Snow-shoes ... For Ponies ...

While still at the Depot Laying Expedition's third camp on 31 January 1911, Scott and company make the ridiculous discovery that snow-shoes for the ponies mitigate ... even resolve ... the difficulties brought on by the softening surface conditions on the Barrier. "The effect," Scott declared, "was magical." (Journals, p. 113, Carroll & Graf [1996]). Scott was so impressed that he immediately dispatched a team back to the hut (over 40 miles round trip) to collect the rest of the snow-shoes, costing the depot expedition precious time. It is hard to believe that the fate of the Empire's south polar ambitions rested with something so small and absurd. But it did. Scott thought that with the snow-shoes they might double their daily distances on the Depot Laying Expedition thereby extending the range of supplies they would leave in cache of the coming assault on the pole. Cherry-Garrard described the little things as a "circle of wire as a foundation, hooped round with bamboo, and with beckets of the same material." (Apsely Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, p. 113, Carroll & Graf [1989]).


War Council ...

By 30 January 1911 the Depot Laying Expedition had reached its third camp, now atop the Ross Sea Ice Shelf. Nicknamed "Safety Camp", they had reached 77'55" lat. But the previous days' optimism regarding the horses had given way to despair, melting along with the warmer temperatures and softening surface, into which the ponies thin legs were post-holing, causing them to wallow helplessly in the slush. This was, Scott recorded, a "great shock." (Journals, p. 112, Carroll & Graf [1996]). Considering the slow progress this was imposing on the depot journey, Scott called a "war council" at which he explained his decision to scale back the effort, including smaller loads and aiming less far out towards the pole.

The going was so poor that Lawrence Oates, the animal handler, objected to the continued use of the ponies to bring the rest of the Depot Laying Expedition supplies up onto the Ice Shelf. The mention of Oates in Scott's journal entry for 30 January 1911 is propitious. Known as the "Solider" because of his regular service in the British Army, Oates had done duty at the turn of the last century in British-occupied Egypt. For all the scorn heaped on Scott's hubristic and ill-fated attempt on the pole, at least it can be said that he could harm no one but himself and his volunteers. The same cannot be said of England's bloody imperial adventures around the world, exemplified by Oates' and the Dragoons' tours in Egypt. Surely the dramatic events in Egypt of the last week of January 2011 carry the echoes - faint though they may be - of Africa's unhappy submission to European powers. I wonder if the world would have been a better place - still might be a better place - if all the nations' great ambitions and lust for prominence were poured out in (ultimately) senseless struggles like Scott's as opposed to more costly efforts. For tonight, I am hopeful that Egypt might at last be shrugging off the last tattered remnants of her colonial history, moving towards authentic self-determination, and peace.


Depot Laying Journey - January 1911

Having set off across the disintegrating Ross Sea ice on 24 January 1911, the "Depot Laying Journey" to which Scott had committed the company was making slow but steady progress. He reported from their second camp on 28-29 January 1911 that they had reached the Great Barrier of the Ross Ice Shelf. They had covered roughly 18 miles with their massive loads and would dedicate the coming days to portaging all of it up to the Ice Shelf. The Depot Team consisted of: 12 men, 8 ponies, 26 dogs - hauling 5,538 pounds of gear and necessities as far as "Cache 1".

These supplies were augmented with others brought as far south through McMurdo Sound as the "Glacier Tongue" by the Terra Nova, which was moving well through the softened, summer ice. For all this work the ponies were paired and attached to one of four sledges. Scott's journal entry from 24 January 1911 contains a detailed manifest, listing the more than 600 pounds loaded onto each of these sledges. (Journals, p. 107-108, Carroll & Graf [1996]). Scott also recorded the extent of the men's gear. Each wore: vest and drawers, woollen shirt, jersey, balaclava, wind suit, two pairs of socks, and ski boots. Each carried the following spare gear: 2 pairs under socks, 2 pairs outer socks, 1 pair hair socks, 1 pair night socks, 1 payjama jacket, 1 payjama trousers, 1 woollen mitts, 2 finnesko, and skein. Each man was allowed two pounds of discretionary items. (Journals, p. 108, Carroll & Graf [1996]). Cherry-Garrard described the existential debates that surrounded the fateful choices the men would make in utilizing those two pounds. "Many were the arguments," Cherry-Garrard said, "as to the relative value of a pair of socks or their equivalent in tobacco." (Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, p. 108, Carroll & Graf [1989]). Cherry-Garrard's invoice contains some interesting details left out of Scott's. For example, he notes that the men were keen to have large safety-pins on hand "with which to hang up our socks." (Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, p. 108, Carroll & Graf [1989]).

