Friday 1 Dec. [Actually November 30]
How often has it not happened to me, that a day that one had expected nothing at all of – brought a great deal. – Gale from SE during the night and in the morning more drift and almost no visibility. Admittedly I had decided on a rest day for the doggies. But – in a little lull – we all agreed nonetheless to set off and try.
It was grim to start with and it went agonizingly slowly. In the course of the night the wind had swept large areas of the glacier absolutely bare. It looked really gruesome. We had left our crampons at ‘The Butcher's shop'. Without them, climbing on sheer ice is supposed to be an impossibility. A thousand thoughts ran through my brain. The pole lost, perhaps, because of such an idiotic blunder. But it went inch by inch, foot by foot, sledge length by sledge length, first E, then W, then N., then S., round huge open chasms and treacherous crevasses on the verge of collapsing. Then up a steep twisted ice ridge, then down another, so that one might expect to see the sledges splinter. But – we managed, and after a while we had worked our way up to the place HH and I had reached yesterday evening.
So far our prospects had not seemed particularly bright. But henceforth – despite the fog – things would brighten for us. We reached a somewhat even stretch, and through fog, gale and drift, and once again, after a long time, had the opportunity – for a long distance – to steer directly South. That brightened things. We were climbing quite gently the whole time. Gradually the huge chasms were filled with snow. The crevasses ebbed out and little by little they became more and more a rarity, until we reached the plateau, where they stopped completely. Here the violent pressure which had caused the heavy disturbance through which we had just passed, now had another effect – rather milder. Big, haycock-like mounds were strewn about in all directions. Some as high as a man, some smaller, others bigger.
Up here the terrain is somewhat different. The whole foundation is of bare rather finely cracked ice, broken by big sastrugi running SE-NW. We have not yet been able to see the immediate surroundings, but we know with certainty that we are past the glacier, and therefore we are in a party mood. We may still meet obstacles but we will just have to accept that. Boiling this evening gave 9,100 ft. asl., and at this altitude, I assume with certainty that we are on the 'vidda'. We are longing to see how the land runs. The going up here is much better for the dogs, and they are moving along splendidly.
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.