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Scott's Last Expedition

Archive for March, 1911

Monday, March 20th 1911

Monday, March 20th, 1911

On Saturday night it blew hard from the south, thick overhead, low stratus and drift. The sea spray again came over the ice foot and flung up almost to the dogs; by Sunday morning the wind had veered to the S.E., and all yesterday it blew with great violence and temperature down to -11º and -12º.

We were confined to the hut and its immediate environs. Last night the wind dropped, and for a few hours this morning we had light airs only, the temperature rising to -2º.

The continuous bad weather is very serious for the dogs. We have strained every nerve to get them comfortable, but the changes of wind made it impossible to afford shelter in all directions. Some five or six dogs are running loose, but we dare not allow the stronger animals such liberty. They suffer much from the cold, but they don’t get worse.

The small white dog which fell into the crevasse on our home journey died yesterday. Under the best circumstances I doubt if it could have lived, as there had evidently been internal injury and an external sore had grown gangrenous. Three other animals are in a poor way, but may pull through with luck.

We had a stroke of luck to-day. The young ice pressed up off Hut Point has remained fast – a small convenient platform jutting out from the point. We found two seals on it to-day and killed them – thus getting a good supply of meat for the dogs and some more blubber for our fire. Other seals came up as the first two were being skinned, so that one may now hope to keep up all future supplies on this side of the ridge.

As I write the wind is blowing up again and looks like returning to the south. The only comfort is that these strong cold winds with no sun must go far to cool the waters of the Sound.

The continuous bad weather is trying to the spirits, but we are fairly comfortable in the hut and only suffer from lack of exercise to work off the heavy meals our appetites demand.

Saturday, March 18th 1911

Saturday, March 18th, 1911

Still blowing and drifting. It seems as though there can be no peace at this spot till the sea is properly frozen over. It blew very hard from the S.E. yesterday – I could scarcely walk against the wind. In the night it fell calm; the moon shone brightly at midnight. Then the sky became overcast and the temperature rose to +11. Now the wind is coming in spurts from the south – all indications of a blizzard.

With the north wind of Friday the ice must have pressed up on Hut Point. A considerable floe of pressed up young ice is grounded under the point, and this morning we found a seal on this. Just as the party started out to kill it, it slid off into the water – it had evidently finished its sleep – but it is encouraging to have had a chance to capture a seal so close to the hut.

Friday, March 17th 1911

Friday, March 17th, 1911

We killed eleven seals at Pram Point on Wednesday, had lunch on the Point, and carried some half ton of the blubber and meat back to camp – it was a stiff pull up the hill.

Yesterday the last Corner Party started: Evans, Wright, Crean, and Forde in one team; Bowers, Oates, Cherry-Garrard, and Atkinson in the other. It was very sporting of Wright to join in after only a day’s rest. He is evidently a splendid puller.

Debenham has become principal cook, and evidently enjoys the task.

Taylor is full of good spirits and anecdote, an addition to the party.

Yesterday after a beautifully fine morning we got a strong northerly wind which blew till the middle of the night, crowding the young ice up the Strait. Then the wind suddenly shifted to the south, and I thought we were in for a blizzard; but this morning the wind has gone to the S.E. – the stratus cloud formed by the north wind is dissipating, and the damp snow deposited in the night is drifting. It looks like a fine evening.

Steadily we are increasing the comforts of the hut. The stove has been improved out of all recognition; with extra stove-pipes we get no back draughts, no smoke inside, whilst the economy of fuel is much increased.

Insulation inside and out is the subject we are now attacking.

The young ice is going to and fro, but the sea refuses to freeze over so far – except in the region of Pram Point, where a bay has remained for some four days holding some pieces of Barrier in its grip. These pieces have come from the edge of the Barrier and some are crumbling already, showing a deep and rapid surface deposit of snow and therefore the probability that they are drifted sea ice not more than a year or two old, the depth of the drift being due to proximity to an old Barrier edge.

