Sunday 19 Nov. [Actually November 18]
Continued the climb. The first short sharp slopes led us to the uppermost pass between the closest coastal mountains. They are about 4,000 ft. high.
We built – a little on the other side of the pass – a cairn for the return journey. From there I took bearings on all the surrounding mountain summits. I estimated the three highest peaks to be ca. 15,000 ft., the highest of the coastal mountains to be 7,000 ft. (little beehive).
After having passed the first pass, we had a long descent – ca. 800 ft. Thereafter up again over a crevassed glacier with many huge chasms – but almost completely drifted over. Here we had an extraordinarily steep climb – had to hitch all the dogs to two sledges at a time – and still they found it hard. At the top of this glacier we arrived at an altitude – according to the aneroid – of 4,400 feet. Then again a harsh descent. These downhill runs are dangerous. If one does not take proper care to brake, the dogs quickly take command, and charge off, threatening anyone who strays into the vicinity. Finally we came down via an old drifted up glacier. There were many huge and treacherous holes in it, but we happily avoided them.
Our course continued towards Håkonshallen, which we thought was the only one we saw during the climb. On coming down to the above-mentioned glacier, a huge mighty glacier appeared – absolutely fjord like – running W-E (true) from Håkonshallen out into Olavs Bight. So if we had continued in to Olavs Bight, towards which we originally had steered, we could have followed this glacier directly up to the camp we have this evening. Ah well, we couldn’t have done it that way under two days either. This is the glacier that will be our way back when we come down from the plateau.
We are now lying on a little glacier between Håkonshallen and the N. summit, and I hope that we can find a good way up here. We are now lying under the sky-high Håkonshallen, a magnificent sight. A large part of the summit is snow-free, while the flanks are clad in a chaos of huge ice blocks. The N. summit makes a gentler impression. Here, by contrast with Håkonshallen, the entire long flat top is encased in a smooth, solid layer of ice, while the sides gleam in blue-black. Of the lower peaks – 5–7000 ft. – all flanks facing south are bare, while those towards the N. are covered in ice. That shows that the prevailing wind is from the S.
Among these high mountains, oddly enough, we have found much loose and deep snow. On that account, our dogs have had an extremely strenuous day. As usual, the weather has been clear, calm and boiling hot – HH & Bj. are out on reconnaissance this evening.
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.