The Company hauled the last of the designated supplies off the Terra Nova on 26 January 1911 and Scott - a Royal Navy Captain and thoroughgoing seaman - bid the ship and its crew goodbye (it would depart to New Zealand to avoid the coming, brutal, south-polar winter and return again in 1911 with new supplies) with the kind of heartrending warmth, affection, and gratitude so in keeping with his character. Scott reported that he thanked the ship's crew for their work, and concluded that "they have behaved like bricks and a finer lot of fellows never sailed in a ship." (Journals, p. 109, Carroll & Graf [1996]). The Terra Nova left under the command of Lt. Harry Pennell. Cherry-Garrard made the poignant note that "Four of that Depot party were never to see these men again, and Pennell, Commander of the Queen Mary, went down with his ship in the battle of Jutland." (Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, p. 110 [1989]).

And the debate over ponies and dogs was now being waged in practice. Scott reported that, in the portage over the Barrier to the Ice Shelf on 27 January 1911, the pony sledges were smoothly hauling upwards of 900 pounds while the dogs were managing only 500 pounds "at a snail's pace." (Journals, p. 110, Carroll & Graf [1996]). Whatever prejudices Scott might have entertained ahead of the expedition were being confirmed on both sides of the debate.


Interesting note about Mr. Scott as child...

I ran across this from a book I started reading.  It says a lot about why Robert Scott would take on such an expedition:  "The Scott I knew was physically as hard as nails and flung himself into work or play with a vehemence I cannot remember ever to have seen equaled."  As an example, when Scott was 8, he commanded his troupe of siblings to attack a small dock (later known as the enemy battleship) in the home's pond: "he was impelled, as all boys are, to blow something up, and he could think of nothing more splendid for this purpose than the battleship."  Hey Russ, doesn't that sound like someone I grew up with?
(Reference: "The Voyages of Captain Scott: Retold from the Voyage of the Discovery and Scott's Last Expedition", by Charles Turley)


We Are Doing It On A Very Narrow Margin ....

After a quiet day on 22 January 1911, Scott and company awoke on 23 January 1911 to find unusually warm weather running out the sea ice on which they had planned to travel from Ross Island's Cape Evans to the massive and stable Ross Ice Shelf. The journey in question was to be the fall 1911 depot laying adventure, during which they would scout the early parts of the polar route and leave tons of supplies behind in depots for use in the 1911-12 assault on the pole the following December and January. But with the sea ice weakening there was a sudden and alarming risk that they wouldn't get away from Cape Evans. As it was, a mad dash to get the depot party off was necessary - what Scott called a "wonderful day's work." (Journals, p. 103, Carroll & Graf [1996]).

With that effort the depot team got across the ice on 24 January 1911, only a day ahead of the melt. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, whose breathtaking account of the expedition (entitled "The Worst Journey in the World") first introduced me to polar literature and the drama of Scott's 1911-12 expedition, described the rush to get away as "a state of hurry bordering on panic." (Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, p. 107, Carroll & Graf [1989]). The horse teams were led on the precarious road across the sea ice while Scott and others tracked their progress from the Terra Nova, itself making hard for a rendezvous at the Ross Ice Shelf and carrying supplies and gear. Cracks 30 feet wide were yawning along the sea ice "road." With ponies falling through the ice up to their chests, Scott still insisted that he would withhold his opinion of the dogs, questioning their potential for success. But the ponies, he stubbornly recorded, "are going to be real good." (Journals, p. 106, Carroll & Graf [1996]). The rest of Scott's journal entry for the day contains a long list of the more than five tons of supplies the depot team would be handling. As he made no entry on 25 January 1911, I'll take the time tomorrow to report on that invoice.

But Cherry-Garrard reported that the company did more than 10 miles of sledging that day, setting up their "inexperienced camp" not far from Hut Point, the base of the 1902-03 Shackleton expedition. (Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, p. 109, Carroll & Graf [1989]).
Photo: Ponting Portrait of Cherry-Garrard.


The Drift Was Making Rapidly to the South ...

