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BEYOND ALL FORMER FOOTSTEPS
NOVEMBER 10 TO DECEMBER 4
Steady Progress: The Sighting of New Land
November 11. It was 8.40 before we got under way this morning, for during the night the temperature dropped well below zero, and it was minus 12° when we got up and found our finnesko and all our gear frozen hard, just like spring sledging times. We had to unpack the sledges and scrape the runners, for the sun had melted the snow on the upper surfaces, and the water had run down and frozen hard during the night on the under sides. The surface was again terribly soft, but there were patches of hard sastrugi beneath, and on one of these Quan must have stepped, for to our great anxiety he suddenly went lame about 11 A.M. I thought it was just the balling of the snow on his feet, but on scraping this off he still was lame. Fortunately, however, he improved greatly and was practically all right after lunch. During the night, the snow always balls on the ponies' feet, and it is one of our regular jobs to scrape it off, before we harness up in the morning. The snow was not so thick on the surface in the afternoon, only about 5 in., and we got on fairly well. The Bluff is now sixteen miles to the north-west of us, and all the well-known land is clear, Erebus sending out a huge volume of steam, that streams away to the south-west right past Mount Discovery, fifty miles from its crater. Again this afternoon we passed an Adelie penguin track. The bird was making the same course as the one we had passed before. At 6.30 P.M. we camped, having done fifteen statute miles. After dinner we got bearings which put us forty-seven miles from our depot. I do trust that the weather will hold up till we reach it. It is cold to-night writing, the temperature being minus 9° Fahr. The land to the south-south-west is beautifully clear.
November 13. No diary yesterday, for I had a bad attack of snow-blindness, and am only a bit better to-night. We did a good march yesterday of over fifteen miles over fair surface, and again to-day did fifteen miles, but the going was softer. The ponies have been a trouble again. I found Quan and Chinaman enjoying the former's rug. They have eaten all the lining. The weather has been beautifully fine, but the temperature down to 12° below zero. The others' eyes are all right. Wild, who has been suffering, has been better to-day. Snow-blindness is a particularly unpleasant thing. One begins by seeing double, then the eyes feel full of grit; this makes them water and eventually one cannot see at all. All yesterday afternoon, though I was wearing goggles, the water kept running out of my eyes, and, owing to the low temperature, it froze on my beard. However, the weather is beautiful, and we are as happy as can be, with good appetites, too good in fact for the amount of food we are allowing ourselves. We are on short rations, but we will have horse meat in addition when the ponies go under. We have saved enough food to last us from our first depot into the Bluff, where, on the way back, we will pick up another depot that is to be laid out by Joyce during January next. I trust we will pick up the depot to-morrow night and it will be a relief, for it is a tiny speck in this snowy plain, and is nearly sixty miler from the nearest land. It is much the same as picking up a buoy in the North Sea with only distant mountains for bearings. We are now clear of the pressure round the Bluff, and the travelling should be good until we reach the depot. On the spring journey we got into the crevasses off the Bluff, these crevasses being due to the movement of the ice-sheet impinging against the long arm of the Bluff reaching out to the eastward. Close in the pressure is much more marked, the whole surface of the Barrier rising into hillocks and splitting into chasms. When the summer sun plays on these and the wind sweeps away the loose snow, a very slippery surface is presented, and the greatest care has to be exercised to prevent the sledges skidding into the pits, often over 100 ft. deep. As one gets further away from the area of disturbance the ridges flatten out, the pits disappear, and the crevasses become cracks. We are now on to level going, clear of any dangers.
November 14. Another beautiful day, but with a low temperature (minus 7° Fahr. at 6 a.m.). During the morning there was a wind from the west-south-west, bitterly cold on our faces and burst lips, but the sun was warm on our backs. The ponies pulled well, and in spite of somewhat deep snow they got on very well. We stopped at noon for bearings, and to get the sun's altitude for latitude, and at lunch worked out our position. We expected to see the depot to-night or to-morrow morning, but during the afternoon, when we halted for a spell, we found that our "ready use" tin of kerosene had dropped off a sledge, so Adams ran back three miles and found it. This caused a delay, and we camped at 6 P.M. We were just putting the position on the chart after dinner when Wild, who was outside looking through the Goertz glasses, shouted out that he could see the depot, and we rushed out. There were the flag and sledge plainly to be seen through the glasses. It is an immense relief to us, for there is stored at the depot four days' pony feed and a gallon of oil. We will sleep happily to-night. The Barrier surface now is covered with huge sastrugi, rounded off and running west-south-west and east-north-west, with soft snow between. We have never seen the surface alike for two consecutive days. The Barrier is as wayward and as changeful as the sea.
November 15. Another beautiful day. We broke camp at 8 A.M., and reached our depot at 9.20 A.M. We found everything intact, the flag waving merrily in the breeze, the direction of which was about west-south-west. We camped there and at once proceeded to redistribute weights and to parcel our provisions to be left there. We found that we had saved enough food to allow for three days' rations, which ought to take us into the Bluff on our return, so we made up a bag of provisions and added a little oil to the tin we had been using from, leaving half a gallon to take us the fifty odd miles to the Bluff on the way back. We then depoted our spare gear and finnesko, and our tin of sardines and pot of black currant jam. We had intended these provisions for Christmas Day, but the weight is too much; every ounce is of importance. We took on the maize, and the ponies are now pulling 449 lb. each. Quan was pulling 469 lb. before the depot was reached, so he had nothing added to his load. All this arranging took time, and it was nearly noon before we had finished. We took an observation for latitude and variation, and found the latitude to be 79° 36' South, and the variation 155° East. Had lunch at noon and started due south at 1.15 P.M., the ponies pulling well. As the afternoon went on the surface of the Barrier altered to thick, crusty snow, with long rounded sastrugi about 4 ft. high, almost looking like small undulations, running south-west to north-west, with small sastrugi on top running west and east. Camped at 6 P.M., having done 12 miles 1500 yards (statute) to-day. There are some high, stratified, light clouds in the sky, the first clouds we have had for nearly a week. The sun now, at 9 P.M., is beautifully warm, though the air temperature is minus 2° Fahr. It is dead calm. We are going to build a snow mound at each camp as a guide to our homeward track, and as our camps will only be seven miles apart, these marks ought to help us. The mystery of the Barrier grips us, and we long to know what lies in the unknown to the south. This we may do with good fortune in another fortnight.
