A high temperature of -2 degrees might sound a little chilly over here but down in Antarctica the guys really suffered today. The sun begins on the left hand side of the team before working its way around their backs, and, by the end of the day, is on their right hand side so they are never facing it, but it is still difficult when there is little wind to provide a respite. With no wind until the last hour of the day, pulling pulks became quite uncomfortable. Having said that, they still managed 15.6 nm, and are expecting to reach Mount Hope on Monday morning if they continue at their current pace.
Mount Hope is of course, a very special place, being the place from which Shackleton identified the way South through the Beardmore Glacier. So understandably the team are really looking forward to reaching that point. Reaching monuments like this is one of the reasons why Henry W and the team feel so privileged to be down there right now.
1. Sitrep No 27 as at 0840 hrs GMT 10 Dec 08
2. Distance Covered Today : 15.6 nm
3. Total Distance Covered : 320.1 nm
4. Hours travelled: 7
5. Daily Average to Date: 11.86 nm
6. Days to RV on Jan 9 at 97 Mile Point: 31
7. Distance to RV: 373.69 nm
8. Distance to Pole: 470.69 nm
9. Required Daily Average to achieve RV: 12.05 nm
Finally, our thanks go out today to Edward Hall and Strutt and Parker for sponsoring today's message.
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Falls, bruises, cut shins, crevasses, razor edged ice, and a heavy upward pull have made up the sum of the day's trials, but there has been a measure of compensation in the wonderful scenery, the marvelous rocks and the covering of a distance of 11 miles 860 yards toward our goal. We started at 7:30 A.M. amongst crevasses, but soon got out of them and pulled up a long slope of snow. Our altitude at noon was 3250 ft. above sea level. Then we slid down a blue ice slope, after crossing crevasses. Marshall and I each went down one.
We lunched at 1 P.M. and started at 2 P.M. up a long ridge by the side moraine of the glacier. It was heavy work, as the ice was split and presented knife-like edges between the cracks, and there were also some crevasses. Adams got into one. The going was terribly heavy, as the sledges brought up against the ice edges every now and then, and then there was a struggle to get them started again. We changed our foot gear, substituting ski boots for the finnesko, but nevertheless had many painful falls on the treacherous blue ice, cutting our hands and shins. We are all much bruised. We camped on a patch of snow by the land at 6 P.M.
The rocks of the moraine are remarkable, being of every hue and description. I cannot describe them, but we will carry specimens back for the geologists to deal with. The main rocks of the "Cloud Maker," the mountain under which we are camped, appear to be slates, reef quartz and a very hard, dark brown rock, the name of which I do not know. The erratics of marble, conglomerate, and breccia are beautiful, showing a great mass of wonderful colors, but these rocks we cannot take away. We can only take with us small specimens of the main rocks, as weight is of importance to us, and from these small specimens the geologists must determine the character of the land. This mountain is the one we thought might be an active volcano when we saw it from the mountain at the foot of the glacier, but the cloud has blown away from its head today, and we can see definitely that it is not a volcano. It is a remarkable sight as it towers above us with the snow clinging to its sides.
Tonight there is a cold north wind. I climbed about 600 ft. up the mountain and got specimens of the main rocks in situ. The glacier is evidently moving very slowly, and not filling as much of the valley as it did at some previous date, for the old moraines lie higher up in terraces. Low cumulus clouds to the south are hiding some of the new land in that direction. We are all very hungry and tired tonight after the day's fight with glacier. Whilst I went up the mountain to spy out the land the others ground up the balance of the maize, brought for pony feed, between flat stones, in order that we may use it ourselves to eke out our supply of food. The method of preparation was primitive, but it represented the only way of getting it fit to cook without the necessity of using more oil than we can spare for lengthy boiling. The temperature was plus 12°F at noon today, and is plus 14° now at 8 P.M. We are getting south, and we hope to reach the inland ice in a couple of days; then our marching will be faster. The weather is still fine.
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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