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SOME NOTES ON THE SOUTHERN JOURNEY
"Turning Backs": Pony Soup: The "Wild Roll": Frost-bite: Glacier Surfaces: Painful Falls:
Particular Duties assigned to each Member of the Southern Party
WE brought back with us from the journey towards the Pole vivid memories of how it feels to be intensely, fiercely hungry. During the period from November 15, 1908, to February 23, 1909, we had but one full meal, and that was on Christmas Day. Even then we did not keep the sense of repletion for very long for within an hour or two it seemed to us that we were as hungry as ever. Our daily allowance of food would have been a small one for a city worker in a temperate climate, and in our case hunger was increased by the fact that we were performing vigorous physical labour in a very low temperature. We looked forward to each meal with keen anticipation, but when the food was in our hands it seemed to disappear without making us any the less ravenous. The evening meal at the end of ten hours' sledging used to take us a long time to prepare. The sledges had to be unpacked and the camp pitched. Then the cooker was filled with snow and the primus lamp lit, often no easy matter with our cold, frost-bitten fingers. The materials for the thin hoosh would be placed in the boiling-pot, with the addition, perhaps, of some pony maize, and the allowance of tea was placed in the outer boiler. The tea was always put in a strainer, consisting of a small tin in which we had punched a lot of holes, and it was removed directly the water had come to the boil. We used to sit round the cooker waiting for our food, and at last the hoosh would be ready and would be ladled into the pannikins by the cook of the week. The scanty allowance of biscuit would be distributed and we would commence the meal. In a couple of minutes the hot food would be gone, and we would gnaw carefully round the sides of our biscuits, making them last as long as possible. Marshall used sometimes to stand his pannikin of hoosh in the snow for a little while, because it got thicker as it cooled, but it was a debatable point whether this paid. One seemed to be getting more solid food, but there was a loss of warmth and in the minus temperatures on the plateau we found it advisable to take our hoosh very hot. We would make the biscuits last as long as possible, and sometimes we tried to save a bit to eat in the sleeping-bag later on, but it was hard to do this. If one of us dropped a crumb, the others would point it out, and the owner would wet his finger in his mouth and pick up the morsel. Not the smallest fragment was allowed to escape.
We used to "turn backs" in order to ensure equitable division of the food. The cook would pour the hoosh into the pannikins and arrange the biscuits in four heaps. Perhaps some one would suggest that one pannikin had rather less in it than another, and if this view was endorsed by the others there would be a readjustment. Then when we were all satisfied that the food had been divided as fairly as possible, one man would turn his back, and another, pointing at one pannikin or group of biscuits would say, "Whose?" The man who had his back turned, and therefore could not see the food, would give a name, and so the distribution would proceed, each of us always feeling sure that the smallest share had fallen to his lot. At lunch-time there would be chocolate or cheese to distribute on alternate days, and we much preferred the chocolate days to the cheese days. The chocolate seemed more satisfying, and it was more easily divided. The cheese broke up into very small fragments on the march, and the allowance, which amounted to two spoonfuls per man, had to be divided up as nearly as possible into four equal heaps. The chocolate could be easily separated into sticks of equal size. It can be imagined that the cook for the week had no easy task. His work became more difficult still when we were using pony-meat, for the meat and blood, when boiled up, made a delightful broth, while the fragments of meat sunk to the bottom of the pot. The liquor was much the better part of the dish, and no one had much relish for the little dice of tough and stringy meat, so the cook had to be very careful indeed. Poor old Chinaman was a particularly tough and stringy horse.
We found that the meat from the neck and rump was the best, the most stringy portions coming from the ribs and legs. We took all the meat we could, tough or tender, and as we went south in the days when horse-meat was fairly plentiful, we used to suck frozen, raw fragments as we marched along. Later we could not afford to use the meat except on a definite allowance. The meat to be used during the day was generally cut up when we took a spell in the morning, and the bag containing the fragments was hung on the back of the sledge in order that the meat might be softened by the sun. It cut more easily when frozen than when partially thawed, but our knives gradually got blunt, and on the glacier we secured a rock on which to sharpen them. During the journey back, when every ounce of weight was of great importance, we used one of our geological specimens, a piece of sandstone, as a knife-sharpener. The meat used to bulk large in the pot, but as fresh meat contains about 60 per cent. of moisture, it used to shrink considerably in the process of cooking, and we did not have to use very much snow in the pot.
