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This is a reproduction of a book from the McGill University Library 

Title: Shackleton in the Antarctic : being the story of the British 

Antarctic expedition, 1907-1909 
Author: Shackleton, Ernest Henry, Sir, 1874-1922 

Publisher, year: London : W. Heinemann, 1911 

The pages were digitized as they were. The original book may 
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marginalia present in the original volume may also appear. For wider 
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may be noticeable. 

ISBN of reproduction: 978-1-926671-09-3 

This reproduction is intended for personal use only, and may not be 
reproduced, re-published, or re-distributed commercially. For further 
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contact McGill University Library. 

McGill University Library 











First fvblished (Two Volumes) November 1909 
Popular Edition ( One Volume) November 1910 

Copyright London 1909, by IJ ’////am Hei ??ema?t?i , and 
Washington , U.S.A . , by J. B. L/pp/ncott Company 



I. The Expedition ii 

II. Supplies and Equipment 15 

III. The Ship, the Hut, and Other Necessities 18 

IV. The Staff and the Royal Visit 23 

V. We Leave Lyttelton 26 

VI. The Antarctic Circle 31 

VII. The Attempt to Reach King Edward VII 

Land 36 

VIII. Landing of Stores and Equipment 46 

IX. The "Nimrod” Leaves Us 52 

X. Winter Quarters at Cape Royds Outside 58 
XI. Winter Quarters — Inside 63 

XII. Sledging Equipment 68 

XIII. Our Ponies and Dogs 74 

XIV. Mount Erebus 78 

XV. Attacking Mount Erebus 80 

XVI. The Conquest of Mount Erebus 87 

XVII. Preparations for the Winter Months 95 

XVIII. Still in the Hut 98 

XIX. Preliminary Journeys 104 

XX. Arrangements and Instructions 108 

XXI. The Start to the South Pole 112 

XXII. Onward 117 

XXIII. Beyond All Former Footsteps 122 

XXIV. The Highway to the South 126 

XXV. On the Great Glacier 130 

XXVI. On the Plateau to the Farthest South 135 

XXVII. Farthest South 14 2 

XXVIII. The Return March 146 

XXIX. Struggling Back 15 i 

XXX. The Final Stage 158 

XXXI. Notes on the Southern Journey 164 


viii Contents 


XXXII. The Return of the “Nimrod” 173 

XXXIII. The Western Party 178 

XXXIV. Instructions for the Northern Party 184 

XXXV. The Narrative of Professor David. We 

Start for the Magnetic Pole 187 

XXXVI. Across the Ice Barrier 193 

XXXVII. The Drygalski Glacier 199 

XXXVIII. Crevasses 203 

XXXIX. Upwards and Onwards 208 

XL. The Magnetic Pole 212 

XLI. Returning 216 

XLII. Obstacles In Our Course 222 

XLIII. Safe Aboard 226 

XLIV. The Return to New Zealand 231 

XLV. Penguins. (Some Notes by James Murray, 

Biologist to the Expedition) 238 

XLVI. The Adelies and Their Chicks 245 

XLVII. Notes 254 


Section Showing Interior of Nimrod 

Seal Suckling Young and Taking no Notice of Motor-Car 
Their Majesties King Edward and Queen Alexandra 
Inspecting the Equipment on the Nimrod at Cowes 
The Towing Steamer Koonya as Seen from the Nimrod in 
a Heavy Sea. This Particular Wave Came Aboard the 
Nimrod and Did Considerable Damage 
View of the Great Ice Barrier 

Pushing Through Heavy Floes in the Ross Sea. The 
Dark Line on the Horizon is a “ Water Sky ” and 
Indicates the Existence of Open Sea 
Flight of Antarctic Petrels 
Nimrod Moored Off Tabular Bergs 
Adelie Penguins at Cape Royds 

The Nimrod Lying Off the Penguin Rookery, Cape Royds 
The Ponies Transporting Coal on Sledges at Back Door Bay 
Digging Out Stores After the Cases Had Been Buried in 
Ice During a Blizzard 
Winter Quarters 
The First Slopes of Erebus 
Marston in His Bed 
Plan of the Hut at Winter Quarters 
A Group of the Shore Party at the Winter Quarters 
Ice Flowers on Newly-Formed Sea Ice Early in the Winter 
One Thousand Feet Below the Active Cone 
The “ Lion ” of Erebus 

The Crater of Erebus, 900 Feet Deep and Half a Mile wide. 
Steam is Seen Rising on the Left. The Photograph 
was Taken from the Lower Part of the Crater Edge 
The Type Case and Printing Press for the Production of 
the “ Aurora Australis ” in Joyce's and Wild’s Cubicle 
known as “The Rogues’ Retreat 

























x List of Illustrations 


Preparing a Sledge During the Winter 103 

The Leader of the Expedition in Winter Garb 107 

The Motor-Car in the Garage, Maize-Crusher on the Right 1 1 1 
The Southern Party Marching into the White Unknown 1 1 5 
Cape Barne and Inaccessible Island by Moonlight 119 

New Land. The Party Ascended Mount Hope and Sighted 
the Great Glacier, up which They Marched Through the 
Gap. The Main Body of the Glacier Joins the Barrier 
Further to the Left 129 

Lower Glacier Depot. The Stores Were Buried in the 

Snow Near the Rock in the Foreground 133 

The Camp below “ The Cloud Maker ” 137 

Facsimile of Page of Shackleton's Diary 14 1 

The Farthest South Camp After Sixty Hours 1 Blizzard 145 

Farthest South, January 9, 1909 149 

The Camp Under the Granite Pillar, Half a Mile from the 
Lower Glacier Depot, Where the Party Camped on 
January 27 1 5 3 

Shackleton Standing by the Broken Southern Sledge, 

Which was Replaced by Another at Grisi Depot 157 

Return Journey of the Southern Party : At the Bluff 

Depot 16 1 

The Southern Party on Board the Nimrod 165 

The Nimrod Pushing Through Heavy Pack Ice On Her 

Way South 17 1 

The Nimrod Held Up in the Ice 177 

The Bluff Depot 181 

The Motor Hauling Stores for a Depot 185 

Loaded Sledge Showing the Distance Recorder or Sledge- 

meter 19 1 

The Northern Party on the Plateau, New Year's Day 201 

The Northern Party at the South Magnetic Pole 209 

Ready to Start Home 217 

A View of the Hut in Summer 227 

Emperor Penguins 237 

An Adelie Calling for a Mate after Commencing the Nest 243 
Adelie Trying to Mother a Couple of Well-Grown Strangers 247 
Penguins Listening to the Gramophone During the Summer 251 


Men go out into the void spaces of the world for various 
reasons. Some are incited simply by a love of ad- 
venture, some have a keen thirst for scientific knowledge, 
and others are drawn away from trodden paths by the 
mysterious fascination of the unknown. I think that 
in my own case it was a combination of these factors 
that determined me to try my fortune once again in 
the frozen south. 

I had been invalided home before the conclusion of the 
Discovery expedition, and I had the keenest desire to 
see more of the vast continent that lies amid the 
Antarctic snows and glaciers. Indeed the stark polar 
lands grip the hearts of men who have lived on them 
in a manner that can hardly be understood by people 
who have never got outside the pale of civilisation. I 
was convinced, moreover, that an expedition on the 
lines I had in view could justify itself by the results of 
its scientific work. 

The Discovery expedition had performed splendid 
service in several important branches of science, and 
I believed that a second expedition could carry the work 
still further. For instance, the southern limits of the 
Great Ice Barrier had not been defined, and it was 
important to the scientific world that information should 
be gained regarding the movement of the ice-sheet that 

12 Shackleton 

forms the barrier. I also wanted to discover what lay 
beyond the mountains to the south of latitude 82° 17' 
and whether the Antarctic continent rose to a plateau 
similar to the one found by Captain Scott beyond the 
western mountains. 

There was much also to be done in the fields of 
meteorology, zoology, biology, mineralogy and general 
geology, so much in fact that apart from the wish to 
gain a higher latitude the expedition seemed to be 
justified on scientific grounds alone. 

