WITH STILLWELL'S AND BICKERTON'S PARTIES
Leaving Madigan's party on November 19, when
forty-six miles from the Hut, Stillwell, Hodgeman and Close of the
Near-Eastern Party diverged towards a dome-shaped mountain--Mount
Hunt. A broad valley lay between their position on the falling plateau
and this eminence to the north- east. Looking across, one would
think that the depression was slight, but the party found by aneroid
that their descent was one thousand five hundred feet into a gully
filled with soft, deep snow. After skimming the polished sastrugi
of the uplands, the sledge ran heavily in the yielding drifts. Then
a gale of wind rose behind them just as the ascent on the other
side commenced, and was a valuable aid in the pull to the summit.
From the highest point or cap of what proved to be a promontory,
a wide seascape dotted with bergs was unfolded to the north. To
the west the eastern cape of Commonwealth Bay was visible, and sweeping
away to the north-east was the Mertz Glacier with sheer, jutting
headlands succeeding one another into the distance. True bearings
to these points were obtained from the camp, and, subsequently,
with the help of an observation secured on the `Aurora' during
the previous year, the trend of the glacier-tongue was determined.
Hodgeman made a series of illustrative sketches.
21 the party commenced the return journey, moving directly towards
Madigan Nunatak to the south-west. This nunatak had been sighted
for the first time on the outward march, and there was much speculation
as to what the rock would prove to be. A gradual descent for seven
miles brought them on to a plain, almost at sea-level, continuous
with the valley they had crossed on the 19th further to the east.
On the far side of the plain a climb was commenced over some ice-spurs,
and then a broad field of crevasses was encountered, some of which
attained a width of fifty yards. Delayed by these and by unfavourable
weather, they did not reach Madigan Nunatak until the evening of
The outcrop--a jagged crest of rock--was found
to be one hundred and sixty yards long and thirty yards wide, placed
at an altitude of two thousand four hundred feet above sea-level.
It is composed of grey quartzose gneiss.
There were no signs
of recent glaciation or of ice-striae, though the rock was much
weathered, and all the cracks and joint-planes were filled with
disintegrating material. The weathering was excessive and peculiar
in contrast with that observed on fresh exposures near the Hut and
at other localities near sea-level.
After collecting specimens
and placing a small depot of food on the highest point, the party
continued their way to the Hut, reaching it on November 27.
At Winter Quarters noticeable changes had taken place. The harbour
ice had broken back for several hundred yards and was rotten and
ready to blow out in the first strong wind; marked thawing had occurred
everywhere, and many islands of rock emerged from the snow; the
ice-foot was diminishing; penguins, seals, and flying birds made
the place, for once, alive and busy.
Bickerton, Whetter and
Hannam carried on the routine of work; Whetter as meteorologist
and Hannam as magnetician, while Bickerton was busied with the air-tractor
and in preparations for sledging. Thousands of penguins' eggs
had been gathered for the return voyage of the `Aurora', or
in case of detention for a second winter.
and Laseron arrived from the south on the same day as Stillwell,
Hodgeman and Close came in from the east. The former party had plodded
for sixty-seven miles through a dense haze of drift. They had kept
a course roughly by the wind and the direction of sastrugi. The
unvarying white light of thick overcast days had been so severe
that all were suffering from snow-blindness. When, at length, they
passed over the endless billows of snow on to the downfalls near
the coast, the weather cleared and they were relieved to see once
more the Mecca of all sledging parties--Aladdin's Cave.
A redistribution of parties and duties was made. Hodgeman joined
Whetter and Bickerton in preparation for the air-tractor sledge's
trip to the west. Hunter took up the position of meteorologist and
devoted all his spare time to biological investigations amongst
the immigrant life of summer. Hannam continued to act as magnetician
and general ``handy man.'' Murphy, who was also to be in
charge during the summer, returned to his stores, making preparations
for departure. Hourly meteorological observations kept every one
vigilant at the Hut.
In pursuance of a plan to examine in
detail the coast immediately east of Commonwealth Bay, Stillwell
set out with Laseron and Close on December 9. The weather was threatening
at the start, and they had the usual struggle with wind and drift
to ``make'' Aladdin's Cave.
Forewarned on the
first journey of the dangers of bad ventilation, they cleared the
entrance to the cave of obstacles so that a ready exit could be
made, if, as was expected, the opening became sealed with snow-drift.