NOTE. I wrote that the provisions left at the depot would suffice for three days, but as a matter of fact there was not more than a two days' supply. We felt that we ought to take on every ounce of food that we could, and that if we got back to the depot we would be able to manage as far as the Bluff all right. During the winter we had thought over the possibility of making the mounds as a guide for the return march, and had concluded that though they would entail extra work, we might be well repaid if we picked up only one or two of them at critical times. We had with us two shovels, and ten minutes' work was sufficient to raise a mound 6 or 7 ft. high. We wondered whether the mounds would disappear under the influence of wind and sun, and our tracks remain, whether the tracks would disappear and the mounds remain, whether both tracks and mounds would disappear, or whether both would remain. As we were not keeping in towards the land, but were making a bee-line for the south, it was advisable to neglect no precaution, and as events turned out, the mounds were most useful. They remained after the sledge tracks had disappeared, and they were a very great comfort to us during the journey back from our farthest south point.
November 16. We started again this morning in gloriously fine weather, the temperature minus 15° Fahr. (down to minus 25° Fahr. during the night). The ponies pulled splendidly. All the western mountains stood up, miraged into the forms of castles. Even the Bluff could be seen in the far distance, changed into the semblance of a giant keep. Before starting, which we did at 7.40 A.M., we made a mound of snow, 6 ft. high, as a guide to us on our homeward way, and as it was built on a large sastrugi, we saw it for two and a half statute miles after starting. At twenty minutes to twelve, we halted for latitude observations, and found that we had reached 79° 50' South. After lunch the surface changed somewhat, but the going was fairly good, in fact we covered 17 miles 200 yards (statute), a record day for us. This evening it is cloudy, high cumulus going from south-east to north-west. The temperature to-night is minus 5° Fahr., but it being dead calm we feel quite warm. A hot sun during the day dried our reindeer skin sleeping-bags, the water, or rather ice, all drying out of them, so we sleep in dry bags again. It has been a wonderful and successful week, so different to this time six years ago, when I was toiling along five miles a day over the same ground. To-night one can see the huge mountain range to the south of Barne Inlet. In order to further economise food we are saving three lumps of sugar each every day, so in time we will have a fair stock. The great thing is to advance our food-supply as far south as possible before the ponies give out. Every one is in splendid health, eyes all right again, and only minor troubles, such as split lips, which do not allow us to laugh. Wild steered all day, and at every hourly halt I put the compass down to make the course we are going straight as a die to the south. Chinaman, or "The Vampire," as Adams calls him, is not so fit; he is stiff in the knees and has to be hauled along. Quan, alias "Blossom," is Al, but one cannot leave him for a moment, otherwise he would have his harness chewed up. Within the last week he has had the greater part of a horse-cloth, about a fathom of rope, several pieces of leather, and odds and ends such as a nose-bag buckle, but his digestion is marvellous, and he seems to thrive on his strange diet. He would rather eat a yard of creosoted rope than his maize and Maujee, indeed he often, in sheer wantonness, throws his food all over the snow.
November 17. A dull day when we started at 9.50 A.M., but the mountains abeam were in sight till noon. The weather then became completely overcast, and the light most difficult to steer in; a dead white wall was what we seemed to be marching to, and there was no direct light to cast even the faintest shadow on the sastrugi. I steered from noon to 1 P.M., and from lunch till 6 P.M., but the course was most erratic, and we had to stop every now and then to put the compass down to verify our course and alter it if necessary. Our march for the day was 16 miles 200 yard (statute) through a bad surface, the ponies sinking in up to their hocks. This soft surface is similar to that we experienced last trip south, for the snow had a crust easily broken through and about 6 in. down an air-space, then similar crusts and air-spaces in layers. It was trying work for the ponies, but they all did splendidly in their own particular way. Old " Blossom " plods stolidly through it; Chinaman flounders rather painfully, for he is old and stiff nowadays; Grisi and Socks take the soft places with a rush I but all get through the day's work and feed up at night, though Quan evinces disgust at not having more Maujee ration and flings his maize out of his nosebag. One wonders each night what trouble they will get into. This morning, on turning out, we found Grisi lying down unable to get up. He had got to the end of his tether, and could not draw back his leg. He was shivering with cold, though the temperature was only minus 5°. To-day we had a plus temperature, for the first time since leaving — plus 9° Fahr. at noon, arid plus 5° Fahr. at 6 P.M. The pall of cloud no doubt acts as a blanket, and so we were warm, too warm in fact for marching.
November 18. Started at 8 A.M. in clearer weather, and the sun remained visible all day, though during the morning it was snowing from the south, and made the steering very difficult. The surface has been simply awful. We seem to have arrived at a latitude where there is no wind and the snow remains where it falls, for we were sinking in well over our ankles, and the poor ponies are having a most trying time. They break through the crust on the surface and flounder up to their hocks, and at each step they have to pull their feet out through the brittle crust. It is telling more on Chinaman than on the others, and he is going slowly. The chafing of the snow crust on his fetlocks has galled them, so we will have to shoot him at the next depot in about three days' time. The ponies are curious animals. We give them full meals, and yet they prefer to gnaw at any odd bits of rope. Quan got my jacket in his teeth this morning as I was scraping the snow off his hind feet, and I had to get out last night to stop Socks biting and swallowing lumps out of Quan's tail. If we had thought that they would have been up to these games, we would have had a longer wire to tether them, so as to keep them apart. It is possible that we have reached the windless area around the Pole, for the Barrier is a dead, smooth, white plain, weird beyond description, and having no land in sight, we feel such tiny specks in the immensity around us. Overhead this afternoon, when the weather cleared, were wonderful lines of clouds, radiating from the south-west, travelling very fast to the north-east. It seems as though we were in some other world, and yet the things that concern us most for the moment are trivial, such as split lips and big appetites. Already the daily meals seem all too short, and we wonder what it will be like later on, when we were really hungry. I have had that experience once, and my companions will soon have again with me. All the time we are moving south to our wished-for goal, and each day we feel that another gain has been made. We did 15 miles 500 yards to-day.
