Where is Amundsen ? Scott passed the furthest south point of The Discovery expedition without even a comment. Yesterday Amundsen reached the furthest south point of Shackleton’s Nimrod trip with a very different response. Huntford describes a different relationship between Amundsen and Shackleton than between Scott and Shackleton. Rather than rivalry and competition there is great respect, ‘there was no jealousy, no gloating over a fallen rival, Amundsen’s admiration for Shackleton was boundless’. Amundsen’s reaction to passing the furthest south was very emotional and he describes his goggles clouding over ‘but this time it was not the south wind’s fault’.
Scotts Journal December 9th 1911. Scott wakes several times through the night and observed the weather improving and they were on their way again but it was a terrible march. The vast amount of snow made the surface soft, deep and with no glide for the sledges. It was enormously difficult for the horse leading and so hard that the manhauling team needed to lead the way for a while. They managed to get snow shoes on Snatcher and that made progress much easier. Although a difficult march they made it to within 1 mile of the gateway, a gap Shackleton found that leads to the glacier. Scott laments the fact that he is not further ahead and he expected to be much higher up the glacier, ‘it has been a most serious blow to us, but things are not yet desperate. The horses struggled today and supplies are low, all the horses are shot, ‘poor beasts, they have done wonderfully well considering the terrible circumstances’. The dogs continue to do well and the scene is impressive, the glacier ahead and huge granite pillars guide their way. Scott comments of the morale of the party, ‘in spite of some doubt in our outlook, everyone is very cheerful tonight and jokes are flying freely around’.
The Beardmore Glacier – Picture from Wikimedia Commons
Commentary. The place where the last 5 horses was known as Shambles Camp. As I read these stories day by day it is so clear how Scott’s reputation is where it is. We have Amundsen in tearful emotion while Scott ignores significant milestones and kills the horses with very little commentary in his journal. In a world post a tearful ‘Gazza’ the coldness of Scott measured against the tears of Amundsen continue to cleave out a Scott that lacks a human side. I think Scott is struggling and faced a huge internal conflict. He records detail and facts very well and can describe the conditions with a literary beauty but when he starts to mention the emotions of his men it appears difficult for him and almost a forced commentary. The comment he made about ‘doubt’ deserves more commentary, what was said ? who is worried or concerned ? what options are the men offering him ? He is a lonely leader, a leader trying to be strong and to do this he stays remote from his men, he is a leader taking on the whole burden of the march.