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FIDS / OAE's
Tuesday, January 24
People were busy in the hut all last night--we got away at 9 A.M. A boat from the Terra Nova fetched the Western Party and myself as the ponies were led out of the camp. Meares and Wilson went ahead of the ponies to test the track. On board the ship I was taken in to see Lillie's catch of sea animals. It was wonderful, quantities of sponges, isopods, pentapods, large shrimps, corals, &c., &c
but the piece de resistance was the capture of several buckets full of cephalodiscus of which only seven pieces had been previously caught. Lillie is immensely pleased, feeling that it alone repays the whole enterprise.
In the forenoon we skirted the Island, getting 30 and 40 fathoms of water north and west of Inaccessible Island. With a telescope we could see the string of ponies steadily progressing over the sea ice past the Razor Back Islands. As soon as we saw them well advanced we steamed on to the Glacier Tongue. The open water extended just round the corner and the ship made fast in the narrow angle made by the sea ice with the glacier, her port side flush with the surface of the latter. I walked over to meet the ponies whilst Campbell went to investigate a broad crack in the sea ice on the Southern Road. The ponies were got on to the Tongue without much difficulty, then across the glacier, and picketed on the sea ice close to the ship. Meanwhile Campbell informed me that the big crack was 30 feet across: it was evident we must get past it on the glacier, and I asked Campbell to peg out a road clear of cracks. Oates reported the ponies ready to start again after tea, and they were led along Campbell's road, their loads having already been taken on the floe--all went well until the animals got down on the floe level and Oates led across an old snowed-up crack. His and the next pony got across, but the third made a jump at the edge and sank to its stomach in the middle. It couldn't move, and with such struggles as it made it sank deeper till only its head and forelegs showed above the slush. With some trouble we got ropes on these, and hauling together pulled the poor creature out looking very weak and miserable and trembling much.
We led the other ponies round farther to the west and eventually got all out on the floe, gave them a small feed, and started them off with their loads. The dogs meanwhile gave some excitement. Starting on hard ice with a light load nothing could hold them, and they dashed off over everything--it seemed wonderful that we all reached the floe in safety. Wilson and I drive one team, whilst Evans and Meares drive the other. I withhold my opinion of the dogs in much doubt as to whether they are going to be a real success--but the ponies are going to be real good. They work with such extraordinary steadiness, stepping out briskly and cheerfully, following in each other's tracks. The great drawback is the ease with which they sink in soft snow: they go through in lots of places where the men scarcely make an impression--they struggle pluckily when they sink, but it is trying to watch them. We came with the loads noted below and one bale of fodder (105 lbs.) added to each sledge. We are camped 6 miles from the glacier and 2 from Hut Point--a cold east wind; to-night the temperature 19°.
Autumn Party to start January 25, 1911
12 men,  8 ponies, 26 dogs.
First load estimated 5385 lbs., including 14 weeks' food and fuel for men--taken to Cache No. 1.
Ship transports following to Glacier Tongue:
lbs. 130 Bales compressed fodder 13,650 24 Cases dog biscuit 1,400 10 Sacks of oats 1,600 ? ------ 16,650
Teams return to ship to transport this load to Cache No. 1. Dog teams also take on 500 lbs. of biscuit from Hut Point.
lbs. On all sledges
Sledge with straps and tank 52 Pony furniture 25 Driver's ski and sleeping-bag, &c. 40
Nos. 1 & 5 Cooker and primus instruments 40 Tank containing biscuit 172 Sack of oats 160 Tent and poles 28 Alpine rope 5 1 oil can and spirit can 15 --- 537
Nos. 2 & 6 Oil 100 Tank contents: food bags 285 Ready provision bag 63 2 picks 20 --- 468
Nos. 3 & 7 Oil 100 Tank contents: biscuit 196 Sack of oats 160 2 shovels 9 --- 465
Nos. 4 & 8 Box with tools, &c. 35 Cookers, &c. 105 Tank contents food bags 252 Sack of oats 160 3 long bamboos and spare gear 15 --- 567
Spare Gear per Man
2 pairs under socks 2 pairs outer socks 1 pair hair socks 1 pair night socks 1 pyjama jacket 1 pyjama trousers 1 woollen mits 2 finnesko Skein = 10 lbs. Books, diaries, tobacco, &c. 2 ,, -- 12 lbs.
Vest and drawers Woollen shirt Jersey Balaclava Wind Suit Two pairs socks Ski boots.
No. 1. lbs. Sledge straps and tanks 54 Drivers' ski and bags 80 Cooker primus and instruments 50 Tank contents: biscuit 221 Alpine rope 5 Lamps and candles 4 2 shovels 9 Ready provision bag 63 Sledge meter 2 --- 488
No. 2. lbs. Sledge straps and tanks 54 Drivers' ski and bags 80 Tank contents: food bags 324 Tent and poles 33 --- 491
10-ft. sledge: men's harness, extra tent.
Thursday, January 26
Yesterday I went to the ship with a dog team. All went well till the dogs caught sight of a whale breeching in the 30 ft. lead and promptly made for it! It was all we could do to stop them before we reached the water.
Spent the day writing letters and completing arrangements for the ship--a brisk northerly breeze sprang up in the night and the ship bumped against the glacier until the pack came in as protection from the swell. Ponies and dogs arrived about 1 P.M., and at 5 we all went out for the final start.