This did happen during the night, and, though everything seemed
all right the next morning, the whole party was overpowered during
breakfast by foul air, the presence of which was not suspected.
Hoosh was cooked and about to be served, when Stillwell, who
was in charge of the primus, collapsed. Close immediately seized
an ice-axe, stood up, thrust its point through the choked entrance,
and fell down, overcome. Laseron became powerless at the same time.
An hour and a half later--so it was reckoned--the party revived
and cleared the opening. The hole made by the ice-axe had been sufficient
to save their lives. For a day they were too weak and exhausted
to travel, so the tent was pitched and the night spent outside the
On December 11 they steered due south for a while and
then eastward for three days to Madigan Nunatak; delayed for twenty-four
hours by a blizzard.
Stillwell goes on to describe: ``Part
of the 15th was spent in making observations, taking photographs
and collecting specimens of rocks and lichens. Breaking camp, we
set out on a northerly course for the coast down gently falling
snowfields. Gradually there opened up a beautiful vista of sea,
dotted with floes and rocky islets (many of which were ice-capped).
On December 16 camp was pitched near the coast on a stretch of firm,
unbroken ice, which enabled one to venture close enough to the edge
to discover an islet connected by a snow-ramp with the icy barrier.
Lying farther off the shore was a thick fringe of islets, among
and beyond which drifted a large quantity of heavy floe. The separate
floes stood some ten or fifteen feet above the water-level, and
the lengths of several exceeded a quarter of a mile. Every accessible
rock was covered with rookeries of Adelie penguins; the first chicks
were just hatched.''
A theodolite traverse was run
to fix the position of each islet. The traverse-line was carried
close to the ice-cliff, so that the number of islets hidden from
view was as few as possible. Snow mounds were built at intervals
and the intervening distances measured by the sledge-meter.
The party travelled west for seven and a quarter miles round
a promontory--Cape Gray--until the Winter Quarters were sighted
across Commonwealth Bay. They then turned eastward over the higher
slopes, meeting the coast some three miles to the east of the place
where they had first encountered it. The surface was for the most
part covered with snow, while crevasses were frequent and treacherous.
In the midst of the survey the sledge-meter broke down, and,
as the party were wholly dependent upon it for laying out base-lines,
repairs had to be made.
Map showing the remarkable distribution of
islets fringing the coast
of Adelie Land in the vicinity of Cape
On the 27th another accessible rocky projection
was seen. Over it and the many islands in the vicinity hovered flocks
of snow petrels and occasional Antarctic and Wilson petrels.
Masses of Adelie penguins and chicks constituted the main population,
and skua gulls with eggs were also observed. The rock was of garnet
traversed by black dykes of pyroxene granulite.
A great discovery was made on December 29. On the abrupt, northern
face of some rocks connected to the ice-cap of the mainland by a
causeway of ice a large colony of sea-birds had nested. Cape pigeons,
the rare silver-grey and snow petrels were all present. Amongst
these Laseron made a collection of many eggs and birds.
traverse-line was then carried back to Madigan Nunatak along a series
of connecting mounds. After being held up for three and a half days
in a blizzard from December 31 to January 4, the party were home
once more late on January 5, 1913.
Returning to the fortunes
of the air-tractor sledge, which was to start west early in December.
Bickerton has a short story to tell, inadequate to the months of
work which were expended on that converted aeroplane. Its career
was mostly associated with misfortune, dating from a serious fall
when in flight at Adelaide, through the southern voyage of the `Aurora',
buffeted by destructive seas, to a capacious snow shelter in Adelie
Land--the Hangar--where for the greater part of the year it remained
helpless and drift-bound.
Bickerton takes up the story:
I had always imagined that the air-tractor sledge would be most
handicapped by the low temperature; but the wind was far more formidable.
It is obvious that a machine which depends on the surrounding air
for its medium of traction could not be tested in the winds of an
Adelie Land winter. One might just as well try the capabilities
of a small motor-launch in the rapids at Niagara. Consequently we
had to wait until the high summer.
With hopes postponed to
an indefinite future, another difficulty arose. As it was found
that the wind would not allow the sea-ice to form, breaking up the
floe as quickly as it appeared, the only remaining field for manoeuvres
was over the highlands to the south; under conditions quite different
from those for which it was suited. We knew that for the first three
miles there was a rise of some one thousand four hundred feet, and
in places the gradient was one in three and a half. I thought the
machine would negotiate this, but it was obviously unsafe to make
the venture without providing against a headlong rush downhill,
if, for any reason, power should fail.
