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Scott's Last Expedition

Friday, February 10th 1911

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.

Telephoto of Mt. Lister. Feb. 10th 1911.
“Telephoto of Mt. Lister. Feb. 10th 1911.”

Telephoto of Mt. Lister. Feb. 10th 1911
“Telephoto of Mt. Lister. Feb. 10th 1911”

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