The Winter Journey: Part I

A New and Bold Venture

Winter Journey Sledge Weights
Expendable Storeslbs
‘Antarctic’ biscuit135
3 cases for same12
Spare parts for primus, and matches2
Toilet Paper2
The Worst Journey in the World, pg. 223
Permanent Weightslbs
2 9-ft sledges, 41 lbs. each82
1 Cooker complete13
2 Primus filled with oil8
1 Double tent complete35
1 Sledging shovel3.5
3 Reindeer sleeping bags, 12 lbs. each36
3 Eider-down sleeping-bag linings, 4 lbs. each12
1 Alpine rope5
1 Bosun’s bag and 1 Bonsa outfit (repairing material and tools)5
3 personal bags, 15 lbs. each45
Lamp box with knives and steel21
Medical and scientific box40
2 ice axes, 3 lbs. each6
3 Man-harnesses3
3 Portaging harnesses3
Cloth for making roof and door for stone igloo24
Instrument box7
3 pairs skis and sticks (discarded before departure)33
1 Pickaxe11
3 Crampons, 2 lbs. 3 oz. each6.5
2 Bamboos for measuring tide if possible4
2 Male bamboos4
1 plank to form top of door of igloo2
1 Bag sennegrass1
6 Small female bamboo ends and 1 knife4
The Worst Journey in the World, pg. 224

The three men of the Crozier party stepped off into the darkness from Cape Evans around 11 a.m. on June 27th, 1911 hauling two sledges bearing approximately 757 lbs. of gear (ski gear was left behind at the last moment). The men were not able to fit all of the supplies on a single 12-ft sledge, and so opted to bring two 9-ft sledges. At first, the men were assisted by 5 other members of the Terra Nova Expedition, boosting them through the hummocky sea ice near the Erebus Glacier Tongue before turning back. The first partial weather observation was taken at 13:15, near the edge of the glacier tongue:

Off Glacier Tongue

Temperature: -14.5°F (-25.8°C)

Remarks: Breeze came away from E, Force 3-4

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, Meteorology, Vol. III Table 69

At this point, Apsley Cherry-Garrard noted that his sweat was already starting to freeze within his clothing. After the men pulled for another mile, they stopped and pitched camp for lunch at 14:30. This was the first time the men would set up camp in the dark, and Cherry-Garrard referred to the experience as an “education.” All three of the men were experienced sledge travelers, but none had yet had the distinct pleasure of pitching camp in total darkness with a stiff breeze in their faces. Another issue that would plague the men in the weeks to come also presented itself during this first lunch camp – the accumulation of ice in the tent. The act of cooking released a significant amount of water vapor, which would then freeze along the interior liner of the tent. As Dr. Wilson noted in his journal:

The lowest third of our tent, as a matter of fact, became badly iced up, but the upper parts we managed to keep clear of ice.

Diary of the ‘Terra Nova’ Expedition to the Antarctic 1910~1912

In addition to the enormous weight the men were already pulling with their supplies, the weight of accumulating ice was something they would also have to contend with. The men would later encounter additional trouble with the accumulating ice, but that is for later posts in this series.

After removing as much ice as they could from the interior of the tent, the men struck camp at 16:00 and got back in harness. After pulling for another 3 miles, the men decided to pitch camp for the night in the shadow of Castle Rock. At 21:30, Birdie Bowers took a full weather observation:

Position: Camp 1

Miles Made Good: 9.75

Temperature: -15°F (-26.1°C)

Wind Direction: ESE

Wind Speed: Force 5 (17-21 knots)

Wind Chill: -44°F (-42.2°C)

Sky: Clear

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, Meteorology, Vol. III Table 69

That the men managed to pull 757 lbs. almost 10 miles in complete darkness was a feat in itself. The men did not know it yet, but this would be their best sledging effort with respect to mileage until the last day of the journey.

Crozier Party Progress after Day 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s