Tractors http://www.freezeframe.ac.uk/collection/photos-british-antarctic-expedition-1910-13-ponting-collection/p2005-5-564 The previous days had brought the upsetting news of the abandoned tractors. Scott had wanted more from them but after the expedition other members of the team did not talk about them as failures. Tryggve Gran regarded them as a success with Aspley Cherry Garrard believing the design was good and that they now needed further experience. Scott was a man of his age and the Edwardian age meant science and these tractors were the latest in motor thinking. Scott looked for any way in which science could help his cause and he was also prepared to try new innovative ideas. They had brough three tractors with them but one had fallen through the ice the previous summer as they arrived. The two remaining helped move large supplies further than man, horses or dogs. The tractors were truly innovative and it must be remembered that they had been designed and used before the invention of the tank during World War 1 and it could be argued that tanks existed as a result of Scotts tractors. In Ranulph Fiennes book he describes the snow mobiles used today as ‘direct descendants of Scotts prototypes’. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Captain-Scott-Sir-Ranulph-Fiennes/dp/0340826991/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320603318&sr=1-1
Scott comments have a more upbeat tone to them today and he records that the horses are doing better than he thought with the heavier loads, even Chinaman and Jehu. After the disappointment of the tractors he may have been concerned about the horses progress but a good day of marching seems to have rekindled his faith in the horses. The horses are now carrying load of between 450lbs and 700lbs and other members of the team, Atkinson and Wright, both think the horses are getting fitter. Scotts horse, snippets, is pulling a sledge with a combined weight of over 700lbs. Everyone is pleased with the horses, no one more than Lawrence Oates, the man who had cared for them all through the dark and cold winter months. The performance of the horses does seem to have improved Scotts mood.
The surface has improved as they headed southward but blizzards are now forming although they are not causing any concern to men or horses during the march. The horses have new rugs and the men build them snow walls each evening, a practice they learned the previous year after some difficult and tragic journeys with the horses. The blizzard becomes more of a concern and it took four men to get Christopher into his harness, although he is the most troublesome of the horses.
Scott notes that the blizzard has ‘characteristics worthy of note’ and takes great time to take scientific readings and observations. Temperature readings, wind direction and detailed discussion of several new and interesting features of the conditions they find themselves in. Science and discovery were key elements of Scotts mission.
The men have been together for a long time, planning the trip, sailing from England via New Zealand, working through the first summer and enduring the darkness of a polar winter. Yet Scott has said very little of his men in the entries on the journey that really matters. He had commented on the men previously but he seems to be holding his thoughts on the men, I wonder what he was thinking ?