The difficulty that confronts most men who wish to 
undertake exploration work is that of finance, and 
for some time I was faced by financial problems ; but 
when the governments of Australia and New Zealand 
came to my assistance, the position became more satis- 

In the Geographical Journal for March 1907, I outlined 
my plan of campaign, but this had materially to be 
changed later on owing to circumstances. “ The shore- 
party of nine or twelve men will winter with sufficient 
equipment to enable three separate parties to start out 
in the spring,” I announced. “ One party will go east, 
and, if possible, across the Barrier to the new land 
known as King Edward VII Land, the second party 
will proceed south over the same route as that of the 
southern sledge-party of the Discovery, the third party 
will possibly proceed westward over the mountains, and, 
instead of crossing in a line due west, will strike towards 
the magnetic pole. The main changes in equipment 
will be that Siberian ponies will be taken for the sledge 
journeys both east and south, and also a specially 
designed motor-car for the southern journey. I do not 
intend to sacrifice the scientific utility of the expedition 
to a mere record-breaking journey, but say frankly, all 


14 Shackleton 

the same, that one of my great efforts will be to reach 
the southern geographical pole.” 

My intention was that the expedition should leave 
New Zealand at the beginning of 1908, and proceed to 
winter quarters on the Antarctic continent, the ship 
to land men and stores and then return. By avoiding 
the ship being frozen in, the use of a relief ship would 
be unnecessary, as the same vessel could come south 
again the following summer and take us off. 

Before we finally left England I had decided that if 
possible I would establish my base on King Edward VII 
Land instead of at the Discovery winter quarters in 
McMurdo Sound, so that we might break entirely new 
ground. The narrative will show how, as far as this 
particular matter was concerned, my plans were upset 
by the demands of the situation. Owing largely to 
the unexpected loss of ponies before the winter, the 
journey to King Edward VII Land over the Barrier was 
not attempted. 

As the expedition was entirely my own venture I 
decided that I would have no committee, and thus I 
avoided delays that are inevitable when a group of men 
have to arrive at a decision on points of detail. The aim 
of one who undertakes to organise such an expedition 
must be to provide for every contingency, and in dealing 
with this Work I was fortunate enough to secure the 
cssistance of Mr. Alfred Reid, who had already gained 
considerable experience in connection with previous 
polar ventures, and who — as manager of the expedition 
— was invaluable to me. 

In the Antarctic 



For a polar expedition the food must in the first place 
be wholesome and nourishing in the highest possible 
degree. Scurvy — that dread disease — was once regarded 
as the inevitable result of a prolonged stay in ice-bound 
regions, but by selecting food-stuffs which had been 
prepared on scientific lines we entirely avoided any 
sickness attributable directly or indirectly to the foods 
we took with us. 

In the second place the food taken on the sledging 
expeditions must be as light as possible, always re- 
membering that in very low temperatures the heat of 
the body can be maintained only by use of fatty and 
farinaceous foods in fairly large quantities. The sledging- 
foods must also be such as do not require prolonged 
cooking, for the amount of fuel that can be carried is 
limited. It must even be possible to eat these foods 
without any cooking, because the fuel may be lost or 

As regards foods for use at the winter quarters of the 
expedition a greater variety was possible, for the ship 
might be expected to reach that point and weight was 
consequently of less importance. My aim was to get 
a large variety of foods for the winter night, when the 
long months of darkness severely strain men unaccustomed 
to the conditions. 

I based my estimates on the requirements of twelve 
men for two years, but this was added to in New Zealand 
when the staff was increased. 

At first the question of packing presented difficulties, 
but at last I decided to use “ Venesta " cases both for 

16 Shackleton 

food-stuffs and as much as possible for equipment. 
These cases are manufactured from composite boards 
prepared by uniting three layers of birch or other hard 
wood with water-proof cement. They were eminently 
suited to our purpose, and the saving of weight, as 
compared with an ordinary packing-case, was about 
four pounds per case. In spite of the rough handling 
our stores received in the process of being landed at 
Cape Royds, after the expedition had reached the 
Antarctic we had no trouble with breakages. 


After placing orders for the principal food supplies 
I went to Norway with Mr. Reid to secure sledges, fur 
boots and mits, sleeping bags, ski, &c. The sledges 
were to be of the Nansen pattern, built of specially 
selected timber and of the best workmanship. I ordered 
ten twelve-foot sledges, eighteen eleven-foot sledges and 
two seven-foot sledges, the largest being suitable for 
pony-haulage. The sledges were made by Messrs. Hagen 
and Company of Christiania and proved to be all that 
I desired. 

The next step was to secure furs, but this was not 
a very large order as after the experience of the Discovery 
expedition I decided to use fur only for the feet and 
hands and for the sleeping-bags, relying otherwise on 
woollen garments with an outer covering of windproof 
material. I ordered three large sleeping-bags, to hold 
three men each, and twelve one-man bags. Each bag 
had the reindeer fur inside, and the seams were covered 
with leather strongly sewn. 

The foot-gear I ordered consisted of eighty pairs of 
ordinary finnesko or reindeer-fur boots, twelve pairs of 

In the Antarctic 

J 7 



1 8 Shackleton 

special finnesko and sixty pairs of ski boots of various 
sizes. The ordinary finnesko is made from the skin of 
the reindeer stag’s head, with the fur outside, and its shape 
is roughly that of a very large boot without any laces. 
It is large enough to hold the foot, several pairs of socks, 
and a supply of sennegrass, and it is a wonderfully warm 
and comfortable foot-gear. This sennegrass is a dried 
grass of long fibre with a special quality of absorbing 
moisture and I bought fifty kilos (110.25 lb.) of it in 

The sixty pairs of wolfskin and dogskin mits which I 
ordered from Mr. Moller were made with the fur outside, 
were long enough to protect the wrists, and had one 
compartment for the four fingers and another for the 
thumb. They were worn over woollen gloves and were 
hung round the neck with lamp-wick when the use of 
the fingers was required. 



Before I left Norway I visited Sandyfjord to see whether 
I could come to terms with Mr. C. Christiansen, the 
owner of the Bjorn, a ship specially built for polar work ; 
but much as I wished to try her I could not afford to pay 
the price. 

So when I returned to London I purchased the Nimrod. 
She was small and old, and her maximum speed under 
steam was hardly more than six knots, but on the other 
hand she was able to face rough treatment in the ice. I 
confess that I was disappointed when I first examined 
the little ship, to which I was about to commit the hopes 

In the Antarctic 19 

and aspirations of many years, but I had not then become 
acquainted with her many good qualities,, and my first 
impression scarcely did justice to the plucky old ship. 
She was at once put into the hands of Messrs. R. & H. 
Green of Blackwall, the famous firm that had built 
so many of Britain's “ wooden walls,” and that had 
done fitting and repairing work for several other polar 
expeditions, and day by day she assumed a more 
satisfactory appearance. Quarters were provided for 
the scientific staff of the expedition by enclosing a portion 
of the after-hold and constructing cabins which were 
entered by a steep ladder from the deck-house. For 
some reason not on record these small quarters were 
known later as “ Oyster Alley.” 

As however the Nimrod, after landing the shore-party 
with stores and equipment, would return to New Zealand, 
it was necessary that we should have a reliable hut in 
which to live during the Antarctic night, and until the 
sledging journeys began in the following spring. 


I ordered a hut (which was to be our only refuge from 
furious blizzards) measuring externally 33 ft. by 19 ft. by 
8 ft. to the eaves from Messrs. Humphreys of Knights- 
bridge. It was specially constructed to my order, and 
after being erected and inspected in London was shipped 
in sections. 

It was made of stout fir timbering of best quality in 
walls, roofs and floors, and the parts were all morticed 
and tenoned to make erection easy in the Antarctic. 
Great precautions were taken against the extreme cold, 
and the hut was to be erected on wooden piles let into the 
ground or ice, and rings were fixed to the top of the roof 



so that guy-ropes might be used to give additional 
resistance to the gales. The hut had two doors, con- 
nected by a small porch, so that ingress or egress would 
not cause a draught of cold air, and the windows were 
double so that the warmth of the hut might be retained. 
We took little furniture as I proposed to use cases for 
the construction of benches, beds, and other necessary 
articles of internal equipment. The hut was to be 
lighted with acetylene gas, and we took a generator, the 
necessary piping and a supply of carbide. 