November 19. Started at 8.15 this morning with a fresh southerly breeze and drift. The temperature was plus 2° Fahr., and this was the temperature all day, making it cold travelling, but good for the ponies, who, poor beasts, had to plough through a truly awful surface, sinking in 8 or 10 in. at every step. This does not seem very deep, but when one goes on hour after hour it is a strain on man and horse, for we have to hold the ponies up as they stumble along. In spite of the surface and the wind and drift, we covered 15 miles 200 yards (statute) by 6 P.M. and were glad to camp, for our beards and faces were coated in ice, and our helmets had frozen stiff on to our faces. We got sights for latitude at noon, and found that we were in latitude 80° 32' South. On the last journey I was not in that latitude till December 16, though we left Hut Point on November 2, a day earlier than we did this time. The ponies have truly done well. I wrote yesterday that we seemed to be in a windless area, but to-day alters that opinion. The sastrugi are all pointing clearly due south, and if we have the wind on our way back it will be a great help. The same radiant points in the clouds south-east to north-west were visible again to-day, and at times when it cleared somewhat a regular nimbus cloud, similar to the rain clouds in the "doldrums," could be seen. At the base of the converging point of the south-east part of cloud there seemed to rise other clouds to meet the main body. The former trended directly from the horizon at an angle of 30° to meet the main body, and did not seem to be more than a few miles off. The drift on the Barrier surface was piled up into heaps of very fine snow, with the smallest grains, and on encountering these the sledges ran heavily. The crust that has formed, when broken through, discloses loose-grained snow, and the harder crust, about 8 in. down, is almost even. I suppose that the top 8 in. represents the year's snowfall.
November 20. Started at 8.55 A.M. in dull, overcast weather again, but the sun broke through during the morning, so we had something to steer by. The surface has been the worst we have encountered so far, terribly soft, but we did 15 miles 800 yards (statute) for the day. The latter part of the afternoon was better. It seems to savour of repetition to write each day of the heavy going and the soft surface, but these factors play a most important part in our daily work, and it causes us a great deal of speculation as to what we will eventually find as we get further south. The whole place and conditions seem so strange and so unlike anything else in the world in our experience, that one cannot describe them in fitting words. At one moment one thinks of Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner": "Alone, alone; all, all alone, alone on a wide, wide sea," and then when the mazy clouds spring silently from either hand and drift quickly across our zenith, not followed by any wind, it seems uncanny. There comes a puff of wind from the north, another from the south, and anon one from the east or west, seeming to obey no law, acting on erratic impulses. It is as though we were truly at the world's end, and were bursting in on the birthplace of the clouds and the nesting-home of the four winds, and one has a feeling that we mortals are being watched with a jealous eye by the forces of nature. To add to these weird impressions that seem to grow on one in the apparently limitless waste, the sun to-night was surrounded by mock suns and in the zenith was a bow, turning away from the great vertical circle around the sun. These circles and bows were the colour of the rainbow. We are all fairly tired to-night, and Wild is not feeling very fit, but a night's rest will do him good. The ponies are all fit except poor old Chinaman, and he must go to-morrow. He cannot keep up with the others, and the bad surface has played him out. The temperature is zero Fahr.
November 21. Started at 7.30 A.M. as we had to come to camp early to-night, and we wanted to get a good latitude observation at noon. Although we got away early, however, all morning we were steering through thick weather with driving ice-crystals, and at noon there was no chance of getting the sun for latitude. We came to camp at 12.30 P.M., just as the weather cleared a little, and we could see land on our, right hand, but only the base of the mountains, so could not identify them. Chinaman came up at last, struggling painfully along, so when we made our depot this evening he was shot. We will use the meat to keep us out longer, and will save on our dried stores. The temperature at noon was only plus 8° Fahr., and the little wind that there was has been extremely cold. The wind veers round and round the compass, and the clouds move in every direction. The surface of the Barrier was better to-day, but still the ponies sank in 8 in. at least. The sastrugi point towards the south-east, this being the direction of the most usual wind here. This evening it cleared, and we could see land almost ahead, and the great mass of land abaft the beam to the north of Barne Inlet. Our day's march was 15 miles 450 yards. We are now south of the 81st parallel, and feel that we are well on the road to our wished-for goal. This is now our second depot, and we intend to leave about 80 lb. of pony meat, one tin of biscuits (27 lb.), some sugar, and one tin of oil, to see us back to Depot A. It is late now, for all arrangements for the depot took time. There was a lot of work in the arranging of the sledges for the remaining three ponies, packing stores, skinning Chinaman, and cutting him up, all in a low temperature.