A little earlier Pennell had the men aft and I thanked them for their splendid work. They have behaved like bricks and a finer lot of fellows never sailed in a ship. It was good to get their hearty send off. Before we could get away Ponting had his half-hour photographing us, the ponies and the dog teams--I hope he will have made a good thing of it. It was a little sad to say farewell to all these good fellows and Campbell and his men. I do most heartily trust that all will be successful in their ventures, for indeed their unselfishness and their generous high spirit deserves reward. God bless them.
So here we are with all our loads. One wonders what the upshot will be. It will take three days to transport the loads to complete safety; the break up of the sea ice ought not to catch us before that. The wind is from the S.E. again to-night.
Friday, January 27
Camp 2. Started at 9.30 and moved a load of fodder 3 3/4 miles south--returned to camp to lunch--then shifted camp and provisions. Our weights are now divided into three loads: two of food for ponies, one of men's provisions with some ponies' food. It is slow work, but we retreat slowly but surely from the chance of going out on the sea ice.
We are camped about a mile south of C. Armitage. After camping I went to the east till abreast of Pram Point, finding the ice dangerously thin off C. Armitage. It is evident we must make a considerable detour to avoid danger. The rest of the party went to the Discovery hut to see what could be done towards digging it out. The report is unfavourable, as I expected. The drift inside has become very solid--it would take weeks of work to clear it. A great deal of biscuit and some butter, cocoa, &c., was seen, so that we need not have any anxiety about provisions if delayed in returning to Cape Evans.
The dogs are very tired to-night. I have definitely handed the control of the second team to Wilson. He was very eager to have it and will do well I'm sure--but certainly also the dogs will not pull heavy loads--500 pounds proved a back-breaking load for 11 dogs to-day--they brought it at a snail's pace. Meares has estimated to give them two-thirds of a pound of biscuit a day. I have felt sure he will find this too little.
The ponies are doing excellently. Their loads run up to 800 and 900 lbs. and they make very light of them. Oates said he could have gone on for some time to-night.
Saturday, January 28
Camp 2. The ponies went back for the last load at Camp 1, and I walked south to find a way round the great pressure ridge. The sea ice south is covered with confused irregular sastrugi well remembered from Discovery days. The pressure ridge is new. The broken ice of the ridge ended east of the spot I approached and the pressure was seen only in a huge domed wave, the hollow of which on my left was surrounded with a countless number of seals--these lay about sleeping or apparently gambolling in the shallow water. I imagine the old ice in this hollow has gone well under and that the seals have a pool above it which may be warmer on such a bright day.
It was evident that the ponies could be brought round by this route, and I returned to camp to hear that one of the ponies (Keohane's) had gone lame. The Soldier took a gloomy view of the situation, but he is not an optimist. It looks as though a tendon had been strained, but it is not at all certain. Bowers' pony is also weak in the forelegs, but we knew this before: it is only a question of how long he will last. The pity is that he is an excellently strong pony otherwise. Atkinson has a bad heel and laid up all day--his pony was tied behind another sledge, and went well, a very hopeful sign.
In the afternoon I led the ponies out 2 3/4 miles south to the crossing of the pressure ridge, then east 1 1/4 till we struck the barrier edge and ascended it. Going about 1/2 mile in we dumped the loads--the ponies sank deep just before the loads were dropped, but it looked as though the softness was due to some rise in the surface.
We saw a dark object a quarter of a mile north as we reached the Barrier. I walked over and found it to be the tops of two tents more than half buried--Shackleton's tents we suppose. A moulting Emperor penguin was sleeping between them. The canvas on one tent seemed intact, but half stripped from the other.
The ponies pulled splendidly to-day, as also the dogs, but we have decided to load both lightly from now on, to march them easily, and to keep as much life as possible in them. There is much to be learnt as to their powers of performance.
Keohane says 'Come on, lad, you'll be getting to the Pole' by way of cheering his animal--all the party is cheerful, there never were a better set of people.
Sunday, January 29
Camp 2. This morning after breakfast I read prayers. Excellent day. The seven good ponies have made two journeys to the Barrier, covering 18 geographical miles, half with good loads--none of them were at all done. Oates' pony, a spirited, nervous creature, got away at start when his head was left for a moment and charged through the camp at a gallop; finally his sledge cannoned into another, the swingle tree broke, and he galloped away, kicking furiously at the dangling trace. Oates fetched him when he had quieted down, and we found that nothing had been hurt or broken but the swingle tree.
Gran tried going on ski with his pony. All went well while he was alongside, but when he came up from the back the swish of the ski frightened the beast, who fled faster than his pursuer--that is, the pony and load were going better than the Norwegian on ski.
Gran is doing very well. He has a lazy pony and a good deal of work to get him along, and does it very cheerfully.
The dogs are doing excellently--getting into better condition every day.
They ran the first load 1 mile 1200 yards past the stores on the Barrier, to the spot chosen for 'Safety Camp,' the big home depot.
I don't think that any part of the Barrier is likely to go, but it's just as well to be prepared for everything, and our camp must deserve its distinctive title of 'Safety.'
In the afternoon the dogs ran a second load to the same place--covering over 24 geographical miles in the day--an excellent day's work. 12
Evans and I took a load out on foot over the pressure ridge. The camp load alone remains to be taken to the Barrier. Once we get to Safety Camp we can stay as long as we like before starting our journey. It is only when we start that we must travel fast.
Most of the day it has been overcast, but to-night it has cleared again. There is very little wind. The temperatures of late have been ranging from 9° at night to 24° in the day. Very easy circumstances for sledging.
