Robert F. Scott’s Journal: November–March 1911

Excerpted from Scott’s Last Expedition in Two Volumes: Vol. I. Being the Journals of Captain R. F. Scott, R.N., C.V.O.; Vol. II. Being the Reports of the Journeys and the Scientific Work Undertaken by Dr. E. A. Wilson and the Surviving Members of the Expedition. Arranged by Leonard Huxley with a preface by Sir Clements R. Markham, K.C.B., F.R.S., New York, 1913.

December 13, 1911

Camp 35. A most damnably dismal day. We started at eight—the pulling terribly bad, though the glide decidedly good; a new crust in patches, not sufficient to support the ski, but without possibility of hold. Therefore, as the pullers got on the hard patches they slipped back. The sledges plunged into the soft places and stopped dead. Evans’ party got away first; we followed, and for some time helped them forward at their stops, but this proved altogether too much for us, so I forged ahead and camped at 1 P.M., as the others were far astern. During lunch I decided to try the 10-feet runners under the crossbars and we spent three hours in securing them. There was no delay on account of the slow progress of the other parties. Evans passed us, and for some time went forward fairly well up a decided slope. The sun was shining on the surface by this time, and the temperature high. Bowers started after Evans, and it was easy to see the really terrible state of affairs with them. They made desperate efforts to get along, but ever got more and more bogged—evidently the glide had vanished. When we got away we soon discovered how awful the surface had become; added to the forenoon difficulties the snow had become wet and sticky. We got our load along, soon passing Bowers, but the toil was simply awful. We were soaked with perspiration and thoroughly breathless with our efforts. Again and again the sledge got one runner on harder snow than the other, canted on its side, and refused to move. At the top of the rise I found Evans reduced to relay work, and Bowers followed his example soon after. We got our whole load through till 7 P.M., camping time, but only with repeated halts and labour which was altogether too strenuous. The other parties certainly cannot get a full load along on the surface, and I much doubt if we could continue to do so, but we must try again to-morrow.

I suppose we have advanced a bare 4 miles to-day and the aspect of things is very little changed. Our height is now about 1,500 feet; I had pinned my faith on getting better conditions as we rose, but it looks as though matters were getting worse instead of better. As far as the Cloudmaker the valley looks like a huge basin for the lodgement of such snow as this. We can but toil on, but it is woefully disheartening. I am not at all hungry, but pretty thirsty. (T. +15°.) I find our summit ration is even too filling for the present. Two skuas came round the camp at lunch, no doubt attracted by our “Shambles” camp.