NOTE: The killing of the ponies was not pleasant work, but we had the satisfaction of knowing that the animals had been well fed and well treated up to the last, and that they suffered no pain. When we had to kill a pony, we threw up a snow mound to leeward of the camp, so that no smell of blood could come down wind, and took the animal behind this, out of sight of the others. As a matter of fact, the survivors never displayed any interest at all in the proceedings, even the report of the revolver used in the killing failing to attract their attention. The sound did not travel far on the wide open plain. The revolver was held about 3 in. from the forehead of the victim and one shot was sufficient to cause instant death. The throat of the animal was cut immediately and the blood allowed to run away. Then Marshall and Wild would skin the carcase, and we took the meat off the legs, shoulders, and back. In the case of Chinaman the carcase was opened and the liver and undercut secured, but the job was such a lengthy one that we did not repeat it in the case of the other animals. Within a very short time after killing the carcase would be frozen solid, and we always tried to cut the meat up into as small pieces as possible before this occurred, for the cutting became very much more difficult after the process of freezing was complete. On the following days, whenever there was time to spare, we would proceed with the cutting until we had got all the meat ready for cooking. It was some time before we found out that it was better merely to warm the meat through when we wanted to eat it, and not attempt to cook it properly. It was fairly tender when only warmed, but if it were boiled it became very tough, and we would not spare enough oil to stew it in order to soften it thoroughly. Our supply of oil had been cut down very fine in order to save weight. The only meat that we cooked thoroughly was that from Grisi, because we found, at a later stage of the journey, that this meat was not good, and we thought that cooking might make it less liable to cause attacks of dysentery. We used the harness from the dead pony to make stays for the sledge which would be left at the depot. The sledge was reared on to its end, about 3 ft. being sunk into the snow, and a bamboo with a black flag stuck on the top, so that we might be able to find the little "cache" of food on the return journey. Stays were required lest a blizzard should blow down the whole erection.
November 22. A beautiful morning. We left our depot with its black flag flying on the bamboo lashed to a discarded sledge, stuck upright in the snow, at 8.20 A.M. We have now three ponies dragging 500 lb. each, and they did splendidly through the soft snow. The going, I am thankful to say, is getting better, and here and there patches of harder surface are to be met with. The outstanding feature of to-day's march is that we have seen new land to the south — land never seen by human eyes before. The land consists of great snow-clad heights rising beyond Mount Longstaff, and also far inland to the north of Mounts Markham. These heights we did not see on our journey south ..m the last expedition, for we were too close to the land or, rather, foothills, but now at the great distance we are out they can be seen plainly. It has been a beautifully clear day, and all the well-known mountains are clearly visible. The coast trends about south by east, so that we are safe for a good long way south. We camped at noon and got a good meridian altitude and azimuth. We found our latitude to be 81° 8' South. In the afternoon we steered a little to the east of south, and camped at 6 P.M. with 15 miles 250 yards (statute) to the credit of the day. This is good, for the ponies have a heavy load, but they are well fed. We were rather long at lunch camp, for we tried to pull out Adams' tooth, which has given him great pain, so much that he as not slept at night at all. But the tooth broke, and he has a bad time now: We were not equipped on this trip for tooth-pulling. Wild is better to-day, but fatty food is not to his taste just now, so he had a good feed of horse-flesh. We all liked it, for it filled us well, in spite of being somewhat tough. The flavour was good and it means a great saving of our other food. The temperature has risen to plus 7° Fahr., and the surface of the Barrier is good for sledge-hauling.
November 23. Our record march to-day, the distance being 17 miles 1650 yards statute. It has been a splendid day for marching, with a cool breeze from the south and the sun slightly hidden. The horses did very well indeed, and the surface has improved, there being fairly hard sastrugi from the south. We are gradually rising the splendid peaks of Longstaff and Markham. The former, from our present bearing, has several sharp peaks, and the land fades away in the far distance to the south, with numbers of peaks showing, quite new to human eyes. All the old familiar mountains, towards which I toiled so painfully last time I was here, are visible, and what a difference it is now
To-night there is a fresh wind from what appears at this distance to be a strait between Longstaff and Markham, and a low drift is flying along. Wild is better to-night, but he was tired after the long march. We made him a cup of our emergency Oxo for lunch, and that bucked him up for the afternoon. He has not eaten much lately, but says that he feels decidedly better tonight. Marshall has just succeeded in pulling out Adams' tooth, so now the latter will be able to enjoy horse-meat. This evening we had it fried, and so saved all our other food except biscuits and cocoa. It is my week as cook now, and Wild is my tent companion.
November 24. Started this morning at 7.55, and made a good march of 10 miles 600 yards (statute) up to 1 P.M., when we camped for lunch. We marched from 2.30 to 6 P.M., and camped then for the night. When we started there was a searching breeze in our faces, which gradually increased during the day with low drift, and it was blowing a summer blizzard when we camped this evening, the temperature up to plus 17° Fahr., and the drift melting in the tent and on all our gear. The ponies did splendidly again, in spite of soft surface, our day's run being 17 miles 680 yards statute. The Barrier surface is still as level as a billiard table, with no sign of any undulation or rise; but if the Barrier shows no sign of change it is otherwise with the mountains. Each mile shows us new land, and most of it consists of lofty mountains, whose heights at present we cannot estimate. They are well over 10,000 ft. The great advantage of being out from the coast is now obvious, for we can see a long range of sharp-peaked mountains running to the westward from Mounts Markham, and forming the south side of Shackleton Inlet on the east side of Mounts Markham, and other peaks and one table-topped mountain standing away to the south between Longstaff and Markham. There appears to be a wide strait or inlet between Longstaff and the new land east of Markham. Then trending about south-east from Longstaff is a lofty range of mountains which we will see more closely as we move south. I trust that the blizzard will blow itself out to-night, so that we may have easy going to-morrow. Wild is much better to-day, and took his ordinary food. We had fried pony for dinner to-night, and raw pony frozen on the march. The going is very good, but we can only afford a little oil to cook up the meat for meals.
