting the island it was easy for us to trace the
same terrace formation on the coast; in one place we found waterworn
stones over 100 feet above sea-level. Nearly all these stones are
erratic and, unlike ordinary beach pebbles, the under sides which
lie buried have remained angular.
Unlike the region of the Ferrar Glacier and New Harbour, the coast
to the north of C. Bernacchi runs on in a succession of rounded bays
fringed with low ice walls. At the headlands and in irregular spots
the gneissic base rock and portions of moraines lie exposed, offering
a succession of interesting spots for a visit in search of geological
specimens. Behind this fringe there is a long undulating plateau of
snow rounding down to the coast; behind this again are a succession
of mountain ranges with deep-cut valleys between. As far as we went,
these valleys seem to radiate from the region of the summit reached
at the head of the Ferrar Glacier.
As one approaches the coast, the 'tablecloth' of snow in the foreground
cuts off more and more of the inland peaks, and even at a distance
it is impossible to get a good view of the inland valleys. To explore
these over the ice cap is one of the objects of the Western Party.
So far, I never imagined a spring journey could be so pleasant.
On the afternoon of the 24th we turned back, and covering nearly
eleven miles, camped inside the Glacier Tongue. After noon on the
25th we made a direct course for C. Evans, and in the evening camped
well out in the Sound. Bowers got angles from our lunch camp and I
took a photographic panorama, which is a good deal over exposed.
We only got 2 1/2 miles on the 26th when a heavy blizzard descended
on us. We went on against it, the first time I have ever attempted
to march into a blizzard; it was quite possible, but progress very
slow owing to wind resistance. Decided to camp after we had done
two miles. Quite a job getting up the tent, but we managed to do so,
and get everything inside clear of snow with the help of much sweeping.
With care and extra fuel we have managed to get through the snowy part
of the blizzard with less accumulation of snow than I ever remember,
and so everywhere all round experience is helping us. It continued
to blow hard throughout the 27th, and the 28th proved the most
unpleasant day of the trip. We started facing a very keen, frostbiting
wind. Although this slowly increased in force, we pushed doggedly
on, halting now and again to bring our frozen features round. It
was 2 o'clock before we could find a decent site for a lunch camp
under a pressure ridge. The fatigue of the prolonged march told on
Simpson, whose whole face was frostbitten at one time--it is still
much blistered. It came on to drift as we sat in our tent, and again
we were weather-bound. At 3 the drift ceased, and we marched on,
wind as bad as ever; then I saw an ominous yellow fuzzy appearance
on the southern ridges of Erebus, and knew that another snowstorm
approached. Foolishly hoping it would pass us by I kept on until
Inaccessible Island was suddenly blotted out. Then we rushed for a
camp site, but the blizzard was on us. In the driving snow we found
it impossible to set up the inner tent, and were obliged to unbend
it. It was a long job getting the outer tent set, but thanks to Evans
and Bowers it was done at last. We had to risk frostbitten fingers and
hang on to the tent with all our energy: got it secured inch by inch,
and not such a bad speed all things considered. We had some cocoa and
waited. At 9 P.M. the snow drift again took off, and we were now so
snowed up, we decided to push on in spite of the wind.
We arrived in at 1.15 A.M., pretty well done. The wind never let
up for an instant; the temperature remained about -16 deg., and the 21
statute miles which we marched in the day must be remembered amongst
the most strenuous in my memory.
Except for the last few days, we enjoyed a degree of comfort which I
had not imagined impossible on a spring journey. The temperature was
not particularly high, at the mouth of the Ferrar it was -40 deg., and it
varied between -15 deg. and -40 deg. throughout. Of course this is much higher
than it would be on the Barrier, but it does not in itself promise much
comfort. The amelioration of such conditions we owe to experience. We
used one-third more than the summer allowance of fuel. This, with our
double tent, allowed a cosy hour after breakfast and supper in which
we could dry our socks, &c., and put them on in comfort. We shifted
our footgear immediately after the camp was pitched, and by this
means kept our feet glowingly warm throughout the night. Nearly all
the time we carried our sleeping-bags open on the sledges. Although
the sun does not appear to have much effect, I believe this device
is of great benefit even in the coldest weather--certainly by this
means our bags were kept much freer of moisture than they would have
been had they been rolled up in the daytime. The inner tent gets a
good deal of ice on it, and I don't see any easy way to prevent this.
The journey enables me to advise the Geological Party on their best
route to Granite Harbour: this is along the shore, where for the main
part the protection of a chain of grounded bergs has preserved the
ice from all pressure. Outside these, and occasionally reaching to
the headlands, there is a good deal of pressed up ice of this season,
together with the latest of the old broken pack. Travelling through
this is difficult, as we found on our return journey. Beyond this
belt we passed through irregular patches where the ice, freezing at
later intervals in the season, has been much screwed. The whole shows
the general tendency of the ice to pack along the coast.
The objects of our little journey were satisfactorily accomplished,
but the greatest source of pleasure to me is to realise that I have
such men as Bowers and P.O. Evans for the Southern journey. I do
not think that harder men or better sledge travellers ever took the
trail. Bowers is a little wonder. I realised all that he must have
done for the C. Crozier Party in their far severer experience.
In spite of the late hour of our return everyone was soon afoot, and
I learned the news at once. E.R. Evans, Gran, and Forde had returned
from the Corner Camp journey the day after we left. They were away six
nights, four spent on the Barrier under very severe conditions--the
minimum for one night registered -73 deg..
I am glad to find that Corner Camp showed up well; in fact, in more
than one place remains of last year's pony walls were seen. This
removes all anxiety as to the chance of finding the One Ton Camp.
On this journey Forde got his hand badly frostbitten. I am annoyed
at this, as it argues want of care; moreover there is a good chance
that the tip of one of the fingers will be lost, and if this happens
or if the hand is slow in recovery, Forde cannot take part in the
Western Party. I have no one to replace him.
E.R. Evans looks remarkably well, as also Gran.
The ponies look very well and all are reported to be very buckish.
_Wednesday, October_ 3.--We have had a very bad weather spell. Friday,
the day after we returned, was gloriously fine--it might have been
a December day, and an inexperienced visitor might have wondered why
on earth we had not started to the South, Saturday supplied a reason;
the wind blew cold and cheerless; on Sunday it grew worse, with very
thick snow, which continued to fall and drift throughout the whole
of Monday. The hut is more drifted up than it has ever been, huge
piles of snow behind every heap of boxes, &c., all our paths a foot
higher; yet in spite of this the rocks are rather freer of snow. This
is due to melting, which is now quite considerable. Wilson tells me
the first signs of thaw were seen on the 17th.
Yesterday the weather gradually improved, and to-day has been fine and
warm again. One fine day in eight is the record immediately previous
to this morning.
E.R. Evans, Debenham, and Gran set off to the Turk's Head on Friday
morning, Evans to take angles and Debenham to geologise; they have been
in their tent pretty well all the time since, but have managed to get
through some work. Gran returned last night for more provisions and set
off again this morning, Taylor going with him for the day. Debenham has
just returned for food. He is immensely pleased at having discovered a
huge slicken-sided fault in the lavas of the Turk's Head. This appears
to be an unusual occurrence in volcanic rocks, and argues that they
are of considerable age. He has taken a heap of photographs and is
greatly pleased with all his geological observations. He is building
up much evidence to show volcanic disturbance independent of Erebus
and perhaps prior to its first upheaval.
Meares has been at Hut Point for more than a week; seals seem to be
plentiful there now. Demetri was back with letters on Friday and left
on Sunday. He is an excellent boy, full of intelligence.
Ponting has been doing some wonderfully fine cinematograph work. My
incursion into photography has brought me in close touch with him
and I realise what a very good fellow he is; no pains are too great
for him to take to help and instruct others, whilst his enthusiasm
for his own work is unlimited.
His results are wonderfully good, and if he is able to carry out the
whole of his programme, we shall have a cinematograph and photographic
record which will be absolutely new in expeditionary work.
A very serious bit of news to-day. Atkinson says that Jehu is still too
weak to pull a load. The pony was bad on the ship and almost died after
swimming ashore from the ship--he was one of the ponies returned by
Campbell. He has been improving the whole of the winter and Oates has
been surprised at the apparent recovery; he looks well and feeds well,
though a very weedily built animal compared with the others. I had
not expected him to last long, but it will be a bad blow if he fails
at the start. I'm afraid there is much pony trouble in store for us.
Oates is having great trouble with Christopher, who didn't at all
appreciate being harnessed on Sunday, and again to-day he broke away
and galloped off over the floe.
