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Scott's Last Expedition

Wednesday, December 20th 1911

Camp 42. 6500 feet about. Just got off our last best half march – 10 miles 1150 yards (geo.), over 12 miles stat. With an afternoon to follow we should do well to-day; the wind has been coming up the valley. Turning this book seems to have brought luck. We marched on till nearly 7 o’clock after a long lunch halt, and covered 19 1/2 geo. miles, nearly 23 (stat.), rising 800 feet. This morning we came over a considerable extent of hard snow, then got to hard ice with patches of snow; a state of affairs which has continued all day. Pulling the sledges in crampons is no difficulty at all. At lunch Wilson and Bowers walked back 2 miles or so to try and find Bowers’ broken sledgemeter, without result. During their absence a fog spread about us, carried up the valleys by easterly wind. We started the afternoon march in this fog very unpleasantly, but later it gradually lifted, and to-night it is very fine and warm. As the fog lifted we saw a huge line of pressure ahead; I steered for a place where the slope looked smoother, and we are camped beneath the spot to-night. We must be ahead of Shackleton’s position on the 17th. All day we have been admiring a wonderful banded structure of the rock; to-night it is beautifully clear on Mount Darwin.

I have just told off the people to return to-morrow night: Atkinson, Wright, Cherry-Garrard, and Keohane. All are disappointed – poor Wright rather bitterly, I fear. I dread this necessity of choosing – nothing could be more heartrending. I calculated our programme to start from 85º 10′ with 12 units of food [36] and eight men. We ought to be in this position to-morrow night, less one day’s food. After all our harassing trouble one cannot but be satisfied with such a prospect.

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