This edited article about Captain Robert Falcon Scott originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 809 published on 16th July 1977.
Captain Scott’s expedition to the South Pole
When the old whaling ship, Terra Nova, edged her way out of London’s river on 1st June, 1910, her captain, Robert Falcon Scott, was not aboard. He was in Capetown, South Africa, raising money for his Polar Expedition.
It seems strange, nowadays, to realise that he had to beg in order to pay for the privilege of attempting to be the first man to reach the South Pole. But Scott was a remarkable man. Though short, he had great physical strength.
Among his party were Dr. E. C. Wilson, who was in charge of the scientific staff, Petty Officer Evans, and two army officers, Lieut. Henry R. Bowers and Captain L. E. G. Oates.
It was in Melbourne, Australia, on the journey south, that Scott received a fateful telegram. It read: BEG LEAVE TO INFORM YOU PROCEEDING ANTARCTIC – AMUNDSEN. So it would be a race to the Pole between him and the famous Norwegian explorer.
On the voyage and long before the real hazards began, things were difficult enough. The ship sprang a leak and the pumps failed; later they had to battle their way through pack ice. Finally, however, they reached Cape Evans in McMurdo Sound, and sledging journeys were undertaken to lay down food depots before the winter set in.
Then they settled down to await summer, when they would make their dash to the Pole, refusing to be panicked by the news that Amundsen and his party had made a landing far nearer to the great objective.
At last came the sun, and a party, equipped with motor sledges, set out as an advance guard. They reached the Great Barrier, but near Camp Corner, after a journey over the hummocked ice, the motor sledges had to be abandoned. When Scott caught up with them with his ponies, he was greatly disappointed. But at least the motor sledges had saved the ponies from a difficult stretch of hauling.
Now at last all the months of planning had reached their climax. The route ahead was clear, up the Beardmore Glacier and due south to the Pole – nine hundred miles (1,450 km) of tough going.
At first, all went well. But then unseasonable weather began to delay them. Marching into strong headwinds and snowstorms, they still managed to cover fifteen miles (24 km) a day, but the ponies were now becoming exhausted.
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