On 19 January 1911, Scott recorded a most poetic description of the company's surroundings on Cape Evans. He concludes "it would be difficult to describe [the area's] beauty in sufficiently glowing terms." (Journals, p. 97, Carrol & Graf [1996]). As is often the case, Scott is at pains to mention the smallest contributions and accomplishments of this men, for which he is clearly appreciative. No one can doubt his affection and loyalty to this team. His gentle humanity is written in his words. His companions are "delighted," or are called "dear chaps," they are "admired," he calls them "perfectly excellent" and "ingenious." (Journals, p. 97-98, Carrol & Graf [1996]).

Some find that leadership is best realized through firmness or force. For me, however, I would prefer to be led into that vast white deathly continent, by a man of respectful affection.

As the company has moved into the "hut" - better thought of as a "house," Scott explains - he and others spent 20 January 1911 surveying stores and equipment. Scott is thrilled with their kit, top to bottom, finding it to be "perfectly excellent ... that there is not a single arrangement which I would have altered." (Journals, p. 100, Carrol & Graf [1996]). In particular, he singles out the exceptional quality of the Jaeger felt boots. I presume this is the same UK clothier that today is a leading fashion brand. Perhaps fittingly, considering its polar past, today Jaeger makes the point that the cornerstone of its collection is its coats.

Scott notes that the company has a gramophone and a pianola. It will be a long winter in the intimate confines of the hut.

Scott reported a "sickening" development on 21 January 1911. The Terra Nova, anchored to the Ross Sea ice, was constantly under navigation nonetheless, as it adjusted to tides and wind and drift and changing ice. In these conditions, the ship ran aground fueling images of the ship's 60 men - who were meant to return to New Zealand for the winter - being stranded with the rest on Cape Evans. But the Terra Nova was loosed from the gravel and rock. "The relief," Scott said, "was enormous." (Journals, p. 102, Carrol & Graf [1996]).


Every Man In His Way Is A Treasure . . .

There was very little for Scott to report on 18 January 1911. But the handful of paragraphs in the day's journal entry nonetheless say volumes about Scott's humanity. Already, in all of this, a fatal weakness is coming into view. He was determined to spread praise to all the members of the crew. On this day, he singled out Bowers, Simpson and Wright - even Clissold the cook, of whom Scott said: "[he] has started splendidly, has served seal, penguin, and skua; and I can honestly say that I have never met these articles of food in such a pleasing guise..." (Journals, p. 97, Carroll & Graf [1996]). But this fair-mindedness would mean - in the end - that Scott would include one man too many in the final polar party - outstripping the planned rations and depots, and contributing to all the members' deaths. What a shame that Scott's wholly admirable sensitivity would be met with the Antarctic's unforgiving terms. There, it seems, all men are not necessarily a treasure.


I Had No Idea We Would Be So Expeditious ...

While the new hut on Cape Evans was being built, Scott took the rest day - 15 January 1911 - to cross the cape in order to examine "Hut Point" and the residue of Shackleton's 1902 Discovery expedition. Scott's tension with Shackleton is apparent in the day's journal entry, in which he decries Shackleton's recklessness in leaving the hut exposed: "...he went away and left the window open; as a result , nearly the whole of the interior of the hut is filled with hard icy snow, and it is now impossible to find shelter inside." (Journals, p. 91, Carrol & Graf [1996]).

On 17 January 1911 - Scott could celebrate the completion of the new wintering hut at Cape Evans. "We took up our abode in the hut today," Scott exclaimed, "and are simply overwhelmed with its comfort." (Journals, p. 93, Carrol & Graf [1996]). It is much remarked by those who would divine general leadership principles from Scott's work, that he ordered that the hut be divided into separate quarters for the officers and the "men." But Beryl Bainbridge defended him: "...it was not that he considered the men inferior, rather that he felt both groups would be more comfortable with such an arrangement." (Bainbridge, "Foreword," Journals, p. xvi-xvii, Carrol & Graf [1996]). In any case, considering the narrow confines and the crowd that would occupy the place, Scott exuded his early optimism in summing up things. "In a day or two the hut will become the most comfortable of houses." (Journals, p. 95, Carrol & Graf [1996]).