November 25. Started at 8 A.M. this morning in fairly good weather. The wind has gone during the night, leaving our tents drifted up with fine snow. The land was obscured nearly all day, but towards the evening it cleared and we could see the details of the coast. There appears to be a series of inlets and capes opening at all angles, and with no fixed coast-line, though the lofty range of mountains continues to the south with a very slight trend to the eastward. The surface of the Barrier was very trying to-day, for the snow had no consistency and slipped away as one trod on it. It was not so trying for the ponies, and they did 17 miles 1600 yards. We had frozen raw pony meat to eat on the march, and a good hoosh of pony meat and pemmican for dinner. Wild is practically all right, and Adams finds a wisdom tooth growing in place of the one he lost. Our eyes are not too comfortable just now. It is a wonderful place we are in, all new to the world, and yet I feel that I cannot describe it. There is an impression of limitless solitude about it all that makes us feel so small as we trudge along, a few dark specks on the snowy plain, and watch the new land appear.
November 26. A day to remember, for we have passed the "farthest South" previously reached by man. To-night we are in latitude 82° 18' South, longitude 168° East, and this latitude we have been able to reach in much less time than on the last long march with Captain Scott, when we made latitude 82° 16' our "farthest South." We started in lovely weather this morning, with the temperature plus 19° Fahr., and it has been up to plus 20° Fahr. during the day, giving us a chance to dry our sleeping-bags. We were rather anxious at starting about Quan, who had a sharp attack of colic, the result no doubt of his morbid craving for bits of rope and other odds and ends in preference to his proper food. He soon got well enough to pull, and we got away at 7.4() A.M., the surface still very soft. There are abundant signs that the wind blows strongly from the south-south-east during the winter, for the sastrugi are very marked in that direction. There are extremely large circular crystals of snow on the Barrier surface, and they seem hard and brittle. They catch the light from the sun, each one forming a reflector that dazzles the eyes as one glances at the million points of light. As each hour went on to-day, we found new interest to the west, where the land lies, for we opened out Shackleton Inlet, and up the inlet lies a great chain of mountains, and far into the west appear more peaks; to the west of Cape Wilson appears another chain of sharp peaks about 10,000 ft. high, stretching away to the north beyond the Snow Cape, and continuing the land on which Mount A. Markham lies. To the south-south-east ever appear new mountains. I trust that no land will block our path. We celebrated the breaking of the "farthest South" record with a four-ounce bottle of Curacoa, sent us by a friend at home. After this had been shared out into two tablespoonfuls each, we had a smoke and a talk before turning in. One wonders what the next month will bring forth. We ought by that time to be near our goal, all being well.
NOTE. It falls to the lot of few men to view land not previously seen by human eyes, and it was with feelings of keen curiosity, not unmingled with awe, that we watched the new mountains rise from the great unknown that lay ahead of us. Mighty peaks they were, the eternal snows at their bases, and their rough-hewn forms rising high towards the sky. No man of us could tell what we would discover in our march south, what wonders might not be revealed to us, and our imaginations would take wings until a stumble in the snow, the sharp pangs of hunger, or the dull ache of physical weariness brought back our attention to the needs of the immediate present. As the days wore on, and mountain after mountain came into view, grimly majestic, the consciousness of our insignificance seemed to grow upon us. We were but tiny black specks crawling slowly and painfully across the white plain, and bending our puny strength to the task of wresting from nature secrets preserved inviolate through all the ages. Our anxiety to learn what lay beyond was none the less keen, however, and the long days of marching over the Barrier surface were saved from monotony by the continued appearance of new land to the south-east.
November 27. Started at 8 A.M., the ponies pulling well over bad surface of very soft snow. The weather is fine and clear save for a strong mirage, which throws all the land up much higher than it really is. All day we have seen new mountains arise, and it is causing us some anxiety to note that they trend more and more to the eastward, for that means an alteration of our course from nearly due south. Still they are a long way off, and when we get up to them we may find some strait that will enable us to go right through them and on south. One speculates greatly as we march along, but patience is what is needed. I think that the ponies are feeling the day-in, day-out drudgery of pulling on this plain. Poor beasts, they cannot understand, of course, what it is all for, and the wonder of the great mountains is nought to them, though one notices them at times looking at the distant land. At lunch-time I took a photograph of our camp, with Mount Longstaff in the background. We had our sledge flags up to celebrate the breaking of the southern record. The long snow cape marked on the chart as being attached to Mount Longstaff is not really so. It is attached to a lower bluff mountain to the north of Mount Longstaff. The most northerly peak of Mount Longstaff goes sheer down into the Barrier, and all along this range of mountains are very steep glaciers, greatly crevassed. As we pass along the mountains the capes disappear, but there are several well-marked ones of which we have taken angles. Still more mountains appeared above the horizon during the afternoon, and when we camped to-night some were quite clearly defined, many, many miles away. The temperature has been up to plus 22° Fahr. to-day, and we took the opportunity of drying our sleeping-bags, which we turned inside out and laid on the sledges. To-night the temperature is plus 13° Fahr. We find that raw frozen pony meat cools one on the march, and during the ten minutes' spell after an hour's march we all cut up meat for lunch or dinner; in the hot sun it thaws well. This fresh meat ought to keep away scurvy from us. Quan seems much better to-day, but Grisi does not appear fit at all. He seems to be snow-blind. Our distance to-day was 16 miles 1200 yards.