I have just taken to pyjama trousers and shall don an extra shirt – I have been astonished at the warmth which I have felt throughout in light clothing. So far I have had nothing more than a singlet and jersey under pyjama jacket and a single pair of drawers under wind trousers. A hole in the drawers of ancient date means that one place has had no covering but the wind trousers, yet I have never felt cold about the body.

In spite of all little activities I am impatient of our wait here. But I shall be impatient also in the main hut. It is ill to sit still and contemplate the ruin which has assailed our transport. The scheme of advance must be very different from that which I first contemplated. The Pole is a very long way off, alas!

Bit by bit I am losing all faith in the dogs – I’m afraid they will never go the pace we look for.

Wednesday, March 15th 1911

Wednesday, March 15th, 1911

It was blowing continuously from the south throughout Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday – I never remember such a persistent southerly wind.

Both Monday and Tuesday I went up Crater Hill. I feared that our floe at Pram Point would go, but yesterday it still remained, though the cracks are getting more open. We should be in a hole if it went.

As I came down the hill yesterday I saw a strange figure advancing and found it belonged to Griffith Taylor. He and his party had returned safely. They were very full of their adventures. The main part of their work seems to be rediscovery of many facts which were noted but perhaps passed over too lightly in the Discovery – but it is certain that the lessons taught by the physiographical and ice features will now be thoroughly explained. A very interesting fact lies in the continuous bright sunshiny weather which the party enjoyed during the first four weeks of their work. They seem to have avoided all our stormy winds and blizzards.

But I must leave Griffith Taylor to tell his own story, which will certainly be a lengthy one. The party gives Evans [P.O.] a very high character.

To-day we have a large seal-killing party. I hope to get in a good fortnight’s allowance of blubber as well as meat, and pray that our floe will remain.

Nelson attaching townet to kite. March 15th 1911
“Nelson attaching townet to kite. March 15th 1911”

Nelson and Day landing the townet. March 15th 1911
“Nelson and Day landing the townet. March 15th 1911 ”

Day landing the Tow-Net from the Kite
“Day landing the Tow-Net from the Kite”

Nelson and Day sending up the Tow-Net on the Kite string
“Nelson and Day sending up the Tow-Net on the Kite string”

Day starting the Kite
“Day starting the Kite”

Pancake ice forming into floe off Cape Evans. March 15th 1911
“Pancake ice forming into floe off Cape Evans. March 15th 1911”

Pancake ice forming into floe off Cape Evans. March 15th 1911
“Pancake ice forming into floe off Cape Evans. March 15th 1911”

Weddell seal. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911
“Weddell seal. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911”

Weddell seal. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911
“Weddell seal. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911”

Weddell seal. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911
“Weddell seal. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911”

Weddell seal, diving off the ice. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911
“Weddell seal, diving off the ice. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911”

Weddell seal, diving off the ice. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911
“Weddell seal, diving off the ice. Cape Evans. March 15th 1911”

Monday, March 13th 1911

Monday, March 13th, 1911

The weather grew bad on Saturday night and we had a mild blizzard yesterday. The wind went to the south and increased in force last night, and this morning there was quite a heavy sea breaking over the ice foot. The spray came almost up to the dogs. It reminds us of the gale in which we drove ashore in the Discovery. We have had some trouble with our blubber stove and got the hut very full of smoke on Saturday night. As a result we are all as black as sweeps and our various garments are covered with oily soot. We look a fearful gang of ruffians. The blizzard has delayed our plans and everyone’s attention is bent on the stove, the cooking, and the various internal arrangements. Nothing is done without a great amount of advice received from all quarters, and consequently things are pretty well done. The hut has a pungent odour of blubber and blubber smoke. We have grown accustomed to it, but imagine that ourselves and our clothes will be given a wide berth when we return to Cape Evans.

Saturday, March 11th, 1911

Saturday, March 11th, 1911

Went yesterday morning to Pram Point to fetch in blubber – wind very strong to Gap but very little on Pram Point side.

In the evening went half-way to Castle Rock; strong bitter cold wind on summit. Could not see the sledge party, but after supper they arrived, having had very hard pulling. They had had no wind at all till they approached the hut. Their temperatures had fallen to -10º and -15º, but with bright clear sunshine in the daytime. They had thoroughly enjoyed their trip and the pulling on ski.