We used the meat immediately we had started to kill the ponies in order to save the other food, for we knew that the meat contained a very large percentage of water, so that we would be carrying useless weight with it. The pemmican and biscuits, on the other hand, contained very little moisture, and it was more profitable to keep them for the march further south, when we were likely to want to reduce the loads as far as possible. We left meat at each depot, to provide for the march back to the coast, but always took on as much as possible of the prepared foods. The reader will understand that the loss of Socks, which represented so many pounds of meat, was a very severe blow to us, for we had after that to use sledging stores at the depots to make up for the lost meat. If we had been able to use Socks for food, I have no doubt that we would have been able to get further south, perhaps even to the Pole itself, though in that case we could hardly have got back in time to catch the ship before she was forced to leave by the approach of winter.
When we were living on meat our desire for cereals and farinaceous foods became stronger; indeed any particular sort of food of which we were deprived seemed to us to be the food for which nature craved. When we were short of sugar we would dream of sweet-stuffs, and when biscuits were in short supply our thoughts were concerned with crisp loaves and all the other good things displayed in the windows of the bakers' shops. During the last weeks of the journey outwards, and the long march back, when our allowance of food had been reduced to twenty ounces per man a day, we really thought of little but food. The glory of the great mountains that towered high on either side, the majesty of the enormous glacier up which we travelled so painfully, did not appeal to our emotions to any great extent. Man becomes very primitive when he is hungry and short of food, and we learned to know what it is to be desperately hungry. I used to wonder sometimes whether the people who suffer from hunger in the big cities of civilisation felt as we were feeling, and I arrived at the conclusion that they did not, for no barrier of law and order would have been allowed to stand between us and any food that had been available. The man who starves in a city is weakened, hopeless, spiritless, and we were vigorous and keen. Until January 9 the desire for food was made the more intense by our knowledge of the fact that we were steadily marching away from the stores of plenty.
We could not joke about food, in the way that is possible for the man who is hungry in the ordinary sense. We thought about it most of the time, and on the way back we used to talk about it, but always in the most serious manner possible. We used to plan out the enormous meals that we proposed to have when we got back to the ship and, later, to civilisation. On the outward march we did not experience really severe hunger until we got on the great glacier, and then we were too much occupied with the heavy and dangerous climbing over the rough ice and crevasses to be able to talk much. We had to keep some distance apart in case one man fell into a crevasse. Then on the plateau our faces were generally coated with ice, and the blizzard wind blowing from the south made unnecessary conversation out of the question. Those were silent days, and our remarks to one another were brief and infrequent. It was on the march back that we talked freely of food, after we had got down the glacier and were marching over the barrier surface. The wind was behind us, so that the pulling was not very heavy, and as there were no crevasses to fear we were able to keep close together. We would get up at 5 A.M. in order to make a start at 7 A.M., and after we had eaten our scanty breakfast, that seemed only to accentuate hunger, and had begun the day's march, we could take turns in describing the things we would eat in the good days to come. We were each going to give a dinner to the others in turn, and there was to be an anniversary dinner every year, at which we would be able to eat and eat and eat. No French chef ever devoted more thought to the invention of new dishes than we did.
It is with strange feelings that I look back over our notes, and see the wonderful meals that we were going to have. We used to tell each other, with perfect seriousness, about the new dishes that we had thought of, and if the dish met with general approval there would be a chorus of, "Ah! That's good." Sometimes there would be an argument as to whether a suggested dish was really an original invention, or whether it did not too nearly resemble something that we had already tasted in happier days. The "Wild roll" was admitted to be the high-water mark of gastronomic luxury. Wild proposed that the cook should take a supply of well-seasoned minced meat, wrap it in rashers of fat bacon, and place around the whole an outer covering of rich pastry so that it would take the form of a big sausage-roll. Then this roll would be fried with plenty of fat. My best dish, which I must admit I put forward with a good deal of pride as we marched over the snow, was a sardine pasty, made by placing well-fried sardines inside pastry. At least ten tins of sardines were to be emptied on to a bed of pastry, and the whole then rolled up and cooked, preparatory to its division into four equal portions. I remember one day Marshall came forward with a proposal for a thick roll of suet pudding with plenty of jam all over it, and there arose quite a heated argument as to whether he could fairly claim this dish to be an invention, or whether it was not the jam roll already known to the housewives of civilisation. There was one point on which we were all agreed, and that was that we did not want any jellies or things of that sort at our future meals. The idea of eating such elusive stuff as jelly had no appeal to us at all.