On such occasions Oates trudges manfully after him, rounds him up to
within a few hundred yards of the stable and approaches cautiously;
the animal looks at him for a minute or two and canters off over the
floe again. When Christopher and indeed both of them have had enough
of the game, the pony calmly stops at the stable door. If not too
late he is then put into the sledge, but this can only be done by
tying up one of his forelegs; when harnessed and after he has hopped
along on three legs for a few paces, he is again allowed to use the
fourth. He is going to be a trial, but he is a good strong pony and
should do yeoman service.
Day is increasingly hopeful about the motors. He is an ingenious person
and has been turning up new rollers out of a baulk of oak supplied by
Meares, and with Simpson's small motor as a lathe. The motors _may_
save the situation. I have been busy drawing up instructions and
making arrangements for the ship, shore station, and sledge parties
in the coming season. There is still much work to be done and much,
far too much, writing before me.
Time simply flies and the sun steadily climbs the heavens. Breakfast,
lunch, and supper are now all enjoyed by sunlight, whilst the night
is no longer dark.
Notes at End of Volume
'When they after their headstrong manner, conclude that it is
their duty to rush on their journey all weathers; ... '--'Pilgrim's
'Has any grasped the low grey mist which stands
Ghostlike at eve above the sheeted lands.'
A bad attack of integrity!!
'Who is man and what his place,
Anxious asks the heart perplext,
In the recklessness of space,
Worlds with worlds thus intermixt,
What has he, this atom creature,
In the infinitude of nature?'
It is a good lesson--though it may be a hard one--for a man who
had dreamed of a special (literary) fame and of making for himself
a rank among the world's dignitaries by such means, to slip aside
out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognised, and to
find how utterly devoid of significance beyond that circle is all he
achieves and all he aims at.
He might fail from want of skill or strength, but deep in his sombre
soul he vowed that it should never be from want of heart.
'Every durable bond between human beings is founded in or heightened
by some element of competition.'--R.L. STEVENSON.
'All natural talk is a festival of ostentation.'--R.L. STEVENSON.
'No human being ever spoke of scenery for two minutes together,
which makes me suspect we have too much of it in literature. The
weather is regarded as the very nadir and scoff of conversational
The Last Weeks at Cape Evans
_Friday, October_ 6.--With the rise of temperature there has been
a slight thaw in the hut; the drips come down the walls and one has
found my diary, as its pages show. The drips are already decreasing,
and if they represent the whole accumulation of winter moisture it
is extraordinarily little, and speaks highly for the design of the
hut. There cannot be very much more or the stains would be more
Yesterday I had a good look at Jehu and became convinced that he
is useless; he is much too weak to pull a load, and three weeks
can make no difference. It is necessary to face the facts and I've
decided to leave him behind--we must do with nine ponies. Chinaman is
rather a doubtful quantity and James Pigg is not a tower of strength,
but the other seven are in fine form and must bear the brunt of the
If we suffer more loss we shall depend on the motor, and
then! ... well, one must face the bad as well as the good.
It is some comfort to know that six of the animals at least are in
splendid condition--Victor, Snippets, Christopher, Nobby, Bones are
as fit as ponies could well be and are naturally strong, well-shaped
beasts, whilst little Michael, though not so shapely, is as strong
as he will ever be.
To-day Wilson, Oates, Cherry-Garrard, and Crean have gone to Hut
Point with their ponies, Oates getting off with Christopher after
some difficulty. At 5 o'clock the Hut Point telephone bell suddenly
rang (the line was laid by Meares some time ago, but hitherto there
has been no communication). In a minute or two we heard a voice, and
behold! communication was established. I had quite a talk with Meares
and afterwards with Oates. Not a very wonderful fact, perhaps, but it
seems wonderful in this primitive land to be talking to one's fellow
beings 15 miles away. Oates told me that the ponies had arrived in
fine order, Christopher a little done, but carrying the heaviest load.
If we can keep the telephone going it will be a great boon, especially
to Meares later in the season.
The weather is extraordinarily unsettled; the last two days have been
fairly fine, but every now and again we get a burst of wind with drift,
and to-night it is overcast and very gloomy in appearance.
The photography craze is in full swing. Ponting's mastery is ever
more impressive, and his pupils improve day by day; nearly all of
us have produced good negatives. Debenham and Wright are the most
promising, but Taylor, Bowers and I are also getting the hang of the
_Saturday, October_ 7.--As though to contradict the suggestion
of incompetence, friend 'Jehu' pulled with a will this morning--he
covered 3 1/2 miles without a stop, the surface being much worse than
it was two days ago. He was not at all distressed when he stopped. If
he goes on like this he comes into practical politics again, and
I am arranging to give 10-feet sledges to him and Chinaman instead
of 12-feet. Probably they will not do much, but if they go on as at
present we shall get something out of them.
Long and cheerful conversations with Hut Point and of course an
opportunity for the exchange of witticisms. We are told it was blowing
and drifting at Hut Point last night, whereas here it was calm and
snowing; the wind only reached us this afternoon.
_Sunday, October_ 8.--A very beautiful day. Everyone out and about
after Service, all ponies going well. Went to Pressure Ridge with
Ponting and took a number of photographs.
So far good, but the afternoon has brought much worry. About five
a telephone message from Nelson's igloo reported that Clissold had
fallen from a berg and hurt his back. Bowers organised a sledge
party in three minutes, and fortunately Atkinson was on the spot and
able to join it. I posted out over the land and found Ponting much
distressed and Clissold practically insensible. At this moment the
Hut Point ponies were approaching and I ran over to intercept one
in case of necessity. But the man# party was on the spot first, and
after putting the patient in a sleeping-bag, quickly brought him home
to the hut. It appears that Clissold was acting as Ponting's 'model'
and that the two had been climbing about the berg to get pictures. As
far as I can make out Ponting did his best to keep Clissold in safety
by lending him his crampons and ice axe, but the latter seems to have
missed his footing after one of his 'poses'; he slid over a rounded
surface of ice for some 12 feet, then dropped 6 feet on to a sharp
angle in the wall of the berg.
He must have struck his back and head; the latter is contused and he
is certainly suffering from slight concussion. He complained of his
back before he grew unconscious and groaned a good deal when moved in
the hut. He came to about an hour after getting to the hut, and was
evidently in a good deal of pain; neither Atkinson nor Wilson thinks
there is anything very serious, but he has not yet been properly
examined and has had a fearful shock at the least. I still feel very
anxious. To-night Atkinson has injected morphia and will watch by
Troubles rarely come singly, and it occurred to me after Clissold had
been brought in that Taylor, who had been bicycling to the Turk's Head,
was overdue. We were relieved to hear that with glasses two figures
could be seen approaching in South Bay, but at supper Wright appeared
very hot and said that Taylor was exhausted in South Bay--he wanted
brandy and hot drink. I thought it best to despatch another relief
party, but before they were well round the point Taylor was seen
coming over the land. He was fearfully done. He must have pressed on
towards his objective long after his reason should have warned him
that it was time to turn; with this and a good deal of anxiety about
Clissold, the day terminates very unpleasantly.
_Tuesday, October_ 10.--Still anxious about Clissold. He has passed
two fairly good nights but is barely able to move. He is unnaturally
irritable, but I am told this is a symptom of concussion. This morning
he asked for food, which is a good sign, and he was anxious to know
if his sledging gear was being got ready. In order not to disappoint
him he was assured that all would be ready, but there is scarce a
slender chance that he can fill his place in the programme.
Meares came from Hut Point yesterday at the front end of a
blizzard. Half an hour after his arrival it was as thick as a hedge. He
reports another loss--Deek, one of the best pulling dogs, developed
the same symptoms which have so unaccountably robbed us before, spent
a night in pain, and died in the morning. Wilson thinks the cause is a
worm which gets into the blood and thence to the brain. It is trying,
but I am past despondency. Things must take their course.
Forde's fingers improve, but not very rapidly; it is hard to have
two sick men after all the care which has been taken.
The weather is very poor--I had hoped for better things this month. So
far we have had more days with wind and drift than without. It
interferes badly with the ponies' exercise.
_Friday, October_ 13.--The past three days have seen a marked
improvement in both our invalids. Clissold's inside has been got into
working order after a good deal of difficulty; he improves rapidly
in spirits as well as towards immunity from pain. The fiction of
his preparation to join the motor sledge party is still kept up, but
Atkinson says there is not the smallest chance of his being ready. I
shall have to be satisfied if he practically recovers by the time we
leave with the ponies.
Forde's hand took a turn for the better two days ago and he maintains
this progress. Atkinson thinks he will be ready to start in ten days'
time, but the hand must be carefully nursed till the weather becomes
The weather has continued bad till to-day, which has been perfectly
beautiful. A fine warm sun all day--so warm that one could sit about
outside in the afternoon, and photographic work was a real pleasure.
The ponies have been behaving well, with exceptions. Victor is now
quite easy to manage, thanks to Bowers' patience. Chinaman goes along
very steadily and is not going to be the crock we expected. He has
a slow pace which may be troublesome, but when the weather is fine
that won't matter if he can get along steadily.
