Very Different Circumstances. It was so cold on this the hardest of days, that Oates, Evans and Bowers all had frostbitten noses and cheeks. Evan’s hand is now getting much worse and they are all feeling the cold. Wilson, who was on the ‘worst journey’ last winter with Bowers and Cherry-Garrard, said he had never experienced such cold. There disappointments comes out in their diaries in very different ways. Wilson acknowledges the success as much as it was turned into a race, Oates has the ability to congratulate Amundsen, Bowers justifies the efforts at manhauling they have endured and Scott is not only disappointed with the outcome but with the pole itself. When the Norwegians were at the pole the report glorious weather, easy runs and a warming sun. A month later and the conditions are very different, Scott and his men are now in a race against the weather as the Antarctic summer is quickly coming to an end.
Scott’s Journal January 17th 1912. ‘The Pole, yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected’. The disappointment was huge but they also faced a head wind and a temperature of -22 and they are feeling the cold. They did not sleep much last night with ‘the shock of the discovery’. They started out early and followed the tracks of the Norwegians but after a while were unsure of the direction and made their own way to the pole. Evan’s is feeling the cold in his hands and there remains the ‘curious damp cold feeling in the air which chills one to the bone’. They shared a bar of chocolate that Wilson had brought. ‘Great God this is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the result of priority. Now for the run home and a desperate struggle. I wonder is we can do it’.
Commentary. Some amendments to the journal were made for the book that covers the last two days and when Bowers takes a positional reading they find they are slightly off the pole and tomorrow will head in the directions of a cairn they have spotted. The significant change to the text seems to be some reference to a ‘desperate struggle’ to get the news through first. Maybe Scott still thinks that Amundsen may not make it back and that the telling of the story will be the important marker. In a way he is right. Amundsen did not get the greeting he expected and arguably deserved. Scott’s telling is the prominent story of the race even though he lost and paid the ultimate price.