Manhauling. This extract from the diary of Bertie Bowers (Huntford) says so much about struggle of these men. ‘the most back breaking work I have ever come up against… the starting was worse than the pulling as it required 10 to 15 desperate jerks on the harness to move the sledge at all. I have never pulled so hard or so nearly crushed my inside into my backbone by the everlasting jerking with all my strength on the canvas band around my unfortunate tummy’
Scotts Journal December 13th 1911. The ‘most damnably dismal day’. The pulling was really bad although the glide on the sledges was improved. The snow was still deep and the crust not firm enough to take the weight. As the sledges plunged into piles of snow they stopped dead. Different runners were tried on the sledges and eventually they had to take parts of the loads forward in relays. ‘Evan’s passed us and for some time went forward fairly well’ for all of them it was ‘desperate efforts’ and getting ‘more bogged down’, the toil was ‘simply awful’. They were all soaked again with perspiration and out of breath through their efforts. They advanced only 4 miles and Scott is hoping for better conditions. It is disheartening work and Scott reports that he is not hungry after the effort but very thirsty. Two Skuas (seabirds) found their camp probably attracted by the activity at shambles camp.
Commentary. It is cold today, I stood on a train platform carrying a bag getting colder and I have a cough. How miserable of me to feel such petty cold while waiting for powered transport on a full stomach. In my imagination the experience of manhauling seems so awful, I can see why Amundsen wanted to avoid this at all costs. But what was it like out of my imagination and in the very real isolation of the Beardmore, what were these men made of ?