One Ton Depot. The previous summer Scott and his team had set off south with the intention of testing their capability and importantly to lay depots of food, fuel and equipment. These depots would be used during the pole attempt as it would be impossible to carry all the supplies they would require. The furthest south of these depots was to be One Ton. The march to One Ton had identified numerous difficulties and challenges and the horses had struggled. The state of the horses created a dilemma for Scott. He had planned the position on the depots carefully and on the 17th February 1911 the team were still 31 miles away from where the One Ton Depot should be placed. Scott made the decision that this was as far as the group could go and laid the supplies. Oates was ‘appalled’ and urged Scott to go on and kill the horses as they collapsed leaving the meat for the dogs next year. Oates said to Scott “Sir, I’m afraid you’ll come to regret not taking my advice” to which Scott replied “regret it or not, I have taken my decision as a christian gentleman”. Scott wanted to save the animals for the following year and it is also possible that Scotts experience of the surfaces and the difficulties ahead meant he had an awareness of the terrain no one else had. Scott asked Oates to take the tired animals carefully back and returned with the dogs. The team with the dogs had light loads and made over 30miles a day. A year later as Scott returned from the pole they would make and die in their final camp only 11 miles short of One Ton, 20 miles past where it should have been located.
November 14th 1911. The surface has improved a little and a much more cheerful march. The sun shines for moments during the trip and it is warm, the air is still and the horses much more comfortable although the snow on the ground still makes the going tough. They are getting closer to a major depot ‘One Ton Camp’ which is now only 7 miles away. They are passing new cairns left by Teddy Evans ahead and some left from last years depot running trips. The cairns have become important as they have lost sight of land due to the ever-present mist. The dog teams of Meares and Demetri leave later than Scott but catch him up very quickly.
Commentary. Much is made of this decision. Was Scott influenced by his regard for the animals or did he believe he needed to keep them alive after losing horses already ? Did Oates fully understand the timing, surface and logistics required ? When Scott returned to the main camp he learned that 2 more horses had died with the other teams. The relationship between Scott and Oates is interesting. It seems that it was almost impossible for any superior to do right by Oates, this was true in the Antarctic and in his time in the Army. However, Scott was not, for some, an easy man to get along with. We will never know what impact the relationship between Scott and Oates had on the decisions made but One Ton is a key talking point for those who study Scott. Did Scott think Oates a pessimist ? and yet Scott was quite secretive, keeping plans to himself that might change rather than trusting those around him to deal with ambiguity. The interaction between Scott and Oates is a modern-day leaders dilemma as it represents so the challenge of creating effective relationships.