1. Sitrep No 16 as at 0545 hrs GMT 29 Nov 08
2. Distance Covered Today : 0 nm
3. Total Distance Covered : 154.9 nm
4. Daily Average to Date: 9.68 nm
5. Days to RV on Jan 9 at 97 Mile Point: 42
6. Distance to RV: 538.89 nm
7. Distance to Pole: 635.89 nm
8. Required Daily Average to achieve RV: 12.83 nm
Started at 8:45 A.M. with adjusted loads of 630 lb. on each sledge. We harnessed up ourselves, but found that the ponies would not pull when we did, and as the loads came away lightly, we untoggled our harness. The surface was very soft, but during the morning there were occasional patches of hard sastrugi, all pointing south southeast. This is the course we are now steering, as the land is trending about southeast by east. During the day still more great mountains appeared to the southeast, and to the west we opened up several huge peaks, 10,000 to 15,000 ft. in height. The whole country seems to be made up of range after range of mountains, one behind the other.
The worst feature of today's march was the terribly soft snow in the hollows of the great undulations we were passing. During the afternoon one place was so bad that the ponies sank in right up to their bellies, and we had to pull with might and main to get the sledges along at all. When we began to ascend the rise on the southern side of the undulation it got better. The ponies were played out by 5:45 P.M., especially old Quan, who nearly collapsed, not from the weight of the sledge, but from the effort of lifting his feet and limbs through the soft snow. The weather is calm and clear, but very hot, and it is trying to man and beast. We are on a short allowance of food, for we must save all we can, so as to help the advance as far as possible. Marshall has taken the angles of the new land today. He does this regularly.
The hypsometer readings at 1 P.M. are very high now if there is no correction, and it is not due to weather. We must be at about sea level. The undulations run about east by south, and west by west, and are at the moment a puzzle to us. I cannot think that the feeding of the glaciers from the adjacent mountains has anything to do with their existence. There are several glaciers, but their size is inconsiderable compared to the vast extent of Barrier affected. The glaciers are greatly crevassed. There are enormous granite cliffs at the foot of the range we are passing, and they stand vertically about 4000 to 5000 ft. without a vestige of snow upon them. The main bare rocks appear to be like the schists of the western mountains opposite our winter quarters, but we are too far away, of course, to be able to tell with any certainty. Down to the south are mountains entirely clear of snow, for their sides are vertical, and they must be not less than 8000 to 9000 ft. in height. Altogether it is a weird and wonderful country. The only familiar thing is the broad expanse of Barrier to the east, where as yet no land appears.
We did 14 miles 900 yards (statute) today, and are tired. The snow came well above our ankles, and each step became a labor. Still we are making our way south, and each mile gained reduces the unknown. We have now done over 300 miles due south in less than a month.
This is the story of the “Farthest South” expedition, told by its leader. After enduring biting winds, short rations and crevasse-ridden glaciers for over a year, Shackleton’s party faced a desperate forced march to return to their ship, The Nimrod, or face being marooned on the ice.
Taken from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s own compelling chronicle of his first Antarctic expedition, written on his return in 1909.
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