We also took a cooking-range, manufactured by 
Messrs. Smith and Wellstrood, of London, which had 
a fire chamber designed to burn anthracite coal con- 
tinuously day and night. 


Each member of the expedition was supplied with 
two winter suits made of heavy blue pilot cloth, lined 
with Jaeger fleece. An outer suit of windproof material 
is necessary in the polar regions, and I secured twenty-four 
suits of Burberry gaberdine. The underclothing was 
obtained from the Dr. Jaeger Sanitary Woollen Company. 


I decided to take ponies, dogs, and a car to assist in 
hauling our sledges on long journeys, but my hopes 
were mainly based on the ponies. Dogs had not proved 
satisfactory on the Barrier surface, but I was sure that 
the hardy ponies used in Northern China and Manchuria 
would be useful if landed in good condition on the ice. 
They had done good work both on the Jackson-Harms- 
worth expedition and in the Russo-Japanese War. 
Fifteen of these ponies, practically unbroken and about 

■ v» 

Their Majesties King Edward and Queen Alexandra inspecting 
i the Equipment on the “Nimrod" at Cowes, (Scv 26) 


fourteen hands high, were selected and ultimately trans- 
ferred to Quail Island in Port Lyttelton, where they were 
free to feed in luxury until they were required. 

As I thought it possible, from my previous experience, 
that we might find a hard surface on the Great Ice 
Barrier, I resolved to take a motor-car, so I selected 
a 12-15 horse-power New Arrol- Johnston car, fitted 
with a specially designed air-cooled four-cylinder engine 
and Simms Bosch magneto ignition. A non-freezing 
oil was prepared for me by Messrs. Price and Company. 
I placed, as I have suggested, but small reliance on dogs ; 
I did however order forty of the descendants of the 
Siberian dogs used on the Newnes-Borchgrevink expe- 
dition. The breeder was only able to let me have nine, 
but this team proved sufficient for my purposes. 


On the scientific side the equipment of a polar ex- 
pedition is very costly, and I felt the pinch of necessary 
economies in this branch. I was, however, greatly 
assisted by loans of instruments and • charts from the 
Admiralty ; the Royal Geographical Society lent me 
three chronometer watches, and three wardens of the 
Skinners’ Company gave me one chronometer watch 
which accompanied me on my journey to the Pole and 
which proved to be the most accurate of all. We also 
took with us a photographic equipment which included 
nine cameras, and a cinematograph machine in order that 
we might place on record the curious movements of seals 
and penguins. 

For the rest I had tried to provide for every contingency, 
and the gear ranged from needles and nails to a Remington 
typewriter and two Singer sewing machines. There was 

In the Antarctic 23 

also a gramophone and a complete printing-press ; and 
even hockey-sticks and a football were not forgotten. 



It was no easy matter for me to select the staff from the 
large number (over 400) of applicants who wished to join 
the expedition. 

After much consideration I selected eleven men for the 
shore-party, only three of whom — Adams, Wild and 
Joyce — had been known to me previously, while only 
Wild and Joyce, having been members of the Discovery 
expedition, had previous experience of polar work. 
Every man, however, was highly recommended, and 
this was also the case with the officers whom I chose for 
the Nimrod. Before leaving New Zealand I was able 
to increase the number of the expedition, which ulti- 
mately consisted of : 


Ernest H. Shackleton, Commander. 

Professor T. W. Edgeworth David, F.R.S., Direc- 
tor of the scientific staff. 

Lieutenant J. B. Adams, R.N.R., Meteorologist. 

Sir Philip Brocklehurst, Bart., Assistant geologist. 

Bernard Day, Motor expert. 

Ernest Joyce, in charge of dogs, sledges, &c. 

Dr. A. F. Mackay, Surgeon. 

Douglas Mawson, D.Sc., B.E., Physicist, 

Bertram Armytage, in charge of ponies. 

Dr. E. Marshall, Surgeon, cartographer. 

G. E. Marston, Artist. 

24 Shackleton 

J. Murray, Biologist. 

Raymond Priestley, Geologist. 

W. Roberts, Cook. 

F. Wild, in charge of provisions. 


Lieutenant R. G. England, R.N.R., Captain. 

John K. Davis, Chief officer, later captain. 

A. L. A. Mackintosh, Second officer. 

A. E. Harbord, Auxiliary second officer. 

H. J. L. Dunlop, Chief engineer. 

W. A. R. Michell, Surgeon. 

Alfred Cheetham, Third officer and boatswain. 

W. D. An sell, Steward. 

J. Montague, Cook. 

E. Ellis ' 

H. Bull 

S. Riches l A.B.’s. 

J. Paton 


G. Bilsby, Carpenter. 

[Lieutenant F. P. Evans, R.N.R., was appointed 
captain for the second voyage to the Antarctic.] 

The work of preparation progressed rapidly, and on 
July 30, 1907, the Nimrod sailed from the East India 
Docks on the first stage of the long journey to New 
Zealand. On the following day Mr. Reid received a 
telegram from the King’s equerry, commanding the 
Nimrod to visit Cowes in order that the King and Queen 
might inspect the ship on August 4, and consequently 
we proceeded to the Solent, where we anchored. 

In the Antarctic 


The Towing Steamer “Koonta ” as seen from ttie “Nhhu od" in a heavy ska. Tins particular 





Their Majesties King Edward and Queen Alexandra, 
their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales, the Princess 
Victoria, Prince Edward and the Duke of Connaught, 
came on board and inspected the ship, an honour which 
was greatly appreciated by the members of the expedition. 
Her Majesty graciously entrusted me with a Union Jack 
to be carried on the southern journey, and His Majesty 
graciously conferred on me the Victorian Order. 

On Wednesday August 7, the ship sailed for New 
Zealand, and arrived at Lyttelton — from whence the 
final departure for the south was to be made — on 
November 23. Mr. Reid reached Australian waters a 
month ahead of the Nimrod, so that he might make 
necessary arrangements and meet the Manchurian ponies. 



By strenuous labour we were in readiness to start from 
Lyttelton on New Year’s Day, and we were honoured 
by the Postmaster-General of the Dominion printing off 
for us a small issue of special stamps, and making me 
a postmaster during my stay in the Antarctic. 

The quarters of the scientific staff on board the Nimrod 
were certainly small, and as the day of departure 
approached, Oyster Alley reached a state of congestion 
awful to contemplate. The ponies — of which we finally 
took away ten known as “ Socks,” “ Queen,” “ Grisi,” 
“ Chinaman,” " Billy,” " Zulu,” “ Doctor,” “ Sandy,’ 

In the Antarctic 27 

“ Nimrod,” and “ Mac ” — were carried on deck and ten 
stout stalls were built for them. The motor-car was 
enclosed in a large case and made fast with chains on the 
after-hatch whence it could be transferred easily to the 
ice. Our deck load, indeed, was so heavy that the 
Nimrod was low in the water, and when we left Lyttelton 
the little ship had only three feet six inches of freeboard. 

In order to save coal I was anxious to have the Nimrod 
towed south, and the Government of the Dominion agreed 
to pay half the cost of the tow, and Sir James Mills, 
chairman of the Union Steamship Company, offered to 
pay the other half. The Koonya, a steel-built steamer 
of about 1100 tons, was chartered and placed under the 
command of Captain F. P. Evans. The wisdom of this 
selection was proved by subsequent events. Before my 
departure I placed the conduct of the affairs of the 
expedition in New Zealand into the hands of Mr. J. J. 
Kinsey, whose assistance and advice had already been 
of great service to me. 