The most troublesome animal is Christopher. He is only a source of
amusement as long as there is no accident, but I am always a little
anxious that he will kick or bite someone. The curious thing is that
he is quiet enough to handle for walking or riding exercise or in the
stable, but as soon as a sledge comes into the programme he is seized
with a very demon of viciousness, and bites and kicks with every intent
to do injury. It seems to be getting harder rather than easier to get
him into the traces; the last two turns, he has had to be thrown,
as he is unmanageable even on three legs. Oates, Bowers, and Anton
gather round the beast and lash up one foreleg, then with his head
held on both sides Oates gathers back the traces; quick as lightning
the little beast flashes round with heels flying aloft. This goes on
till some degree of exhaustion gives the men a better chance. But,
as I have mentioned, during the last two days the period has been so
prolonged that Oates has had to hasten matters by tying a short line
to the other foreleg and throwing the beast when he lashes out. Even
when on his knees he continues to struggle, and one of those nimble
hind legs may fly out at any time. Once in the sledge and started on
three legs all is well and the fourth leg can be released. At least,
all has been well until to-day, when quite a comedy was enacted. He
was going along quietly with Oates when a dog frightened him: he
flung up his head, twitched the rope out of Oates' hands and dashed
away. It was not a question of blind fright, as immediately after
gaining freedom he set about most systematically to get rid of his
load. At first he gave sudden twists, and in this manner succeeded
in dislodging two bales of hay; then he caught sight of other sledges
and dashed for them. They could scarcely get out of his way in time;
the fell intention was evident all through, to dash his load against
some other pony and sledge and so free himself of it. He ran for Bowers
two or three times with this design, then made for Keohane, never going
off far and dashing inward with teeth bared and heels flying all over
the place. By this time people were gathering round, and first one and
then another succeeded in clambering on to the sledge as it flew by,
till Oates, Bowers, Nelson, and Atkinson were all sitting on it. He
tried to rid himself of this human burden as he had of the hay bales,
and succeeded in dislodging Atkinson with violence, but the remainder
dug their heels into the snow and finally the little brute was tired
out. Even then he tried to savage anyone approaching his leading line,
and it was some time before Oates could get hold of it. Such is the
tale of Christopher. I am exceedingly glad there are not other ponies
like him. These capers promise trouble, but I think a little soft
snow on the Barrier may effectually cure them.
E.R. Evans and Gran return to-night. We received notice of their
departure from Hut Point through the telephone, which also informed
us that Meares had departed for his first trip to Corner Camp. Evans
says he carried eight bags of forage and that the dogs went away at
a great pace.
In spite of the weather Evans has managed to complete his survey
to Hut Point. He has evidently been very careful with it and has
therefore done a very useful bit of work.
_Sunday, October_ 15.--Both of our invalids progress
favourably. Clissold has had two good nights without the aid of drugs
and has recovered his good spirits; pains have departed from his back.
The weather is very decidedly warmer and for the past three days
has been fine. The thermometer stands but a degree or two below zero
and the air feels delightfully mild. Everything of importance is now
ready for our start and the ponies improve daily.
Clissold's work of cooking has fallen on Hooper and Lashly, and it
is satisfactory to find that the various dishes and bread bakings
maintain their excellence. It is splendid to have people who refuse
to recognise difficulties.
_Tuesday, October_ 17.--Things not going very well; with ponies
all pretty well. Animals are improving in form rapidly, even Jehu,
though I have ceased to count on that animal. To-night the motors
were to be taken on to the floe. The drifts make the road very
uneven, and the first and best motor overrode its chain; the chain
was replaced and the machine proceeded, but just short of the floe
was thrust to a steep inclination by a ridge, and the chain again
overrode the sprockets; this time by ill fortune Day slipped at the
critical moment and without intention jammed the throttle full on. The
engine brought up, but there was an ominous trickle of oil under the
back axle, and investigation showed that the axle casing (aluminium)
had split. The casing has been stripped and brought into the hut;
we may be able to do something to it, but time presses. It all goes
to show that we want more experience and workshops.
I am secretly convinced that we shall not get much help from the
motors, yet nothing has ever happened to them that was unavoidable. A
little more care and foresight would make them splendid allies. The
trouble is that if they fail, no one will ever believe this.
Meares got back from Corner Camp at 8 A.M. Sunday morning--he got
through on the telephone to report in the afternoon. He must have
made the pace, which is promising for the dogs. Sixty geographical
miles in two days and a night is good going--about as good as can be.
I have had to tell Clissold that he cannot go out with the Motor Party,
to his great disappointment. He improves very steadily, however, and
I trust will be fit before we leave with the ponies. Hooper replaces
him with the motors. I am kept very busy writing and preparing details.
We have had two days of northerly wind, a very unusual occurrence;
yesterday it was blowing S.E., force 8, temp. -16 deg., whilst here
the wind was north, force 4, temp. -6 deg.. This continued for some
hours--a curious meteorological combination. We are pretty certain
of a southerly blizzard to follow, I should think.
_Wednesday, October_ 18.--The southerly blizzard has burst on us. The
air is thick with snow.
A close investigation of the motor axle case shows that repair is
possible. It looks as though a good strong job could be made of
it. Yesterday Taylor and Debenham went to Cape Royds with the object
of staying a night or two.
_Sunday, October_ 22.--The motor axle case was completed by Thursday
morning, and, as far as one can see, Day made a very excellent job
of it. Since that the Motor Party has been steadily preparing for
its departure. To-day everything is ready. The loads are ranged on
the sea ice, the motors are having a trial run, and, all remaining
well with the weather, the party will get away to-morrow.
Meares and Demetri came down on Thursday through the last of the
blizzard. At one time they were running without sight of the leading
dogs--they did not see Tent Island at all, but burst into sunshine
and comparative calm a mile from the station. Another of the best of
the dogs, 'Czigane,' was smitten with the unaccountable sickness;
he was given laxative medicine and appears to be a little better,
but we are still anxious. If he really has the disease, whatever it
may be, the rally is probably only temporary and the end will be swift.
The teams left on Friday afternoon, Czigane included; to-day Meares
telephones that he is setting out for his second journey to Corner
Camp without him. On the whole the weather continues wretchedly bad;
the ponies could not be exercised either on Thursday or Friday; they
were very fresh yesterday and to-day in consequence. When unexercised,
their allowance of oats has to be cut down. This is annoying, as
just at present they ought to be doing a moderate amount of work and
getting into condition on full rations.
The temperature is up to zero about; this probably means about -20 deg.
on the Barrier. I wonder how the motors will face the drop if and when
they encounter it. Day and Lashly are both hopeful of the machines,
and they really ought to do something after all the trouble that has
The wretched state of the weather has prevented the transport of
emergency stores to Hut Point. These stores are for the returning
depots and to provision the _Discovery_ hut in case the _Terra Nova_
does not arrive. The most important stores have been taken to the
Glacier Tongue by the ponies to-day.
In the transport department, in spite of all the care I have taken to
make the details of my plan clear by lucid explanation, I find that
Bowers is the only man on whom I can thoroughly rely to carry out the
work without mistake, with its arrays of figures. For the practical
consistent work of pony training Oates is especially capable, and
his heart is very much in the business.
'_October,_ 1911.--I don't know what to think of Amundsen's chances. If
he gets to the Pole, it must be before we do, as he is bound to travel
fast with dogs and pretty certain to start early. On this account
I decided at a very early date to act exactly as I should have done
had he not existed. Any attempt to race must have wrecked my plan,
besides which it doesn't appear the sort of thing one is out for.
'Possibly you will have heard something before this reaches
you. Oh! and there are all sorts of possibilities. In any case you can
rely on my not doing or saying anything foolish--only I'm afraid you
must be prepared for the chance of finding our venture much belittled.
'After all, it is the work that counts, not the applause that follows.
'Words must always fail me when I talk of Bill Wilson. I believe he
really is the finest character I ever met--the closer one gets to him
the more there is to admire. Every quality is so solid and dependable;
cannot you imagine how that counts down here? Whatever the matter,
one knows Bill will be sound, shrewdly practical, intensely loyal
and quite unselfish. Add to this a wider knowledge of persons and
things than is at first guessable, a quiet vein of humour and really
consummate tact, and you have some idea of his values. I think he is
the most popular member of the party, and that is saying much.
'Bowers is all and more than I ever expected of him. He is a positive
treasure, absolutely trustworthy and prodigiously energetic. He
is about the hardest man amongst us, and that is saying a good
deal--nothing seems to hurt his tough little body and certainly
no hardship daunts his spirit. I shall have a hundred little
tales to tell you of his indefatigable zeal, his unselfishness,
and his inextinguishable good humour. He surprises always, for his
intelligence is of quite a high order and his memory for details most
exceptional. You can imagine him, as he is, an indispensable assistant
to me in every detail concerning the management and organisation of
our sledging work and a delightful companion on the march.