Monday, January 30
Camp 3. Safety Camp. Bearings: Lat. 77.55; Cape Armitage N. 64 W.; Camel's Hump of Blue Glacier left, extreme; Castle Rock N. 40 W. Called the camp at 7.30. Finally left with ponies at 11.30. There was a good deal to do, which partly accounts for delays, but we shall have to 'buck up' with our camp arrangement. Atkinson had his foot lanced and should be well in a couple of days.
I led the lame pony; his leg is not swelled, but I fear he's developed a permanent defect--there are signs of ring bone and the hoof is split.
A great shock came when we passed the depoted fodder and made for this camp. The ponies sank very deep and only brought on their loads with difficulty, getting pretty hot. The distance was but 1 1/2 miles, but it took more out of them than the rest of the march. We camped and held a council of war after lunch. I unfolded my plan, which is to go forward with five weeks' food for men and animals: to depot a fortnight's supply after twelve or thirteen days and return here. The loads for ponies thus arranged work out a little over 600 lbs., for the dog teams 700 lbs., both apart from sledges. The ponies ought to do it easily if the surface is good enough for them to walk, which is doubtful--the dogs may have to be lightened--such as it is, it is the best we can do under the circumstances!
This afternoon I went forward on ski to see if the conditions changed. In 2 or 3 miles I could see no improvement.
Bowers, Garrard, and the three men went and dug out the Nimrod tent. They found a cooker and provisions and remains of a hastily abandoned meal. One tent was half full of hard ice, the result of thaw. The Willesden canvas was rotten except some material used for the doors. The floor cloth could not be freed.
The Soldier doesn't like the idea of fetching up the remainder of the loads to this camp with the ponies. I think we will bring on all we can with the dogs and take the risk of leaving the rest.
The Nimrod camp was evidently made by some relief or ship party, and if that has stood fast for so long there should be little fear for our stuff in a single season. To-morrow we muster stores, build the depot, and pack our sledges.
Tuesday, January 31
Camp 3. We have everything ready to start--but this afternoon we tried our one pair of snow-shoes on 'Weary Willy.' The effect was magical. He strolled around as though walking on hard ground in places where he floundered woefully without them. Oates hasn't had any faith in these shoes at all, and I thought that even the quietest pony would need to be practised in their use.
Immediately after our experiment I decided that an effort must be made to get more, and within half an hour Meares and Wilson were on their way to the station more than 20 miles away. There is just the chance that the ice may not have gone out, but it is a very poor one I fear. At present it looks as though we might double our distance with the snow-shoes.
Atkinson is better to-day, but not by any means well, so that the delay is in his favour. We cannot start on till the dogs return with or without the shoes. The only other hope for this journey is that the Barrier gets harder farther out, but I feel that the prospect of this is not very bright. In any case it is something to have discovered the possibilities of these shoes.
Low temperature at night for first time. Min. 2.4°. Quite warm in tent.
Wednesday, February 1
Camp 3. A day of comparative inactivity and some disappointment. Meares and Wilson returned at noon, reporting the ice out beyond the Razor Back Island--no return to Cape Evans--no pony snow-shoes--alas! I have decided to make a start to-morrow without them. Late to-night Atkinson's foot was examined: it is bad and there's no possibility of its getting right for some days. He must be left behind--I've decided to leave Crean with him. Most luckily we now have an extra tent and cooker. How the ponies are to be led is very doubtful. Well, we must do the best that circumstances permit. Poor Atkinson is in very low spirits.
I sent Gran to the Discovery hut with our last mail. He went on ski and was nearly 4 hours away, making me rather anxious, as the wind had sprung up and there was a strong surface-drift; he narrowly missed the camp on returning and I am glad to get him back.
Our food allowance seems to be very ample, and if we go on as at present we shall thrive amazingly.
Thursday, February 2
Camp 4. Made a start at last. Roused out at 7, left camp about 10.30. Atkinson and Crean remained behind--very hard on the latter. Atkinson suffering much pain and mental distress at his condition--for the latter I fear I cannot have much sympathy, as he ought to have reported his trouble long before. Crean will manage to rescue some more of the forage from the Barrier edge--I am very sorry for him.
On starting with all the ponies (I leading Atkinson's) I saw with some astonishment that the animals were not sinking deeply, and to my pleased surprise we made good progress at once. This lasted for more than an hour, then the surface got comparatively bad again--but still most of the ponies did well with it, making 5 miles. Birdie's  animal, however, is very heavy and flounders where the others walk fairly easily. He is eager and tries to go faster as he flounders. As a result he was brought in, in a lather. I inquired for our one set of snow-shoes and found they had been left behind. The difference in surface from what was expected makes one wonder whether better conditions may not be expected during the night and in the morning, when the temperatures are low. My suggestion that we should take to night marching has met with general approval. Even if there is no improvement in the surface the ponies will rest better during the warmer hours and march better in the night.
So we are resting in our tents, waiting to start to-night. Gran has gone back for the snow-shoes--he volunteered good-naturedly--certainly his expertness on ski is useful.
Last night the temperature fell to -6° after the wind dropped--to-day it is warm and calm.
The seductive folds of the sleeping-bag.
The hiss of the primus and the fragrant steam of the cooker issuing from the tent ventilator.
The small green tent and the great white road.
The whine of a dog and the neigh of our steeds.
The driving cloud of powdered snow.
The crunch of footsteps which break the surface crust.
The wind blown furrows.
The blue arch beneath the smoky cloud.
The crisp ring of the ponies' hoofs and the swish of the following sledge.