January 1, 1908, arrived at last, a warm and clear 
morning for our last day in civilisation. Before sunset 
we were to sever all ties with the outer world, but we all 
looked forward eagerly to our coming venture, for the 
glamour of the unknown was with us and the south was 

All day long the deck of our little vessel was thronged 
by sight-seers, who showed the greatest interest in every- 
thing connected with the ship and her equipment. There 
were many whose criticisms were frankly pessimistic as 
to our chances of weathering an Antarctic gale, for the 
Nimrod was deep in the water, but we, having confidence 
in the ship, were not disturbed by these criticisms. 

Oyster Alley was crammed with the personal belongings 
of at least fourteen of the shore-party, and if you once 

28 Shackleton 

got into it the difficulty of getting out was even greater. 
The entrance to this twentieth-century Black Hole was 
through a narrow doorway and down a ladder, which 
ushered one into almost complete darkness. And it was 
in this uncomfortable, crowded, murky place that the 
spirit of romance grew strong in the heart of George 
Buckley, until he suddenly jumped up and asked if I 
would take him as far as the ice. I was only too glad to 
consent, for his interest in the expedition showed that 
his heart was in the right place, and his personality had 
already appealed to us all. It was then 2 p.m. and the 
Nimrod sailed at 4 p.m., but in those two hours he dashed 
to Christchurch, gave his power of attorney to a friend, 
slung a tooth-brush and some underclothing into a bag, 
and arrived on board a few minutes before sailing time, 
equipped for the most rigorous weather in the world with 
only the summer suit he was wearing. Surely a record in 
the way of joining a polar expedition ! 

Cheer after cheer broke from the watching thousands 
as we moved towards the harbour entrance, and after 
a most cordial send-off we stopped to pick up our tow- 
line from the Koonya ; and this operation being com- 
pleted we signalled the Koonya to go ahead and were soon 
in the open sea. 

Fortunately we. did not know that we were not to take 
our clothes off for the next two weeks, and that we were to 
live in a constant state of wetness and watchfulness until 
we arrived in the neighbourhood of winter quarters. 
But bad weather was not long delayed, and I was soon 
wishing for the splendid modern gear of the Discovery, 
the large, specially built vessel that we had on the 
previous expedition. 

As the wind and sea increased the Nimrod pitched about, 
shifting everything that could be moved on deck. The 

30 Shackleton 

seas began to break over her, and we were soon wet 
through, not to be properly dry again for many days. 
Our chief anxiety was the care of the ponies, and looking 
back now to those days, it remains wonderful to me how 
they survived the hardships that fell to their lot. 

The Nimrod had — owing to her deeply loaded condition 
— begun the voyage like a reluctant child being dragged 
to school, but as the gale increased in vehemence she 
seemed to throw off the sluggishness which possessed 
her, when she had found herself outward bound at the 
end of a tow-line for the first time in her strenuous life 
of forty years. Now that the tow-line was but little use 
— save to steady us in the furious gale — the Nimrod 
began to play her own hand, and marvellously well did 
she play it. So furiously did the gale blow that on the 
morning of the 5th I told Captain England to signal and 
ask the Koonya to pour oil on the water, but although 
this helped us to a certain extent it did not prevent the 
heaviest seas from breaking on board. The Nimrod 
rolled over fifty degrees from the perpendicular to each 
side ; how much more than that I cannot say for the 
indicator was only marked up to fifty degrees, and the 
pointer had passed that mark. Under these circumstances 
it was but natural that the sturdy ponies had their 
strength taxed to the utmost to keep their footing. It 
was impossible to sling them, for they were only half- 
broken, and an attempt to put a sling under one nearly 
drove it crazy with fright. On the night of the 5th 
during an extra heavy roll one of the ponies slipped, and 
when the ship rolled the opposite way it turned right over 
on its back and could not regain its footing. All our 
attempts to get “ Doctor,” as he was called, upon his 
legs failed, and regretfully I had to order him to be shot. 

In the Antarctic 




The continuous bad weather was attributed by some on 
board to the fact that we had captured an albatross on 
the second day out. It is generally supposed by seamen 
to be unlucky to kill this bird, but as we did it for the 
purposes of scientific collections and not with the wanton- 
ness of the “ Ancient Mariner,” the superstitious must 
seek another reason for the bad weather. 

The storm increased until, by midnight on the 6th, 
the squalls were of hurricane force, and the morning of 
the 7th brought no relief. Seas came on board with more 
frequency than ever, finding out any odd article that had 
escaped our vigilance. At one time a sack of potatoes 
was washed on to the deck and the contents were floating 
in two or three feet of water, but standing on the poop 
I heard one of the crew, in no way disheartened, singing, 
as he gathered them up, “ Here we go gathering nuts in 

On the evening of January 8, the gale was so terrific that 
we had to signal to the Koonya to heave to. We did 
this with the sea on our starboard quarter, and one 
enormous wave smashed in part of the starboard bul- 
warks and did much — though happily no vital — damage. 
The galley was washed out and the fire extinguished, but 
so pluckily did the members of the cooking department 
work that never during this most uncomfortable time 
were we without a warm meal. This was really a great 
feat considering that the galley was only five feet square, 
and thirty-nine persons blessed with very hearty appetites 
had to be provided for. 

32 Shackleton 

To show what a state we were in I may mention that 
in the wardroom I salved a small wooden case from the 
water, and found that it contained a patent mixture for 
extinguishing fires ! 

At noon on January n we were in latitude 57 0 38' 
South, and longitude 178° 39' West, but the weather, 
which had moderated for a day or two, again became as 
bad as ever. We had imagined that we might find 
difficulty in cleaning out the stables, but the herculean 
waves settled that difficulty in a most arbitrary and 
thorough manner. 

On the 13th we had a warmer and pleasanter day than 
any we had experienced since leaving Lyttelton, and the 
whole vessel began to look like a veritable Petticoat Lane. 
Pyjamas and pillows of pulp that had once been pillows 
of feathers, books and boots, coats and carpet -slippers 
were lying in a mass on the poop deck so that they might 
dry. A few of us ventured on baths, but in the open 
air and with the temperature only two degrees above 
freezing-point it was chilly work. 

We were now keeping a sharp look-out for icebergs 
and pack, and the meeting with the pack-ice was to 
terminate the Koonya’s tow ; and that meant parting 
with Buckley, who had endeared himself to every one on 
board, and who had been of the greatest assistance in 
the matter of the ponies. 

Next morning, January 14, we sighted our first iceberg. 
It had all the usual characteristics of the Antarctic bergs, 
being practically tabular in form, and its sides being of 
a dead white colour. During the afternoon we passed 
two more icebergs with their usual tails of brash ice floating 
out to leeward. The sea had changed colour from a 
leaden blue to a greenish-grey, albatrosses -were not 
nearly so numerous, and the temperature of the air and 

I’HL 1>A1Uv 1,1 M; OjN Tfl JiOKIZU> I a 

34 Shackleton 

water had dropped to 32 0 Fahr. Everything pointed 
to our nearness to the pack, and on the next morning 
we saw the ice looming up through the mist to the 

Now had come the time for the Koonya to drop us, after 
a tow of 1510 miles — a record in towage for a vessel not 
built for the purpose — and before the Koonya finally 
cast off from us, she had achieved another record by 
being the first steel vessel to cross the Antarctic Circle. 

About 10 a.m. I decided to send Captain England across 
to the Koonya with Buckley and the mail, our letters 
being stamped with the special stamp given by the New 
Zealand Government. As the sea was rising again we 
lost no time in making the necessary communication 
by boat between the two ships, and during a favourable 
roll the whale-boat was dropped into the water, and 
Buckley — with his week-end handbag— jumped into her. 
About a quarter to one Captain Evans signalled that 
he was going to cut his hawser, for in the rising sea the 
two vessels were in dangerous proximity to each other. 

We saw the axe rise and fall, rise and fall again, and the 
tie was severed. The Koonya’ s work was done, and at 
last the Nimrod was dependent upon her own resources. 
Our consort steamed round us, all hands on both ships 
cheering ; then her bows were set north and she vanished 
into a grey, snowy mist, homeward bound. All that 
afternoon we unremittingly toiled to get in the cable 
link by link, and by seven o’clock we were able to proceed 
and to put the ship’s head due south. 

