Last night the temperature fell to -36º, the lowest we have had this year. On the Ramp the minimum was -31º, not the first indication of a reversed temperature gradient. We have had a calm day, as is usual with a low thermometer.
It was very beautiful out of doors this morning; as the crescent moon was sinking in the west, Erebus showed a heavy vapour cloud, showing that the quantity is affected by temperature rather than pressure.
I’m glad to have had a good run on ski.
The Cape Crozier party are preparing for departure, and heads have been put together to provide as much comfort as the strenuous circumstances will permit. I came across a hint as to the value of a double tent in Sverdrup’s book, ‘New Land,’ and (P.O.) Evans has made a lining for one of the tents; it is secured on the inner side of the poles and provides an air space inside the tent. I think it is going to be a great success, and that it will go far to obviate the necessity of considering the question of snow huts – though we shall continue our efforts in this direction also.
Another new departure is the decision to carry eiderdown sleeping-bags inside the reindeer ones.
With such an arrangement the early part of the journey is bound to be comfortable, but when the bags get iced difficulties are pretty certain to arise.
Day has been devoting his energies to the creation of a blubber stove, much assisted of course by the experience gained at Hut Point.
The blubber is placed in an annular vessel, A. The oil from it passes through a pipe, B, and spreads out on the surface of a plate, C, with a containing flange; _d d_ are raised points which serve as heat conductors; _e e_ is a tin chimney for flame with air holes at its base.
To start the stove the plate C must be warmed with spirit lamp or primus, but when the blubber oil is well alight its heat is quite sufficient to melt the blubber in And keep up the oil supply – the heat gradually rises until the oil issues from B in a vaporised condition, when, of course, the heat given off by the stove is intense.
This stove was got going this morning in five minutes in the outer temperature with the blubber hard frozen. It will make a great difference to the Crozier Party if they can manage to build a hut, and the experience gained will be everything for the Western Party in the summer. With a satisfactory blubber stove it would never be necessary to carry fuel on a coast journey, and we shall deserve well of posterity if we can perfect one.
The Crozier journey is to be made to serve a good many trial ends. As I have already mentioned, each man is to go on a different food scale, with a view to determining the desirable proportion of fats and carbohydrates. Wilson is also to try the effect of a double wind-proof suit instead of extra woollen clothing.
If two suits of wind-proof will keep one as warm in the spring as a single suit does in the summer, it is evident that we can face the summit of Victoria Land with a very slight increase of weight.
I think the new crampons, which will also be tried on this journey, are going to be a great success. We have returned to the last _Discovery_ type with improvements; the magnalium sole plates of our own crampons are retained but shod with 1/2-inch steel spikes; these plates are rivetted through canvas to an inner leather sole, and the canvas is brought up on all sides to form a covering to the ‘finnesko’ over which it is laced – they are less than half the weight of an ordinary ski boot, go on very easily, and secure very neatly.
Midwinter Day, the turn of the season, is very close; it will be good to have light for the more active preparations for the coming year.