'One of the greatest successes is Wright. He is very thorough and
absolutely ready for anything. Like Bowers he has taken to sledging
like a duck to water, and although he hasn't had such severe testing,
I believe he would stand it pretty nearly as well. Nothing ever seems
to worry him, and I can't imagine he ever complained of anything in
'I don't think I will give such long descriptions of the others,
though most of them deserve equally high praise. Taken all round
they are a perfectly excellent lot.'
The Soldier is very popular with all--a delightfully humorous cheery
old pessimist--striving with the ponies night and day and bringing
woeful accounts of their small ailments into the hut.
X.... has a positive passion for helping others--it is extraordinary
what pains he will take to do a kind thing unobtrusively.
'One sees the need of having one's heart in one's work. Results can
only be got down here by a man desperately eager to get them.
'Y.... works hard at his own work, taking extraordinary pains with it,
but with an astonishing lack of initiative he makes not the smallest
effort to grasp the work of others; it is a sort of character which
plants itself in a corner and will stop there.
'The men are equally fine. Edgar Evans has proved a useful member
of our party; he looks after our sledges and sledge equipment with
a care of management and a fertility of resource which is truly
astonishing--on 'trek' he is just as sound and hard as ever and has
an inexhaustible store of anecdote.
'Crean is perfectly happy, ready to do anything and go anywhere, the
harder the work, the better. Evans and Crean are great friends. Lashly
is his old self in every respect, hard working to the limit, quiet,
abstemious, and determined. You see altogether I have a good set of
people with me, and it will go hard if we don't achieve something.
'The study of individual character is a pleasant pastime in such
a mixed community of thoroughly nice people, and the study of
relationships and interactions is fascinating--men of the most
diverse upbringings and experience are really pals with one another,
and the subjects which would be delicate ground of discussion between
acquaintances are just those which are most freely used for jests. For
instance the Soldier is never tired of girding at Australia, its
people and institutions, and the Australians retaliate by attacking
the hide-bound prejudices of the British army. I have never seen a
temper lost in these discussions. So as I sit here I am very satisfied
with these things. I think that it would have been difficult to
better the organisation of the party--every man has his work and is
especially adapted for it; there is no gap and no overlap--it is all
that I desired, and the same might be said of the men selected to do
It promised to be very fine to-day, but the wind has already sprung
up and clouds are gathering again. There was a very beautiful curved
'banner' cloud south of Erebus this morning, perhaps a warning of
what is to come.
Another accident! At one o'clock 'Snatcher,' one of the three ponies
laying the depot, arrived with single trace and dangling sledge in a
welter of sweat. Forty minutes after P.O. Evans, his driver, came in
almost as hot; simultaneously Wilson arrived with Nobby and a tale of
events not complete. He said that after the loads were removed Bowers
had been holding the three ponies, who appeared to be quiet; suddenly
one had tossed his head and all three had stampeded--Snatcher making
for home, Nobby for the Western Mountains, Victor, with Bowers still
hanging to him, in an indefinite direction. Running for two miles,
he eventually rounded up Nobby west of Tent Island and brought him
in._20_ Half an hour after Wilson's return, Bowers came in with Victor
distressed, bleeding at the nose, from which a considerable fragment
hung semi-detached. Bowers himself was covered with blood and supplied
the missing link--the cause of the incident. It appears that the
ponies were fairly quiet when Victor tossed his head and caught his
nostril in the trace hook on the hame of Snatcher's harness. The hook
tore skin and flesh and of course the animal got out of hand. Bowers
hung to him, but couldn't possibly keep hold of the other two as
well. Victor had bled a good deal, and the blood congealing on the
detached skin not only gave the wound a dismal appearance but greatly
increased its irritation. I don't know how Bowers managed to hang
on to the frightened animal; I don't believe anyone else would have
done so. On the way back the dangling weight on the poor creature's
nose would get on the swing and make him increasingly restive; it
was necessary to stop him repeatedly. Since his return the piece of
skin has been snipped off and proves the wound not so serious as
it looked. The animal is still trembling, but quite on his feed,
which is a good sign. I don't know why our Sundays should always
bring these excitements.
Two lessons arise. Firstly, however quiet the animals appear, they
must not be left by their drivers; no chance must be taken; secondly,
the hooks on the hames of the harness must be altered in shape.
I suppose such incidents as this were to be expected, one cannot have
ponies very fresh and vigorous and expect them to behave like lambs,
but I shall be glad when we are off and can know more definitely what
resources we can count on.
Another trying incident has occurred. We have avoided football this
season especially to keep clear of accidents, but on Friday afternoon
a match was got up for the cinematograph and Debenham developed a
football knee (an old hurt, I have since learnt, or he should not
have played). Wilson thinks it will be a week before he is fit to
travel, so here we have the Western Party on our hands and wasting
the precious hours for that period. The only single compensation
is that it gives Forde's hand a better chance. If this waiting were
to continue it looks as though we should become a regular party of
'crocks.' Clissold was out of the hut for the first time to-day;
he is better but still suffers in his back.
The Start of the Motor Sledges
_Tuesday, October_ 24.--Two fine days for a wonder. Yesterday the
motors seemed ready to start and we all went out on the floe to give
them a 'send off.' But the inevitable little defects cropped up,
and the machines only got as far as the Cape. A change made by Day
in the exhaust arrangements had neglected the heating jackets of the
carburetters; one float valve was bent and one clutch troublesome. Day
and Lashly spent the afternoon making good these defects in a
This morning the engines were set going again, and shortly after 10
A.M. a fresh start was made. At first there were a good many stops,
but on the whole the engines seemed to be improving all the time. They
are not by any means working up to full power yet, and so the pace
is very slow. The weights seem to me a good deal heavier than we
bargained for. Day sets his motor going, climbs off the car, and walks
alongside with an occasional finger on the throttle. Lashly hasn't
yet quite got hold of the nice adjustments of his control levers,
but I hope will have done so after a day's practice.
The only alarming incident was the slipping of the chains when Day
tried to start on some ice very thinly covered with snow. The starting
effort on such heavily laden sledges is very heavy, but I thought
the grip of the pattens and studs would have been good enough on any
surface. Looking at the place afterwards I found that the studs had
grooved the ice.
Now as I write at 12.30 the machines are about a mile out in the
South Bay; both can be seen still under weigh, progressing steadily
I find myself immensely eager that these tractors should succeed,
even though they may not be of great help to our southern advance. A
small measure of success will be enough to show their possibilities,
their ability to revolutionise Polar transport. Seeing the machines at
work to-day, and remembering that every defect so far shown is purely
mechanical, it is impossible not to be convinced of their value. But
the trifling mechanical defects and lack of experience show the risk
of cutting out trials. A season of experiment with a small workshop
at hand may be all that stands between success and failure.
At any rate before we start we shall certainly know if the worst has
happened, or if some measure of success attends this unique effort.
The ponies are in fine form. Victor, practically recovered from his
wound, has been rushing round with a sledge at a great rate. Even Jehu
has been buckish, kicking up his heels and gambolling awkwardly. The
invalids progress, Clissold a little alarmed about his back, but
Atkinson and Keohane have turned cooks, and do the job splendidly.
This morning Meares announced his return from Corner Camp, so that all
stores are now out there. The run occupied the same time as the first,
when the routine was: first day 17 miles out; second day 13 out, and 13
home; early third day run in. If only one could trust the dogs to keep
going like this it would be splendid. On the whole things look hopeful.
1 P.M. motors reported off Razor Back Island, nearly 3 miles out--come,
_Thursday, October_ 26.--Couldn't see the motors yesterday till I
walked well out on the South Bay, when I discovered them with glasses
off the Glacier Tongue. There had been a strong wind in the forenoon,
but it seemed to me they ought to have got further--annoyingly
the telephone gave no news from Hut Point, evidently something was
wrong. After dinner Simpson and Gran started for Hut Point.
This morning Simpson has just rung up. He says the motors are in
difficulties with the surface. The trouble is just that which I
noted as alarming on Monday--the chains slip on the very light snow
covering of hard ice. The engines are working well, and all goes well
when the machines get on to snow.
I have organised a party of eight men including myself, and we are
just off to see what can be done to help.