Suggestions were not
lacking, and after much consideration the following device was adopted:
A hand rock-drill, somewhat over an inch in diameter, was turned
up in the lathe, cut with one-eighth-inch pitched, square threads
and pointed at the lower end. This actuated through an internal
threaded brass bush held in an iron standard; the latter being bolted
to the after-end of a runner over a hole bushed for the reception
of the drill. Two sets of these were got ready; one for each runner.
The standards were made from spare caps belonging to the wireless
masts. The timely fracture of one of the vices supplied me with
sufficient ready-cut thread of the required pitch for one brake.
Cranked handles were fitted, and the points, which came in contact
with the ice, were hardened and tempered. When protruded to their
fullest extent, the spikes extended four inches below the runners.
The whole contrivance was not very elegant, but impressed
one with its strength and reliability. To work the handles, two
men had to sit one on each runner. As the latter were narrow and
the available framework, by which to hold on and steady oneself,
rather limited, the office of brakesman promised to be one with
To start the engine it was necessary
to have a calm and, preferably, sunny day; the engine and oil-tank
had been painted black to absorb the sun's heat. On a windy
day with sun and an air temperature of 30 degrees F., it was only
with considerable difficulty that the engine could be turned-- chiefly
owing to the thickness of the lubricating oil. But on a calm day
with the temperature lower -20 degrees F. for example --the engine
would swing well enough to permit starting, after an hour or two
of steady sun. If there were no sun even in the absence of wind,
starting would be out of the question, unless the atmospheric temperature
were high or the engine were warmed with a blow-lamp.
was not till November 15 that the right combination of conditions
came. That day was calm and sunny, and the engine needed no more
stimulus than it would have received in a ``decent'' climate.
Hannam, Whetter and I were the only inhabitants of the Hut at
the time. Having ascertained that the oil and air pumps were working
satisfactorily, we fitted the wheels and air-rudder, and made a
number of satisfactory trials in the vicinity of the Hut.
The wheels were soon discarded as useless; reliance being placed
on the long runners. Then the brakes were tested for the first time
by driving for a short distance uphill to the south and glissading
down the slope back to the Hut. With a man in charge of each brake,
the machine, when in full career down the slope, was soon brought
to a standstill. The experiment was repeated from a higher position
on the slope, with the same result. The machine was then taken above
the steepest part of the slope (one in three and a half) and, on
slipping back, was brought to rest with ease. The surface was hard,
polished blue ice. The air-rudder, by the way, was efficient at
speeds exceeding fifteen miles per hour.
On the 20th we had
a calm morning, so Whetter and I set out for Aladdin's Cave
to depot twenty gallons of benzene and six gallons of oil. The engine
was not running well, one cylinder occasionally ``missing.''
But, in spite of this and a head wind of fifteen miles per hour,
we covered the distance between the one-mile and the two-mile flags
in three minutes. This was on ice, and the gradient was about one
in fifteen. We went no farther that day, and it was lucky that we
did so, for, soon after our return to the Hut, it was blowing more
than sixty miles per hour.
On December 2 Hodgeman joined
us in a very successful trip to Aladdin's Cave with nine 8-gallon
tins of benzene on a sledge; weighing in all seven hundred pounds.
After having such a good series of results with the machine,
the start of the real journey was fixed for December 3. At 3 P.M.
it fell calm, and we left at 4 P.M., amid an inspiriting demonstration
goodwill from the six other men. Arms were still waving violently
as we crept noisily over the brow of the hill and the Hut disappeared
On the two steepest portions it was necessary
to walk, but, these past, the machine went well with a load of three
men and four hundred pounds, reaching Aladdin's Cave in an hour
by a route free of small crevasses, which I had discovered on the
previous day. Here we loaded up with three 100-lb. food-bags, twelve
gallons of oil (one hundred and thirty pounds), and seven hundred
pounds of benzene. Altogether, there was enough fuel and lubricating
oil to run the engine at full speed for twenty hours as well as
full rations for three men for six
After a few
minutes spent in disposing the loads, our procession of machine,
four sledges (in tow) and three men moved off. The going was slow,
too slow--about three miles an hour on ice. This would probably
mean no movement at all on snow which might soon be expected. But
something was wrong. The cylinder which had been missing fire a
few days before, but which had since been cleaned and put in order,
was now missing fire again, and the speed, proportionately, had
dropped too much.
I made sure that the oil was circulating,
and cleaned the sparking- plug, but the trouble was not remedied.
