Life on the Ice. While Scott’s journal seems to focus on the weather and the horses the other men recorded much more mundane but fascinating personal details. At this time in the journey Teddy Evans describes some personal interactions as he visited other tents and was given extra rations of biscuits and cocoa. They also found extra supplies which didn’t seem to surprise the quartermaster. The assumption seems to have been that Bowers deliberately put a little extra food in each container, a boast to the mens spirits. It was the turn of Evan’s to cook and he describes making a hoosh of pemmican, horsemeat (cut into thin strips) and crushed biscuit, followed by strong cocoa. Everyone went to bead on full stomachs that night. Evans also notes that the manhauling team are more hungry than the dog handlers and that the blizzard they were in was ‘bad luck’.
Scotts Journal December 5th 1911. They awoke to a ‘raging howling blizzard’. The wind carried fine powdery snow and it covers men from head to toe in minutes. The temperature is high and so the snow sticks and the horses are covered with snow and ice. After breakfast they rebuilt the walls protecting the horses and returned to their sleeping bags. Scott notes ‘what on earth does such weather mean at this time of year, it is more than our share of ill fortune but the luck may yet turn’. Scott ponders ‘is this a bad season’ ? He also considers that this may simply be a local conditions and others maybe travelling forward in good weather, ‘how great the element of luck’. Scott also comments that no experience or procedure could have prepared them for this ‘state of affairs’. The snow fell all day and with warm temperatures the resulting water lay in pools all around and in the tent. The clothes and boots are wet and if a cold snap now comes they shall be ‘mighty uncomfortable’.
Commentary. It is a poor season being experienced by Scott and his companions, as modern meteorological reports would later confirm. But Scott no longer commented only on the bad luck they were faced with but notes they will need good luck to be successful. It is strange that Scott is not sharing any other thoughts he is having about the events unfolding. What options to change his plan is he considering ? what assessment of his team is he making ? What further changes to the circumstance would see him turn back ? I can’t believe he is not considering all his options. The recording of ‘luck’ and a ‘bad season’ as the only impact on success or failure doesn’t tell the whole story, why is Scott not recording his other thoughts ? The mention of ‘others’ must refer to Amundsen and Shackleton, are they a disturbance to Scott’s clarity of understanding and decision making ?
Shackleton on the Nimrod expedition in 1908
Picture from Wikimedia Commons