_Friday, October_ 27.--We were away by 10.30 yesterday. Walked to the
Glacier Tongue with gloomy forebodings; but for one gust a beautifully
bright inspiriting day. Seals were about and were frequently mistaken
for the motors. As we approached the Glacier Tongue, however, and
became more alive to such mistakes, we realised that the motors were
not in sight. At first I thought they must have sought better surface
on the other side of the Tongue, but this theory was soon demolished
and we were puzzled to know what had happened. At length walking
onward they were descried far away over the floe towards Hut Point;
soon after we saw good firm tracks over a snow surface, a pleasant
change from the double tracks and slipper places we had seen on the
bare ice. Our spirits went up at once, for it was not only evident
that the machines were going, but that they were negotiating a very
rough surface without difficulty. We marched on and overtook them
about 2 1/2 miles from Hut Point, passing Simpson and Gran returning
to Cape Evans. From the motors we learnt that things were going
pretty well. The engines were working well when once in tune, but
the cylinders, especially the two after ones, tended to get too hot,
whilst the fan or wind playing on the carburetter tended to make it
too cold. The trouble was to get a balance between the two, and this
is effected by starting up the engines, then stopping and covering
them and allowing the heat to spread by conductivity--of course,
a rather clumsy device. We camped ahead of the motors as they camped
for lunch. Directly after, Lashly brought his machine along on low
gear and without difficulty ran it on to Cape Armitage. Meanwhile
Day was having trouble with some bad surface; we had offered help and
been refused, and with Evans alone his difficulties grew, whilst the
wind sprang up and the snow started to drift. We had walked into the
hut and found Meares, but now we all came out again. I sent for Lashly
and Hooper and went back to help Day along. We had exasperating delays
and false starts for an hour and then suddenly the machine tuned up,
and off she went faster than one could walk, reaching Cape Armitage
without further hitch. It was blizzing by this time; the snow flew
by. We all went back to the hut; Meares and Demetri have been busy,
the hut is tidy and comfortable and a splendid brick fireplace had
just been built with a brand new stove-pipe leading from it directly
upward through the roof. This is really a most creditable bit of
work. Instead of the ramshackle temporary structures of last season
we have now a solid permanent fireplace which should last for many
a year. We spent a most comfortable night.
This morning we were away over the floe about 9 A.M. I was anxious to
see how the motors started up and agreeably surprised to find that
neither driver took more than 20 to 30 minutes to get his machine
going, in spite of the difficulties of working a blow lamp in a keen
Lashly got away very soon, made a short run of about 1/2 mile,
and then after a short halt to cool, a long non-stop for quite 3
miles. The Barrier, five geographical miles from Cape Armitage, now
looked very close, but Lashly had overdone matters a bit, run out of
lubricant and got his engine too hot. The next run yielded a little
over a mile, and he was forced to stop within a few hundred yards of
the snow slope leading to the Barrier and wait for more lubricant,
as well as for the heat balance in his engine to be restored.
This motor was going on second gear, and this gives a nice easy
walking speed, 2 1/2 to 3 miles an hour; it would be a splendid rate
of progress if it was not necessary to halt for cooling. This is the
old motor which was used in Norway; the other machine has modified
Meanwhile Day had had the usual balancing trouble and had dropped to
a speck, but towards the end of our second run it was evident he had
overcome these and was coming along at a fine speed. One soon saw that
the men beside the sledges were running. To make a long story short,
he stopped to hand over lubricating oil, started at a gallop again,
and dashed up the slope without a hitch on his top speed--the first
man to run a motor on the Great Barrier! There was great cheering
from all assembled, but the motor party was not wasting time on
jubilation. On dashed the motor, and it and the running men beside
it soon grew small in the distance. We went back to help Lashly,
who had restarted his engine. If not so dashingly, on account of his
slower speed, he also now took the slope without hitch and got a last
handshake as he clattered forward. His engine was not working so well
as the other, but I think mainly owing to the first overheating and
a want of adjustment resulting therefrom.
Thus the motors left us, travelling on the best surface they have yet
encountered--hard windswept snow without sastrugi--a surface which
Meares reports to extend to Corner Camp at least.
Providing there is no serious accident, the engine troubles will
gradually be got over; of that I feel pretty confident. Every day
will see improvement as it has done to date, every day the men will
get greater confidence with larger experience of the machines and the
conditions. But it is not easy to foretell the extent of the result of
older and earlier troubles with the rollers. The new rollers turned
up by Day are already splitting, and one of Lashly's chains is in a
bad way; it may be possible to make temporary repairs good enough to
cope with the improved surface, but it seems probable that Lashly's
car will not get very far.
It is already evident that had the rollers been metal cased and the
runners metal covered, they would now be as good as new. I cannot
think why we had not the sense to have this done. As things are I
am satisfied we have the right men to deal with the difficulties of
The motor programme is not of vital importance to our plan and it
is possible the machines will do little to help us, but already they
have vindicated themselves. Even the seamen, who have remained very
sceptical of them, have been profoundly impressed. Evans said, 'Lord,
sir, I reckon if them things can go on like that you wouldn't want
nothing else'--but like everything else of a novel nature, it is the
actual sight of them at work that is impressive, and nothing short
of a hundred miles over the Barrier will carry conviction to outsiders.
Parting with the motors, we made haste back to Hut Point and had
tea there. My feet had got very sore with the unaccustomed soft
foot-gear and crinkly surface, but we decided to get back to Cape
Evans. We came along in splendid weather, and after stopping for a
cup of tea at Razor Back, reached the hut at 9 P.M., averaging 3 1/2
stat. miles an hour. During the day we walked 26 1/2 stat. miles,
not a bad day's work considering condition, but I'm afraid my feet
are going to suffer for it.
_Saturday, October_ 28.--My feet sore and one 'tendon Achillis'
strained (synovitis); shall be right in a day or so, however. Last
night tremendous row in the stables. Christopher and Chinaman
discovered fighting. Gran nearly got kicked. These ponies are getting
above themselves with their high feeding. Oates says that Snippets
is still lame and has one leg a little 'heated'; not a pleasant item
of news. Debenham is progressing but not very fast; the Western Party
will leave after us, of that there is no doubt now. It is trying that
they should be wasting the season in this way. All things considered,
I shall be glad to get away and put our fortune to the test.
_Monday, October_ 30.--We had another beautiful day yesterday, and
one began to feel that the summer really had come; but to-day, after a
fine morning, we have a return to blizzard conditions. It is blowing
a howling gale as I write. Yesterday Wilson, Crean, P.O. Evans, and
I donned our sledging kit and camped by the bergs for the benefit of
Ponting and his cinematograph; he got a series of films which should
be about the most interesting of all his collection. I imagine nothing
will take so well as these scenes of camp life.
On our return we found Meares had returned; he and the dogs well. He
told us that (Lieut.) Evans had come into Hut Point on Saturday
to fetch a personal bag left behind there. Evans reported that
Lashly's motor had broken down near Safety Camp; they found the big
end smashed up in one cylinder and traced it to a faulty casting;
they luckily had spare parts, and Day and Lashly worked all night
on repairs in a temperature of -25 deg.. By the morning repairs were
completed and they had a satisfactory trial run, dragging on loads
with both motors. Then Evans found out his loss and returned on ski,
whilst, as I gather, the motors proceeded; I don't quite know how,
but I suppose they ran one on at a time.
On account of this accident and because some of our hardest worked
people were badly hit by the two days' absence helping the machines,
I have decided to start on Wednesday instead of to-morrow. If the
blizzard should blow out, Atkinson and Keohane will set off to-morrow
for Hut Point, so that we may see how far Jehu is to be counted on.
_Tuesday, October_ 31.--The blizzard has blown itself out this morning,
and this afternoon it has cleared; the sun is shining and the wind
dropping. Meares and Ponting are just off to Hut Point. Atkinson
and Keohane will probably leave in an hour or so as arranged, and
if the weather holds, we shall all get off to-morrow. So here end
the entries in this diary with the first chapter of our History. The
future is in the lap of the gods; I can think of nothing left undone
to deserve success.
Southern Journey: The Barrier Stage
_November_ 1.--Last night we heard that Jehu had reached Hut Point in
about 5 1/2 hours. This morning we got away in detachments--Michael,
Nobby, Chinaman were first to get away about 11 A.M. The little devil
Christopher was harnessed with the usual difficulty and started in
kicking mood, Oates holding on for all he was worth.
Bones ambled off gently with Crean, and I led Snippets in his wake. Ten
minutes after Evans and Snatcher passed at the usual full speed.
The wind blew very strong at the Razor Back and the sky was
threatening--the ponies hate the wind. A mile south of this island
Bowers and Victor passed me, leaving me where I best wished to be--at
the tail of the line.
About this place I saw that one of the animals ahead had stopped and
was obstinately refusing to go forward again. I had a great fear it
was Chinaman, the unknown quantity, but to my relief found it was
my old friend 'Nobby' in obstinate mood. As he is very strong and
fit the matter was soon adjusted with a little persuasion from Anton
behind. Poor little Anton found it difficult to keep the pace with
Snatcher soon led the party and covered the distance in four
hours. Evans said he could see no difference at the end from the
start--the little animal simply romped in. Bones and Christopher
arrived almost equally fresh, in fact the latter had been bucking
and kicking the whole way. For the present there is no end to his
devilment, and the great consideration is how to safeguard Oates. Some
quiet ponies should always be near him, a difficult matter to arrange
with such varying rates of walking. A little later I came up to
a batch, Bowers, Wilson, Cherry, and Wright, and was happy to see
Chinaman going very strong. He is not fast, but very steady, and I
think should go a long way.
