Safety Camp. Turned out at 11 this morning after 4 hours’ sleep.
Wilson, Meares, Evans, Cherry-Garrard, and I went to Hut Point. Found a great enigma. The hut was cleared and habitable – but no one was there. A pencil line on the wall said that a bag containing a mail was inside, but no bag could be found. We puzzled much, then finally decided on the true solution, viz. that Atkinson and Crean had gone towards Safety Camp as we went to Hut Point – later we saw their sledge track leading round on the sea ice. Then we returned towards Safety Camp and endured a very bad hour in which we could see the two bell tents but not the domed. It was an enormous relief to find the dome securely planted, as the ice round Cape Armitage is evidently very weak; I have never seen such enormous water holes off it.
But every incident of the day pales before the startling contents of the mail bag which Atkinson gave me – a letter from Campbell setting out his doings and the finding of Amundsen established in the Bay of Whales.
One thing only fixes itself definitely in my mind. The proper, as well as the wiser, course for us is to proceed exactly as though this had not happened. To go forward and do our best for the honour of the country without fear or panic.
There is no doubt that Amundsen’s plan is a very serious menace to ours. He has a shorter distance to the Pole by 60 miles – I never thought he could have got so many dogs safely to the ice. His plan for running them seems excellent. But above and beyond all he can start his journey early in the season – an impossible condition with ponies.
The ice is still in at the Glacier Tongue: a very late date – it looks as though it will not break right back this season, but off Cape Armitage it is so thin that I doubt if the ponies could safely be walked round.