By 2 a.m. on January 16, the bergs were much more 
numerous, but none of the ice we passed through at this 
time had the slightest resemblance to pack-ice. An hour 
later we entered an area of tabular bergs, varying from 
80 to 150 ft. in height, and all the morning we steamed 

In the Antarctic 35 

in beautiful weather through the lanes and streets of a 
wonderful snowy Venice. The magic of such a scene 
cannot be described. As far as the eye could see, great, 
white, wall-sided bergs stretched east, west and sornh, 
contrasting strikingly with the lanes of blue-black water 
between them. 

A stillness, weird and uncanny, had fallen upon every- 
thing. Here there was no sign of life, except when one 
of the little snow petrels, invisible when flying across the 
glistening bergs, flashed for a moment into sight. Beau- 
tiful as this scene was it gave me some anxiety, for I knew 
that if we were caught in a breeze amidst this maze of 
floating ice it would go hard with us. Already an ominous 
dark cloud was sweeping down from the north, and I 
was unfeignedly thankful when, in the afternoon, I saw 
open water ahead. After a few more turnings and 
twistings we entered the ice-free Ross Sea, this being 
the first time a passage had been made into that sea 
without the vessel being held up by pack-ice ; and I 
think our success was due to the fact that we were to the 
eastward of the pack, which had separated from the 
land and the Barrier, and had drifted to the north-west. 
Indeed all my experience goes to prove that the easterly 
route is the best. 

Whence these bergs had come is open to conjecture, 
but I am certain that this ice had not long left the parent 
barrier or coast-line, for there was no sign of weathering 
on the sides. Our latitude at noon on the 16th was 
68° 6 ' South, and the longitude 179 0 21 ' West. 

Before we entered the actual line of bergs a couple of 
seals, probably a crabeater and a Weddell seal, appeared 
on the floe-ice, and a few Adelie penguins were also seen. 
The quaint walk and insatiable curiosity of these birds 
greatly amused us, and Marston, our artist, whose sense 

36 Shackleton 

of the ludicrous is very fully developed, was in ecstasies 
at their genuine surprise and profound concern when 
they saw the ship. 

It was fortunate that we cleared the ice during that 
afternoon, for shortly afterwards the wind increased, 
and the weather thickened with falling snow. 



We were now in the Ross Sea, and evidently had avoided 
the main pack. Our position at noon (Jan. 17) was 
70° 43' South latitude, and 178° 58' East longitude, and 
we were steering a little more westerly so as to strike 
the Barrier well to the east of Barrier Inlet, and also to 
avoid the heavy pack that previous expeditions had 
encountered to the east of meridian 160° West. The 
snow had now become hard and dry, like sago — the true 
Antarctic type, and numbers of Antarctic petrels circled 
round and round the ship. 

We were now revelling in the indescribable freshness 
of the Antarctic that seems to permeate one’s being, and 
which must be responsible for that longing to go again 
which assails each returned explorer from polar regions. 
On the morning of the 23rd we saw some very large 
icebergs, which were evidently great masses broken off 
the Barrier, and we were keeping a sharp look-out for 
the Barrier itself. The thermometer registered some 
twelve degrees of frost, but the wind was so dry that we 
scarcely felt the cold. 

At 9.30 a.m. on the 23rd a low straight line appeared 

In the Antarctic 


Flight or A\tajictjc Petrels 

38 Shackleton 

ahead of the ship. It was the Barrier. After half an 
hour it disappeared, but by eleven o’clock the straight 
line stretching east and west was in full view and we 
rapidly approached it. I had hoped to make the Barrier 
about the position of what we call the Western Bight, 
and at noon we could see a point which was obviously 
the eastern limit of the Western Bight. Soon afterwards 
we were within a quarter of a mile of the ice-face, and 
exclamations of wonder at the stupendous bulk of the 
Barrier were drawn from those who had not seen it 

Looking at the Barrier from some little distance, one 
would imagine it to be a perfectly even wall of ice ; when 
steaming along parallel with it, however, the impression 
it gave was that of a series of points, each of which 
looked as though it might be the horn of a bay. Then 
when the ship came abeam of it, one would see that the 
wall only receded for a few hundred yards, and afterwards 
new points came into view as the ship moved on. The 
weather continued fine and calm, and there was abso- 
lutely no sign of the strong westerly current along the 
Barrier which we had always encountered during the 
voyage of the Discovery. 

About midnight we suddenly came to the end of a very 
high portion of the Barrier, and entered a wide shallow 
bay which must have been the inlet where Borchgrevink 
landed in 1900, but it had changed greatly since that 
time. About half a mile down this bay we reached fast 
ice. It was about half-past twelve at night, and the 
southerly sun shone in our faces. 

To the east rose a long snow slope which cut the 
horizon at the height of about 300 ft. It had every 
appearance of ice-covered land but we could not stop 
to make certain, for the heavy ice lying to the northward 

In the Antarctic 39 

of us was setting down into the bay, and if we were not 
to be beset it was necessary to get away at once. 
All round us were numbers of great whales showing 
their dorsal fins as they occasionally sounded, so we 
named this playground for these monsters “ The Bay of 

As it was impossible to work to the eastward, we 
struck northwards through an open lead and came south 
to the Barrier again about 2 a.m. on the 24th. Then 
we coasted eastward along the wall of ice, always looking 
out for the inlet. The lashings had been taken off the 
motor-car, and the tackle rigged to hoist it out directly 
we got alongside the ice-foot, to which the Discovery had 
been moored. For in Barrier Inlet we proposed to place 
our winter quarters. 

I had decided on this inlet because I knew that it was 
practically the beginning of King Edward VII Land, and 
that the actual bare land was within an easy sledge 
journey of that place, and it also had the great advantage 
of being some ninety miles nearer to the South Pole than 
any other spot that could be reached with the ship. A 
further important reason was that it would be an easy 
matter for the ship on its return to reach this part of 
the Barrier, whereas King Edward VII Land itself 
might quite possibly be unattainable if the season was 

However the best-laid schemes often prove impractic- 
able in polar exploration, and within a few hours our 
first plan was found impossible to fulfil, for the very 
sufficient reason that the inlet had disappeared. Great 
disappointment as this was to us, we were thankful that 
the Barrier had broken away before we had made our camp 
upon it. The thought of what might have happened 
made me decide then and there that, under no circum- 

40 Shackleton 

stances, would I winter on the Barrier, and that wherever 
we landed we would secure a solid rock foundation for our 
winter home. 

We had two strings to our bow. and I resolved to use 
the second and push forward towards King Edward VII 
.Land. The ship was headed eastward, again keeping a 
4 ew hundred yards off the Barrier, for here the cliff was 
^overhung and a fall of ice would assuredly have been 
.disastrous to us. Soon, however, I saw that we could 
not make much easting in this way, for by io a.m. on 
the 24th we were close to the pack and found that it was 
pressed hard against the Barrier edge ; and, what was 
-worse, the whole of the northern pack and bergs at this 
r5pot were drifting in towards the Barrier. 

The seriousness of this situation can be realised by the 
reader if he imagines that he is in a small boat right under 
the vertical white cliffs of Dover ; that detached cliffs 
are moving in from seaward slowly but surely with 
resistless power and force, and that it will only be a 
question of perhaps an hour or two before the two 
masses come into contact, and crush his tiny craft as 
they meet. 

There was nothing for it but to retrace our steps, and 
by steaming hard and working in and out of the looser 
floes, we just managed to pass the point with barely fifty 
yards of open water to spare between the Barrier and the 

I breathed more freely when we passed this zone of 
Immediate danger, for there were two or three hundred 
yards of clear water now between us and the pack, and 
after skirting along the seaward edge we came to the 
high cliff of ice at the westerly end, and passed safely out 
of the bay. 

We then continued to the westward until in the evening 

Nimuod" looked off Ta ii u la it JJElius, {6<r pttye 14) 

42 Shackleton 

the ship’s head was put north and we gained a fairly open 
sea. It is, however, remarkable how limited is one’s 
horizon at sea, for although there appeared to be open 
water for an indefinite distance we were soon up against 
rigid ice again. The fact is that low pack-ice is not visible 
at any great distance, and that one cannot trust an 
appearance of open water. All night long we tried to 
penetrate to the east, practically doubling in our tracks 
before we were able to pursue the direction we wished 
to follow. 