Victor and Michael forged ahead again, and the remaining three of us
came in after taking a little under five hours to cover the distance.
We were none too soon, as the weather had been steadily getting worse,
and soon after our arrival it was blowing a gale.
_Thursday, November_ 2.--Hut Point. The march teaches a good deal
as to the paces of the ponies. It reminded me of a regatta or a
somewhat disorganised fleet with ships of very unequal speed. The
plan of further advance has now been evolved. We shall start in
three parties--the very slow ponies, the medium paced, and the
fliers. Snatcher starting last will probably overtake the leading
unit. All this requires a good deal of arranging. We have decided to
begin night marching, and shall get away after supper, I hope. The
weather is hourly improving, but at this season that does not count
for much. At present our ponies are very comfortably stabled. Michael,
Chinaman and James Pigg are actually in the hut. Chinaman kept us alive
last night by stamping on the floor. Meares and Demetri are here with
the dog team, and Ponting with a great photographic outfit. I fear
he won't get much chance to get results.
_Friday, November_ 3.--Camp 1. A keen wind with some drift at Hut
Point, but we sailed away in detachments. Atkinson's party, Jehu,
Chinaman and Jimmy Pigg led off at eight. Just before ten Wilson,
Cherry-Garrard and I left. Our ponies marched steadily and well
together over the sea ice. The wind dropped a good deal, but the
temperature with it, so that the little remaining was very cutting. We
found Atkinson at Safety Camp. He had lunched and was just ready to
march out again; he reports Chinaman and Jehu tired. Ponting arrived
soon after we had camped with Demetri and a small dog team. The
cinematograph was up in time to catch the flying rearguard which came
along in fine form, Snatcher leading and being stopped every now and
again--a wonderful little beast. Christopher had given the usual
trouble when harnessed, but was evidently subdued by the Barrier
Surface. However, it was not thought advisable to halt him, and so
the party fled through in the wake of the advance guard.
After lunch we packed up and marched on steadily as before. I don't
like these midnight lunches, but for man the march that follows is
pleasant when, as to-day, the wind falls and the sun steadily increases
its heat. The two parties in front of us camped 5 miles beyond Safety
Camp, and we reached their camp some half or three-quarters of an hour
later. All the ponies are tethered in good order, but most of them are
tired--Chinaman and Jehu _very tired_. Nearly all are inclined to be
off feed, but this is very temporary, I think. We have built walls,
but there is no wind and the sun gets warmer every minute.
_Mirage_.--Very marked waving effect to east. Small objects greatly
exaggerated and showing as dark vertical lines.
1 P.M.--Feeding time. Woke the party, and Oates served out the
rations--all ponies feeding well. It is a sweltering day, the air
breathless, the glare intense--one loses sight of the fact that
the temperature is low (-22 deg.)--one's mind seeks comparison in hot
sunlit streets and scorching pavements, yet six hours ago my thumb
was frostbitten. All the inconveniences of frozen footwear and damp
clothes and sleeping-bags have vanished entirely.
A petrol tin is near the camp and a note stating that the motor passed
at 9 P.M. 28th, going strong--they have 4 to 5 days' lead and should
surely keep it.
'Bones has eaten Christopher's goggles.'
This announcement by Crean, meaning that Bones had demolished the
protecting fringe on Christopher's bridle. These fringes promise very
well--Christopher without his is blinking in the hot sun.
_Saturday, November_ 4.--Camp 2. Led march--started in what I think
will now become the settled order. Atkinson went at 8, ours at 10,
Bowers, Oates and Co. at 11.15. Just after starting picked up cheerful
note and saw cheerful notices saying all well with motors, both
going excellently. Day wrote 'Hope to meet in 80 deg. 30' (Lat.).' Poor
chap, within 2 miles he must have had to sing a different tale. It
appears they had a bad ground on the morning of the 29th. I suppose
the surface was bad and everything seemed to be going wrong. They
'dumped' a good deal of petrol and lubricant. Worse was to follow. Some
4 miles out we met a tin pathetically inscribed, 'Big end Day's motor
No. 2 cylinder broken.' Half a mile beyond, as I expected, we found
the motor, its tracking sledges and all. Notes from Evans and Day
told the tale. The only spare had been used for Lashly's machine,
and it would have taken a long time to strip Day's engine so that
it could run on three cylinders. They had decided to abandon it and
push on with the other alone. They had taken the six bags of forage
and some odds and ends, besides their petrol and lubricant. So the
dream of great help from the machines is at an end! The track of the
remaining motor goes steadily forward, but now, of course, I shall
expect to see it every hour of the march.
The ponies did pretty well--a cruel soft surface most of the time,
but light loads, of course. Jehu is better than I expected to find him,
Chinaman not so well. They are bad crocks both of them.
It was pretty cold during the night, -7 deg. when we camped, with a crisp
breeze blowing. The ponies don't like it, but now, as I write, the
sun is shining through a white haze, the wind has dropped, and the
picketing line is comfortable for the poor beasts.
This, 1 P.M., is the feeding hour--the animals are not yet on feed,
but they are coming on.
The wind vane left here in the spring shows a predominance of wind
from the S.W. quarter. Maximum scratching, about S.W. by W.
_Sunday, November_ 5.--Camp 3. 'Corner Camp.' We came over the last
lap of the first journey in good order--ponies doing well in soft
surface, but, of course, lightly loaded. To-night will show what we
can do with the heavier weights. A very troubled note from Evans
(with motor) written on morning of 2nd, saying maximum speed was
about 7 miles per day. They have taken on nine bags of forage, but
there are three black dots to the south which we can only imagine are
the deserted motor with its loaded sledges. The men have gone on as
a supporting party, as directed. It is a disappointment. I had hoped
better of the machines once they got away on the Barrier Surface.
The appetites of the ponies are very fanciful. They do not like
the oil cake, but for the moment seem to take to some fodder left
here. However, they are off that again to-day. It is a sad pity they
won't eat well now, because later on one can imagine how ravenous
they will become. Chinaman and Jehu will not go far I fear.
_Monday, November_ 6.--Camp 4. We started in the usual order,
arranging so that full loads should be carried if the black dots
to the south prove to be the motor. On arrival at these we found
our fears confirmed. A note from Evans stated a recurrence of the
old trouble. The big end of No. 1 cylinder had cracked, the machine
otherwise in good order. Evidently the engines are not fitted for
working in this climate, a fact that should be certainly capable of
correction. One thing is proved; the system of propulsion is altogether
satisfactory. The motor party has proceeded as a man-hauling party
With their full loads the ponies did splendidly, even Jehu and Chinaman
with loads over 450 lbs. stepped out well and have finished as fit as
when they started. Atkinson and Wright both think that these animals
The better ponies made nothing of their loads, and my own Snippets
had over 700 lbs., sledge included. Of course, the surface is greatly
improved; it is that over which we came well last year. We are all
much cheered by this performance. It shows a hardening up of ponies
which have been well trained; even Oates is pleased!
As we came to camp a blizzard threatened, and we built snow
walls. One hour after our arrival the wind was pretty strong, but
there was not much snow. This state of affairs has continued, but
the ponies seem very comfortable. Their new rugs cover them well and
the sheltering walls are as high as the animals, so that the wind is
practically unfelt behind them. The protection is a direct result of
our experience of last year, and it is good to feel that we reaped
some reward for that disastrous journey. I am writing late in the day
and the wind is still strong. I fear we shall not be able to go on
to-night. Christopher gave great trouble again last night--the four
men had great difficulty in getting him into his sledge; this is a
nuisance which I fear must be endured for some time to come.
The temperature, -5 deg., is lower than I like in a blizzard. It feels
chilly in the tent, but the ponies don't seem to mind the wind much.
The incidence of this blizzard had certain characters worthy of note:--
Before we started from Corner Camp there was a heavy collection of
cloud about Cape Crozier and Mount Terror, and a black line of stratus
low on the western slopes of Erebus. With us the sun was shining and
it was particularly warm and pleasant. Shortly after we started mist
formed about us, waxing and waning in density; a slight southerly
breeze sprang up, cumulo-stratus cloud formed overhead with a rather
windy appearance (radial E. and W.).