The droning conversation of the march as driver encourages or chides his horse.
The patter of dog pads.
The gentle flutter of our canvas shelter.
Its deep booming sound under the full force of a blizzard.
The drift snow like finest flour penetrating every hole and corner--flickering up beneath one's head covering, pricking sharply as a sand blast.
The sun with blurred image peeping shyly through the wreathing drift giving pale shadowless light.
The eternal silence of the great white desert. Cloudy columns of snow drift advancing from the south, pale yellow wraiths, heralding the coming storm, blotting out one by one the sharp-cut lines of the land.
The blizzard, Nature's protest--the crevasse, Nature's pitfall--that grim trap for the unwary--no hunter could conceal his snare so perfectly--the light rippled snow bridge gives no hint or sign of the hidden danger, its position unguessable till man or beast is floundering, clawing and struggling for foothold on the brink.
The vast silence broken only by the mellow sounds of the marching column.
Friday, February 3, 8 A.M
Camp 5. Roused the camp at 10 P.M. and we started marching at 12.30. At first surface bad, but gradually improving. We had two short spells and set up temporary camp to feed ourselves and ponies at 3.20. Started again at 5 and marched till 7. In all covered 9 miles. Surface seemed to have improved during the last part of the march till just before camping time, when Bowers, who was leading, plunged into soft snow. Several of the others following close on his heels shared his fate, and soon three ponies were plunging and struggling in a drift. Garrard's pony, which has very broad feet, found hard stuff beyond and then my pony got round. Forde and Keohane led round on comparatively hard ground well to the right, and the entangled ponies were unharnessed and led round from patch to patch till firmer ground was reached. Then we camped and the remaining loads were brought in. Then came the triumph of the snow-shoe again. We put a set on Bowers' big pony--at first he walked awkwardly (for a few minutes only) then he settled down, was harnessed to his load, brought that in and another also--all over places into which he had been plunging. If we had more of these shoes we could certainly put them on seven out of eight of our ponies--and after a little I think on the eighth, Oates' pony, as certainly the ponies so shod would draw their loads over the soft snow patches without any difficulty. It is trying to feel that so great a help to our work has been left behind at the station.
It is pathetic to see the ponies floundering in the soft patches. The first sink is a shock to them and seems to brace them to action. Thus they generally try to rush through when they feel themselves sticking. If the patch is small they land snorting and agitated on the harder surface with much effort. And if the patch is extensive they plunge on gamely until exhausted. Most of them after a bit plunge forward with both forefeet together, making a series of jumps and bringing the sledge behind them with jerks. This is, of course, terribly tiring for them. Now and again they have to stop, and it is horrid to see them half engulfed in the snow, panting and heaving from the strain. Now and again one falls and lies trembling and temporarily exhausted. It must be terribly trying for them, but it is wonderful to see how soon they recover their strength. The quiet, lazy ponies have a much better time than the eager ones when such troubles arise.
The soft snow which gave the trouble is evidently in the hollow of one of the big waves that continue through the pressure ridges at Cape Crozier towards the Bluff. There are probably more of these waves, though we crossed several during the last part of the march--so far it seems that the soft parts are in patches only and do not extend the whole length of the hollow. Our course is to pick a way with the sure-footed beasts and keep the others back till the road has been tested.
What extraordinary uncertainties this work exhibits! Every day some new fact comes to light--some new obstacle which threatens the gravest obstruction. I suppose this is the reason which makes the game so well worth playing.
The more I think of our sledging outfit the more certain I am that we have arrived at something near a perfect equipment for civilised man under such conditions.
The border line between necessity and luxury is vague enough.
We might save weight at the expense of comfort, but all possible saving would amount to but a mere fraction of one's loads. Supposing it were a grim struggle for existence and we were forced to drop everything but the barest necessities, the total saving on this three weeks' journey would be:
lbs. Fuel for cooking 100 Cooking apparatus 45 Personal clothing, &c., say 100 Tent, say 30 Instruments, &c. 100 --- 375
This is half of one of ten sledge loads, or about one-twentieth of the total weight carried. If this is the only part of our weights which under any conceivable circumstances could be included in the category of luxuries, it follows the sacrifice to comfort is negligible. Certainly we could not have increased our mileage by making such a sacrifice.
But beyond this it may be argued that we have an unnecessary amount of food: 32 oz. per day per man is our allowance. I well remember the great strait of hunger to which we were reduced in 1903 after four or five weeks on 26 oz., and am perfectly confident that we were steadily losing stamina at that time. Let it be supposed that 4 oz. per day per man might conceivably be saved. We have then a 3 lbs. a day saved in the camp, or 63 lbs. in the three weeks, or 1/100th part of our present loads.
The smallness of the fractions on which the comfort and physical well-being of the men depend is due to the fact of travelling with animals whose needs are proportionately so much greater than those of the men. It follows that it must be sound policy to keep the men of a sledge party keyed up to a high pitch of well-fed physical condition as long as they have animals to drag their loads. The time for short rations, long marches and carefullest scrutiny of detail comes when the men are dependent on their own traction efforts.
It has been blowing from the S.W., but the wind is dying away--the sky is overcast--I write after 9 hours' sleep, the others still peacefully slumbering. Work with animals means long intervals of rest which are not altogether easily occupied. With our present routine the dogs remain behind for an hour or more, trying to hit off their arrival in the new camp soon after the ponies have been picketed. The teams are pulling very well, Meares' especially. The animals are getting a little fierce. Two white dogs in Meares' team have been trained to attack strangers--they were quiet enough on board ship, but now bark fiercely if anyone but their driver approaches the team. They suddenly barked at me as I was pointing out the stopping place to Meares, and Osman, my erstwhile friend, swept round and nipped my leg lightly. I had no stick and there is no doubt that if Meares had not been on the sledge the whole team, following the lead of the white dogs, would have been at me in a moment.