November 28. Started at 7.50 A.M. in beautiful weather, but with a truly awful surface, the ponies sinking in very deeply. The sledges ran easily, as the temperature was high, plus 17° to plus 20° Fahr., the hot sun making the snow surface almost melt. We halted at noon for a latitude observation, and found our latitude to be 82° 38' South. The land now appears more to the east, bearing south-east by south, and some very high mountains a long way off with lower foothills, can be seen in front, quite different to the land abeam of us, which consists of huge sharp-pointed mountains with crevassed glaciers moving down gullies in their sides. Marshall is making a careful survey of all the principal heights. All day we have been travelling up and down long undulations, the width from crest to crest being about one and a half miles, and the rise about 1 in 100. We can easily see the line by our tracks sometimes being cut off sharp when we are on the down gradient and appearing again a long way astern as we rise. The first indication of the undulation was the fact of the mound we had made in the morning disappearing before we had travelled a quarter of a mile. During the afternoon the weather was very hot. A cool breeze had helped us in the forenoon, but it died away later. Marshall has a touch of snow-blindness, and both Grisi and Socks were also affected during the day. When we camped to-night Grisi was shot. He had fallen off during the last few days, and the snow-blindness was bad for him, putting him off his feed. He was the one chosen to go at the depot we made this evening. This is Depot C, and we are leaving one week's provisions and oil, with horse-meat, to carry us back to Depot B. We will go on to-morrow with 1200 lb. weight (nine weeks' provisions), and we four will pull with the ponies, two on each sledge. It is late now, 11 P.M., and we have just turned in. We get up at 5.30 every morning. Our march for the day was 15 miles 1500 yards statute.
November 29. Started at 8.45 A.M. with adjusted loads of 630 lb. on each sledge. We harnessed up ourselves, but found that the ponies would not pull when we did, and as the loads came away lightly, we untoggled our harness. The surface was very soft, but during the morning there were occasional patches of hard sastrugi, all pointing south-south-east. This is the course we are now steering, as the land is trending about southeast by east. During the day still more great mountains appeared to the south-east, and to the west we opened up several huge peaks, 10,000 to 15,000 ft. in height. The whole country seems to be made up of range after range of mountains, one behind the other. The worst feature of to-day's march was the terribly soft snow in the hollows of the great undulations we were passing. During the afternoon one place was so bad that the ponies sank in right up to their bellies, and we had to pull with might and main to get the sledges along at all. When we began to ascend the rise on the southern side of the undulation it got better. The ponies were played out by 5.45 P.M., especially old Quan, who nearly collapsed, not from the weight of the sledge, but from the effort of lifting his feet and limbs through the soft snow. The weather is calm and clear, but very hot, and it is trying to man and beast. We are on a short allowance of food, for we must save all we can, so as to help the advance as far as possible. Marshall has taken the angles of the new land to-day. He does this regularly. The hypsometer readings at 1 P.M. are very high now if there is no correction, and it is not due to weather. We must be at about sea-level. The undulations run about east by south, and west by west, and are at the moment a puzzle to us. I cannot think that the feeding of the glaciers from the adjacent mountains has anything to do with their existence. There are several glaciers, but their size is inconsiderable compared to the vast extent of Barrier affected. The glaciers are greatly crevassed. There are enormous granite cliffs at the foot of the range we are passing, and they stand vertically about 4000 to 6000 ft. without a vestige of snow upon them. The main bare rocks appear to be like the schists of the western mountains opposite our winter quarters, but we are too far away, of course, to be able to tell with any certainty. Down to the south are mountains entirely clear of snow, for their sides are vertical, and they must be not less than 8000 or 9000 ft. in height. Altogether it is a weird and wonderful country. The only familiar thing is the broad expanse of Barrier to the east, where as yet no land appears. We did 14 miles 900 yards (statute) to-day, and are tired. The snow came well above our ankles, and each step became a labour. Still we are making our way south, and each mile gained reduces the unknown. We have now done over 300 miles due south in less than a month.
November 30. We started at 8 A.M. this morning. Quan very shaky and seemingly on his last legs, poor beast. Both he and Socks are snow-blind, so we have improvised shades for their eyes, which we trust will help them a little. We took turns of an hour each hauling at Quan's sledge, one at each side, to help him. Socks, being faster, always gets ahead and then has a short spell, which eases him considerably. We advanced very slowly to-day, for the surface was as bad as ever till the afternoon, and the total distance covered was 12 miles 150 yards. Quan was quite played out, so we camped at 5.45.P.M. We give the ponies ample food, but they do not eat it all, though Quan whinnies for his every meal-time. He is particularly fond of the Maujee ration, and neglects his maize for it. Again to-day we saw new land to the south, and unfortunately for our quick progress in that direction, we find the trend of the coast more o the eastward. A time is coming, I can see, when we will have to ascend the mountains, for the land runs round more and more in an easterly direction. Still after all we must not expect to find things cut and dried and all suited to us in such a place. We will be thankful if we can keep the ponies as far as our next depot, which will be in latitude 84° South. They are at the present moment lying down in the warm sun. It is a beautifully calm, clear evening; indeed as regards weather we have been wonderfully fortunate, and it has given Marshall the chance to take all the necessary angles for the survey of these new mountains and coast-line. Wild is cook this week, and my week is over, so I am now living in the other tent. We are all fit and well, but our appetites are increasing at an alarming rate. We noticed this to-night after the heavy pulling to-day. A great deal of the land we are passing seems to consist of granite in huge masses, and here and there are much crevassed glaciers, pouring down between the mountains, perhaps from some inland ice-sheet similar to that in the north of Victoria Land. The mountains show great similarity in outline, and there is no sign of any volcanic action at all so far. The temperature for the day has ranged between plus 16° and plus 12° Fahr., but the hot sun has made things appear much warmer.
