Pluck. Teddy Evans, Lashly and Crean continue to strive for home but today Evans’ decline reaches a crisis. Lashly’s diary recorded that, ‘this morning we were forced to put Mr Evans on his ski and strap him on, as he could not lift his legs. they are rapidly getting worse, things are looking very serious on his part’. But Lashly is starting to suffer as well and records being a ‘bit depressed’ but tests his other teammates by deliberately going of course to see if anyone else would notice and Teddy Evans, however sick, was quick to speak up. Lashly describe Evans’ as ‘a brick, there is plenty of pluck, one cannot but admire such pluck’. What is interesting in the deterioration of all those on the ice is the immunity of Bowers and Crean. Bowers is now the only man in the pole party without an injury and in the biography of Crean it is suggested that in no diary, journal of note is there any indication that Tom Crean suffered any mentally or physical weakness throughout the expedition.
Scott’s Journal 3rd February 1912. Temperature today at -20. They began well, on foot not ski, then came across some crevasses. Scott went ahead and they navigated slope and crevasses gently and while they occasionally lost the track they picked it up when they spotted a ‘much weathered cairn’. The delays and searching for track reduce the time marching in the morning but they made good progress later in the day. Scott decides to abandon reliance of cairns and tracks and will push on due north as fast as they can. The surface is harder than on the outward march but the sastrugi are ‘disagreeable obstacles’. Evans’ fingers are ‘going on as well as can be expected’ and Scott’s shoulder gives ‘bad twinges’ but has improved. Scott finally writes, ‘The extra food is doing us all good but we ought to have more sleep. Very few days left on the plateau I hope’.
Commentary. Scott maybe hiding the truth about Evans’ condition, but is he hiding it from the journal or from himself, one is understandable while the other is unforgivable. Scott may well know how bad Evans’ is but he must not let that slide into despair and continue to function as a leader. The journal maybe the outward leadership face while he concerns himself inwardly with the reality of the situation. Do leaders always tell the truth ? The reality is that the followers often know more than the leader is aware of. Certainly a constant message of despair, however realistic, is not helpful. Yet knowing that the team are up against it, the odds are against success or there are difficult times ahead can be strangely bonding and deliver the little extra that may change the balance of things. It is the leaders experience and intuition that manages these moments, more the art of leadership than the science. The small delays are adding up, as they did on the outward march. Scott is starting to record them on a regular basis as he did then, an indication of his concern as time is their enemy. Time will see them tire, the weather worsen and food run scarce. Scott the leader is a concerned man.