On a typical day during this backward march we would leave camp at about 6.40 A.M., and half an hour later would have recovered our frost-bitten fingers, while the moisture on our clothes, melted in the sleeping-bags, would have begun to ablate, after having first frozen hard. We would be beginning to march with some degree of comfort, and one of us would remark, " Well, boys, what are we going to have for breakfast to-day ? We had just finished our breakfast as a matter of fact, consisting of half a pannikin of semi-raw horse-meat, one biscuit and a half a pannikin of tea, but the meal had not taken the keenness from our appetites. We used to try to persuade ourselves that our half-biscuit was not quite a half, and sometimes we managed to get a little bit more that way. The question would receive our most serious and careful consideration at once, and we would proceed to weave from our hungry imaginations a tale of a day spent in eating. "Now we are on board ship," one man would say. "We wake up in a bunk, and the first thing we do is to stretch out our hands to the side of the bunk and get some chocolate, some Garibaldi biscuits and some apples. We eat those in the bunk, and then we get up for breakfast. Breakfast will be at eight o'clock, and we will have porridge, fish, bacon and eggs, cold ham, plum pudding, sweets, fresh roll and butter, marmalade and coffee. At eleven o'clock we will have hot cocoa, open jam tarts, fried cods' roe and slices of heavy plum cake. That will be all until lunch at one o'clock. For lunch we will have Wild roll, shepherd's pie, fresh soda-bread, hot milk, treacle pudding, nuts, raisins, and cake. After that we will turn in for a sleep, and we will be called at 3.45, when we will reach out again from the bunks and have dough-nuts and sweets. We will get up then and have big cups of hot tea and fresh cake and chocolate Dreams. Dinner will be at six, and we will have thick soup, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower, peas, asparagus, plum pudding, fruit, apple-pie with thick cream, scones and butter, port wine, nuts, and almonds and raisins. Then at midnight we will have a really big meal, just before we go to bed. There will be melon, grilled trout and butter-sauce, roast chicken with plenty of livers, a proper salad with eggs and very thick dressing, green peas and new potatoes, a saddle of mutton, fried suet pudding, peaches a la Melba, egg curry, plum pudding and sauce, Welsh rarebit, Queen's pudding, angels on horseback, cream cheese and celery, fruit, nuts, port wine, milk, and cocoa. Then we will go to bed and sleep till breakfast time. We will have chocolate and biscuits under our pillows, and if we want anything to eat in the night we will just have to get it." Three of us would listen to this programme and perhaps suggest amendments and improvements generally in the direction of additional, dishes, and then another one of us would take up the running and sketch another glorious day of feeding and sleeping.
I daresay that all this sounds very greedy and uncivilised to the reader who has never been on the verge of starvation, but as I have said before, hunger makes a man primitive. We did not smile at ourselves or at each other as we planned wonderful feats of over-eating. We were perfectly serious about the matter,
1and we noted down in the back pages of our diaries details of the meals that we had decided to have as soon as we got back to the places where food was plentiful. All the morning we would allow our imaginations to run riot in this fashion. Then would come one o'clock, and I would look at my watch and say "Camp!" We would drop the harness from our tired bodies and pitch the tent on the smoothest place available, and three of us would get inside to wait for the thin and scanty meal, while the other man filled the cooker with snow and fragments of frozen meat. An hour later we would be on the march again, once more thinking and talking of food, and this would go on until the camp in the evening. We would have another scanty meal, and turn into the sleeping-bags, to dream wildly of food that somehow we could never manage to eat.