By noon on January 25 I found that any hopes I had 
of a clear run were vain, and the prospect of reaching 
King Edward VII Land grew remoter every ensuing hour. 
Indeed it seemed impossible to reach the land, and the 
shortness of coal, the leaky condition of the ship, and the 
necessity of landing all our stores and putting up the hut 
before the vessel left us, made the situation an extremely 
anxious one. I had not expected to find Barrier Inlet 
gone, and, at the same time, the way to King Edward VII 
Land absolutely blocked by ice, though the latter condition 
was not unusual. 

I decided to continue to try and make a way to the 
east for at least another twenty-four hours, but when we 
saw the western pack moving rapidly towards us under 
the influence of the wind, and that it was most probable 
that we should be inextricably caught for days or even 
weeks in this great mass, I reluctantly gave orders to turn 
the ship and make full speed out of this dangerous 

Under the circumstances I could see nothing for it 
except to steer for McMurdo Sound and there make our 
winter quarters, though I would greatly have preferred 
to land at King Edward VII Land, because that region 
was quite unknown and we could have added greatly to 

In the Antarctic 43. 

the geographical knowledge of it. However the forces- 
of these uncontrollable ice-packs are stronger than 
human resolution, and a change of plan was forced 
upon us. 

After more trouble with the ice we worked into clearer 
water and the course was set for McMurdo Sound, where 
we arrived on January 29 to find that some twenty 
miles of frozen ice separated us from Hut Point. I 
decided to lie off the ice-foot for some days in the hope 
that Nature might break up the ice intervening between 
us and our goal. 

So far the voyage had been without accident to any 
of the staff, but unfortunately on the 31st Mackintosh 
was struck in the right eye by a hook, and the eye had 
to be removed by Marshall, assisted by the other two 
doctors, Michell and Mackay. Keenly as Mackintosh 
felt the loss of his eye, his great sorrow was that he would 
not be able to remain with us in the Antarctic. He 
begged to stay, but when Marshall explained that he 
might lose the sight of his other eye he accepted his ill- 
fortune without demur. 

While waiting at the ice I sent a small party — con- 
sisting of Adams, Joyce and Wild — to Hut Point to 
report on the condition of the hut left there by the 
Discovery expedition in 1904, and on their return Adams 
reported that the hut was practically clear of snow and 
the structure intact. 

On February 3 I decided to wait no longer, but to seek 
for winter quarters on the east coast of Ross Island ; so 
we started toward Cape Barne on the look-out for a 
suitable landing-place. Steaming slowly north along the 
coast we saw across the bay a long, low snow slope con- 
nected with the bare rock of Cape Royds, which seemed 
a suitable place for winter-quarters. 

44 Shackleton 

About eight o’clock I left the ship in a boat, accompanied 
by Adams and Wild, and we used the hand-lead at 
frequent intervals until we came to fast ice. This 
•covered the whole of the small bay from the corner of 
Flagstaff Point (as we afterwards named the seaward 
•cliff at the southern end of Cape Royds) to Cape Barne 
to the southward. Close up to the Point the ice had 
broken out, leaving a little natural dock into which we 
ran the boat, and hundreds of Adelie penguins greeted 
Adams and me with hoarse squawks of excitement as we 
landed. I was soon satisfied that Cape Royds would be 
an excellent place at which to land our stores, and after 
taking soundings we pulled out towards the ship which 
Jiad slowly been coming in. We were pulling along at a 
good rate when suddenly a heavy body shot out of the 
water, struck the seaman who was pulling stroke, and 
-dropped with a thud to the bottom of the boat. The 
arrival was an Adelie penguin, winch had doubtless 
thought it was jumping on to a rock, and it would be 
difficult to say whether the bird or we were the more 

By io p.m. on February 3, the Nimrod was moored to 
the bay ice, and as soon as she was secured I went ashore 
accompanied by Professor David, England, and Dunlop, 
to choose a place for building the hut, and up a small 
valley we soon found an ideal spot for our winter 

The floor of this valley was almost level and covered 
with a couple of feet of volcanic earth, and there was room 
not only for the hut itself, but also for the stores and for 
•a stable for the ponies. A hill behind this valley served 
as an excellent protection from the prevailing strong 
:south-easterly wind, and a number of seals lying on the 
bay ice gave promise of a plentiful supply of fresh meat. 

46 Shackleton 

With this ideal situation and everything else satis- 
factory, including a supply of water from a lake right in 
front of our valley, I decided that we had better start 
to get our gear ashore at once. 



We now started upon a fortnight full of more checks 
and worries than I or any other member of the expedition 
had ever experienced. Nevertheless, in face of most 
-trying conditions, the whole party turned to late and 
early with whole-hearted devotion and cheerful readiness. 

The ponies gave us cause for the most anxiety, because 
in their half-broken and nervous condition it would have 
been practically impossible to land them in boats. Finally 
we decided to build a rough horse-box, get them into this, 
.and then sling it over the side by means of the main gaff. 
By 3.30 a.m. on the morning of the 6th we had got all the 
ponies ashore, and they immediately began to paw the 
Lsnow as they were wont to do in their own far-away 
..Manchurian home. 

The poor ponies were naturally stiff after their constant 
.buffetings, but they negotiated the tide-crack all right, 
and were soon picketed on some bare earth at the entrance 
to a valley, which lay about fifty yards from the site of 
■our hut. We thought this a good place, but in the 
future the selection was to cost us dear. * 

The tide-crack played an important part in connection 
-with the landing of the stores. In the polar regions, 
both north and south, when the sea is frozen, there 
.always appears between the fast ice, which is the ice 

In the Antarctic 47 

attached to the land, and the sea ice, a crack which 
is due to the sea ice moving up and down with the rise 
and fall of the tide. When the bottom of the sea slopes 
gradually from the land, sometimes two or three tide- 
cracks appear running parallel to each other. When no 
more tide-cracks can be seen landwards, the ice-foot has 
always been thought to be permanently joined to the 
land, and in our case this opinion was strengthened 
by the fact that our soundings in the tide-crack shoved 
that the ice-foot on the landward side of it must be 

I have explained this fully, for it was only after con- 
sidering these points that I, for convenience’s sake, 
landed the bulk of the stores below the bare rocks on 
what I thought was the permanent snow-slope. 

On the morning of February 6 we started work with 
sledges, hauling provisions and pieces of the hut to the 
shore. On the previous night the foundation posts of 
the hut had been sunk and frozen into the ground with 
a cement composed of volcanic earth and water, and 
the digging of the foundations had proved extremely 
hard work. 

Now that the ponies were ashore it was necessary to 
have a party living on shore to look after them, and the 
first shore-party consisted of Adams, Marston, Brockle- 
hurst, Mackay and Murray. Two tents were set up 
close to the hut, with the usual sledging requisites such 
as sleeping-bags, cookers, &c. The first things landed 
this day were fodder for the ponies, and sufficient 
petroleum and provisions for the shore-party in case 
the ship had to put suddenly to sea owing to bad. weather. 

The work of hauling the sledge-loads right up to the 
land was so heavy, that I decided to let the stores 
remain on the snow slope beyond the tide-crack, whence 

48 Shackleton 

they could be taken at leisure. Our attempt to substitute 
mechanical haulage for man haulage was not successful, 
and we soon had to go back to our original plan. 

Delays at once occurred, for during the afternoon of 
the 6th a fresh breeze sprung up, and the ship had to 
stand out to the fast ice in the strait and anchor there. 
Thus two valuable working days were lost. 

When, however, I went ashore again I found that the 
little shore-party had not only managed to get all the 
heavy timber that had been landed up to the site of the 
hut, but also had stacked the cases of provisions, which 
previously had been lying on the snow slope, upon 
bare land. While we were engaged on the increasingly 
difficult task of landing stores, &c., the hut-party were 
working day and night and the building was rapidly 
assuming an appearance of solidity. The uprights were 
in and the brace ties were fastened together, so that if 
it began to blow there was small fear of the structure 
being destroyed. This was something to be thankful 
for, but while the hut-party were getting on so well, 
we who were engaged on landing the stores had — owing 
to the breaking away of the ice — to move our spot. 

