Science. Scott’s expedition had more than the South Pole as its objective. Throughout the trip there had been other explorations from Cape Evans and Hutpoint. They studied the weather, geology, ice, conditions and wildlife. Scott comments today on the geology of the rock that forms the valley that the Beardmore Glacier is located in. Scott will carry rock samples all the way to the pole and will not dump them even when progress is slow on the return leg. Amundsen was at the Antarctic for one reason only, to reach the South Pole. While Scott is on his southern journey a group of the men left behind begin a journey which will see them trapped for the winter and a tale of survival as harrowing as Scott’s pole attempt and the previous winters journey to collect penguin eggs will emerge.
Edward Wilson Taking Measurements : Picture from Wikimedia Commons
Scotts Journal December 18th 1911. When they awoke the sledges were ‘fringed with ice crystals which looked very pretty’. Scott camped for lunch and is now 4000 feet above the ice barrier. Although it was a gloomy start they set off on a good surface but it became worse as they progressed. They reached the top of a rise and things improved after that. On their right hand side were the Adams,Marshall and Wild mountains and Scott noticed curious horizontal stratification. Wright found bits of debris and they were identified as sandstone and black basalt. Scott declares that they need to know more about the geology of the area before they finish the glacier. Although the day was difficult with ‘irregular undulations’ they made progress and Scott reports that are now less than 5 days behind Shackleton’s time. ‘Still sweating horribly on the march and very thirsty at the halts’. By the time of the evening camp they were 4500 feet above the barrier. The temperature is -11.
Commentary. Scott’s competitive edge is catching on Shackleton, it may be serving the party well at this point. The science element of the march is mentioned today and in other accounts they talk about the measurements they are making for charts. Scott’s team have a bigger agenda than Amundsen and it is often added to the list of reasons why Amundsen was successful and Scott wasn’t. Amundsen was the specialist with a focus on a very clear goal shared by all his team. Their will, energy, equipment and time were focused on one single task. Scott had secured his expedition as a scientific as well as an exploratory mission. He had multiple goals and his team came with individual desires and a variety of skills which Scott was trying to manage, especially those of Wilson. Did this difference have more of an impact than simply the ability to fit it all in ? Did it introduce variation, confusion and conflict in the team ?