Shackleton’s Path. Scott and his men are on the Beardmore Glacier following Shackleton’s path. The mountains are named after the men who were with Shackleton, Wild, Marshall and Adams. Huntford describes Scott’s constant assessment against Shackleton’s progress as obsessive and indicative of a mutual enmity. Fiennes describes Scott’s actions as the rationale and sensible function of a leader, learning lessons from those who have gone before. It is clear from the description of manhauling sledges that competition is something Scott is used to and indulges in. It is therefore possible that the complex nature of a man like Scott may make both Fiennes and Huntford correct. Scott has with him Frank Wild’s diary and extracts from Shackleton’s book, ‘The Heart of the Antarctic’. Amundsen was of a similar nature and exceeding the milestones and achievements of others was important to him. Shackleton compared his furthest south trip against the previous march with Scott. It seems a little strange that while Scott is very critical of Evan’s it is Evan’s who defends Scott on several occasions and of the comparison with Shackleton’s trip Evan’s describes it in terms of a sensible rationale action.
Scotts Journal December 16th 1911. A gloomy morning but the light held and a good day for travelling and they made 11 miles. The work was hard and they were hot and sweaty through the pulling and then very cold when they stopped work. They progressed on ski but were hampered a little by Evan’s. The surface was difficult with sastrugi underneath fresh snow. This made it difficult for sledge and ski and after a while they removed the ski’s and went to foot to much better effect. At times the men’s legs would drop into a crack in the ice. They changed direction as they ascended, as Shackleton had. There is a lot of exposed rock on the side of the valley. Scott assesses progress and comments ‘we must push on all we can for we are now 6 days behind Shackleton, all due to that wretched storm’. Scott is unsure what to do with the ski’s, they are heavy to add to the sledge if they are not going top be used but when they are used they are very useful. The party seem happy with the summit rations and even Evan’s party, who have been pulling for the longest, have no complaints.
Commentary. There is no way I could fully imagine the effort of work, the struggle in the cold conditions or the isolation endured by Scott and his men. They are alone, no one will come to the rescue if they run into difficulties and if someone becomes ill or injured the consequences would be catastrophic. It snowed in the UK today, cars slide on the road, trains were delayed, meetings cancelled and a general sense of misery. I stood and paused for a few minutes and thought, what would Scott and his men make of us. I smiled for a moment and then cursed the delayed train to London.