The stores had now to be dragged a distance of nearly 
three hundred yards from the ship to the landing-place, 
but this work was made easier by our being able to use 
four of the ponies. A large amount of stores was landed 
in this way, but a new and serious situation arose through 
the breaking away of the main ice-foot. Prudence 
suggested that it would be wiser to shift the stores 
already landed to a safer place before discharging any 
more from the ship, and on this work we were engaged 
during the evening of the ioth. 

Next we had to find a safer place on which to land 
the rest of the coal and stores, and Back Door Bay, as 

50 Shackleton 

we named the chosen spot, became our new depot. This 
was a still longer journey from the ship, but there was 
no help for it, and after laying a tarpaulin on the rocks 
to keep the coal from mixing with the earth, we started 
landing the coal. 

By this time there were several ugly looking cracks 
in the bay ice, and these kept opening and closing, having 
a play of seven or eight inches between the floes. We 
improvised bridges, from the motor-car case, so that 
the ponies could cross the cracks, and presently were 
well under way with the work. 

Then there was a most alarming occurrence, for 
suddenly and without the slightest warning the greater 
part of the bay ice opened out into floes, and the whole 
mass that had opened started to drift slowly out to 
sea. The ponies on the ice were at once in a perilous 
position, but the sailors rushed to loosen the one tied to 
the stern rope and got it over the first crack, and 
Armytage also got the pony which he was looking after 
from the floe nearest the ship on to the next floe. 

Just, however, at that moment, Mackay appeared 
round the corner from Back Door Bay with a third pony 
attached to an empty sledge, on his way back to the ship 
to load up. Orders were shouted to him not to come 
any further, but not at first grasping the situation he 
continued to advance over the ice, which was already 
breaking away more rapidly. 

When he realised what had occurred he left his sledge 
and pony, and rushed towards the place where the other 
two ponies were adrift on the ice, and, by jumping the 
widening cracks, he reached the moving floe on which 
they were standing. This piece of ice gradually grew 
closer to a larger piece, from which the animals would 
be able to gain a place of safety. But when Mackay 

In the Antarctic 51 

started to try to get the pony Chinaman across the crack 
where it was only six inches wide, the pony took fright, 
and rearing and backing towards the edge of the floe, 
which had at that moment opened to a width of a few 
feet, he fell bodily into the ice-cold water. 

It looked indeed as if it was all over with poor China- 
man, but Mackay hung on to the head rope, and Davis, 
Michell and Mawson rushed to his assistance. After 
great difficulty a rope sling was passed underneath 
Chinaman, and he was lifted up far enough to enable 
him to scramble on to the ice. 

A few seconds later the floe closed up against the other 
one, and it was providential that it had not done so 
while the pony was in the water, for in that case China- 
man would inevitably have been squeezed to death. As 
it was he lived to help us very materially on another — and 
more critical — day. The ship was now employed to push 
the floe back against the fast ice, and directly this was 
accomplished the ponies were rushed across and taken 
straight ashore, and the men who were on the different 
floes took advantage of the temporary closing of the 
crack to get themselves and the stores into safety. 

As soon as the ship was backed out the loose floes 
began to drift away to the west, and after this narrow 
escape I resolved not to risk the ponies on the sea ice again. 
The breaking of the ice continued to give us great cause 
for anxiety, and we had a narrow escape from losing 
our cases of scientific instruments and a large quantity 
of fodder. Had we lost these cases a great part of our 
scientific work could not have been carried out, and 
the loss of the fodder would have meant also the loss of 
the ponies. 

We were handicapped too by such a heavy swell 
running on the 13th that no stores could be landed. 

52 Shackleton 

This swell would have been welcome a fortnight before, 
for it would have broken up a large amount of fast ice 
to the south, and I could not help thinking that at this 
date there was open water up to Hut Point. Now, 
however, it was most unfortunate for us, as precious time 
was passing, and still more precious coal was being used 
by the continual working of the ship's engines. 



As the swell continued during the following day, I 
signalled England to go to Glacier Tongue and land a 
depot there. Glacier Tongue lies about eight miles 
north of Hut Point and about thirteen to the southward 
of Cape Royds, and by landing a quantity of sledg- 
ing stores there we should be saved several miles of 

Although we were busy in building the hut, and in 
one way and another had plenty of employment, I was 
disappointed at not being able to continue landing the 
stores until the 16th. And here I should like to mention 
the cheerful assistance which we always received from 
the officers and crew of the Nimrod. They had not hin g 
but hard work and discomfort from the beginning of 
the voyage, and yet they worked splendidly and were 
invariably in good spirits. 

Naturally Captain England was anxious to get the 
ship away, and also much concerned about the shrinkage 
of the coal-supply, but it was impossible to let her leave 
until the wintering party had received their coal from 
her. The weather was quite fine, and if it had not been 

In the Antarctic 


The; Ponies transporting Coal on Sledges at Hack Door Ray, 

liSV-f p&jt 50 } 

54 Shackleton 

for the swell we could have got through a great deal of 

According to our experiences on the last expedition, 
the latest date to which it would be safe to keep the 
Nimrod would be the end of February, for the young 
ice forming about that time on the sound would seriously 
hamper her from getting clear of the Ross Sea. 

On the 17th and 18th we contrived to land a considerable 
quantity of coal, equipment and stores, but soon after 
five o’clock on the afternoon of the 18th a furious blizzard 
was blowing, and the Nimrod stood off from the shore 
but could make little headway against the terrific wind 
and short -rising sea. 

I was aboard the vessel at the time, and the speed of 
the gusts must have approached a force of a hundred 
miles an hour. The tops of the seas were cut off by the 
wind, and flung over the decks, mast, and rigging of 
the ship, congealing at once into hard ice, and the sides 
of the vessel were thick with the frozen sea water. 

“ The masts were grey with the frozen spray, 

And the bows were a coat of mail.” 

Very soon the cases and sledges lying on deck were 
hard and fast in a sheet of solid ice, and Harbord, who 
was the officer on watch, on whistling to call the crew 
aft, found that the metal whistle stuck to his lips, a 
painful proof of the low temperature. 

The gale raged on for days and nights, and about 
midnight on the 21st the Nimrod shipped a heavy sea, 
and all the release-water ports and scupper holes being 
blocked with ice, the water had no means of exit, and 
began to freeze on deck, where, already, there was a 
layer of ice over a foot in thickness. Any more weight 
like this would have made the ship unmanageable. 

In the Antarctic 55 

As the ropes, already covered with ice, would have 
frozen into a solid mass, we were forced to take the drastic 
step of breaking holes in the bulwarks to allow the 
water to escape ; and only by dint of great exertions 
did Davis and Harbord perform this feat. 

It was a sight to see Harbord, held by his legs, hanging 
over the starboard side of the Nimrod, and wielding a 
heavy axe ; while Davis, whose length of limb enabled 
him to lean over without being held, did the same on the 
other. The temperature at the time was several degrees 
below zero, and the wind was as strong as that which 
we had experienced in the gales after we had left New 
Zealand ; though the waves were not so huge as those 
which had the whole run of the Southern Ocean in which 
to gather strength to buffet us. 

At 2 a.m. the weather suddenly cleared, and we were 
able to discover that in spite of our efforts to keep our 
position, the wind and current had driven us over thirty 
miles to the north. As, however, the sea was rapidly 
decreasing we were at last able to steam straight for 
Cape Royds. 

Arriving ashore early in the morning I rejoiced to see 
that the hut was still intact, but the report I received 
as regards the warmth of it was not reassuring, because, 
in spite of the stove being alight the whole time,, 
no heat was given off. This eccentric conduct of 
the stove was a grave matter, for on its efficiency de- 
pended not only our comfort but our very existence. 
The shore-party had experienced a terrific gale, and 
the hut had trembled and shaken so much and so con- 
stantly that I doubt if with a less admirable situation we 
should have had a hut at all after the gale. 