A careful examination showed no sufficient cause, so it was assumed
to be internal. To undertake anything big was out of the question,
so we dropped thirty-two gallons of benzene and a spare propeller.
Another mile went by and we came to snow, where forty gallons of
benzene, twelve gallons of oil and a sledge were abandoned. The
speed was now six miles an hour and we did two miles in very bad
form. As it was now 11 P.M. and the wind was beginning to rise,
we camped, feeling none too pleased with the first day's results.
While in the sleeping-bag I tried to think out some rapid way
of discovering what was wrong with the engine. The only conclusion
to which I could come was that it would be best to proceed to the
cave at eleven and three-quarter miles--Cathedral Grotto--and there
remove the faulty cylinder, if the weather seemed likely to be favourable;
if it did not, to go on independently with our man-hauled sledge.
On December 4 the wind was still blowing about twenty miles
per hour when we set to work on the machine. I poured some oil straight
into the crank-case to make sure that there was sufficient, and
we also tested and improved the ignition. At four o'clock the
wind dropped, and in an hour the engine was started. While moving
along, the idle cylinder was ejecting oil, and this, together with
the fact that it had no compression, made me hope that broken piston-rings
were the source of the trouble. It would only take two hours to
remove three cylinders, take one ring from each of the two sound
ones for the faulty one, and all might yet be well!
thoughts were brought to a sudden close by the engine, without any
warning, pulling up with such a jerk that the propeller was smashed.
On moving the latter, something fell into the oil in the crank-case
and fizzled, while the propeller could only be swung through an
angle of about 30°. We did not wait to examine any further,
but fixed up the man-hauling sledge, which had so far been carried
by the air-tractor sledge, and cached all except absolute necessities.
We were sorry to leave the machine, though we had never dared
to expect a great deal from it in the face of the unsuitable conditions
found to prevail in Adelie Land. However, the present situation
Having stuffed up the exhaust-pipes to
keep out the drift, we turned our backs to the aero-sledge and made
for the eleven-and-three-quarter- mile cave, arriving there at 8
P.M. There was a cheering note from Bage in the ``Grotto'',
wishing us good luck.
To avoid crevasses we steered first of all to the
southwest on the morning of the 5th, which was clear and bright.
After six miles the sastrugi became hard and compact, so the course
was changed to due west. Shortly afterwards, a piece of rock **
which we took to be a meteorite, was found on the surface of the
snow. It measured approximately five inches by three inches by three
and a half inches and was covered with a black scale which in places
had blistered; three or four small pieces of this scale were lying
within three inches of the main piece. Most of the surface was rounded,
except one face which looked as if it had been fractured. It was
lying on the snow, in a slight depression, about two and a half
inches below the mean surface, and there was nothing to indicate
that there had been any violent impact.
** This has since
been examined by Professor E. Skeats and Stillwell, who report it
to be an interesting form of meteorite, containing amongst other
minerals, plagioclase felspar. This is, we believe, the first occasion
on which a meteorite has been found in the Antarctic regions.--ED.
At eight o'clock that night we had done twelve miles, losing
sight of the sea at a height of about three thousand feet. All felt
pleased and looked forward to getting over a ridge ahead, which,
from an altitude of four thousand feet, ran in pencilled outline
to the western point of Commonwealth Bay.
On December 6 it
was drifting hard, and part of the morning was spent theorizing
on our prospects in an optimistic vein. This humour gradually wore
off as the thick drift continued, with a fifty-mile wind, for three
At 5 P.M. on December 8 a move was made. The drift
was what our Hut-standard reckoned to be ``moderate,'' but
the wind had fallen to thirty miles an hour and had veered to the
east; so the sail was hoisted. The going was difficult over a soft
surface, and after five hours, by which time the drift had perceptibly
thickened, we had done eight miles.
The thirst each one of
us developed in those earlier days was prodigious. When filling
the cooker with snow it was hard to refrain from packing it ``up
to the knocker'' in order to obtain a sufficient supply
The next day it blew harder and drifted thicker.
Above the loud flapping of the tent and the incessant sizzling of
the drift we discussed our situation. We were one week ``out''
and had travelled thirty-one miles. Future progress depended entirely
on the weather--unfortunately. We were beginning to learn that though
the season was ``meteorologically'' called summer, it was
hardly recognizable as such.