The dysentery from which we suffered during the latter part of the journey back to the coast was certainly due to the meat from the pony Grisi. This animal was shot one night when in a greatly exhausted condition, and I believe that his flesh was made poisonous by the presence of the toxin of exhaustion, as is the case with animals that have been hunted. Wild was the first to suffer, at the time when we started to use Grisi meat with the other meat, and he must have been unfortunate enough to get the greater part of the bad meat on that occasion. The other meat we were using then came from Chinaman, and seemed to be quite wholesome. A few days later we were all eating Grisi meat, and we all got dysentery. The meat could not have become affected in any way after the death of the pony, because it froze hard within a very short time. The manner in which we managed to keep on marching when suffering, and the speed with which we recovered when we got proper food, were rather remarkable, and the reason, no doubt, was that the dysentery was simply the result of the poison, and was not produced by organic trouble of any sort. We had a strong wind behind us day after day during this period, and this contributed in a very large measure to our safety, for in the weakened condition we had then reached we could not have made long marches against a head-wind, and without long marches we would have starved between the depots. We had a sail on the sledge, formed of the floorcloth of a tent, and often the sledge would overrun us, though at other times it would catch in a drift and throw us heavily.
When we were travelling along during the early part of the journey over the level Barrier surface, we felt the heat of the sun severely, though as a matter of fact the temperature was generally very low, sometimes as low as zero Fahr. though the season was the height of summer. It was quite usual to feel one side of the face getting frozen while the other side was being sunburned. The ponies would have frozen perspiration on their coats on the sheltered side, while the sun would keep the other side hot and dry, and as the day wore on and the sun moved' round the sky the frosted area on the animals would change its position in sympathy. I remember that on December 4 we were marching stripped to our shirts, and we got very much sunburned, though at noon that day the air temperature showed ten degrees of frost. When we started to climb the glacier and marched close to the rocks, we felt the heat much more, for the rocks acted as radiators, and this experience weighed with me in deciding to leave all the spare clothing and equipment at the Upper Glacier Depot, about seven thousand feet up. We did not expect to have to climb much higher, but, as the reader knows, we did not reach the plateau until we had climbed over ten thousand feet above sea-level, and so we felt the cold extremely. Our wind-proof Burberry clothing had become thin by this time, and had been patched in many places in consequence of having been torn on the sharp ice. The wind got in through a tear in my Burberry trousers one day and I was frost-bitten on the under part of the knee. This frost-bite developed into an open wound, into which the wool from my underclothing worked, and I had finally to perform a rather painful operation with a knife before the wound would heal. We were continually being frost-bitten up on the plateau, and when our boots had begun to give out and we were practically marching on the sennegrass inside the finnesko, our heels got frost-bitten. My heels burst when we got on to hard stuff, and for some time my socks were caked with blood at the end of every day's march. Finally Marshall put some " Newskin " on a pad, and that stuck on well until the cracks had healed. The scars are likely to remain with me. In the very cold days, when our strength had begun to decrease, we found great difficulty in hoisting the sail on our sledge, for when we lifted our arms above our heads in order to adjust the sail, the blood ran from our fingers and they promptly froze. Ten minutes or a quarter of an hour sometimes elapsed before we could get the sledge properly rigged. Our troubles with frost-bits were no doubt due in a measure to the lightness of our clothing, but there was compensation in the speed with which we were able to travel. I have no doubt at all that men engaged in polar exploration should be clothed as lightly as is possible, even if there is a danger of frost-bite when they halt on the march.
The surface over which we travelled during the southern journey changed continually. During the first few days we found a layer of soft snow on top of a hard crust, with more soft snow underneath that again. Our weight was sufficient to break through the soft snow on top, and if we were pulling the increased pressure would cause the crust to break also, letting us through into the second layer of soft snow. This surface made the travelling very heavy. Until we had got beyond Minna Bluff we often passed over high, sharp sastrugi, and beyond that we met with ridges four to six feet high. The snow generally was dry and powdery, but some of the crystals were large, and showed in reflected light all the million colours of diamonds. After we had passed latitude 80° South the snow got softer day by day, and the ponies would often break through the upper crust and sink in right up to their bellies. When the sun was hot the travelling would be much better, for the surface snow got near the melting-point and formed a slippery layer not easily broken. Then again a fall in the temperature would produce a thin crust, through which one broke very easily. Between latitude 80° South and 83° South there were hard sastrugi under the soft snow, and the hoofs of the horses suffered in consequence. The surface near the land was broken up by pressure from the glaciers, but right alongside the mountains there was a smooth plain of glassy ice, caused by the freezing of water that had run off the rocky slopes when they were warm under the rays of the sun. This process had been proceeding on the snow slopes that we had to climb in order to reach the glacier. Here at the foot of the glacier there were pools of clear water round the rocks, and we were able to drink as much as we wanted, though the contact of the cold water with our cracked lips was painful.
