Another good day for the team who made good progress, certainly compared to Shackleton's equivalent day (9 Nov 1908). Read Shackleton's diary entry for the day to hear how he strugggled with crevasses at the same point that our team are now at.
For those interested about rate of progress and what the team need to achieve, I have done some analysis against Shackleton's log, and what our team need to do to achieve their first objective of reaching Shackleton's "Farthest South" point (97 nm from the Pole) and meeting up with our 97 mile Team on 9 Jan. The total distance to the 97 mile point is 696 nm and the daily average for the 57 days in total that our team have to cover that distance is 12.17 nm. Shackleton took 68 days to reach the same point, and the delay at Puenta Arenas has meant that our team's required daily average rose from 10.23 nm to 12.17. But we're confident that they'll achieve it!
Robert Swan's experience in 1985 was that the going on the Ross Ice Shelf was slowest because of the weight of the sledges and the nature of the going. Once onto the Beardmore Glacier and the Polar Plateau, Robert found the going much quicker. We are expecting similiar conditions.
1. Sitrep No 5 as at 0730 hrs GMT 18 Nov 08
2. Distance Covered Today : 10.30 nm
3. Total Distance Covered : 46 nm
4. Daily Average to Date: 9.20 nm
5. Hours travelled: 7
6. Days to RV on Jan 9 at 97 Mile Point: 53
7. Distance to RV: 647.79 nm
8. Distance to Pole: 744.79 nm
9. Required Daily Average to achieve RV: 12.22 nm
A different story today. When we woke up at 4:30 A.M. it was fine, calm, and clear, such a change from the last four days. We got breakfast at 5 A.M., and then dug the sledges out of the drift. After this we four walked out to find a track amongst the crevasses, but unfortunately they could only be detected by probing with our ice axes, and these disclosed all sorts, from narrow cracks to great ugly chasms with no bottom visible. A lump of snow thrown down one would make no noise, so the bottom must have been very far below. The general direction was southeast and northwest, but some curved around to the south and some to the east. There was nothing for it but to trust to Providence, for we had to cross them somewhere.
At 8:30 A.M. we got under way, the ponies not pulling very well, for they have lost condition in the blizzard and were stiff. We got over the first few crevasses without difficulty, then all of a sudden Chinaman went down a crack which ran parallel to our course. Adams tried to pull him out and he struggled gamely, and when Wild and I, who were next, left our sledges and hauled along Chinaman's sledge, it gave him more scope, and he managed to get on to the firm ice, only just in time, for three feet more and it would have been all up with the southern journey. The three-foot crack opened out into a great fathomless chasm, and down that would have gone the horse, all our cooking gear and biscuits and half the oil, and probably Adams as well. But when things seem the worst they turn to the best, for that was the last crevasse we encountered, and with a gradually improving surface, though very soft at times, we made fair headway. We camped for lunch at 12:40 P.M., and the ponies ate fairly well. Quan is pulling 660 lb., and had over 700 lb. till lunch; Grisi has 590 lb., Chinaman 570 lb., and Socks 600 lb. In the afternoon the surface further improved, and at 6 P.M. we camped, having done 14 miles 600 yards, statute.
The Bluff is showing clear, and also Castle Rock miraged up astern of us. White Island is also clear, but a stratus cloud overhangs Erebus, Terror, and Discovery. At 6:20 P.M. we suddenly heard a deep rumble, lasting about five seconds, that made the air and the ice vibrate. It seemed to come from the eastward, and resembled the sound and had the effect of heavy guns firing. We conjecture that it was due to some large mass of the Barrier breaking away, and the distance must be at least fifty miles from where we are. It was startling, to say the least of it. Tonight we boiled some Maujee ration for the ponies, and they took this feed well. It has a delicious smell, and we ourselves would have enjoyed it. Quan is now engaged in the pleasing occupation of gnawing his tether rope. I tethered him up by the hind leg to prevent him attacking this particular thong, but he has found out that by lifting his hind leg he can reach the rope, so I must get out and put a nose bag on him. The temperature is now plus 5°F, but it feels much warmer, for there is a dead calm and the sun is shining.
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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