You can learn about efforts to preserve both huts at the "Save the Huts" website.
Commander John Bortniak
NOAA Corps
via Wikimedia Commons


A Day of Rest

On 15 January 1911 - the British Antarctic Expedition, with eleven grueling days of work behind them - rested. They celebrated the Church of England's Divine Service under the wide Antarctic skies. This would have been the second Sunday after Epiphany. According to a 1913 OUP edition of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Biblical texts read that day should have included Romans 12.6 and St. John 2.1. Maybe Scott would have chosen a "prayer and thanksgiving" for "fair weather" as part of the litany that day:

O Almighty God, who for the sin of man didst once drown all the world,
except eight persons, and afterward of thy great mercy didst promise never to destroy it so again; We humbly beseech thee, that we for our iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of rain and waters, yet upon our true repentance thou wilt send us such weather, as that we may receive the fruits of the earth in due season; and learn both by thy punishment to amend our lives, and for thy clemency to give thee praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Surely, floods were not the company's greatest concern. Yet, they might have been forgiven for invoking God's protection in the harsh Antarctic climate. A plague of ice, cold, and snow is the only way to imagine the inhospitable climate.


It Was Good to Return to the Camp . . .

On 14 January 1911, Scott spent the day crossing from ship to shore as ballast was coming on board and to observe the finishing work on the hut. Both efforts were coming along to his satisfaction, along with other details at the winter camp. But looming now is the "depot journey" of 1911. The company has been ashore in Antarctica for little more than a week now and already Scott's enthusiasm for the ponies is waning. "Some of the ponies are not turning out so well as I expected," Scott reported. There were inconsistencies in the teams and a dawning anxiety that they can stand up to the cold. Added to these worries, Scott noted, is the obvious risk that one of the ponies would be lost through thin ice or made lame by injury. (Journals, p. 90, Carrol & Graf [1996]). More evidence of the mislaid confidence in the Manchurian ponies would be coming. On all the evidence, Ranulph Fiennes would conclude that "dogs were better suited to the polar cold." But in Scott's defense, he noted that "the fact remained that Shackleton held the Antarctic travel record using ponies, not dogs, ..." (Ranulph Fiennes, Race to the Pole, p. 192, Hyperion [2004]).


All Is Quiet

13 January 1911. Scott didn't bother to make a journal entry - the first such omission since he and the crew first "docked" the Terra Nova on the Ross Sea pack-ice almost two weeks prior.

If the day passed with so little activity that it didn't merit mention in his journal, then it is fair to assume that Scott had time to let his thoughts drift to the world he'd left behind. Surely, in such a moment, he would have thought of his wife Kathleen Bruce Scott. Described in every account as disarmingly independent, Kathleen came to be a renowned sculptor. Only three years earlier Scott wrote Kathleen a swooning letter: "God in heaven, what a gem you are. Little wonderful girl, do you really and truly belong to me? I can scarcely believe it possible!" (Reginald Pound, Scott of the Antarctic, p. 152, Coward-McCann [1966]). Perhaps their marriage took that well-worn path to fading romance, replaced by comfortable routine? Scott's correspondence and journal entries show little of this earlier passion for Kathleen. That is, until the last entries he put down as death was stealing over him with its icy fog. But that - and the sentiments he expressed towards Kathleen - await us many months ahead.
Photo: "Youth" by Kathleen Scott (1920); Cambridge, UK.



It is 12 January 1911 and Scott - again - is saying that the company has finished unloading their stores. This time it seems he really means it. "So at last," Scott declared, "we are a self-contained party ready for all emergencies." (Journals, p. 88. Carrol & Graf [1996]). With the ship emptied of its stores, the sledging would continue - now in reverse - as the company returned ballast to the Terra Nova for its winter journey away from Antarctica. There is little else to report from Scott's journal today - except that he was having trouble remembering the Russian commands for the dog teams.


The Threatened Blizzard Materialized . . .

Facing "force six or seven" winds with heavy drift on the morning of 11 January 1911, Scott and company retreated to the hut to focus on finishing the interior. (Journals, p. 86-87, Carrol & Graf [1996]). There wasn't much more to report that day, except that later in the day, as the weather improved, good progress was made on digging-out an ice-cave for the company's larder.

Scott's journal reference to "force six" winds draws on the Beufort Wind Force Scale. It's hard to know, with the evolution of the scale and its local variation, exactly what kind of weather chased Scott and his men into the hut that day, but a "moderate gale" with winds near 40 mph seems a possibility. The highest winds recorded at Australia's Antarctic Mawson Station registered just under 200 mph. The contrast - and the storm's quick passing - raises questions about Scott's characterization of it as a "blizzard." He would face worse.


Nothing So Expeditious and Complete.....

That's how Scott assessed the company's work bringing the stores ashore - a heavy-lifting, heavy-hauling process that came to an end on 10 January 1911. Fully "landed," Scott's attention would now turn to the planned depot-laying expedition and solidifying their Cape Evans encampment, both just ahead of the coming Antarctic winter.

