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Scott's Last Expedition

Saturday, December 16th 1911

Camp 38. A gloomy morning, clearing at noon and ending in a gloriously fine evening. Although constantly anxious in the morning, the light held good for travelling throughout the day, and we have covered 11 miles (stat.), altering the aspect of the glacier greatly. But the travelling has been very hard. We started at 7, lunched at 12.15, and marched on till 6.30 – over ten hours on the march – the limit of time to be squeezed into one day. We began on ski as usual, Evans’ team hampering us a bit; the pulling very hard after yesterday’s snowfall. In the afternoon we continued on ski till after two hours we struck a peculiarly difficult surface – old hard sastrugi underneath, with pits and high soft sastrugi due to very recent snowfalls. The sledges were so often brought up by this that we decided to take to our feet, and thus made better progress, but for the time with very excessive labour. The crust, brittle, held for a pace or two, then let one down with a bump some 8 or 10 inches. Now and again one’s leg went down a crack in the hard ice underneath. We drew up a slope on this surface and discovered a long icefall extending right across our track, I presume the same pressure which caused Shackleton to turn towards the Cloudmaker. We made in for that mountain and soon got on hard, crevassed, undulating ice with quantities of soft snow in the hollows. The disturbance seems to increase, but the snow to diminish as we approach the rocks. We shall look for a moraine and try and follow it up to-morrow. The hills on our left have horizontally stratified rock alternating with snow. The exposed rock is very black; the brownish colour of the Cloudmaker has black horizontal streaks across it. The sides of the glacier north of the Cloudmaker have a curious cutting, the upper part less steep than the lower, suggestive of different conditions of glacier-flow in succeeding ages.

We must push on all we can, for we are now 6 days behind Shackleton, all due to that wretched storm. So far, since we got amongst the disturbances we have not seen such alarming crevasses as I had expected; certainly dogs could have come up as far as this. At present one gets terrible hot and perspiring on the march, and quickly cold when halted, but the sun makes up for all evils. It is very difficult to know what to do about the ski; their weight is considerable and yet under certain circumstances they are extraordinarily useful. Everyone is very satisfied with our summit ration. The party which has been man-hauling for so long say they are far less hungry than they used to be. It is good to think that the majority will keep up this good feeding all through.

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