Life in the hut is much improved, but if things go too fast there will be all too little to think about and give occupation in the hut.

It is astonishing how the miscellaneous assortment of articles remaining in and about the hut have been put to useful purpose.

This deserves description.

Friday, March 10th, 1911

Friday, March 10th, 1911

Went yesterday to Castle Rock with Wilson to see what chance there might be of getting to Cape Evans. The day was bright and it was quite warm walking in the sun. There is no doubt the route to Cape Evans lies over the worst corner of Erebus. From this distance the whole mountain side looks a mass of crevasses, but a route might be found at a level of 3000 or 4000 ft.

The hut is getting warmer and more comfortable. We have very excellent nights; it is cold only in the early morning. The outside temperatures range from 8º or so in the day to 2º at night. To-day there is a strong S.E. wind with drift. We are going to fetch more blubber for the stove.

Thursday, March 9th, 1911

Thursday, March 9th, 1911

Yesterday and to-day very busy about the hut and overcoming difficulties fast. The stove threatened to exhaust our store of firewood. We have redesigned it so that it takes only a few chips of wood to light it and then continues to give great heat with blubber alone. To-day there are to be further improvements to regulate the draught and increase the cooking range. We have further housed in the living quarters with our old Discovery winter awning, and begin already to retain the heat which is generated inside. We are beginning to eat blubber and find biscuits fried in it to be delicious.

We really have everything necessary for our comfort and only need a little more experience to make the best of our resources. The weather has been wonderfully, perhaps ominously, fine during the last few days. The sea has frozen over and broken up several times already. The warm sun has given a grand opportunity to dry all gear.

Yesterday morning Bowers went with a party to pick up the stores rescued from the floe last week. Evans volunteered to join the party with Meares, Keohane, Atkinson, and Gran. They started from the hut about 10 A.M.; we helped them up the hill, and at 7.30 I saw them reach the camp containing the gear, some 12 miles away. I don’t expect them in till to-morrow night.

It is splendid to see the way in which everyone is learning the ropes, and the resource which is being shown. Wilson as usual leads in the making of useful suggestions and in generally providing for our wants. He is a tower of strength in checking the ill-usage of clothes – what I have come to regard as the greatest danger with Englishmen.

Morainic cones, Erebus in background. Day on top. March 9th 1911
“Morainic cones, Erebus in background. Day on top. March 9th 1911”

Morainic cones, Erebus in background. Day on top. March 9th 1911
“Morainic cones, Erebus in background. Day on top. March 9th 1911”

Young pancake ice forming at West Beach. Erebus in background. March 9th 1911
“Young pancake ice forming at West Beach. Erebus in background. March 9th 1911”

Young pancake ice forming at West Beach. Erebus in background. March 9th 1911
“Young pancake ice forming at West Beach. Erebus in background. March 9th 1911”

Young pancake ice forming at West Beach. Erebus in background. March 9th 1911
“Young pancake ice forming at West Beach. Erebus in background. March 9th 1911”

Pancake ice forming on sea. March 9th 1911
“Pancake ice forming on sea. March 9th 1911”