At the first halt (5 miles S.) Atkinson called my attention to a
curious phenomenon. Across the face of the low sun the strata of
mist could be seen rising rapidly, lines of shadow appearing to be
travelling upwards against the light. Presumably this was sun-warmed
air. The accumulation of this gradually overspread the sky with a
layer of stratus, which, however, never seemed to be very dense;
the position of the sun could always be seen. Two or three hours
later the wind steadily increased in force, with the usual gusty
characteristic. A noticeable fact was that the sky was clear and
blue above the southern horizon, and the clouds seemed to be closing
down on this from time to time. At intervals since, it has lifted,
showing quite an expanse of clear sky. The general appearance is
that the disturbance is created by conditions about us, and is
rather spreading from north to south than coming up with the wind,
and this seems rather typical. On the other hand, this is not a bad
snow blizzard; although the wind holds, the land, obscured last night,
is now quite clear and the Bluff has no mantle.
[Added in another hand, probably dictated:
Before we felt any air moving, during our A.M. march and the greater
part of the previous march, there was dark cloud over Ross Sea off
the Barrier, which continued over the Eastern Barrier to the S.E. as
a heavy stratus, with here and there an appearance of wind. At the
same time, due south of us, dark lines of stratus were appearing,
miraged on the horizon, and while we were camping after our A.M. march,
these were obscured by banks of white fog (or drift?), and the wind
increasing the whole time. My general impression was that the storm
came up from the south, but swept round over the eastern part of the
Barrier before it became general and included the western part where
_Tuesday, November_ 7.--Camp 4. The blizzard has continued
throughout last night and up to this time of writing, late in
the afternoon. Starting mildly, with broken clouds, little snow,
and gleams of sunshine, it grew in intensity until this forenoon,
when there was heavy snowfall and the sky overspread with low nimbus
cloud. In the early afternoon the snow and wind took off, and the
wind is dropping now, but the sky looks very lowering and unsettled.
Last night the sky was so broken that I made certain the end of the
blow had come. Towards morning the sky overhead and far to the north
was quite clear. More cloud obscured the sun to the south and low
heavy banks hung over Ross Island. All seemed hopeful, except that I
noted with misgiving that the mantle on the Bluff was beginning to
form. Two hours later the whole sky was overcast and the blizzard
had fully developed.
This Tuesday evening it remains overcast, but one cannot see that
the clouds are travelling fast. The Bluff mantle is a wide low bank
of stratus not particularly windy in appearance; the wind is falling,
but the sky still looks lowering to the south and there is a general
appearance of unrest. The temperature has been -10 deg. all day.
The ponies, which had been so comparatively comfortable in the earlier
stages, were hit as usual when the snow began to fall.
We have done everything possible to shelter and protect them, but
there seems no way of keeping them comfortable when the snow is thick
and driving fast. We men are snug and comfortable enough, but it is
very evil to lie here and know that the weather is steadily sapping
the strength of the beasts on which so much depends. It requires much
philosophy to be cheerful on such occasions.
In the midst of the drift this forenoon the dog party came up and
camped about a quarter of a mile to leeward. Meares has played too much
for safety in catching us so soon, but it is satisfactory to find the
dogs will pull the loads and can be driven to face such a wind as we
have had. It shows that they ought to be able to help us a good deal.
The tents and sledges are badly drifted up, and the drifts behind the
pony walls have been dug out several times. I shall be glad indeed to
be on the march again, and oh! for a little sun. The ponies are all
quite warm when covered by their rugs. Some of the fine drift snow
finds its way under the rugs, and especially under the broad belly
straps; this melts and makes the coat wet if allowed to remain. It
is not easy to understand at first why the blizzard should have such
a withering effect on the poor beasts. I think it is mainly due to
the exceeding fineness of the snow particles, which, like finely
divided powder, penetrate the hair of the coat and lodge in the
inner warmths. Here it melts, and as water carries off the animal
heat. Also, no doubt, it harasses the animals by the bombardment of
the fine flying particles on tender places such as nostrils, eyes,
and to lesser extent ears. In this way it continually bothers them,
preventing rest. Of all things the most important for horses is that
conditions should be placid whilst they stand tethered.
_Wednesday, November_ 8.--Camp 5. Wind with overcast threatening sky
continued to a late hour last night. The question of starting was open
for a long time, and many were unfavourable. I decided we must go,
and soon after midnight the advance guard got away. To my surprise,
when the rugs were stripped from the 'crocks' they appeared quite
fresh and fit. Both Jehu and Chinaman had a skittish little run. When
their heads were loose Chinaman indulged in a playful buck. All three
started with their loads at a brisk pace. It was a great relief
to find that they had not suffered at all from the blizzard. They
went out six geographical miles, and our section going at a good
round pace found them encamped as usual. After they had gone, we
waited for the rearguard to come up and joined with them. For the
next 5 miles the bunch of seven kept together in fine style, and
with wind dropping, sun gaining in power, and ponies going well,
the march was a real pleasure. One gained confidence every moment
in the animals; they brought along their heavy loads without a hint
of tiredness. All take the patches of soft snow with an easy stride,
not bothering themselves at all. The majority halt now and again to
get a mouthful of snow, but little Christopher goes through with a
non-stop run. He gives as much trouble as ever at the start, showing
all sorts of ingenious tricks to escape his harness. Yesterday when
brought to his knees and held, he lay down, but this served no end,
for before he jumped to his feet and dashed off the traces had been
fixed and he was in for the 13 miles of steady work. Oates holds like
grim death to his bridle until the first freshness is worn off, and
this is no little time, for even after 10 miles he seized a slight
opportunity to kick up. Some four miles from this camp Evans loosed
Snatcher momentarily. The little beast was off at a canter at once and
on slippery snow; it was all Evans could do to hold to the bridle. As
it was he dashed across the line, somewhat to its danger.
Six hundred yards from this camp there was a bale of forage. Bowers
stopped and loaded it on his sledge, bringing his weights to nearly
800 lbs. His pony Victor stepped out again as though nothing had been
added. Such incidents are very inspiriting. Of course, the surface
is very good; the animals rarely sink to the fetlock joint, and for
a good part of the time are borne up on hard snow patches without
sinking at all. In passing I mention that there are practically no
places where ponies sink to their hocks as described by Shackleton. On
the only occasion last year when our ponies sank to their hocks in
one soft patch, they were unable to get their loads on at all. The
feathering of the fetlock joint is borne up on the snow crust and its
upward bend is indicative of the depth of the hole made by the hoof;
one sees that an extra inch makes a tremendous difference.
We are picking up last year's cairns with great ease, and all show
up very distinctly. This is extremely satisfactory for the homeward
march. What with pony walls, camp sites and cairns, our track should
be easily followed the whole way. Everyone is as fit as can be. It
was wonderfully warm as we camped this morning at 11 o'clock; the
wind has dropped completely and the sun shines gloriously. Men and
ponies revel in such weather. One devoutly hopes for a good spell of
it as we recede from the windy northern region. The dogs came up soon
after we had camped, travelling easily.
_Thursday, November_ 9.--Camp 6. Sticking to programme, we are going a
little over the 10 miles (geo.) nightly. Atkinson started his party at
11 and went on for 7 miles to escape a cold little night breeze which
quickly dropped. He was some time at his lunch camp, so that starting
to join the rearguard we came in together the last 2 miles. The
experience showed that the slow advance guard ponies are forced out
of their place by joining with the others, whilst the fast rearguard
is reduced in speed. Obviously it is not an advantage to be together,
yet all the ponies are doing well. An amusing incident happened when
Wright left his pony to examine his sledgemeter. Chinaman evidently
didn't like being left behind and set off at a canter to rejoin the
main body. Wright's long legs barely carried him fast enough to stop
this fatal stampede, but the ridiculous sight was due to the fact
that old Jehu caught the infection and set off at a sprawling canter
in Chinaman's wake. As this is the pony we thought scarcely capable
of a single march at start, one is agreeably surprised to find him
still displaying such commendable spirit. Christopher is troublesome
as ever at the start; I fear that signs of tameness will only indicate
absence of strength. The dogs followed us so easily over the 10 miles
that Meares thought of going on again, but finally decided that the
present easy work is best.
Things look hopeful. The weather is beautiful--temp. -12 deg., with
a bright sun. Some stratus cloud about Discovery and over White
Island. The sastrugi about here are very various in direction and the
surface a good deal ploughed up, showing that the Bluff influences
the wind direction even out as far as this camp. The surface is hard;
I take it about as good as we shall get.
There is an annoying little southerly wind blowing now, and this
serves to show the beauty of our snow walls. The ponies are standing
under their lee in the bright sun as comfortable as can possibly be.
_Friday, November_ 10.--Camp 7. A very horrid march. A strong head wind
during the first part--5 miles (geo.)--then a snowstorm. Wright leading
found steering so difficult after three miles (geo.) that the party
decided to camp. Luckily just before camping he rediscovered Evans'
track (motor party) so that, given decent weather, we shall be able
to follow this. The ponies did excellently as usual, but the surface
is good distinctly. The wind has dropped and the weather is clearing
now that we have camped. It is disappointing to miss even 1 1/2 miles.