The glacier itself presented every variety of surface, from soft snow to cracked and riven blue ice, by-and-by the only constant feature were the crevasses, from which we were never free. Some were entirely covered with a crust of soft snow, and we discovered them only when one of us broke through, and hung by his harness from the sledge. Others occurred in mazes of rotten ice, and were even more difficult to negotiate than the other sort. The least unpleasant of the crevasses were those that were wide open and easily seen, with firm ice on either side. If these crevasses were not too wide, we would pull the sledges up to the side, then jump over, and pull them after us. This was more difficult than it sounds from the fact that the ice gave only a very uncertain footing, but we always had the harness as a safeguard in case of a fall. If the crevasses were wide we had to make a detour. The sledges, owing to their length, were not liable to slip down a orevasse, and we felt fairly safe when we were securely attached to them by the harness. When the surface was so bad that relay work became necessary we used to miss the support of a sledge on the back journeys. We would advance one sledge half a mile or a mile, put up a bamboo pole to mark the spot, and then go back for the other. We were roped together for the walk back to the second sledge, but even then we felt a great deal less secure than when harnessed to one of the long, heavy sledges. On some days we had to travel up steep slopes of smooth ice, and often it became necessary to cut steps with our ice-axes, and haul the sledges after us with the alpine rope. When we had gone up about sixty feet, the length of the rope, we would haul up the sledge to which we had attached the lower end, and jamb it so that it could not slide back. Then one of us would slide down in order to fix the rope to the other sledge.
One of the curious features of the glacier was a yellow line, evidently an old moraine, extending for thirty or forty miles. The rocks of the moraine had gradually sunk in out of sight, the radiation of the sun's heat from them causing the ice to melt and let them through, and there had remained enough silt and dust to give the ice a dirty yellow appearance. The travelling along this old moraine was not so bad, but on either side of it there was a mass of pressure ice, caused by the constriction of the glacier between the mountains to the east and west. Unfortunately we brought back no photographs of this portion of the glacier. The number of plates at our disposal was limited, and on the outward march we decided not to take many photographs in case we found interesting land or mountains in the far south nearer the Pole. We thought that we would be able to secure as many photographs of the glacier as we wanted on the way back if we had the plates to spare, but as a matter of fact when we did get on to the glacier a second time we were so short of food that we could not afford the time to unpack the camera, which had to be stowed away carefully on the sledge in order to avoid damage to it.
Many nights on the glacier there was no snow on which to pitch the tents, and we had to spend perhaps an hour smoothing out a space on a rippled, sharp-pointed sea of ice. The provision bags and sledges had to be packed on the snow cloths round the tents, and it was indeed fortunate for us that we did not meet with any bad weather while we were marching up the glacier. Had a blizzard come on while we were asleep, it would have scattered our goods far and wide, and we would have been faced with a very serious position. All the time that we were climbing the glacier we had a northerly wind behind us, although the direction of the sastrugi showed clearly that the prevailing wind was from the south; when we were coming back later in the season the wind was behind us all the time. We encountered a strong wind on the outward journey when near the top of the glacier, and as the ice slopes were covered with snow it was difficult to pull the sledges up them. When we reached the same slopes on the way back, the summer sun had cleared the snow from them, leaving clear ice, and we simply glissaded down all but the steepest slopes, although one of the sledge runners was very badly torn. We had to travel carefully on the steep slopes, for if we had let the sledge get out of hand it would have run away altogether, and would probably have been smashed up hundreds of feet below.
