Hole. When Fiennes refers to the last three days he highlights the ‘divided council’ comment made by Scott. He shares his own experience of navigating on expeditions and states that he never asked for opinion as ‘democratic indecision can be lethal’. Huntford choses this point of the journey back to compare the health of Amundsen’s men with that of Scott’s. No injury or concern for Amundsen yet Scott’s men were ‘ailing when they left the pole’. Evan’s and Oates were struggling at that point, then Scott falls and then Wilson hurts his leg and snow blindness and frostbite appear within the party. Huntford believes that the diaries of the men are starting to get pessimistic, ‘this was a party under stress…. it started to disintegrate and Evans was the first to crack’. Meanwhile Teddy Evans, Crean and Lashly continue to struggle forward and on this day Lashly discovers his foot to be badly frostbitten. Although Evans is weak he offers to but Lashly’s foot on his warm stomach to improve its condition. This works and Lashly notes, ‘thanks to his thoughtfulness, and I shall never forget the kindness bestowed on me at a critical time in our travels’.
Scott’s Journal 13th February 1912. Temperature -10° today. Scott’s journal starts, ‘Last night we all slept well in spite of our grave anxieties. For my part these were increased by my visits outside the tent, when I saw the sky gradually closing over and snow beginning to fall. By our ordinary time for getting up it was dense all around us. We could see nothing, and we could only remain in our sleeping-bags’. They had a small breakfast, saved some food and set off through awful broken ice terrible conditions, then they hit an old track and the path became smoother. Wilson spotted the depot flag and Scott comments that ‘the relief to all is inexpressible; needless to say, we camped and had a meal’. After lunch they continued and While the rest of them pulled Wilson went off to collect samples. Scott concludes his entry, ‘yesterday was the worst experience of the trip and gave a horrid feeling of insecurity. Now we are right up, we must march. In future food must be worked so that we do not run so short if the weather fails us. We mustn’t get into a hole like this again. Greatly relieved to find that both the other parties got through safely. Evans seems to have got mixed up with pressures like ourselves. It promises to be a very fine day to-morrow. The valley is gradually clearing. Bowers has had a very bad attack of snow blindness, and Wilson another almost as bad. Evans has no power to assist with camping work’.
Commentary. In Hooper’s book on the Campbell party she makes a note about Priestley’s diary. The summary being that he was cautious about including personal moments between people is his log as he knew a copy would be seen by his family. After an argument on one particular day Priestley writes ‘quiet day’ in his diary. Even though there were only six men in such unusual circumstances Campbell made notes on the men as strict naval code would expect, even included their misdemeanours. Mealtimes are of social importance but also personal interactions that need to be navigated well. After one tense meal Campbell and Levick needed to go outside to clear the air between them. How these one to one moments were handled was important, the perception of what was being said may start a story that is unhelpful and destructive. Perhaps this awareness is one of the reasons this period of exploration had remained of interest, we are not really sure that what is being written is what is being experienced. They are a generation coming out of a Victorian narrative of the world into a mass media of books, newspapers, photographs and film. They are perhaps more aware of the need to manage the message both within camp and for the outside world. The closeness within the tent and then the isolation outside as two figures talk and those watching look for gestures and clues that give away the content of their exchange is a moment experienced daily in most teams. Whether it be divided council, authoritative decision making, teams under stress, poor morale, individuals cracking or acts of great kindness, life in a team is complex and the leadership of the team can make these matters better or worse but they never go away, teams need to be cared for.