Antarctic Grotto the Terra Nova as famously
captured by Herbert Ponting on the 1910 - 1913 expedition
Terra Nova at Ross Island
Terra Nova in pack ice
Aboard the Terra Nova, about to enter a band
of loose pack ice
The Terra Nova "In the pack - a lead opening up."
From: "Scott's Last Expedition", 1913
Dr. Wilson on board Terra Nova
Hauling up fish traps
The Cape Crozier party
Left to right, Bowers, Henry Robertson, 1883-1912. Wilson, Edward A. (Edward
Adrian), 1872-1912. Cherry-Garrard, Apsley, 1886-1959.
More recent pictures of Scott's Cape Evans
Pictures of the Cape Evans Hut from 2007
The Terra Nova
Scott wanted to use the
for this second expedition, but the admiralty had sold it to the Hudson's
Bay Company some years before, and they refused to sell her back. After
considering several others, Scott purchased the
which had been used for whaling and sealing since her return from the
Raising money for the expedition was a slow and difficult
task, volunteer crew by contrast were applying from all over the world.
More than 8,000 men volunteered to join the expedition. One man who didn't
go, though Scott wanted him to was a young lecturer from the University
of Adelaide, Douglas Mawson.
Mawson was making his own plans, like many others, he intended to explore
an unmapped stretch of coast and country west of Victoria Land.
The choices for transportation made by Scott were to
have profound effects on the final results of the expedition. He didn't
take dogs, perhaps influenced by his experiences on the Discovery
expedition. Instead he had motor sledges which were experimental, since
none had ever been used before, (and motor transport technology was still
in its infancy), and ponies. Ponies had been used
before by Shackleton, but not successfully.
Scott planned to use the motor sledges as far as possible,
establishing depots along the way. The ponies would then take over and haul
the sledges to the foot of a glacier, the next major obstacle, when the
south pole party would begin to manhaul their sledges.
The journey to Antarctica on the Terra Nova was
eventful and losses of ponies, a dog, coal and other stores occurred during
a storm. On December 8th 1910 the first iceberg was spotted and on the following
day, in latitude 65°8'S, the Terra Nova entered the pack ice. The
ship continued to encounter heavy pack ice for the next three weeks, consuming
a great deal of precious coal in the process.
It is thought by many that
had Scott taken a dog team and properly trained men, he would
have had a much easier time of it getting to the pole and back.
"In my mind no journey ever made with
dogs can approach the height of that fine conception which is
realised when a party of men go forth to face hardships, dangers,
and difficulties with their own unaided efforts, and by days
and weeks of hard physical labour succeed in solving some problem
of the great unknown. Surely in this case the conquest is more
nobly and splendidly won".
On December 30th Scott wrote, "We are out of the pack
at length and at last one breathes again". On New Year's Day, 1911, Mount
Erebus came into view. They attempted to land at Cape Crozier, where they
had planned on setting up winter quarters, but the seas were too rough.
So, McMurdo Sound was their next option. On January 4th 1911, the Terra
Nova anchored to the ice and the unloading began. The ponies were especially
happy to finally be on firm ground as they rolled and kicked in the snow.
The motor sledges began well, they were unloaded and immediately
put to work hauling stores to the new camp. The third and largest sledge
however broke through the ice to the sea and sank in sixty fathoms of water
as it was being hauled by twenty men towards the shore.
The hut was erected quickly, it measured fifty feet by
twenty-five and was nine feet to the eaves. It was insulated with quilted
seaweed, lined with matchboard, lit by acetylene gas, provided with a stove
and cooking range and divided into two by a partition made of crates (including
the wine) to separate the men's from the officers' quarters. Within two
weeks the hut was built and occupied.
cried more easily than any man I have ever known. What pulled
Scott through was character, sheer good grain which ran over
and under and through his weaker self and clamped it all together."
Apsley Cherry-Garrard. From the Introduction to The
Worst Journey in the World.
Like the Discovery expedition, again the
centrepiece of the expedition was to be to reach the South Pole, and again
this was but one of several projects and exploratory trips from the base
camp. Depot laying parties set out shortly after arrival to leave stores
and provisions. Doubts set in early on about the usefulness of the ponies,
as they had problems with sinking into soft snow.
It was only after arriving at their winter
camp and erecting the hut that Scott found out that the Norwegian
Roald Amundsen had arrived
at the bay of Whales and he too was planning to reach the South Pole the
following summer. Amundsen had more dogs and better trained dogs, what
was more, he and his men were experienced in using them efficiently. Many
of Scott's party were unhappy at the arrival of Amundsen, his arrival was
thought to be an unsporting and previously unannounced attempt at beating
Scott and his team to the pole.
The ponies continued to fare badly, two were
lost in the sea when they broke through ice. When they were unable to be
retrieved, they fell victim to killer whales. Before the sun went down for
the winter, only 10 ponies were left out of an original 19.
The one sledging journey was undertaken in
the winter by a small team of men led by Wilson, the biologist and including
the young Apsley Cherry-Garrard, famously this gave rise to the acknowledged
greatest of all Antarctic adventure and travel books "The
Worst Journey in the World". This was a trip to Cape Crozier in
search of eggs from Emperor penguins that were known to lay and incubate
their eggs in the Antarctic winter though none had ever been returned intact
to science. Indeed they had only first been discovered a few years beforehand.
The winter was a very active time for the expedition and
a large quantity of scientific data never before collected was able to be
gathered. Though Scott spent much time engaged in science his thoughts were
inevitably also always on the attempt to reach the pole to be carried out
when the weather allowed after the sun had returned.
He decided during the winter on who his
companions were to be for the polar journey. The chosen team was:
Dr. E. A. Wilson known as "Uncle
Bill", chief scientist and doctor of the expedition.
Captain L. E. G. Oates, a career
soldier and in charge of the Siberian ponies.
Lieutenant H. R. Bowers, respected
for his hardiness and dauntlessness.
Petty officer Edgar "Taff" Evans the strongman of the party, in charge of sledging equipment.
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...You can rely on my not saying or doing anything
foolish, only I'm afraid you must be prepared for finding our
venture much belittled. After all, it is the work that counts,
not the applause that follows"
Letter from Scott
to his wife Kathleen,
story continues, the journey to the pole
Historical photographs on this page by permission
of National Library of Australia