December 1. Started at 8 A.M. to-day. Quan has been growing weaker each hour, and we practically pulled the sledge. We passed over three undulations, and camped at 1 P.M. In the afternoon we only did four miles, Quan being led by Wild. He also led Socks with one sledge, whilst Adams, Marshall, and I hauled 200 lb. each on the other sledge over a terribly soft surface. Poor old Quan was quite finished when we came to camp at 6 P.M., having done 12 miles 200 yards, so he was shot. We all felt losing him, I particularly, for he was my special horse ever since he was ill last March. I had looked after him, and in spite of all his annoying tricks he was a general favourite. He seemed so intelligent. Still it was best for him to go, and like the others he was well fed to the last. We have now only one pony left, and are in latitude 83° 16' South. Ahead of us we can see the land stretching away to the east, with a long white I me in front of it that looks 1 ke a giant Barrier, and nearer a very crusted-up appearance, as though there were great pressure ridges in front of us. It seems as though the Barrier end had come, and that there is now going to be a change in some gigantio way in keeping with the vastness of the whole place. We fervently trust that we will not be delayed in our march south. We are living mainly on horse-meat now, and on the march, to cool our throats when pulling in the hot sun, we chew some raw frozen meat. There was a slight breeze for a time to-day, and we felt chilly, as we were pulling stripped to our shirts. We wear our goggles all the time, for the glare from the snow surface is intense and the sky is cloudless. A few wisps of fleecy cloud settle on the tops of the loftiest mountains, but that is all. The surface of the Barrier still sparkles with the million frozen crystals which stand apart from the ordinary surface snow. One or two new peaks came in sight to-day, so we are ever adding to the chain of wonderful mountains that we have found. At one moment our thoughts are on the grandeur of the scene, the next on what we would have to eat if only we were let loose in a good restaurant. We are very hungry these days, and we know that we are likely to be for another three months. One of the granite cliffs we are nearing is over 6000 ft. sheer, and much bare rock is showing, which must have running water on it as the hot sun plays down. The moon was visible in the sky all day and it was something familiar, yet far removed from these days of hot sunshine and wide white pathways. The temperature is now plus 16° Fahr., and it is quite warm in the tent.
December 2. Started at 8 A.M., all four of us hauling one sledge, and Socks following behind with the other. He soon got into our regular pace, and did very well indeed. The surface during the morning was extremely bad and it was heavy work for us. The sun beat down on our heads and we perspired freely, though we were working only in shirts and pyjama trousers, whilst our feet were cold in the snow. We halted for lunch at 1 P.M., and had some of Quan cooked, but he was very tough meat, poor old beast. Socks, the only pony left now, is lonely. He whinnied all night for his lost companion. At 1 P.M. to-day we had got close enough to the disturbance ahead of us to see that it consisted of enormous pressure ridges, heavily crevassed and running a long way east, with not the slightest chance of our being able to get southing that way any longer on the Barrier. So after lunch we struck due south in toward the land, which is now running in a south-east direction, and at 6 P.M. we were close to the ridges off the coast. There is a red hill about 3000 ft. in height, which we hope to ascend to-morrow, so as to gain a view of the surrounding country. Then we will make our way, if possible, with the pony up a glacier ahead of us on to the land ice, and on to the Pole if all goes well. It is an anxious time for us, for time is precious and food more so; we will be greatly relieved if we find a good route through the mountains. Now that we are close to the land we can see more clearly the nature of the mountains. From Mount Longstaff in a south-east direction, the land appears to be far more glaciated than further north, and since the valleys are very steep, the glaciers that they contain are heavily crevassed. These glaciers bear out in a north-east direction into the Barrier. Immediately opposite our camp the snow seems to have been blown off the steep mountain sides. The mountain ahead of us, which we are gonig to climb to-morrow, is undoubtedly granite, but very much weathered. In the distance it looked like volcanic rock, but now there can be no doubt that it consists of granite. Evidently the great ice-sheet has passed over this part of the land, for the rounded forms could not have been caused by ordinary weathering. Enormous pressure ridges that run out from the south of the mountain ahead must be due to a glacier far greater in extent than any we have yet met. The glacier that comes out of Shackleton Inlet makes a disturbance in the Barrier ice, but not nearly as great as the disturbance in our immediate neighbourhood at the present time. The glacier at Shackleton Inlet is quite a short one. We have now closed in to the land, but before we did so we could see the rounded tops of great mountains extending in a south-easterly direction. If we are fortunate enough to reach the summit of the mountain to-morrow, we should be able to see more clearly the line of these mountains to the south-east. It would be very interesting to follow along the Barrier to the south-east, and see the trend of the mountains but that does not enter into our programme. Our way lies to the south. How one wishes for time and unlimited provisions ! Then indeed we could penetrate the secrets of this great lonely continent. Regrets are vain, however, and we wonder what is in store for us beyond the mountains if we are able to get there. The closer observation of these mountains ought to give geological results of importance. We may have the good fortune to discover fossils, or at any rate to bring back specimens that will determine the geological history of the country and prove a connection between the granite boulders lying on the slopes of Erebus and Terror and the land lying to the far south. Our position to-night is latitude 83° 28' South, longitude 171° 30' East. If we can get on the mountain to-morrow, it will be the pioneer landing in the far south. We travelled 11 miles 1450 yards (statute) to-day; which was not bad, seeing that we were pulling 180 lb. per man on a bad surface. We got a photograph of the wonderful red granite peaks close to us, for now we are only eight miles or so off the land. The temperature is plus 20°, with a high barometer. The same fine weather continues, but the wind is cold in the early morning, when we turn out at. 5.30 A.M. for breakfast.
December 4. Unable to write yesterday owing to bad attack of snow-blindness, and not much better to-night, but I must record the events of the two most remarkable days that we have experienced since leaving the winter quarters. After breakfast at 5.30 A.M. yesterday, we started off from camp, leaving all camp gear standing and a good feed by Socks to last him the whole day. We got under way at 9 A.M., taking four biscuits, four lumps of sugar, and two ounces of chocolate each for lunch. We hoped to get water at the first of the rocks when we landed. Hardly had we gone one hundred yards when we came to a crevasse, which we did not see very distinctly, for the light was bad, and the sun obscured by clouds. We roped up and went on in single file, each with his ice-pick handy. I found it very difficult to see clearly with my goggles, and so took them off, and the present attack of snow-blindness is the result, for the sun came out gloriously later on. We crossed several crevasses filled with snow except at the sides, the gaps being about 2 ft. wide, and the whole crevasses from 10 to 20 ft. across. Then we were brought up all standing by an enormous chasm of about 80 ft. wide and 300 ft. deep which lay right across our route. This chasm was similar to, only larger than, the one we encountered in latitude 80° 30' South when on the southern journey with Captain Scott during the Discovery expedition. By making a detour to the right we found that it gradually pinched out and became filled with snow, and so we were able to cross and resume our line to the land, which very deceptively appeared quite close but was really some miles away.