December 10 was Whetter's
birthday. It was heralded by an extra strong wind and the usual
liberal allowance of drift. I was cook, and made some modifications
in the meal. Hodgeman (who was the previous cook) used to make hoosh
as thick as a biscuit, so we had some thin stuff for a change --two
mugs each. Then really strong tea; we boiled it for some time to
make sure of the strength and added some leaves which had already
done good service.
Several times fault had been found with
the way the tent was pitched. I had not yet tried my hand at being
the ``man inside'' during this operation. One day, while
every one was grumbling, I said I would take the responsibility
at the next camp; the proposal being received with grunts of assent.
When the job was finished and the poles appeared to be spread taut,
I found myself alone in what seemed to me a cathedral. Feeling pleased,
I called for the others to come in, and arranged myself in a corner
with an ``I-told-you-so'' expression on my face, ready to
receive their congratulations. Hodgeman came in first. He is not
a large man, though he somehow gives one the impression that he
is, but after he had made himself comfortable the place seemed smaller.
When half-way through the ``spout,'' coming in, he gave
a grunt which I took to be one of appreciation. Then Whetter came
in. He is of a candid disposition: ``Ho, ho, laddie, what the dickens
have you done with the tent?''
I tried to explain
their mistake. But it was no good. When we were all inside, I couldn't
help seeing that the tent was much smaller than it had ever been
before, and we had to huddle together most uncomfortably. And there
were three days like this.
At nine o'clock one morning
Hodgeman woke me with, ``What about getting a move on?''
The wind had dropped to forty miles an hour, and through a tiny
hole in the tent the ground could be seen. Amid a thinning fog of
drift, the disc of the sun was just visible.
We made a start
and then plodded on steadily till midnight over a soft and uncomfortable
surface. Shortly after that hour I looked at the sledge-meter and
found that it had ceased working; the sprocket had been knocked
off. Repair was out of the question, as every joint was soldered
up; so without more ado we dropped it. In future we were to estimate
our speed, having already had some good experience in this way.
No sooner had Friday December 13 come on the scene than a catastrophe
overtook us. The superstitious might have blamed Fate, but on this
occasion there was no room for doubt; the fault was mine. The sail
was up and, while braking the load upwind, I slipped and fell, allowing
the sledge to collide with a large sastruga. The bow struck the
solid snow with such force that it was smashed.
a new bow was manufactured from a spare bamboo which had been brought
as a depot pole. It took some time splitting and bending this into
position and then lashing it with raw hide. But the finished article
fully justified the means, and, in spite of severe treatment, the
makeshift stood for the rest of the journey.
While on the
march on December 16, the wind dropped and the drift ceased for
the first time since December 5; for eleven days it had been heavy
or moderate. Before we got into harness on the same day, a Wilson
petrel flew above us. This little touch of life, together with the
bright sun, light wind and lack of drift enabled us to start away
in better spirits than had been our wont.
The next four days
passed in excellent weather. The surface was mainly hard and the
clusters of large sastrugi could generally be avoided. Patches of
softer ``piecrust'' were met but only lasted for two or
three miles. Making up for lost time, we did a few miles short of
one hundred in five days.
Unfortunately there was always
drift at midday, so that it was impossible to get a latitude ``shot''
with a sextant and artificial horizon.
On December 19 camp
was pitched at 1 A.M. before a glorious view; an horizon of sea
from west to north-east and white fields of massive bergs. In the
extreme west there was something which very closely resembled pack-ice.
On the 20th the surface was softer and the snow more recent,
but the wind was behind us and for part of the day the track led
downhill into a peculiar saucer-shaped depression which, on our
first entry, looked like a valley closed at the far end, while when
we came to the middle it resolved itself once more into a saucer.
Camping here, I managed to get a good time-shot, so that, provided
we occupied this camp on the return journey, I reckoned that I could
get the watch-rate and fix the approximate longitude of the pack-ice,
which for two days had been clearly within view.
Adelie Land: Showing tracks of the Western
Sledging Party from the
December 21 marked the end of the good weather,
for drift and wind came on apace lasting four days, the wind attaining
about eighty miles an hour. Sleeping-bags and tent-cloth were soon
in a wretched state, sodden with moisture. Christmas Day was not
very enjoyable in cramped quarters, the tent having encroached on
us owing to drift settling around it. Still, by the evening, it
was clear enough to break camp and we made a spurt of thirteen miles.
From the next camp there was a good view to the northwest, the
pack extending beyond the limit of vision. The land trended to the
west-north-west and we could see it at a distance of fifty miles
from our altitude.
