RECORD. In Scotts journal the day they passed the furthest south of Shackleton was noted as ‘RECORD’, a walk that in Scotts’s original notes he referred to as ‘exaggerated’. Scott cast doubt onto the accuracy of Shackleton’s navigation on more than one occasion and was not certain that Shackleton had made it this far south.
Scott’s Journal 9th January 1912. RECORD. The weather improved during the day and after lunch they could begin to march again. The light was poor but the surface was good. Steady progress means they covered over 6 miles and are now beyond the furthest south reached by Shackleton, ‘all is new ahead’. The temperature is rising and is now -4 and it feels warm to the men even though the sun was not visible for most of the day and the clouds drift over from the east. Scott comments that ‘the marching is growing terribly monotonous, but one cannot grumble as long as the distance can be kept up’. Scott thinks that the pace can be kept up if they make another depot, but ‘a very annoying thing has happened’, Bowers watch has suddenly dropped 26 minutes. The reason is unclear, it could have frozen or the hand may have been touched. But as the watch is a vital part of the navigation equipment it makes Scott anxious about leaving a depot that they may not be able to locate again. The blizzards would cover tracks and they could only just see the track behind them as it is.
Commentary. A triumph to have passed Shackleton’s mark. But it should be noted that Shackleton turned back at this point and only just made it back alive. They were in a poor condition but as Shackleton wrote to his wife, better a live donkey than a dead lion. Shackleton, Wild, Adams and Marshall had only just escaped death, were any of the Scott party thinking about this as they now march into new undiscovered land. Every step forward was a move further away from Cape Evan’s and a step that would need retracing on the return trip. Of all the writers that comment on Scott’s trip (including myself) few have shared the experience of manhauling in the Antarctic. Ranulph Fiennes has such experience and so his commentary needs particular consideration. At this point in the journey Fiennes believes that Scott was taking less of a risk progressing on to the pole than Shackleton took in turning back. Scott is in a much better condition in terms of men and supplies, it is perhaps not the wild risk some would have us believe. Going further than Shackleton seemed to mean a great deal to Scott. Scott is not just considering bettering Shackleton’s past achievements but limiting his future work. While Scott is on this journey south the party headed by Campbell is moving east. Scott’s ambition for the Campbell party is to explore territory that Shackleton and Mawson are planning an expedition to in the coming years. Scott’s rivalry with Shackleton is confused by the polite notes they have previously sent each other, but it is present and I wonder how it clouds the achievement and the decision making ?