Crossing several ridges of ice-pressure and many more crevasses, we eventually at 12.30 P.M. reached an area of smooth blue ice in which were embedded several granite boulders, and here we obtained a drink of delicious water formed by the sun playing on the rock face and heating the ice at the base. After travelling for half a mile, we reached the base of the mountain which we hoped to climb in order to gain a view of the surrounding country. This hill is composed of granite, the red appearance being no doubt due to iron. At 1 P.M. we had a couple of biscuits and some water, and then started to make our way up the precipitous rock face. This was the most difficult part of the whole climb, for the granite was weathered and split in every direction, and some of the larger pieces seemed to be just nicely balanced on smaller pieces, so that one could almost push them over by a touch. With great difficulty we clambered up this rock face, and then ascended a gentle snow slope to another rocky bit, but not so difficult to climb. From the top of this ridge there burst upon our view an open road to the south, for there stretched before us a great glacier running almost south and north between two huge mountain ranges. As far as we could see, except towards the mouth, the glacier appeared to be smooth, yet this was not a certainty, for the distance was so great. Eagerly we clambered up the remaining ridges and over a snow-slope, and found ourselves at the top of the mountain, the height being 3350 ft. according to aneroid and hypsometer. From the summit we could see the glacier stretching away south inland till at last it seemed to merge in high inland ice. Where the glacier fell into the Barrier about north-east bearing, the pressure waves were enormous, and for miles the surface of the Barrier was broken up. This was what we had seen ahead of us the last few days, and we now understood the reason of the commotion on the Barrier surface. To the south-east we could see the lofty range of mountains we had been following still stretching away in the same direction, and we can safely say that the Barrier is bounded by a chain of mountains extending in a southeasterly direction as far as the 86th parallel South. The mountains to the west appear to be more heavily glaciated than the ones to the eastward. There are some huge granite faces on the southern sides of the mountains, and these faces are joined up by cliffs of a very dark hue. To the south-south-east, towards what is apparently the head of the glacier, there are several sharp cones of very black rock, eight or nine in all. Beyond these are red granite faces, with sharp, needle-like spurs, similar in appearance to the "cathedral" rocks described by Armitage in connection with the Discovery expedition to the western mountains. Further on to the south the mountains have a bluff appearance, with long lines of stratification running almost horizontally. This bluff mountain range seems to break about sixty miles away, and beyond can be seen dimly other mountains. Turning to the west, the mountains on that side appeared to be rounded and covered with huge masses of ice, and glaciers showing the lines of crevasses. In the far distance there is what looked like an active volcano. There is a big mountain with a cloud on the top, bearing all the appearance of steam from an active cone. It would be very interesting to find an active volcano so far south. After taking bearings of the trend of the mountains, Barrier and glacier, we ate our frugal lunch and wished for more, and then descended. Adams had boiled the hypsometer and taken the temperature on the top, whilst Marshall, who had carried the camera on his back all the way up, took a couple of photographs. How we wished we had more plates to spare to get a record of the wonderful country we were passing through. At 4 P.M. we began to descend, and at 5 P.M. we were on the Barrier again. We were rather tired and very hungry when, at 7 P.M., we reached our camp. After a good dinner, and a cupful of Maujee ration in the hoosh as an extra, we turned in.
To-day, December 4, we got under way at 8 A.M. and steered into the land, for we could see that there was no question as to the way we should go now. Though on the glacier, we might encounter crevasses and difficulties not to be met with on the Barrier, yet on the latter we could get no further than 86° South, and then would have to turn in towards the land and get over the mountains to reach the Pole. We felt that our main difficulty on the glacier route would be with the pony Socks, and we could not expect to drag the full load ourselves as yet without relay work. Adams, Marshall, and I pulled one sledge with 680 lb. weight, and Wild followed with Socks directly in our wake, so that if we came to a crevasse he would have warning. Everything went on well except that when we were close in to land, Marshall went through the snow covering of a crevasse. He managed to hold himself up by his arms. We could see nu bottom to this crevasse. At 1 P.M. we were close to the snow-slope up which we hoped to reach the interior of the land and thence get on to the glacier. We had lunch and then proceeded, finding, instead of a steep, short slope, a long, fairly steep gradient. All the afternoon we toiled at the sledge, Socks pulling his load easily enough, and eventually, at 5 P.M., reached the head of the pass, 2000 ft. above sea-level. From that point there was a gentle descent towards the glacier, and at 6 P.M. we camped close to some blue ice with granite boulders embedded in it, round which were pools of water. This water saves a certain amount of our oil, for we have not to melt snow or ice. We turned in at 8 P.M., well satisfied with the day's work. The weather now is wonderfully fine, with not a breath of wind, and a warm sun beating down on us. The temperature was up to plus 22° Fahr. at noon, and is now plus 18° Fahr. The pass through which we have come is flanked by great granite pillars at least 2000 ft. in height and making a magnificent entrance to the "Highway to the South." It is all so interesting and everything is on such a vast scale that one cannot describe it well. We four are seeing these great designs and the play of nature in her grandest moods for the first time, and possibly they may never be seen by man again. Poor Marshall had another four miles' walk this evening, for he found that he had lost his Jaeger jacket off the sledge. He had therefore to tramp back uphill for it, and found it two miles away on the trail. Socks is not feeding well. He seems lonely without his companions. We gave him a drink of thaw water this evening, but he did not seem to appreciate it, preferring the snow at his feet.