Another day would have finished him. Atkinson and Dimitri are now back safe with Teddy Evans and Bill Lashly on their sledges, they were delayed by a blizzard and on return Atkinson states of Evans that if the weather had not cleared another day would have finished him. Cherry-Garrard was at Cape Evans and writes, ‘we knew nothing of these events’. Atkinson stayed at Hutpoint with Teddy Evans and a note is sent to cape Evans declaring that someone needs to head south with the dogs. For Wright and Cherry-Garrard this is the first indication that the dogs were not already heading south. They both went to Hutpoint to meet Atkinson. Wright had specific scientific skills which meant he was to stay at camp and therefore with Atkinson looking after his patient it was Cherry-Garrard who was to go. They spend the next few days working out where dog food depots are, how many miles to cover, what supplies to take and when to depart.
Scott’s Journal 23rd February 1912.Temperature falling and -12 today. They were still not certain of the direction when Bowers’ again was the first to spot a cairn in the distance. They passed and marched onto another cairn they are now only 12 miles from the next depot. Scott concludes, ‘we are, therefore, extraordinarily relieved. Covered 8.2 miles in 7 hours, showing we can do 10 to 12 on this surface. Things are again looking up, as we are on the regular line of cairns, with no gaps right home, I hope’.
Commentary. The journey of Cherry-Garrard is another mini drama contained within this larger epic. It follows on from the storm at sea, the lost horses on the ice, the laying of summer depots, ‘The Worst Journey’ for penguin eggs last winter, the epic adventure of Campbell and his men and Creans march. All these titanic struggles and the remarkable journey to the pole as well. Cherry-Garrards journey may not have been as traumatic in terms of risk but it will contain a drama all of it own. Within any plan there are moments when changes occur outside of your control and totally unexpected. The only expectation is to expect them and to know how to handle those moments of stress, anxiety and emotional discomfort. When specific protocols or orders may not fully cover the eventuality you find yourself in. then knowing the intent, priority, risk and boundaries of decision making are now much more important than any incredibly detailed plan which has just become redundant. Accounts seem to show Atkinson as a calm leader who may have been frustrated that the men he had with him did not have the right balance of skills or that the timing, resources and requirement on him meant that difficult delegations were now required. The men seemed to accept that everything changes when such a crisis arises, Atkinson understood the situation, made his decision and was clear in his communication. Even though Cherry-Garrard had personal doubts and concerns he accepted the responsiblity and set about the task.