All things considered, I thought it right
to turn back at this stage. In twenty-six days we had done one hundred
and fifty-eight miles, and ninety-seven miles of that distance had
been covered on the only five consecutive good days. We waited some
time until the sun appeared, when I was able to get an observation
while Hodgeman made a sketch of the view.
By December 30
we reoccupied the camp of the 20th, sixteen miles on the return
journey. A time-shot was successful, and observations were also
taken for magnetic declination.
As the weather was fine,
Hodgeman and Whetter went to investigate two odd-looking pyramids
about five miles away. These turned out to be high snow-ramps, two
hundred yards long, on the lee side of open crevasses.
last day of 1912 was calm and ``snow-blind''--the first
of this particular variety we had experienced without drift. A New
Year pudding was made of soaked biscuit, cocoa, milk, sugar, butter,
and a few remaining raisins, and it was, of course, an immense success.
On January 1 and the two succeeding days the drift was so thick
that we had to lie up and amuse ourselves discussing various matters
of individual interest. Hodgeman gave us a lecture on architecture,
explaining the beauties of certain well-known buildings. Whetter
would describe some delicate surgical operation, while I talked
about machinery. I also worked up the time-shots, and the hours
passed quickly. If only our sleeping-bags had been drier we might
have enjoyed ourselves at intervals.
The evening of the 4th
found us camped ten miles nearer home, beside a large crevasse and
with a closer view of the bay seen on December 20. This time we
were greatly excited to see rocks outcropping near the
and an investigation of them was resolved upon for the following
The morning broke overcast and ghostly white. Although
only ten yards away from it, we could not see the huge crevasse
in our vicinity. Thus our expedition to the rocks had to be abandoned.
After a week's travelling, during which obscured skies and
intermittent drift were the rule, we were once more in the neighbourhood
of Madigan's spring depot, forty-five miles west of Aladdin's
Cave. It had been passed without our seeing any signs of it on the
outward journey, and, as we never relied on finding it, we did not
mind about missing it again.
Thick drift and a fifty-mile
wind on January 12 kept us confined for thirty-six hours. It was
clear enough after noon on the 13th, and five miles were covered
in four hours through thick surface drift. What the course was we
did not care as we steered by the sastrugi. If ever a man had any
``homing instinct'' it would surely show
itself on such
an occasion as this.
Travelling in driving snow used to have
a curious effect on me. I always imagined that we were just coming
to an avenue of trees running at right angles to our course. What
produced this idea I have not the slightest suspicion, but while
it lasted, the impression was very strong.
To avoid the drift,
which was thickest by day, travelling had for some time been conducted
at night. On the evening of the 14th, during a clear spell, a ridge
rose up behind, and, in front, a wide bay was visible with its far
eastern point rising in mirage. This was taken to be Commonwealth
Bay, but the fact could not be verified as the drift came on thickly
once more. The day's march was twelve miles by concerted reckoning.
Next day we went three miles to the north to see if any recognizable
bergs would come in sight, but were stopped by crevasses. The eastward
course was therefore resumed.
After continuing for about
a mile Hodgeman told us to stop, flung down his harness and dashed
back to the sledge, rummaging in the instrument-box till he found
the glasses. ``Yes, it's the aeroplane,'' he said.
This remark took us by surprise as we had not expected it for
eight miles at least. It was about midnight--the time when mirage
was at a maximum. Consequently, all agreed that the machine was
about twelve miles away, and we went on our way rejoicing, steering
towards the Cathedral Grotto which was two miles south of the aero-sledge.
After three miles we camped, and, it being my birthday, the two
events were celebrated by ``blowing in'' the whisky belonging
to the medical outfit.
On the 16th the weather was thick,
and we marched east for ten miles, passing a tea-leaf, which it
was afterwards found must have come downwind from the Grotto. For
eight hours nothing could be done in thick drift, and then, on breaking
camp, we actually came to a flag which had been planted by Ninnis
in the spring, thirteen miles south-east of Aladdin's Cave.
The distance to the air-tractor had been over-estimated, and the
Grotto must have been passed quite close.
We made off down
the hill, running over the crevasses at a great pace. Aladdin's
Cave with its medley of boxes, tins, picks and shovels, gladdened
our eyes at 10 P.M. on the 17th. Conspicuous for its colour was
an orange, stuck on a pick, which told us at once that the Ship
CHAPTER XVIII - THE SHIP'S