Christopher was started to-day by a ruse. He was harnessed behind his
wall and was in the sledge before he realised. Then he tried to bolt,
but Titus hung on.
_Saturday, November_ 11.--Camp 8. It cleared somewhat just before the
start of our march, but the snow which had fallen in the day remained
soft and flocculent on the surface. Added to this we entered on an
area of soft crust between a few scattered hard sastrugi. In pits
between these in places the snow lay in sandy heaps. A worse set of
conditions for the ponies could scarcely be imagined. Nevertheless they
came through pretty well, the strong ones excellently, but the crocks
had had enough at 9 1/2 miles. Such a surface makes one anxious in
spite of the rapidity with which changes take place. I expected these
marches to be a little difficult, but not near so bad as to-day. It
is snowing again as we camp, with a slight north-easterly breeze. It
is difficult to make out what is happening to the weather--it is all
part of the general warming up, but I wish the sky would clear. In
spite of the surface, the dogs ran up from the camp before last,
over 20 miles, in the night. They are working splendidly so far.
_Sunday, November_ 12.--Camp 9. Our marches are uniformly horrid
just at present. The surface remains wretched, not quite so heavy
as yesterday, perhaps, but very near it at times. Five miles out the
advance party came straight and true on our last year's Bluff depot
marked with a flagstaff. Here following I found a note from Evans,
cheerful in tone, dated 7 A.M. 7th inst. He is, therefore, the best
part of five days ahead of us, which is good. Atkinson camped a mile
beyond this cairn and had a very gloomy account of Chinaman. Said
he couldn't last more than a mile or two. The weather was horrid,
overcast, gloomy, snowy. One's spirits became very low. However,
the crocks set off again, the rearguard came up, passed us in camp,
and then on the march about 3 miles on, so that they camped about
the same time. The Soldier thinks Chinaman will last for a good many
days yet, an extraordinary confession of hope for him. The rest of
the animals are as well as can be expected--Jehu rather better. These
weather appearances change every minute. When we camped there was a
chill northerly breeze, a black sky, and light falling snow. Now the
sky is clearing and the sun shining an hour later. The temperature
remains about -10 deg. in the daytime.
_Monday, November 13_.--Camp 10. Another horrid march in a terrible
light, surface very bad. Ponies came through all well, but they are
being tried hard by the surface conditions. We followed tracks most
of the way, neither party seeing the other except towards camping
time. The crocks did well, all repeatedly. Either the whole sky has
been clear, or the overhanging cloud has lifted from time to time to
show the lower rocks. Had we been dependent on land marks we should
have fared ill. Evidently a good system of cairns is the best possible
travelling arrangement on this great snow plain. Meares and Demetri
up with the dogs as usual very soon after we camped.
This inpouring of warm moist air, which gives rise to this
heavy surface deposit at this season, is certainly an interesting
meteorological fact, accounting as it does for the very sudden change
in Barrier conditions from spring to summer.
_Wednesday, November_ 15.--Camp 12. Found our One Ton Camp without
any difficulty [130 geographical miles from Cape Evans]. About 7 or
8 miles. After 5 1/2 miles to lunch camp, Chinaman was pretty tired,
but went on again in good form after the rest. All the other ponies
made nothing of the march, which, however, was over a distinctly better
surface. After a discussion we had decided to give the animals a day's
rest here, and then to push forward at the rate of 13 geographical
miles a day. Oates thinks the ponies will get through, but that they
have lost condition quicker than he expected. Considering his usually
pessimistic attitude this must be thought a hopeful view. Personally
I am much more hopeful. I think that a good many of the beasts are
actually in better form than when they started, and that there is no
need to be alarmed about the remainder, always excepting the weak
ones which we have always regarded with doubt. Well, we must wait
and see how things go.
A note from Evans dated the 9th, stating his party has gone on to 80 deg.
30', carrying four boxes of biscuit. He has done something over 30
miles (geo.) in 2 1/2 days--exceedingly good going. I only hope he
has built lots of good cairns.
It was a very beautiful day yesterday, bright sun, but as we marched,
towards midnight, the sky gradually became overcast; very beautiful
halo rings formed around the sun. Four separate rings were very
distinct. Wilson descried a fifth--the orange colour with blue
interspace formed very fine contrasts. We now clearly see the corona
ring on the snow surface. The spread of stratus cloud overhead was very
remarkable. The sky was blue all around the horizon, but overhead a
cumulo-stratus grew early; it seemed to be drifting to the south and
later to the east. The broken cumulus slowly changed to a uniform
stratus, which seems to be thinning as the sun gains power. There
is a very thin light fall of snow crystals, but the surface deposit
seems to be abating the evaporation for the moment, outpacing the
light snowfall. The crystals barely exist a moment when they light
on our equipment, so that everything on and about the sledges is
drying rapidly. When the sky was clear above the horizon we got a
good view of the distant land all around to the west; white patches
of mountains to the W.S.W. must be 120 miles distant. During the night
we saw Discovery and the Royal Society Range, the first view for many
days, but we have not seen Erebus for a week, and in that direction
the clouds seem ever to concentrate. It is very interesting to watch
the weather phenomena of the Barrier, but one prefers the sunshine
to days such as this, when everything is blankly white and a sense
of oppression is inevitable.
The temperature fell to -15 deg. last night, with a clear sky; it rose
to 0 deg. directly the sky covered and is now just 16 deg. to 20 deg.. Most of
us are using goggles with glass of light green tint. We find this
colour very grateful to the eyes, and as a rule it is possible to
see everything through them even more clearly than with naked vision.
The hard sastrugi are now all from the W.S.W. and our cairns are
drifted up by winds from that direction; mostly, though, there has
evidently been a range of snow-bearing winds round to south. This
observation holds from Corner Camp to this camp, showing that
apparently all along the coast the wind comes from the land. The
minimum thermometer left here shows -73 deg., rather less than expected;
it has been excellently exposed and evidently not at all drifted up
with snow at any time. I cannot find the oats I scattered here--rather
fear the drift has covered them, but other evidences show that the
snow deposit has been very small.
_Thursday, November_ 16.--Camp 12. Resting. A stiff little southerly
breeze all day, dropping towards evening. The temperature -15 deg.. Ponies
pretty comfortable in rugs and behind good walls. We have reorganised
the loads, taking on about 580 lbs. with the stronger ponies, 400
odd with the others.
_Friday, November_ 17.--Camp 13. Atkinson started about 8.30. We came
on about 11, the whole of the remainder. The lunch camp was 7 1/2
miles. Atkinson left as we came in. He was an hour before us at the
final camp, 13 1/4 (geo.) miles. On the whole, and considering the
weights, the ponies did very well, but the surface was comparatively
good. Christopher showed signs of trouble at start, but was coaxed
into position for the traces to be hooked. There was some ice on his
runner and he had a very heavy drag, therefore a good deal done on
arrival; also his load seems heavier and deader than the others. It
is early days to wonder whether the little beasts will last; one can
only hope they will, but the weakness of breeding and age is showing
The crocks have done wonderfully, so there is really no saying how long
or well the fitter animals may go. We had a horribly cold wind on the
march. Temp. -18 deg., force 3. The sun was shining but seemed to make
little difference. It is still shining brightly, temp. 11 deg.. Behind
the pony walls it is wonderfully warm and the animals look as snug
_Saturday, November_ 18.--Camp 14. The ponies are not pulling well. The
surface is, if anything, a little worse than yesterday, but I should
think about the sort of thing we shall have to expect henceforward. I
had a panic that we were carrying too much food and this morning we
have discussed the matter and decided we can leave a sack. We have
done the usual 13 miles (geog.) with a few hundred yards to make the 15
statute. The temperature was -21 deg. when we camped last night, now it is
-3 deg.. The crocks are going on, very wonderfully. Oates gives Chinaman
at least three days, and Wright says he may go for a week. This is
slightly inspiriting, but how much better would it have been to have
had ten really reliable beasts. It's touch and go whether we scrape
up to the Glacier; meanwhile we get along somehow. At any rate the
bright sunshine makes everything look more hopeful.
_Sunday, November_ 19.--Camp 15. We have struck a real bad surface,
sledges pulling well over it, but ponies sinking very deep. The
result is to about finish Jehu. He was terribly done on getting in
to-night. He may go another march, but not more, I think. Considering
the surface the other ponies did well. The ponies occasionally sink
halfway to the hock, little Michael once or twice almost to the hock
itself. Luckily the weather now is glorious for resting the animals,
which are very placid and quiet in the brilliant sun. The sastrugi are
confused, the underlying hard patches appear as before to have been
formed by a W.S.W. wind, but there are some surface waves pointing
to a recent south-easterly wind. Have been taking some photographs,
_Monday, November_ 20.--Camp 16. The surface a little better. Sastrugi
becoming more and more definite from S.E. Struck a few hard patches