Manhauling was the most focussed on method of movement in Scotts party. While other methods were employed, dogs, horses and tractors, they were only there to support the ulimate purpose of manhauling to the pole. On Scott’s previous expedition aboard Discovery neither he or his men had any experience of manhauling, they would need to learn. Manhauling is the harnessing of one or more men to a sledge and they pull their supplies and equipment forward. The efficiency seems dependent on so many things, the abrasive quality of the snow, the accumulation of ice on the runners and the rhythm and pace of the pulling team. On this first expedition Scott also learned a great deal about dogs, horses and other equipment. Many trails and experiments took place, such as Frank Wild putting nails through his boots to improve grip. But there was something else significant about manhauling. It is argued that Scott felt that manhauling was the only genuine way to attain the pole. Getting there by your own effort, rather than that of the animals, seemed to matter. It said something of the achievement.
The ‘little’ wind that Scott referred to the previous day turned more vicious overnight and the march was ‘horrid’. Even during this difficult march they managed to locate the tracks of the tractor party now manhauling ahead of them. A signficant head wind was followed by a snow storm and the conditions became so poor they decided to camp early. Disappointingly for the team no sooner had they set the camp the weather improved and Scott regretted the loss of every possible mile they could have achieved. Christopher still has spirit and tried to bolt again after being harnessed but Titus held on. Titus was the nickname Scott used for the man who led Christopher, Lawrence Edward Grace Oates.
The role of being the first brings it’s own difficulties. Scott learnt a great many lessons on his first trip about surviving and travelling on the snow. But was he learning the right lessons ? People have survived in similar conditions for generations at the north pole and other countries had expertise in skiing, dogs and survival. Scott is often criticised for not learning the right lessons and a huge question mark exists about his use of dogs. Yet he did consult experts and made the choices he did thoughtfully. Perhaps there was something significant about learning these lessons together and struggling through hardship as a team. Shackleton was on that first expedition with Scott and must have learned a great deal. Shacleton went on to lead his own expedition and achieve the furthest south mark in 1909 and followed this by The Endurance expedition of 1914. Shackleton receives so much attention now but I wonder where he would have been if he had not joined Scott on that first expedition and shared such powerful learning ? Is Scott the man who made Shackleton ?