Monday 4 Dec. [Actually December 03]
We have been lucky, as usual. The wind backed – after having blown at storm force from the SE – to N. and eased and cleared up. We lost no time in turning out and setting off. We first had to cross the Devil's ballroom. Shiny bare ice with snow-filled crevasses here and there.
This ballroom was not particularly difficult to negotiate. Naturally there was no question of using skis. We all had to support the sledges and help the dogs. The next section promised good going, and we congratulated ourselves on having overcome all difficulties. But we spoke too soon! It was not over so quickly.
A high ridge suddenly rose before us, and the hollow into which we had to go down quickly showed us that here were difficulties aplenty. The one serac after the other indicated the violent turmoil that had been here. And that was soon revealed. Oops – there was W.'s sledge with one runner down in a huge bottomless crevasse. A rather awkward situation. Bj. took a photo. We were all able to get up again without damage. Then this happened to W. All his dogs fell inn and disappeared, and were hauled up again – it happened from one minute to the next.
Well – somehow we worked our way across unscathed and got up to the ridge. Again it consisted of bare ice, but so filled up with hidden crevasses that one literally could not put a foot down anywhere without threading through. Luckily almost all of these crevasses were filled, but some were dangerous enough. It was a very hard job for the doggies. Bj. fell through, but managed to cling to his sledge. Without that, he would have been irretrievably lost. At last we got over this 'nether region', and little by little we arrived at the real, genuine Vidda – without the disturbance of land.
In fact we last saw land W. by N. and W. by S. 1/2 S., compass bearing. This was F range – the southernmost. In other words, this was the southernmost land we had seen. It was 87° S. lat. that at long last we reached the vidd a. We had a goo long day's march in the most heavenly weather. Light SE breeze and crystal clear. Advanced 20 nautical miles and are now at 87°9' S. lat. by dead reckoning. The going is good here on the vidd a. A few sastrugi – Se-NW – but no hindrance. No more crevasses and fissures.
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.