Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge » Scott's Last Expedition skip to primary navigation skip to content


Scott's Last Expedition

Wednesday, March 7th 1912

A little worse I fear. One of Oates’ feet very bad this morning; he is wonderfully brave. We still talk of what we will do together at home.

We only made 6 1/2 miles yesterday. (R. 49.) This morning in 4 1/2 hours we did just over 4 miles. We are 16 from our depot. If we only find the correct proportion of food there and this surface continues, we may get to the next depot [Mt. Hooper, 72 miles farther] but not to One Ton Camp. We hope against hope that the dogs have been to Mt. Hooper; then we might pull through. If there is a shortage of oil again we can have little hope. One feels that for poor Oates the crisis is near, but none of us are improving, though we are wonderfully fit considering the really excessive work we are doing. We are only kept going by good food. No wind this morning till a chill northerly air came ahead. Sun bright and cairns showing up well. I should like to keep the track to the end.

One Response to “Wednesday, March 7th 1912”

  1. EDDIE DWYER says:

    Thanks to the online facsimile of Scott’s diaries it can be seen that the bracketed insertion “[Mt Hooper, 72 miles farther]” was never part of Scott’s writings.
    This solves a minor puzzle as to how the party, virtually in extremis, was actually able to cover this supposed distance of 72 miles to “Mt Hooper” in only two days from the 7th (see foll.) To assist with the point now being raised, here are the relevant extracts from Scott’s diary entries as revealed by the facsimile:

    March 6th: [Scott stated that they were camped] “27 miles from the depot”.
    7th March: “We are 16 from our depot………we may get to the next depot but not to One Ton Camp”.
    8th March: “[we] are now 8 1/2 miles from the depot….”
    10th March: “….yesterday [which was Friday the 9th] we marched up the depot [sic], Mt Hooper……”.

    A shrewd guess is that the bracketed insertion was made in the early days to assist the reader BUT the person concerned was led slightly astray by Scott’s disparate designations for the returning party’s next objective. Although perfectly correct in all cases these fluctuated between “our” and “the” depot” and “Mt Hooper”, even in adjacent sentences.
    In the end however the conclusion derived from the diminishing distances as the party advanced together with Scott’s entry for 10th March both confirm that the party’s objective and Mt Hooper were one and the same.

    This mysterious insertion appears in just about all of the humungous number of publications recalling and/or analysing the journey. Noteworthy however is that it also appears in Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey In The World [specifically, in Penguin Books pbk ed 1979, p595]. This raises the possibility that C-G himself might have added it at some stage.

    Incidentally we can’t lightly dismiss this theory as unlikely on the grounds that C-G had travelled both ways over this route and he would have known the landmarks. In his account (op.cit, p.389) he describes the newly-established depot “under the name of “Mt Hooper” (at 80 deg 32′ S) as “our Upper Barrier Depot”, this latter name not used elsewhere. Stretching this reasoning a little further (?) on p395 he also describes the creation of the “Southern Barrier Depot” (at 82 deg 47′ S) about 160 miles further south of “Mt Hooper” and the second-last on the Barrier before entering the Beardsmore Glacier (the last one was dubbed “Shambles”). I could be mistaken but the names “Upper Barrier” and “Southern Barrier” seem to have been designations used only by C-G. Edward Wilson (Diary of the Terra Nova Expedition to the Antarctic, 1910-1912, Blandford 1972) doesn’t mention them by name and I have no access to diaries written by other members of the party).

    It is almost certain that the person making the insertion, whoever that was, confused “Mt Hooper” with One Ton Camp. The returning party’s position on the 6th March being 27 miles short of “Mt Hooper” placed them 70-75 miles from One Ton Camp. Regardless, the entry for the 7th March shows all this speculation to be ours alone – the party were never in any doubt about their next objective.

    As regards any part that MIGHT have been played by C-G in inserting the text, his original manuscript, if extant, would clear things up. While Scott’s diaries did see extensive editing from the outset it is most unlikely that C-G’s account, written expressly for publication, would have been tampered with.

    To close, may I suggest that this bracketed insertion simply be deleted from material supporting the facsimile? As the facsimile is surely the last word on the contents of Scott’s diaries it can hardly be desirable to maintain the insertion – bearing in mind that not everyone will persevere to read the handwritten text.

    Apologies for an extended essay – hope it doesn’t intrude too much upon your time –

    With best regards,

    Ed Dwyer