On a quiet day for Scott, I might point you towards some other Internet efforts that illuminate his legacy - and the heroism that the South Pole has inspired in others: South-Pole.com's RFS bio and the American Society of Polar Philatelists are two I frequently visit.


Terra Nova

On 9 January 1911, there is just more off-loading and sledging the stores to Cape Evans. But the company will soon be leaving the Terra Nova behind. A more appropriately named vessel there never has been - "New Land" - indeed! This retrofitted whaler had already earned her place in polar legend, as the ice-breaker that fought and blasted its way to relieve Shakelton's ice-bound Discovery in 1904. On that occasion it was decided that other ships were "too weak for the work." (Roland Huntford, The Last Place on Earth, p. 178, The Modern Library New York [1999]). Scott's objection to that rescue mission must be the subject of other discussions, but "he had not forgotten how well she had handled the ice so he made an offer to her owners" for his 1910-1913 expedition. (Ranulph Fiennes, Race to the Pole, p. 150, Hyperion [2004]). The man who would helm the ship for Scott, Teddy Evans, called her "the largest and strongest of the old Scotch whalers." He went on:
In spite of her age she had considerable power . . . I shall never forget
the day I first visited the Terra Nova in the West India Docks: . . .
. I loved her from the day I say her, because she was my first
command. Poor little ship, she looked so dirty and uncared for and yet her
name will be remembered for ever in the story of the sea, . . . (Ranulph
Fiennes, Race to the Pole, p. 150-51, Hyperion [2004]).
Having outlived so many among her crew from those years in the last century's first decade, it is almost a shame to note that the Terra Nova went down to the sea's dark mysteries in 1943 while performing service for the Newfoundland Base Contractors off Greenland. It is said that her salvaged bell still rings at the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University to signal tea, just as Scott would have had it. If this is true - I would cut through Antarctic ice to have a sound file made to upload here and share with the world - especialy this year?


A Day of Disaster

We are gradually getting to know Scott's team through these posts. And we are gaining insight into his grand strategy for the Pole. There was nothing new in the forward planting of depots for the main assault, to take place in the coming year. Perhaps the most innovative facet of Scott's plans was the diversity of means he intended to employ in attaining his objective. As noted yesterday, he hoped to rely on various sledging techniques, including the classic man-haul sledges, dog teams, and his ill-fated ponies. But his hopes were most stirred by the mechanical sledges he's helped design. The loss of one of these, on 8 January 1911, counted as the day's "disaster." The heavy thing simply fell through quickly deteriorating ice near the Terra Nova's mooring one mile and a half off the shore of Cape Evans. As the "motor" - as Scott called the motorized sledges - was lowered from the ship's side it settled on the softening ice and fell through. Brave members of the crew held fast to a rope anchoring the sledge but had to abandon, one by one, as the weight of the sinking motor-sledge forced the rope to cut towards them through the soft ice until "nothing remained but a big hole. . . . It's a big blow to know that one of the two best motors, on which so much time and trouble have been spent, now lies at the bottom of the sea." (Journals, p. 81, Carrol & Graf [1996]). An exciting account of the dramatic loss can be found in Apsley Cherry-Garrard's incomparable narrative account of the Terra Nova polar expedition:

Everything possible was done to hang on to the rope, but in the end we had
to let it go, each man keeping his hold until he was dragged to the lip of the
hole. Then we made for the fast ice, leaving the rotten bit between us and the ship. (Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, p. 93-94, Carrol & Graf [2nd. ed 1997])

The idea of using motor-sledges was born in Scott's contact with Reginald Skelton on the Discovery expedition. Roland Huntford reported that Skelton was on to the possibility of using an adapted "car" in Antarctica's inhospitible conditions, planting a "seed in Scott's mind." (Roland Huntford, The Last Place on the Earth, p. 144-45, Modern Library [1999]).


Of Course the Elements Are Going to Be Troublesome

Still unloading the expedition's stores from the Terra Nova on 7 January 1911. This was grueling work done well: "We have done splendidly. Tonight all the provisions except some in bottles are ashore . . ." (Journals, p. 77, Carrol & Graf [1996]). This involved hundreds of tons of supplies sledged - by pony teams, dog teams, man-haul, and mechanical sledges - across an aggregate of hundreds of miles. From ship to shore and back again. An exceptional training regimen for the depot-laying run Scott planned to lead ahead of the Antarctic winter.