Hunger and fear are the only realities in dog life: an empty stomach makes a fierce dog. There is something almost alarming in the sudden fierce display of natural instinct in a tame creature. Instinct becomes a blind, unreasoning, relentless passion. For instance the dogs are as a rule all very good friends in harness: they pull side by side rubbing shoulders, they walk over each other as they settle to rest, relations seem quite peaceful and quiet. But the moment food is in their thoughts, however, their passions awaken; each dog is suspicious of his neighbour, and the smallest circumstance produces a fight. With like suddenness their rage flares out instantaneously if they get mixed up on the march--a quiet, peaceable team which has been lazily stretching itself with wagging tails one moment will become a set of raging, tearing, fighting devils the next. It is such stern facts that resign one to the sacrifice of animal life in the effort to advance such human projects as this.
The Corner Camp. [Bearings: Obs. Hill < Bluff 86°; Obs. Hill < Knoll 80 1/2°; Mt. Terror N. 4 W.; Obs. Hill N. 69 W.]
Saturday, February 4, 8 A.M., 1911
Camp 6. A satisfactory night march covering 10 miles and some hundreds of yards.
Roused party at 10, when it was blowing quite hard from the S.E., with temperature below zero. It looked as though we should have a pretty cold start, but by the end of breakfast the wind had dropped and the sun shone forth.
Started on a bad surface--ponies plunging a good deal for 2 miles or so, Bowers' 'Uncle Bill' walking steadily on his snow-shoes. After this the surface improved and the marching became steadier. We camped for lunch after 5 miles. Going still better in the afternoon, except that we crossed several crevasses. Oates' pony dropped his legs into two of these and sank into one--oddly the other ponies escaped and we were the last. Some 2 miles from our present position the cracks appeared to cease, and in the last march we have got on to quite a hard surface on which the ponies drag their loads with great ease. This part seems to be swept by the winds which so continually sweep round Cape Crozier, and therefore it is doubtful if it extends far to the south, but for the present the going should be good. Had bright moonshine for the march, but now the sky has clouded and it looks threatening to the south. I think we may have a blizzard, though the wind is northerly at present.
The ponies are in very good form; 'James Pigg' remarkably recovered from his lameness.
It is blowing a blizzard--wind moderate--temperature mild.
The deep, dreamless sleep that follows the long march and the satisfying supper.
The surface crust which breaks with a snap and sinks with a snap, startling men and animals.
Custom robs it of dread but not of interest to the dogs, who come to imagine such sounds as the result of some strange freak of hidden creatures. They become all alert and spring from side to side, hoping to catch the creature. The hope clings in spite of continual disappointment. 13
A dog must be either eating, asleep, or interested . His eagerness to snatch at interest, to chain his attention to something, is almost pathetic. The monotony of marching kills him.
This is the fearfullest difficulty for the dog driver on a snow plain without leading marks or objects in sight. The dog is almost human in its demand for living interest, yet fatally less than human in its inability to foresee.
The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment. The human being can live and support discomfort for a future.
Sunday, February 5
Corner Camp, No. 6. The blizzard descended on us at about 4 P.M. yesterday; for twenty-four hours it continued with moderate wind, then the wind shifting slightly to the west came with much greater violence. Now it is blowing very hard and our small frail tent is being well tested. One imagines it cannot continue long as at present, but remembers our proximity to Cape Crozier and the length of the blizzards recorded in that region. As usual we sleep and eat, conversing as cheerfully as may be in the intervals. There is scant news of our small outside world--only a report of comfort and a rumour that Bowers' pony has eaten one of its putties!!
Still blowing hard--a real blizzard now with dusty, floury drift--two minutes in the open makes a white figure. What a wonderful shelter our little tent affords! We have just had an excellent meal, a quiet pipe, and fireside conversation within, almost forgetful for the time of the howling tempest without;--now, as we lie in our bags warm and comfortable, one can scarcely realise that 'hell' is on the other side of the thin sheet of canvas that protects us.
Monday, February 6
Corner Camp, No. 6. 6 P.M. The wind increased in the night. It has been blowing very hard all day. No fun to be out of the tent--but there are no shirkers with us. Oates has been out regularly to feed the ponies; Meares and Wilson to attend to the dogs--the rest of us as occasion required. The ponies are fairly comfortable, though one sees now what great improvements could be made to the horse clothes. The dogs ought to be quite happy. They are curled snugly under the snow and at meal times issue from steaming warm holes. The temperature is high, luckily. We are comfortable enough in the tent, but it is terribly trying to the patience--over fifty hours already and no sign of the end. The drifts about the camp are very deep--some of the sledges almost covered. It is the old story, eat and sleep, sleep and eat--and it's surprising how much sleep can be put in.
Tuesday, February 7, 5 P.M
Corner Camp, No. 6. The wind kept on through the night, commencing to lull at 8 A.M. At 10 A.M. one could see an arch of clear sky to the S.W. and W., White Island, the Bluff, and the Western Mountains clearly defined. The wind had fallen very light and we were able to do some camp work, digging out sledges and making the ponies more comfortable. At 11 a low dark cloud crept over the southern horizon and there could be no doubt the wind was coming upon us again. At 1 P.M. the drift was all about us once more and the sun obscured. One began to feel that fortune was altogether too hard on us--but now as I write the wind has fallen again to a gentle breeze, the sun is bright, and the whole southern horizon clear. A good sign is the freedom of the Bluff from cloud. One feels that we ought to have a little respite for the next week, and now we must do everything possible to tend and protect our ponies. All looks promising for the night march.
