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Scott's Last Expedition

Sunday, December 17th 1911

Camp 39. Soon after starting we found ourselves in rather a mess; bad pressure ahead and long waves between us and the land. Blue ice showed on the crests of the waves; very soft snow lay in the hollows. We had to cross the waves in places 30 feet from crest to hollow, and we did it by sitting on the sledge and letting her go. Thus we went down with a rush and our impetus carried us some way up the other side; then followed a fearfully tough drag to rise the next crest. After two hours of this I saw a larger wave, the crest of which continued hard ice up the glacier; we reached this and got excellent travelling for 2 miles on it, then rose on a steep gradient, and so topped the pressure ridge. The smooth ice is again lost and we have patches of hard and soft snow with ice peeping out in places, cracks in all directions, and legs very frequently down. We have done very nearly 5 miles (geo.).
Evening. – (Temp. -12º.) Height about 3500 above Barrier. After lunch decided to take the risk of sticking to the centre of the glacier, with good result. We travelled on up the more or less rounded ridge which I had selected in the morning, and camped at 6.30 with 12 1/2 stat. miles made good. This has put Mount Hope in the background and shows us more of the upper reaches. If we can keep up the pace, we gain on Shackleton, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t, except that more pressure is showing up ahead. For once one can say ‘sufficient for the day is the good thereof.’ Our luck may be on the turn – I think we deserve it. In spite of the hard work everyone is very fit and very cheerful, feeling well fed and eager for more toil. Eyes are much better except poor Wilson’s; he has caught a very bad attack. Remembering his trouble on our last Southern journey, I fear he is in for a very bad time.

We got fearfully hot this morning and marched in singlets, which became wringing wet; thus uncovered the sun gets at one’s skin, and then the wind, which makes it horribly uncomfortable.

Our lips are very sore. We cover them with the soft silk plaster which seems about the best thing for the purpose.

I’m inclined to think that the summit trouble will be mostly due to the chill falling on sunburned skins. Even now one feels the cold strike directly one stops. We get fearfully thirsty and chip up ice on the march, as well as drinking a great deal of water on halting. Our fuel only just does it, but that is all we want, and we have a bit in hand for the summit.
The pulling this afternoon was fairly pleasant; at first over hard snow, and then on to pretty rough ice with surface snowfield cracks, bad for sledges, but ours promised to come through well. We have worn our crampons all day and are delighted with them. P.O. Evans, the inventor of both crampons and ski shoes, is greatly pleased, and certainly we owe him much. The weather is beginning to look dirty again, snow clouds rolling in from the east as usual. I believe it will be overcast to-morrow.

One Response to “Sunday, December 17th 1911”

  1. Petra Müller says:

    When will you update the daily entries from the journal? The last entry is for Dec. 17 (today we have Dec. 28). I am very much looking forward to having the daily progress since the Southern Party is now in its critical stage and the original idea was to let the public participate “in real time”.