1. Sitrep No 34 as at 0906 hrs GMT 17 Dec 08
2. Distance Covered Today : 15.1 nm
3. Total Distance Covered : 409 nm
4. Hours travelled: 7
5. Daily Average to Date: 12.03 nm
6. Days to RV on Jan 9 at 97 Mile Point: 24
7. Distance to RV: 284.79 nm
8. Distance to Pole: 381.79 nm
9. Required Daily Average to achieve RV: 11.87 nm
We made a start at 7:20 A.M. and had an uphill pull all the morning over blue ice with patches of snow, which impeded our progress until we learned that the best way was to rush the sledges over them, for it was very difficult to keep one's footing on the smooth ice, and haul the sledges astern over the snow. By 1 P.M. we had done eight miles of this uphill work, and in the afternoon we did four more. We had worked from 7:23 A.M. until 6:40 P.M. with one hour's rest for lunch only and it seems as though twelve miles was not much, but the last two hours' going was very stiff. We had to take on one sledge at a time up the icy slope, and even then we had to cut steps with our ice axes as we went along.
The work was made more difficult by the fact that a strong southerly wind was dead in our faces. The second sledge we hauled up the rise by means of the alpine rope. We made it fast to the sledge, went on with the first sledge till the rope was stretched out to its full length, then cut a place to stand on, and by our united efforts hauled the sledge up to where we stood. We repeated this until we had managed to reach a fairly level spot with both the sledges, and we pitched our tents on a small patch of snow. There was not enough of the snow to make fast the snow cloths of the tents, and we had to take the gear off the sledges and pile that round to supplement the snow. We have burned our boats behind us now as regards warm clothing, for this afternoon we made a depot in by the rocks of the island we are passing, and there left everything except the barest necessaries.
After dinner tonight Wild went up the hillside in order to have a look at the plateau. He came down with the news that the plateau is in sight at last, and that tomorrow should see us at the end of our difficulties. He also brought down with him some very interesting geological specimens, some of which certainly look like coal. The quality may be poor, but I have little doubt that the stuff is coal. If that proves to be the case, the discovery will be most interesting to the scientific world. Wild tells me that there are about six seams of this dark stuff, mingled with sandstone, and that the seams are from 4 in. to 7 or 8 ft. in thickness. There are vast quantities of it lying on the hillside. We took a photograph of the sandstone, and I wish very much that we could spare time to examine the rocks more thoroughly. We may be able to do this on the way back.
We have but little time for geological work, for our way is south and time is short, but we found that the main rock is sandstone and on our way back we will collect some. I expect that this will be the most southerly rock that we shall obtain, for we ought to reach the plateau tomorrow, and then there will be no more land close to us. It is gusty tonight, but beautifully clear. The altitude, according to the hypsometer, is 6100 ft.
NOTE. When I showed the specimens to Professor David after our return to the Nimrod, he stated definitely that some of them were coal and others "mother of coal."
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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