Wednesday, February 8
No. 7 Camp. Bearings: Lat. 78° 13'; Mt. Terror N. 3 W.; Erebus 23 1/2 Terror 2nd peak from south; Pk. 2 White Island 74 Terror; Castle Rk. 43 Terror. Night march just completed. 10 miles, 200 yards. The ponies were much shaken by the blizzard. One supposes they did not sleep--all look listless and two or three are visibly thinner than before. But the worst case by far is Forde's little pony; he was reduced to a weight little exceeding 400 lbs. on his sledge and caved in altogether on the second part of the march. The load was reduced to 200 lbs., and finally Forde pulled this in, leading the pony. The poor thing is a miserable scarecrow and never ought to have been brought--it is the same pony that did so badly in the ship. To-day it is very fine and bright. We are giving a good deal of extra food to the animals, and my hope is that they will soon pick up again--but they cannot stand more blizzards in their present state. I'm afraid we shall not get very far, but at all hazards we must keep the greater number of the ponies alive. The dogs are in fine form--the blizzard has only been a pleasant rest for them .
Left No. 7 Camp. 2 bales of fodder.
Thursday, February 9
No. 8 Camp. Made good 11 miles. Good night march; surface excellent, but we are carrying very light loads with the exception of one or two ponies. Forde's poor 'Misery' is improving slightly. It is very keen on its feed. Its fate is much in doubt. Keohane's 'Jimmy Pigg' is less lame than yesterday. In fact there is a general buck up all round.
It was a coldish march with light head wind and temperature 5° or 6° below zero, but it was warm in the sun all yesterday and promises to be warm again to-day. If such weather would hold there would be nothing to fear for the ponies. We have come to the conclusion that the principal cause of their discomfort is the comparative thinness of their coats.
We get the well-remembered glorious views of the Western Mountains, but now very distant. No crevasses to-day. I shall be surprised if we pass outside all sign of them.
One begins to see how things ought to be worked next year if the ponies hold out. Ponies and dogs are losing their snow blindness.
Friday, February 10
No. 9 Camp. 12 miles 200 yards. Cold march, very chilly wind, overcast sky, difficult to see surface or course.
Noticed sledges, ponies, &c., cast shadows all round.
Surface very good and animals did splendidly.
We came over some undulations during the early part of the march, but the last part appeared quite flat. I think I remember observing the same fact on our former trip.
The wind veers and backs from S. to W. and even to N., coming in gusts. The sastrugi are distinctly S.S.W. There isn't a shadow of doubt that the prevailing wind is along the coast, taking the curve of the deep bay south of the Bluff.
The question now is: Shall we by going due southward keep this hard surface? If so, we should have little difficulty in reaching the Beardmore Glacier next year.
We turn out of our sleeping-bags about 9 P.M. Somewhere about 11.30 I shout to the Soldier 'How are things?' There is a response suggesting readiness, and soon after figures are busy amongst sledges and ponies. It is chilling work for the fingers and not too warm for the feet. The rugs come off the animals, the harness is put on, tents and camp equipment are loaded on the sledges, nosebags filled for the next halt; one by one the animals are taken off the picketing rope and yoked to the sledge. Oates watches his animal warily, reluctant to keep such a nervous creature standing in the traces. If one is prompt one feels impatient and fretful whilst watching one's more tardy fellows. Wilson and Meares hang about ready to help with odds and ends. Still we wait: the picketing lines must be gathered up, a few pony putties need adjustment, a party has been slow striking their tent. With numbed fingers on our horse's bridle and the animal striving to turn its head from the wind one feels resentful. At last all is ready. One says 'All right, Bowers, go ahead,' and Birdie leads his big animal forward, starting, as he continues, at a steady pace. The horses have got cold and at the word they are off, the Soldier's and one or two others with a rush. Finnesko give poor foothold on the slippery sastrugi, and for a minute or two drivers have some difficulty in maintaining the pace on their feet. Movement is warming, and in ten minutes the column has settled itself to steady marching.
The pace is still brisk, the light bad, and at intervals one or another of us suddenly steps on a slippery patch and falls prone. These are the only real incidents of the march--for the rest it passes with a steady tramp and slight variation of formation. The weaker ponies drop a bit but not far, so that they are soon up in line again when the first halt is made. We have come to a single halt in each half march. Last night it was too cold to stop long and a very few minutes found us on the go again.
As the end of the half march approaches I get out my whistle. Then at a shrill blast Bowers wheels slightly to the left, his tent mates lead still farther out to get the distance for the picket lines; Oates and I stop behind Bowers and Evans, the two other sledges of our squad behind the two other of Bowers'. So we are drawn up in camp formation. The picket lines are run across at right angles to the line of advance and secured to the two sledges at each end. In a few minutes ponies are on the lines covered, tents up again and cookers going.
Meanwhile the dog drivers, after a long cold wait at the old camp, have packed the last sledge and come trotting along our tracks. They try to time their arrival in the new camp immediately after our own and generally succeed well. The mid march halt runs into an hour to an hour and a half, and at the end we pack up and tramp forth again. We generally make our final camp about 8 o'clock, and within an hour and a half most of us are in our sleeping-bags. Such is at present the daily routine. At the long halt we do our best for our animals by building snow walls and improving their rugs, &c.
