Sunday 26 Nov. [Actually November 25]
Instead of improving, the Nor’Easter assumed the force of a storm in the course of the night. It eased somewhat in the morning, but nonetheless was a heavy gale with thick drift when we turned out at 8 o’clock.
Now we were all fed up with this long lie-in at home, and therefore I decided – in spite of the bad weather – to set off. To begin with, it went badly. We had to overcome huge sastrugi, and it was just about impossible to see them. Nor did the dogs have any desire to work. They had overeaten on their comrades. In the meantime the sastrugi became gradually smaller and smaller, and finally we had the finest, smoothest terrain.
The going was extremely bad – sticky as glue. Difficult for the dogs. The drift was so thick – mixed with falling snow – that we could hardly see the doggies in front of the sledges.
At the start they gave the impression of going on a sheer plain. Sometimes they gave the impression of going slightly downwards. Around 1 o’clock meanwhile they began to go more downhill and in the end they were hurtling wildly down a fairly steep slope. It would have been the work of a madman to continue this charge completely blind – one could have fallen down, with all that might have meant – and however unwillingly we had to stop in the middle of the slope.51 It is there that we have now pitched our tent. It is blowing from the NE with whirling drift just as much as before.
What is there at the bottom of the slope? Is it only a ridge that runs out on to the plateau, or is it a descent between the mountains. Personally I believe it is a ridge, and I believe we will soon be clear of it. But we will see.
According to the aneroid we have descended 1,000 ft. today. We should now be at 9,600 ft. Oddly enough we can all notice it in our breathing. At ‘the butcher’s shop’ we all had unpleasant hacking coughs and shortness of breath when we lay in our sleeping bags. For my part, I never noticed anything outside. These hacking coughs have completely disappeared here. Presumably we are on Håkonshallen’s ridge.
Definitely calmer this evening. –23.5°. By boiling we now prove to be at 10,000 ft. a.s.l. The aneroid showed the same as soon as we arrived here. The other reading of the barometer was taken some hours later.
Without exception, all the dogs had much blood in their stools – after enjoying dog meat.
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.