Friday 17 nov. [Actually November 16]
An eventful day. We soon reached the wave mentioned yesterday. It was very high – 300 ft. according to the barometer.
We had the finest view of land. A four point bearing showed it to be a ca. 6 nautical miles distant. After reaching the height of this calley, we drove a bit on the plain. The terrain was completely flat and even, like the finest floor. We found an old crevasse, 3 m broad, but almost completely filled with snow. We avoided it easily and quickly.
We crossed yet another wave, and landed on the flat at the foot of C range, 3 nautical miles from the closest visible land. Here for the first time we had a real opportunity of seeing into the bight towards which we had been steering for so long – between C and D ranges. It turned out to be filled with low mountains and steep rock walls. By contrast, the Beehive Mountain promised a good climb. I immediately decided on the latter.
As a result we immediately – 11 a.m. – made camp, took a meridian observation –85°5' and set about preparing our main depot. It consists of full provisions for five men for 30 days, a can of paraffin (17 l) 20 boxes of matches some items of clothing and equipment. We take south with us food for 5 men for 60 days. We have 438 kg of dog pemmican left. That allows us to use all our dogs for another eight days – for the whole climb, one hopes. Thereafter we take 16 dogs to the Pole. From the Pole 12 dogs.
Got our longitude during the afternoon, so the position is fixed. When everything was in order, ca. 5 p.m., four of us went in towards land to investigate the climb. We must definitely have been very lucky indeed. All formations are old here and completely filled. The going in the heights was splendid. Just enough loose snow for the dogs' paws, and a gradient not steeper than they can manage – the first day, at any rate. We were ca. 8 nautical miles inland and ca. 2,000 ft. up. From there had the pleasure of being able to establish with certainty that the mountain range – beginning with range D and as far as the eye could see – ran in a NE'ly direction – probably the same as indicated by Sh. to the SE.
On the way back, Bj. and I climbed the first bare rock. There was no difficulty whatsoever in reaching it. No trouble on the slope. The hill consisted of loose scree. We took some samples. The summit does not lie much above the surface of the snow, but nonetheless towers 1,000 ft. above sea level. I have named it 'Mount Betty'.I have called the mountain range running SE, King Håkon's mountains. The running NE – Queen Maud's. The bight that these two form – Crown Prince Olav's bight.
Presumably these mountains are the S'most mountains in the world. The land gives the impression of being covered for the most part by a mightly layer of snow. There are no active glaciers. All unevenness has long since been drifted over. All disturbance completely stopped. Round 'Mount Betty' there was a little flow of blue ice only a few feet. Presumably caused by melt water.
Have taken a complete fix and some photographs from our camp. The weather is fine this evening – 11 o'clock the same fine clear, light S'ly breeze -12°. Pure summer. We are all equipped with fine reindeer fur clothing for the plateau. According to a boiling point observation we are 900 ft. asl.
This transcript comes from “Race for the South Pole - The Expedition Diaries of Scott and Amundsen” by Roland Huntford. It appears by courtesy of the author and The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.