Scott 100 Day 53 23rd December 1911 : Rivalry – Back on the Ice

Rivalry. The relationship between Scott and Shackleton on the Discovery march and the sending home of Shackleton are actions from the Antarctic. Events back home also contributed to the growing story of tension. However, Fiennes has Shackleton defending Scott while he is still in the Antarctic, greeting Scott on his return home and enjoying the returning celebrations with Scott and others. The first printed piece, in the Daily Mail, of any criticism of Shackleton by Scott was met by a swift rebuke by Scott. After the excitement post the return of the Discovery, and unbeknown to each other, both Scott and Shackleton began preparing for another trip south.  When Scott got wind of Shackleton’s plan he wrote a wonderfully polite and warm letter which contained an incredible amount of generously and understanding. Shackleton replied in like and they both used the wisdom of their friend from the Discovery, Edward Wilson, to ensure both men were content. Both trips were agreed and the issue which could have been one of tension was resolved, Scott would explore the old area of the Discovery trip and Shackleton would move into new regions. However, on the Nimrod trip of 1908 Shackleton had a disagreement with the ship’s captain and through an assessment of the risks and opportunities he decided he would need to land in McMurdo Sound – the old Discovery area. Shackleton wrote to his wife, ‘I have been through a sort of hell…. I have had to break my word to Scott’. So we have another moment that authors cling to in creating the animosity between the two men. Some writers comment that Shackleton meant to land here all the time and his commitments to Scott were false while others believe Shackleton acted correctly in terms of safety but with regret that he had not stuck to his promise. Scott did not comment on the decision at the time and during yesterday’s march Teddy Evans looked back on the route they had come and saw enormous frozen falls which he believed Shackleton must have climbed up. He asked Scott if they could name them ‘The Shackelton Ice Falls’, Scott agreed. If Scott held any deep resentment towards Shackleton it did not manifest itself in petty decisions.

Scotts Journal December 23rd 1911. They are still climbing slightly but are running into some difficulty with crevasses and have to change course on several occasions to keep moving forward. Scott is frustrated at the changing direction but is certain the end of this trouble is in sight. As they march on all of them fall through crevasses at some point and sometimes they fell in pairs. The crevasses are invisible and covered with a light layer of snow. Towards the end of the march the surface changed and Scott noted that it was one of ‘regular sastrugi and our horizon leveled in every direction’. They camped with a ‘delightful feeling of security that they had reached the summit proper, I am feeling very cheerful about everything tonight’. Scott’s final few sentences in his journal for this day are; ‘My determination to keep mounting irrespective of course is fully justified and I shall be indeed surprised if we have any further difficulties with crevasses or steep slopes. To me for the first time our goal seems really in sight. We can pull our loads and pull them much faster and farther than I expected in my most hopeful moments. I only pray for a fair share of good weather. There is a cold wind now as expected, but with good clothes and well fed as we are, we can stick a lot worse than we are getting. I trust this may be the turning point in our fortunes for which we have waited so patiently’.

Commentary.  Scott continues to justify his plan in his journal and create a sense that if they succeed it will be his planned and leadership but if they fail it will be luck and weather that is to blame. He is set to be the hero and circumstance the villain. That is only human nature at play and can be seen everyday in the teams and projects we all work in. The falling down into the crevasses makes me wonder about the preparedness within the group for injuries and somewhere in the texts there is a conversation between Wilson and Oates in which they discuss that very possibility. What would they do if someone was injured ?


About hutpoint

Interested in leadership, teamwork, resistance, perseverence and change. A former senior nurse dedicated to learning from and sharing with other flawed humans.
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