The Upper Glacier Depot was overhung by great cliffs of rock, shattered by the frosts and storms of countless centuries, and many fragments were poised in such a fashion that scarcely more than a touch seemed needed to bring them hurtling down. All around us on the ice lay rocks that had recently fallen from the heights, and we wondered whether some boulder would come down upon us while we were in camp. We had no choice of a camping-ground, as all around was rough ice. The cliffs were composed largely of weathered sandstone, and it was on the same mountains, higher up the glacier, that the coal was found, at a point where the slope was comparatively gentle. Looking down from this height, we could see the glacier stretching away to the point of junction with the Barrier, the mountains rising to east and west. Many of the mountains to the west of the glacier were more or less dome-shaped, but there were some sharp conical peaks to the westward of the particular mountain under which the Upper Glacier Depot had been placed. There were three distinct peaks, and the plateau ice sweeping down made a long moraine on the west side of the glacier. To the eastward there was a long ridge of high mountains, fairly uniform in shape and without any sharp peaks, but with ridges, apparently of granite, projecting towards the west and so constricting the glacier. The mountains were distant about twenty-five miles, but well-defined stratification lines could plainly be seen. Below us, as we looked from the depot, could be seen the cumulus clouds that always hung above "The Cloudmaker."
When we looked to the south from this depot we saw no clouds; there was nothing but hard clear sky. The sky gave no indication of the blizzard winds that were to assail us when we reached the plateau, and after we had gone as far south as we could and retraced our footsteps to the depot, we looked back and saw the same clear sky, with a few wisps of fleecy cloud in it. We had no doubt that below those clouds the pitiless gale was still raging across the great frozen plain, and that the wind which followed us during our march back to the coast was coming from the vicinity of the Pole. As we advanced from the Upper Glacier Depot we came upon great ice falls. The surface looked smooth from a distance, and we thought that we were actually on the plateau, but as we advanced we saw that before us lay enormous ridges rising abruptly. We had to relay our gear over these ridges, and often at the tops there would be a great crevasse, from which would radiate smaller crevasses fringed with crystals and showing ghastly depths below. We would creep forward to see what lay on the other side, and perhaps would find a fall of fifty feet, with a grade of about 1 in 3. Many times we risked our sledge on very severe slopes, allowing it to glissade down, but other times the danger of a smash was too great, and we had to lower the sledge slowly and carefully with the rope. The ice was safe enough to walk upon at this time except at the ridges, where the crevasses were severe, for the smaller crevasses in the hollows and slopes could be passed without difficulty.
The ice falls delayed us a good deal, and then we got into soft snow, over which the sledge dragged heavily. We thought that we were finally on the plateau level, but within a few days we came to fresh ridges and waves of pressure ice. The ice between the waves was very rotten, and many times we fell through when we put our weight on it. We fastened the alpine rope to the sledge harness, and the first man pulled at a distance of about eighteen feet from the sledge, while the whole party was so scattered that no two men could fall into a orevasse together. We got on to better ground by steering to the wetwward, but this step was rather dangerous, for by taking this course we travelled parallel with the crevasses and were not able to meet them at right angles. Many times we nearly lost the sledge and ourselves when the ice started to break away into an unseen crevasse running parallel with our course. We felt very grateful to Providence that the weather remained clear, for we could not have moved a yard over this rotten ice in thick weather without courting disaster. I do not know whether the good weather we experienced in that neighbourhood was normal. We generally had about seven miles of easy going after we had passed one ridge in this area, and then another ridge would rise up ahead of us, and we would start to climb again. There were always crevasses at the top of the ridges, suggesting that the ice was moving over land at no great depth.
We passed the last ridge at last, and reached the actual plateau, but instead of hard neve, such as the Discovery expedition had encountered in the journey to the plateau beyond the mountains west of McMurdo Sound, we found soft snow and hard sastrugi. All the sastrugi pointed to the south, and the wind blew strongly nearly all the time from the south or south-east, with an occasional change to the south-west. Sometimes we marched on hard sastrugi, and at other times we had soft snow under our feet, but could feel the sastrugi on which the snow was lying. I formed the opinion that during the winter on the plateau the wind must blow with terrible violence from the south, and that the hard sastrugi are produced then. Still further south wt3 kept breaking through a hard crust that underlay the soft surface snow, and we then sank in about eight inches. This surface, which made the marching heavy, continued to the point at which we planted the flag. After the long blizzard, from the night of January 6 until the morning of January 9, we had a better surface over which to make our final march southwards, for the wind had swept the soft snow away and produced a fairly hard surface, over which, unencumbered with a sledge as we were, we could advance easily.