Wednesday, 8th March, 1911

Wednesday, March 8th, 1911
Weathered Kenyte boulder near house. March 8th 1911
“Weathered Kenyte boulder near house. March 8th 1911”
Weathered Kenyte boulder near house. “The Antarcticosauras”. March 8th 1911
“Weathered Kenyte boulder near house. “The Antarcticosauras”. March 8th 1911″
Weathered Kenyte boulder near house. “The Antarcticosauras”. March 8th 1911
“Weathered Kenyte boulder near house. “The Antarcticosauras”. March 8th 1911″
Weathered ice after blizzard at Cape Evans, looking to castle Rock. March 8th 1911
“Weathered ice after blizzard at Cape Evans, looking to castle Rock. March 8th 1911”
Weathered ice after blizzard at Cape Evans, looking to Castle Rock. March 8th 1911
“Weathered ice after blizzard at Cape Evans, looking to Castle Rock. March 8th 1911”
Spray ridges of ice. Cape Evans. Inaccessible Island in distance. March 8th 1911
“Spray ridges of ice. Cape Evans. Inaccessible Island in distance. March 8th 1911”
Weathered ice furrows after a blizzard at Cape Evans. March 8th 1911
“Weathered ice furrows after a blizzard at Cape Evans. March 8th 1911”
Weathered ice furrows after a blizzard at Cape Evans, and crevasse, looking towards Turks Head. March 8th 1911
“Weathered ice furrows after a blizzard at Cape Evans, and crevasse, looking towards Turks Head. March 8th 1911”
Weathered ice furrows after a blizzard at Cape Evans, and crevasse, looking towards Turks Head. March 8th 1911
“Weathered ice furrows after a blizzard at Cape Evans, and crevasse, looking towards Turks Head. March 8th 1911”

Tuesday, March 7th 1911

Tuesday, March 7th, 1911

Yesterday went over to Pram Point with Wilson. We found that the corner of sea ice in Pram Point Bay had not gone out – it was crowded with seals. We killed a young one and carried a good deal of the meat and some of the blubber back with us.

Meanwhile the remainder of the party had made some progress towards making the hut more comfortable. In the afternoon we all set to in earnest and by supper time had wrought wonders.
We have made a large L-shaped inner apartment with packing-cases, the intervals stopped with felt. An empty kerosene tin and some firebricks have been made into an excellent little stove, which has been connected to the old stove-pipe. The solider fare of our meals is either stewed or fried on this stove whilst the tea or cocoa is being prepared on a primus.

The temperature of the hut is low, of course, but in every other respect we are absolutely comfortable. There is an unlimited quantity of biscuit, and our discovery at Pram Point means an unlimited supply of seal meat. We have heaps of cocoa, coffee, and tea, and a sufficiency of sugar and salt. In addition a small store of luxuries, chocolate, raisins, lentils, oatmeal, sardines, and jams, which will serve to vary the fare. One way and another we shall manage to be very comfortable during our stay here, and already we can regard it as a temporary home.

Cloud effect on Erebus at noon. March 7th 1911
“Cloud effect on Erebus at noon. March 7th 1911”

Erebus and dome cloud from West Beach. 2.30 p.m. Icicled glacier foreground. March 7th 1911
“Erebus and dome cloud from West Beach. 2.30 p.m. Icicled glacier foreground. March 7th 1911”

Erebus and dome cloud from West Beach. 2.30 p.m. Icicled glacier foreground. March 7th 1911
“Erebus and dome cloud from West Beach. 2.30 p.m. Icicled glacier foreground. March 7th 1911”

Erebus and dome cloud from West Beach. 2.30 p.m. Icicled glacier foreground. March 7th 1911
“Erebus and dome cloud from West Beach. 2.30 p.m. Icicled glacier foreground. March 7th 1911”

Cloud effect on Mount Erebus
“Cloud effect on Mount Erebus”

Erebus from West Beach. 5 p.m. March 7th 1911
“Erebus from West Beach. 5 p.m. March 7th 1911”

Seals basking on new floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911
“Seals basking on new floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911”

Seals basking on new floe
“Seals basking on new floe”

Seals basking on new floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911
“Seals basking on new floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911”

Bergs and floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911
“Bergs and floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911”

Bergs and floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911
“Bergs and floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911”

North Beach, Camp and Erebus from the west. March 7th 1911
“North Beach, Camp and Erebus from the west. March 7th 1911”

Young ice forming. North wind. North Bay. 2.40 p.m. March 7th 1911
“Young ice forming. North wind. North Bay. 2.40 p.m. March 7th 1911”

Young ice forming. North wind. North Bay. 2.40 p.m. March 7th 1911
“Young ice forming. North wind. North Bay. 2.40 p.m. March 7th 1911”

Seals basking on new pancake floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911
“Seals basking on new pancake floe off Cape Evans. March 7th 1911”

The Western party crossing the ice to the ship
“The Western party crossing the ice to the ship”