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Scott's Last Expedition

Tuesday, January 3rd 1911 6pm

6 P.M. No good!! Alas! Cape Crozier with all its attractions is denied us.

We came up to the Barrier five miles east of the Cape soon after 1 P.M. The swell from the E.N.E. continued to the end. The Barrier was not more than 60 feet in height. From the crow’s nest one could see well over it, and noted that there was a gentle slope for at least a mile towards the edge. The land of Black (or White?) Island could be seen distinctly behind, topping the huge lines of pressure ridges. We plotted the Barrier edge from the point at which we met it to the Crozier cliffs; to the eye it seems scarcely to have changed since Discovery days, and Wilson thinks it meets the cliff in the same place.

The Barrier takes a sharp turn back at 2 or 3 miles from the cliffs, runs back for half a mile, then west again with a fairly regular surface until within a few hundred yards of the cliffs; the interval is occupied with a single high pressure ridge – the evidences of pressure at the edge being less marked than I had expected.

Ponting was very busy with cinematograph and camera. In the angle at the corner near the cliffs Rennick got a sounding of 140 fathoms and Nelson some temperatures and samples. When lowering the water bottle on one occasion the line suddenly became slack at 100 metres, then after a moment’s pause began to run out again. We are curious to know the cause, and imagine the bottle struck a seal or whale.
Meanwhile, one of the whale boats was lowered and Wilson, Griffith Taylor, Priestley, Evans, and I were pulled towards the shore. The after-guard are so keen that the proper boat’s crew was displaced and the oars manned by Oates, Atkinson, and Cherry-Garrard, the latter catching several crabs.

The swell made it impossible for us to land. I had hoped to see whether there was room to pass between the pressure ridge and the cliff, a route by which Royds once descended to the Emperor rookery; as we approached the corner we saw that a large piece of sea floe ice had been jammed between the Barrier and the cliff and had buckled up till its under surface stood 3 or 4 ft. above the water. On top of this old floe we saw an old Emperor moulting and a young one shedding its down. (The down had come off the head and flippers and commenced to come off the breast in a vertical line similar to the ordinary moult.) This is an age and stage of development of the Emperor chick of which we have no knowledge, and it would have been a triumph to have secured the chick, but, alas! there was no way to get at it. Another most curious sight was the feet and tails of two chicks and the flipper of an adult bird projecting from the ice on the under side of the jammed floe; they had evidently been frozen in above and were being washed out under the floe.

Finding it impossible to land owing to the swell, we pulled along the cliffs for a short way. These Crozier cliffs are remarkably interesting. The rock, mainly volcanic tuff, includes thick strata of columnar basalt, and one could see beautiful designs of jammed and twisted columns as well as caves with whole and half pillars very much like a miniature Giant’s Causeway. Bands of bright yellow occurred in the rich brown of the cliffs, caused, the geologists think, by the action of salts on the brown rock. In places the cliffs overhung. In places, the sea had eaten long low caves deep under them, and continued to break into them over a shelving beach. Icicles hung pendant everywhere, and from one fringe a continuous trickle of thaw water had swollen to a miniature waterfall. It was like a big hose playing over the cliff edge. We noticed a very clear echo as we passed close to a perpendicular rock face. Later we returned to the ship, which had been trying to turn in the bay–she is not very satisfactory in this respect owing to the difficulty of starting the engines either ahead or astern–several minutes often elapse after the telegraph has been put over before there is any movement of the engines.

It makes the position rather alarming when one is feeling one’s way into some doubtful corner. When the whaler was hoisted we proceeded round to the penguin rookery; hopes of finding a quiet landing had now almost disappeared.

There were several small grounded bergs close to the rookery; going close to these we got repeated soundings varying from 34 down to 12 fathoms. There is evidently a fairly extensive bank at the foot of the rookery. There is probably good anchorage behind some of the bergs, but none of these afford shelter for landing on the beach, on which the sea is now breaking incessantly; it would have taken weeks to land the ordinary stores and heaven only knows how we could have got the ponies and motor sledges ashore. Reluctantly and sadly we have had to abandon our cherished plan – it is a thousand pities. Every detail of the shore promised well for a wintering party. Comfortable quarters for the hut, ice for water, snow for the animals, good slopes for ski-ing, vast tracks of rock for walks. Proximity to the Barrier and to the rookeries of two types of penguins – easy ascent of Mount Terror – good ground for biological work – good peaks for observation of all sorts – fairly easy approach to the Southern Road, with no chance of being cut off – and so forth. It is a thousand pities to have to abandon such a spot.

On passing the rookery it seemed to me we had been wrong in assuming that all the guano is blown away. I think there must be a pretty good deposit in places. The penguins could be seen very clearly from the ship. On the large rookery they occupy an immense acreage, and one imagines have extended as far as shelter can be found. But on the small rookery they are patchy and there seems ample room for the further extension of the colonies. Such unused spaces would have been ideal for a wintering station if only some easy way could have been found to land stores.

I noted many groups of penguins on the snow slopes over-looking the sea far from the rookeries, and one finds it difficult to understand why they meander away to such places.

A number of killer whales rose close to the ship when we were opposite the rookery. What an excellent time these animals must have with thousands of penguins passing to and fro!

We saw our old Discovery post-office pole sticking up as erect as when planted, and we have been comparing all we have seen with old photographs. No change at all seems to have taken place anywhere, and this is very surprising in the case of the Barrier edge.
From the penguin rookeries to the west it is a relentless coast with high ice cliffs and occasional bare patches of rock showing through. Even if landing were possible, the grimmest crevassed snow slopes lie behind to cut one off from the Barrier surface; there is no hope of shelter till we reach Cape Royds.

Meanwhile all hands are employed making a running survey. I give an idea of the programme opposite. Terror cleared itself of cloud some hours ago, and we have had some change in views of it. It is quite certain that the ascent would be easy. The Bay on the north side of Erebus is much deeper than shown on the chart.

The sun has been obstinate all day, peeping out occasionally and then shyly retiring; it makes a great difference to comfort.

Bruce continually checking speed with hand log.
Bowers taking altitudes of objects as they come abeam. Nelson noting results.
Pennell taking verge plate bearings on bow and quarter. Cherry-Garrard noting results.
Evans taking verge plate bearings abeam. Atkinson noting results.
Campbell taking distances abeam with range finder. Wright noting results.
Rennick sounding with Thomson machine. Drake noting results.

Beaufort Island looks very black from the south.

Ice-blink over the Barrier. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Ice-blink over the Barrier. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

End of the Barrier at Cape Crozier. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“End of the Barrier at Cape Crozier. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

End of the Barrier. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“End of the Barrier. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

Cape Crozier Precipices. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Cape Crozier Precipices. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

Glacier breaking off the Cape Crozier Penguin Rookery. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Glacier breaking off the Cape Crozier Penguin Rookery. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

Glacier breaking off the Cape Crozier Penguin Rookery. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Glacier breaking off the Cape Crozier Penguin Rookery. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

Killer Whale off the Penguin Rookery. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Killer Whale off the Penguin Rookery. Jan. 3rd 1911.”



The pram going off to Cape Crozier
“The pram going off to Cape Crozier”

View of the barrier at 1.45 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“View of the barrier at 1.45 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

Mount Terror about noon. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Mount Terror about noon. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

The Barrier and Mount Terror. 2 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“The Barrier and Mount Terror. 2 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

Mt. Terror at 6 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Mt. Terror at 6 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

Mt. Terror at 6 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.
“Mt. Terror at 6 p.m. Jan. 3rd 1911.”

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