We found the surface generally to be improved on the march back. The blizzard winds had removed the soft surface snow, and incidentally uncovered many of the crevasses. We were following our outward tracks. and often I noticed the tracks lead us to the edge of a crevasse which had been covered previously and over which we had passed in ignorance of our danger on the march southwards. When we got to the head of the glacier we tried to take a short cut to the point where we had left the Upper Glacier Depot, but we got enmeshed in a maze of crevasses and pressure ridges to the eastward, and so had to steer a westerly direction again in order to get clear. The dangers that we did know were preferable to those that we did not know.
On the way down the glacier we found all the snow stripped away by the wind and sun for nearly one hundred miles, and we travelled over slippery blue ice, with innumerable cracks and sharp edges. We had many painful falls during this part of the journey. Then when about forty miles from the foot of the glacier we got into deep soft snow again, over which rapid progress was impossible. There had evidently been a heavy snowfall in this area while we were further south, and for days, while our food was running short, we could see ahead of us the rocks under which the depot had been placed. We toiled with painful slowness towards the rocks, and as the reader has already learned we were without any food at all for the last thirty hours of that march. We found the Barrier surface to be very soft when we got off the Glacier, but after we had passed Grisi Depot there was an improvement. The surface remained fairly good until we reached the winter quarters, and in view of our weakened condition it was fortunate for us that it did so.
In reviewing the experience gained on the southern journey, I do not think that I could suggest any improvement in equipment for any future expedition. The Barrier surface evidently varies in a remarkable fashion, and its condition cannot be anticipated with any degree of certainty. The traveller must be prepared for either a hard surface or a very soft one, and he may get both surfaces in the course of one day's march. The eleven-foot sledge is thoroughly suitable for the work, and our method of packing the stores and hauling the sledges did not develop any weak points. We would have been glad to have had crampons for use on the glacier; what would be better still would be heavy alpine boots with nails all round, for very often the surface would give little grip to crampons, which would only touch the rough ice at one or two points. The temperature is too cold to permit of the explorer wearing ordinary leather boots, and some boot would have to be designed capable of keeping the feet warm and carrying the nails all round. A mast consisting of a bamboo lashed to the forward oil-box proved as efficient as could be required for use in connection with a sail on the sledges. It was easily rigged and had no elaborate stays. I would suggest no change in the clothing, for the light woollen underclothing, with thin windproof material outside, proved most satisfactory in every way. We could certainly not have travelled so fast had we been wearing the regulation pilot cloth garment generally used in polar exploration. Our experience made it obvious that a party which hopes to reach the Pole must take more food per man than we did, but how the additional weight is to be provided for is a matter for individual consideration. I would not take cheese again, for although it is a good food, we did not find it as palatable as chocolate, which is practically as sustaining. Our other foods were all entirely satisfactory.
Each member of the Southern Party had his own particular duties to perform. Adams had charge of the meteorology, and his work involved the taking of temperatures at regular intervals, and the boiling of the hypsometer, sometimes several times in a day. He took notes during the day, and wrote up the observations at night in the sleeping-bag. Marshall was the cartographer and took the angles and bearings of all the new land; he also took the meridian altitudes and the compass variation as we went south. When a meridian altitude was taken, I generally had it checked by each member of the party, so that the mean could be taken.
Marshall's work was about the most uncomfortable possible, for at the end of a day's march, and often at lunch-time, he would have to stand in the biting wind handling the screws of the theodolite. The map of the journey was prepared by Marshall, who also took most of the photographs. Wild attended to the repair of the sledges and equipment, and also assisted me in the geological observations and the collection of specimens. It was he who found the coal close to the Upper Glacier Depot. I kept the courses and distances, worked out observations and laid down our directions. We all kept diaries. I had two, one my observation book, and the other the narrative diary.