The Kindest Smile

After many frowns fortune has treated us to the kindest smile - for twenty-four hours we have had a calm with brilliant sunshine.  Such weather in such a place comes nearer to satisfying my ideal of perfection than any condition that I have ever experienced.  The warm glow of the sun with the keen invigorating cold of the air forms a combination which is inexpressibly health-giving and satisfying to me, whilst the golden light on this wonderful scene of mountain and ice satisfies every claim of scenic magnificence.  No words of mine can convey the impressiveness of the wonderful panorama displayed to our eyes. (Robert Falcon Scott Journals, Captain Scott's Last Expedition, Oxford World's Classics, 2006).

I am finding that Captain Scott is both humble and long winded.  Upon reading this passage (entered into his Journal on 1/4/1911), I felt I was watching the scene unfold along with him.  What a scene it must have been!


On 6 January 1911 - Scott and company were still hard at the work of unloading the tons of stores the several-year-long expedition would require. This required trecks across the hardened pack-ice to their encampment at Cape Evans - on Ross Island. This was a three mile round-trip. Some of the crew made as many as eight of these crossings while pulling heavily laden man-haul sledges. Others - including Scott - gave the ponies a workout in the hauling. Still others worked with dog teams. And here it is - already - the damned issue of the ponies. Scott waxes almost euphorically about them. "I was astonished at the strength of the beasts I handled," he declared. "Three of the four pulled hard the whole time and gave me much exercise." (Journals, p. 75-76, Carrol & Graf [1996]). Many put the blame on the expedition's catastrophic end down to Scott's seemingly absurd plan to rely on ponies for his polar amibition. This is thrown into sharp contrast by Amundsen's tremendous success with dogs. Why ponies? In Antarctica? Sir Ranulph Fiennes sought to explain, if not defend, the choice in his excellent book Race to the Pole (Hyperion 2004). Among the points to consider are these: the possibility of eating the ponies when their other uses had run their course; and the long-English tradition with ponies - contrasting sharply with the total lack of experience with dog-hauling so familiar in northern lands. Consider, also, the advantage we have of highsight. As Fiennes noted: "...Scott had no crystal ball and knew as many good reasons for dogs proving to be a disastrous choice as might have pointed in their favor." (Fiennes, Race to the Pole, p. 28-29, Hyperion [2004]). We will return - again and again - to this debate.


"In All Other Respects the Situation is Admirable"

Having landed the day before, 5 January 1911 was spent exploring the company's new home at Cape Evans and off-loading the Terra Nova's stores. Herbert Ponting, the expedition's official photographer - listed amongst the expidition's scientific staff as a "Camera Artist" - had time enough to drag Scott away to a crevasse in a vertical iceberg to take this famous, breathtaking photo. Scott declared that he had "rarely seen anything more beautiful." (Journals, p. 74, Carroll & Graf [1996]). That Ponting was alive to record the scene is miracle enough. Scott describes in great detail a Jaws-like attack by a pod of Orca aimed at Ponting and a few of the company's dogs.

Of course, we have known well that killer whales continually skirt the edge of the floes and that they would undoubtedly snap up anyone who was unfortunate enough to fall into the water; but the facts that they could display such deliberate cunning , that they were able to break ice of such thickness (at least 2 1/2 feet thick), and that they could act in unison, were a revelation to us. It is clear that they are endowed with a singular intelligence, . . .

For more on these fantastic "beasts," see the National Geographic site dedicated to them.


"This Work is Full of Surprises"

Scott and company reach land today, 4 January 1911. Scott renames the cape on which they are determined to spend the coming winter "Cape Evans" as a tribute to "our excellent second in command." (Journals, p. 67, Carroll & Graf [1996]). What a portentous tribute to Evans, knowing that he would be the first of the polar expedition to die in little more than a year's time. But on this day one hundred years ago things were still hopeful. Scott wrote that "fortune has treated us to the kindest smile -- for twenty-four hours we have had a clam with brilliant sunshine. Such weather in such a place comes nearer to satisfying my ideal of perfection than any condition that I have ever experienced." (Journals, p. 67, Carroll & Graf [1996]). With the Terra Nova "docked" at thick pack ice, the crew unloaded their stores and began to set up the winter camp that would become "Hut Point". Scott fell asleep after a 48 hour working binge, "to dream happily" of the first effects "of all the months of preparation and organization." (Journals, p. 72, Carrol & Graf [1996]).