Manhauling. Scott’s entries have started to be dominated by the hard work of manhauling. After weeks of hauling the technique, pace and rhythm must have been well understood, as would the care of sledges and runners. The surfaces have changed and been worse or better but they have experienced them before. Injuries that are not healing, insufficient calorie intake, lack of variation in the diet and low vitamin and nutrient intake are now taking effect. If manhauling is becoming such hard work it may be more a deterioration in the men’s ability to manhaul rather than anything else.
Manhauling – Image taken from Wikimedia Commons
Scott’s Journal 11th January 1912. It was hard pulling today. Their progress was reasonable until the sun came out and then and ‘the rest of the forenoon was agonising. I have never had such pulling, all the time the sledge rasps and creaks. We have covered 6 miles but at fearful cost to ourselves’. They added a further 5 miles after lunch and by camp were approximately 74 miles from the pole. Scott asks of himself and his men, ‘can we keep this up for 7 days. It takes it out of us like anything, none of us ever had such hard work before’. The temperature is high and the snow seems to be getting softer but Scott is still confident they can get through, ‘our chance still holds good if we can put the work in, but it’s a terribly trying time’.
Commentary. From this point onwards the condition if the men will continue to deteriorate. They will become physically weaker and morale will be sapped by the disappointment that awaits them. From this moment onwards the blog and these posts will change and the criticism or support of Scott will alter. We have covered the major elements of the expedition that authors have commentated on over the last 100 years. Trying to do too much – science and exploration, poor condition of horses, poor training with dogs and skis, not using dogs as well as they could, one ton depot being too far north, tractors failing too early, condition of the men, the weather, the surfaces, the poor diet, no reliable assessment of the men, poor decision making by Scott as to team composition, low morale, poor culture that saw the men omit key truths from Scott, long term injuries, taking 5 men to the pole not 4 and the immense criticism of Scott the arrogant, distant and depressive leader. The full truth of this story is lost and only interpretation and perspective are left. Now is not the time to criticise but to continue to tell the tragic story of 5 brave men who will meet disappoint and will continue to deteriorate until their deaths.