Saturday, February 11
No. 10 Camp. Bearings: Lat. 78° 47'. Bluff S. 79 W.; Left extreme Bluff 65°; Bluff A White Island near Sound. 11 miles. Covered 6 and 5 miles between halts. The surface has got a good deal softer. In the next two marches we should know more certainly, but it looks as though the conditions to the south will not be so good as those we have had hitherto.
Blossom, Evans' pony, has very small hoofs and found the going very bad. It is less a question of load than one of walking, and there is no doubt that some form of snow-shoe would help greatly. The question is, what form?
All the ponies were a little done when we stopped, but the weather is favourable for a good rest; there is no doubt this night marching is the best policy.
Even the dogs found the surface more difficult to-day, but they are pulling very well. Meares has deposed Osman in favour of Rabchick, as the former was getting either very disobedient or very deaf. The change appears excellent. Rabchick leads most obediently.
Mem. for next year. A stout male bamboo shod with a spike to sound for crevasses.
Sunday, February 12
No. 11 Camp. 10 miles. Depot one Bale of Fodder. Variation 150 E. South True = N. 30 E. by compass. The surface is getting decidedly worse. The ponies sink quite deep every now and again. We marched 6 1/4 miles before lunch, Blossom dropping considerably behind. He lagged more on the second march and we halted at 9 miles. Evans said he might be dragged for another mile and we went on for that distance and camped.
The sky was overcast: very dark and snowy looking in the south--very difficult to steer a course. Mt. Discovery is in line with the south end of the Bluff from the camp and we are near the 79th parallel. We must get exact bearings for this is to be called the 'Bluff Camp' and should play an important part in the future. Bearings: Bluff 36° 13'; Black Island Rht. Ex. I have decided to send E. Evans, Forde, and Keohane back with the three weakest ponies which they have been leading. The remaining five ponies which have been improving in condition will go on for a few days at least, and we must see how near we can come to the 80th parallel.
To-night we have been making all the necessary arrangements for this plan. Cherry-Garrard is to come into our tent.
Monday, February 13
No. 12 Camp. 9 miles 150 yds. The wind got up from the south with drift before we started yesterday--all appearance of a blizzard. But we got away at 12.30 and marched through drift for 7 miles. It was exceedingly cold at first. Just at starting the sky cleared in the wonderfully rapid fashion usual in these regions. We saw that our camp had the southern edge of the base rock of the Bluff in line with Mt. Discovery, and White Island well clear of the eastern slope of Mt. Erebus. A fairly easy alignment to pick up.
At lunch time the sky lightened up and the drift temporarily ceased. I thought we were going to get in a good march, but on starting again the drift came thicker than ever and soon the course grew wild. We went on for 2 miles and then I decided to camp. So here we are with a full blizzard blowing. I told Wilson I should camp if it grew thick, and hope he and Meares have stopped where they were. They saw Evans start back from No. 11 Camp before leaving. I trust they have got in something of a march before stopping. This continuous bad weather is exceedingly trying, but our own ponies are quite comfortable this time, I'm glad to say. We have built them extensive snow walls behind which they seem to get quite comfortable shelter. We are five in a tent yet fairly comfortable.
Our ponies' coats are certainly getting thicker and I see no reason why we shouldn't get to the 80th parallel if only the weather would give us a chance.
Bowers is wonderful. Throughout the night he has worn no head-gear but a common green felt hat kept on with a chin stay and affording no cover whatever for the ears. His face and ears remain bright red. The rest of us were glad to have thick Balaclavas and wind helmets. I have never seen anyone so unaffected by the cold. To-night he remained outside a full hour after the rest of us had got into the tent. He was simply pottering about the camp doing small jobs to the sledges, &c. Cherry-Garrard is remarkable because of his eyes. He can only see through glasses and has to wrestle with all sorts of inconveniences in consequence. Yet one could never guess it--for he manages somehow to do more than his share of the work.
Tuesday, February 14
13 Camp. 7 miles 650 yards. A disappointing day: the weather had cleared, the night was fine though cold, temperature well below zero with a keen S.W. breeze. Soon after the start we struck very bad surface conditions. The ponies sank lower than their hocks frequently and the soft patches of snow left by the blizzard lay in sandy heaps, making great friction for the runners. We struggled on, but found Gran with Weary Willy dropping to the rear. I consulted Oates as to distance and he cheerfully proposed 15 miles for the day! This piqued me somewhat and I marched till the sledge meter showed 6 1/2 miles. By this time Weary Willy had dropped about three-quarters of a mile and the dog teams were approaching. Suddenly we heard much barking in the distance, and later it was evident that something had gone wrong. Oates and then I hurried back. I met Meares, who told me the dogs of his team had got out of hand and attacked Weary Willy when they saw him fall. Finally they had been beaten off and W.W. was being led without his sledge. W.W. had been much bitten, but luckily I think not seriously: he appears to have made a gallant fight, and bit and shook some of the dogs with his teeth. Gran did his best, breaking his ski stick. Meares broke his dog stick--one way and another the dogs must have had a rocky time, yet they seemed to bear charmed lives when their blood is up, as apparently not one of them has been injured.
After lunch four of us went back and dragged up the load. It taught us the nature of the surface more than many hours of pony leading!! The incident is deplorable and the blame widespread. I find W.W.'s load was much heavier than that of the other ponies.
