Left for the Ice. No details of any burial or words spoken over Evans have been recorded. Fiennes is pragmatic, they needed to march and standing around in the cold was not a sensible option for them. But, Wilson and Bowers were both devote believers and may have said a few words as they packed to move on. Fiennes also offers a thoughtful approach to many of the other theories. The social / class mix in the team maybe present but with the exact opposite impact of the critics claims. Rather than it isolating him Evans could cope quite comfortably with the officer class and that maybe why he accompanied Scott previously and was selected ahead of others such as Lashly or Crean. Fiennes questions the widely held theory of the ration size as he himself is a big man and found on his own personal expedition he lost less mussle than the smaller men. Maybe because the smaller men needed to exert more energy to pull the same weight. Fiennes sums up Edgar Evans, ‘He strove hard all the way and Scott, not knowing of his injury, nor suspecting his decline, could not have chosen a stronger manhauler’. The trek to the pole and back is in six stages, Barrier, Glazier, Plateau there and Plateau, Glazier,Barrier back, they are now at the bottom of the Beardmore Glazier just the final push along the Barrier. The loss of Evans is a relief and they now have the food of five men for the four remaining members of the party.
Evans (far left), Bowers, Wilson and Scott in tent – picture from Wikimedia Commons
Scott’s Journal 18th February 1912. After Evans died they packed up camp and moved on finding the depot at Shambles Camp very easily, Scott’s journal records, at Shambles Camp. We gave ourselves 5 hours’ sleep at the lower glacier depot after the horrible night, and came on at about 3 to-day to this camp, coming fairly easily over the divide. Here with plenty of horsemeat we have had a fine supper, to be followed by others such, and so continue a more plentiful era if we can keep good marches up. New life seems to come with greater food almost immediately, but I am anxious about the Barrier surfaces.
Commentary. All the criticism of Scott is easy in hindsight and by those, such as myself, who have never experienced such conditions or trials. Books at bedtime are not quite the hard source data required to definitively state Scott’s greatness or his flaws. But today there is a strong case to bury all criticism. Scott’s plan to get to the pole required 144 days on the ice. They are now at the foot of the Beardmore Glazier, have full supplies and to reach base camp they need to average less miles per day than they had been averaging throughout the whole journey so far. They have some injuries, Oates foot the worst, but are in a good place at this time. With what Scott knew at the time and the changes required to his plan they had come through to be almost back on schedule. Scott’s plan is working. Hindsight, history and curious revisions, this one included, may offer different conclusions and assumptions but by some force and power Scott had got his men where they needed to be. Scott did have many flaws, all leaders do, but his relentlessness and perseverance have put them with hope of survival. During this time he has dealt with divided council, splits in the teams, personal animosity, failure of equipment and men and the horror of his own internal doubt and self-criticism. Not being popular, not getting it right all the time, self-doubt, loneliness and holding a particular distance from the team when it is difficult and hurtful are all in the kit bag of the leader. Mending relationships that have broken, admitting to mistakes, finding confidence with humility, accepting the isolation selflessly and holding in check popularity for ego is the skill set required to balance this equation. What was Scott’s balance in this regard ?