As fast as the dogs. Finding their way back home was not going to be easy. The cairns were difficult to spot and snow had blown over their tracks. The system of navigation they used required sightings to be taken and so if those could not be done because of a blizzard they risked getting lost. Scott would often stop and the team would spread out looking for tracks of their outgoing trip. But despite this Fiennes records they made good progress at the start, ‘despite such halts, the dazzle, the ever colder conditions and with one of the men marching on ski-less, they nevertheless clocked up some spectacular distances on the plateau – nineteen and a half miles, nineteen miles, eighteen miles, they averaged fourteen miles as day manhauling to Amundsen’s fifteen miles with the dogs’.
Scott’s Journal 22nd January 1912.The temperature went to -21 and it was a hard days work described by Scott as, ‘covered 14.5 miles but, by jove it has been a grind’. The most tiring march they have ever had, even with the lighter sledge. The wind is no longer supporting their progress and it was soft snow making pulling tough. They are 30 miles from the next depot with 5 days food in hand. Their ski boots are beginning to show signs of wear.
Commentary. Imagine the situation they faced, 30 miles to go to the depot and 5 days of food. What if they lost their way, a blizzard struck, Bowers (who seems to do all the navigation) was to be taken ill or have an accident. Also the equipment is starting to fail, the boots, do they have spare ones depoted on route, as the talk seems always of depoted food. The situation with multi skilled people has cropped up before and was one of the reasons Scott used to send Evan’s back. It has also been alluded to in terms of skills with the dogs and the teams ability on ski. This does seem out of line with Scott as a military leader. Military leaders must prepare themselves for casualties and for team members to step into the roles of others. This deep level of redundancy does not seem to be present in terms of skills with horses, dogs, skis and vitally with navigation. Scott could navigate (although a little rusty perhaps) and it could be argued he should have shared the role to keep in practice or trained others. The leader should be aware of the skills and abilities of his team and ensure there is cross support for all vital and essential roles. Most leadership positions are not as life threatening as Scotts but the principle should be explored. How are team members developed, does the leader, and other team members, understand the roles each other has and what would be the consequence of sickness or absence. The leader should also offer similar consideration to the other non human resources. Manhauling for Scott was the purest way to get to the pole and that ment keeping feet in good condition was essential, to have concerns now about the ski boots and not be able to replace must have been a worrying time for Scott. It is interesting to note that it is Scott’s feet that give out and at one point in the ongoing journey Wilson and Bowers consider going for help without Scott as his feet are so bad.