I blame myself for not supervising these matters more effectively and for allowing W.W. to get so far behind.
We started off again after lunch, but when we had done two-thirds of a mile, W.W.'s condition made it advisable to halt. He has been given a hot feed, a large snow wall, and some extra sacking--the day promises to be quiet and warm for him, and one can only hope that these measures will put him right again. But the whole thing is very annoying.
Arrangements for ponies.
1. Hot bran or oat mashes.
2. Clippers for breaking wires of bales.
3. Pickets for horses.
4. Lighter ponies to take 10 ft. sledges?
The surface is so crusty and friable that the question of snow-shoes again becomes of great importance.
All the sastrugi are from S.W. by S. to S.W. and all the wind that we have experienced in this region--there cannot be a doubt that the wind sweeps up the coast at all seasons.
A point has arisen as to the deposition. David  called the crusts seasonal. This must be wrong; they mark blizzards, but after each blizzard fresh crusts are formed only over the patchy heaps left by the blizzard. A blizzard seems to leave heaps which cover anything from one-sixth to one-third of the whole surface--such heaps presumably turn hollows into mounds with fresh hollows between--these are filled in turn by ensuing blizzards. If this is so, the only way to get at the seasonal deposition would be to average the heaps deposited and multiply this by the number of blizzards in the year.
Monday, February 15
14 Camp. 7 miles 775 yards. The surface was wretched to-day, the two drawbacks of yesterday (the thin crusts which let the ponies through and the sandy heaps which hang on the runners) if anything exaggerated.
Bowers' pony refused work at intervals for the first time. His hind legs sink very deep. Weary Willy is decidedly better. The Soldier takes a gloomy view of everything, but I've come to see that this is a characteristic of him. In spite of it he pays every attention to the weaker horses.
We had frequent halts on the march, but managed 4 miles before lunch and 3 1/2 after.
The temperature was -15° at the lunch camp. It was cold sitting in the tent waiting for the ponies to rest. The thermometer is now -7°, but there is a bright sun and no wind, which makes the air feel quite comfortable: one's socks and finnesko dry well. Our provision allowance is working out very well. In fact all is well with us except the condition of the ponies. The more I see of the matter the more certain I am that we must save all the ponies to get better value out of them next year. It would have been ridiculous to have worked some out this year as the Soldier wished. Even now I feel we went too far with the first three.
One thing is certain. A good snow-shoe would be worth its weight in gold on this surface, and if we can get something really practical we ought to greatly increase our distances next year.
Storage of biscuit next year, lashing cases on sledges.
Look into sledgemeter.
Picket lines for ponies.
Food tanks to be size required.
Two sledges altered to take steel runners.
Stowage of pony food. Enough sacks for ready bags.
Thursday, February 16
6 miles 1450 yards. 15 Camp. The surface a good deal better, but the ponies running out. Three of the five could go on without difficulty. Bowers' pony might go on a bit, but Weary Willy is a good deal done up, and to push him further would be to risk him unduly, so to-morrow we turn. The temperature on the march to-night fell to -21° with a brisk S.W. breeze. Bowers started out as usual in his small felt hat, ears uncovered. Luckily I called a halt after a mile and looked at him. His ears were quite white. Cherry and I nursed them back whilst the patient seemed to feel nothing but intense surprise and disgust at the mere fact of possessing such unruly organs. Oates' nose gave great trouble. I got frostbitten on the cheek lightly, as also did Cherry-Garrard.
Tried to march in light woollen mits to great discomfort.
Friday, February 17
Camp 15. Lat. 79° 28 1/2' S. It clouded over yesterday--the temperature rose and some snow fell. Wind from the south, cold and biting, as we turned out. We started to build the depot. I had intended to go on half a march and return to same camp, leaving Weary Willy to rest, but under the circumstances did not like to take risk.
Stores left in depot:
Lat. 79° 29'. Depot.
245 7 weeks' full provision bags for 1 unit 12 2 days' provision bags for 1 unit 8 8 weeks' tea 31 6 weeks' extra butter 176 176 lbs. biscuit (7 weeks full biscuit) 85 8 1/2 gallons oil (12 weeks oil for 1 unit) 850 5 sacks of oats 424 4 bales of fodder 250 Tank of dog biscuit 100 2 cases of biscuit ---- 2181
1 skein white line 1 set breast harness 2 12 ft. sledges 2 pair ski, 1 pair ski sticks 1 Minimum Thermometer 1 tin Rowntree cocoa 1 tin matches
With packing we have landed considerably over a ton of stuff. It is a pity we couldn't get to 80°, but as it is we shall have a good leg up for next year and can at least feed the ponies full up to this point.
Our Camp 15 is very well marked, I think. Besides the flagstaff and black flag we have piled biscuit boxes, filled and empty, to act as reflectors--secured tea tins to the sledges, which are planted upright in the snow. The depot cairn is more than 6 ft. above the surface, very solid and large; then there are the pony protection walls; altogether it should show up for many miles.
I forgot to mention that looking back on the 15th we saw a cairn built on a camp 12 1/2 miles behind--it was miraged up.
It seems as though some of our party will find spring journeys pretty trying. Oates' nose is always on the point of being frostbitten; Meares has a refractory toe which gives him much trouble--this is the worst prospect for summit work. I have been wondering how I shall stick the summit again, this cold spell gives ideas. I think I shall be all right, but one must be prepared for a pretty good doing.
CHAPTER VI - ADVENTURE AND PERIL
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