On going down to our main landing-place the full 
effect of the blizzard was apparent, for hardly a sign of 

56 Shackleton 

the greater part of our stores was to be seen. Such had 
been the force of the wind blowing straight on to the 
shore that spray had been flung in sheets over everything, 
and had been carried by the wind for nearly a quarter of 
a mile inland. Consequently, in places, our precious 
stores lay buried to a depth of five or six feet in a mass 
of frozen sea water. 

We feared that it would take weeks of work to get the 
stores clear of the ice, and also that the salt-water would 
have damaged the fodder. However there was no time 
then to do anything to release the stores from the ice, for 
the most important thing was to get the remainder of 
coal ashore and send the ship north. 

Before io p.m. on February 22 the final boatload of 
coal arrived, and as we had in all only about eighteen 
tons, the strictest economy would be needed to make 
this amount spin out until the sledging parties began 
in the following spring. 

We gave our final letters and messages to the crew of 
the last boat, and said good-bye. And at 10 p.m. the 
Nimrod’s bows were pointed to the north, and she was 
moving rapidly away from the winter quarters with a 
fair wind. 

We were all devoutly thankful that the landing of the 
stores had at length been finished and that the state of 
the sea would no longer be a factor in our work, but it 
was with something of a pang that we severed our con- 
nection with the world of men. We could hope for no 
word of news from civilisation until the Nimrod came 
south again in the following summer, and before that 
we had a good deal of difficult work to do and some risks 
to face. 

There was, however- scant time for reflection, even if 
we had been moved that way, and after a good night’s 

58 Shackleton 

rest we started digging the stores out of the ice, and 
transporting everything to the vicinity of the hut. 

As soon as the stores were in position we hoped to 
make a start with the scientific observations that were to 
be an important part of the work of the expedition. 



The next few days were spent in using pick, shovel and 
iron crowbars on the envelope of ice that covered our 
cases, corners of which only peeped from the mass. 

The whole looked like a huge piece of the sweet known 
as almond rock, and it was as difficult to get our cases 
clear of the ice as it is to separate almonds from that 
sticky conglomerate without injury. In this strenuous 
labour, however, there was some humour, for Brockle- 
hurst, who took great interest in the recovery of the 
chocolate, spent his energies in rescuing one particular 
case which had been covered with ice. 

Having rescued it he carried it up to the hut to be 
sure of its safety, and was greeted with joy by the Pro- 
fessor, who recognised in the load some of his scientific 
instruments which were playing the part of the cuckoo 
in an old chocolate box. Needless to say Brocklehurst’s 
joy was not as heartfelt as the Professor’s. 

We were now using the ponies, and within ten days 
after the departure of the ship we had practically every- 
thing handy to the hut, excepting the coal. Permanently 
we had not lost very much, but we do know that our 
one case of beer lies to this day under the ice, and some 

In the Antarctic 59 

volumes of the Challenger reports, which had been 
intended to provide us with useful reading matter during 
the winter nights, were only dug out a few days 
days before our final departure. 

Most of us at one time or another had wounds and 
bruises to be attended to by Marshall, and the annoying 
feature of these simple wounds was the length of time 
it took in our special circumstances for them to heal. 

The day after the ship left we laid in a supply of fresh 
meat for the winter, killing about a hundred penguins 
and burying them in a snow-drift close to the hut. By 
February 28 we were practically in a position to feel 
contented with ourselves, and to explore the neighbour- 
hood of our winter quarters (See sketch, page 61). 

From the door of our hut which faced north-west, 
we had a splendid view of the Sound and the western 
mountains. Right in front of us lay a small lake which 
came to be known as Pony Lake, and to the left of that 
was another sheet of ice that became snow-covered in 
autumn, and here in the dark months we exercised both 
the ponies and ourselves. 

Six times up and down the “ Green Park,” as we 
called it, made a mile, and it was here before darkness 
fell upon us that we played hockey and football. 

To the left of Green Park was a gentle slope leading 
down between two cliffs to the sea, and ending in a little 
bay known as Dead Horse Bay, and on either side of this 
valley lay the penguin rookery. 

On coming out of the hut we had only to go round the 
corner of the building to catch a glimpse of Mount Erebus, 
which lay directly behind us. Its summit was about 
fifteen miles from our quarters, but its slopes and foot- 
hills began within three-quarters of a mile of the hut. 

Our view was cut off from the east to south-west by 

60 Shackleton 

the ridge at the head of the valley where the hut stood, 
but on ascending this ridge we looked over the bay to 
the south-east, where lay Cape Barne. To the right 
was Flagstaff Point. 

There were many localities which became favourite 
places for walks, and these are shown on the plan (page 61). 
Sandy Beach was generally the goal of any one taking 
exercise, when uncertain weather warned us against 
venturing further, and while the dwindling light allowed 
us to go so far. Here we sometimes exercised the ponies, 
and they much enjoyed rolling in the soft sand. 

As regards the interest and scenery of our winter 
quarters we were infinitely better off than the expedition 
which wintered in McMurdo Sound between 1901 and 
1904, and as a field of work for geologists and biologists 
Cape Royds far surpassed Hut Point. The Professor 
and Priestley saw open before them a new chapter of 
geological history, for Murray the lakes were a fruitful 
field for new research. Adams, the meteorologist, could 
not complain, for Mount Erebus was in full view of the 
meteorological station, and this fortunate proximity tO' 
Erebus and its smoke-cloud led, in a large measure, to 
important results in this branch. Mawson made the 
study of ice part of his work, and from every point of 
view I must say we were extremely fortunate in the 
winter quarters to which the state of the ice had led us. 

Before we had been ten days ashore the hut was. 
practically completed, though it was over a month before 
it attained the very fully furnished appearance which it 
assumed after every one had arranged his belongings. 
It was not a spacious dwelling for fifteen persons, but if 
the hut had been larger we should not have been so warm. 

At first the coldest part of the house was undoubtedly 
the floor, which was formed of inch tongue-and-groove: 

In the Antarctic 6i 

Winter Quarters. (See page 59) 

62 Shackleton 

boarding, but was not double-lined. There was a space of 
about four feet under the hut at one end, and as the 
other rested almost on the ground it was obvious to us 
that as long as this space remained we should suffer from 
the cold. So we decided to make an airlock of the area 
under the hut, and to this end we built a wall with the 
bulk of provision cases round the south-east and southerly 
sides, which were to windward. 

On either side of the porch two other buildings were 
gradually erected. One, built out of biscuit cases, the 
roof covered with felt and canvas, was a store-room for 
Wild, who looked after the issue of all food-stuffs. The 
building on the other side was far more elaborate, and 
was built by Mawson to serve as a chemical and physical 
laboratory. It was destined, however, to serve solely 
as a store-room, for the temperature inside was so nearly 
the same as that outside, that the moist atmosphere 
rushing from the hut covered everything inside this 
store-room with fantastic ice crystals. 

The lee side of the hut ultimately became the wall of 
the stables, for we decided to keep the ponies sheltered 
for the winter. However the first night they were 
stabled none of us had much rest, and some of them 
broke loose and returned to their valley. Shortly after- 
wards Grisi, one of the most high-spirited of the lot, 
pushed his head through a window, so the lower halves 
of the hut windows had to be boarded up. 

In a store-room built on the south-east of the hut we 
kept the tool-chest, the shoe-maker’s outfit which was 
in constant requisition, and any general stores that had 
to be issued at stated times. But the first blizzard 
found out this place, and after the roof had been blown 
off the wall fell down. When the weather was fine again 
we organised a party to search for such things as mufflers, 

In the Antarctic 63 

woollen helmets and so on, and I found a Russian felt 
boot, weighing five pounds, lying three-quarters of a 
mile from the crate in which it had been stowed. For 
the whole of this distance it must have had a clear run 
in the air, for there was not a scratch on the leather. 

The dog kennels were placed close to the porch of the 
hut, and the meteorological station was on the weather 
side on the top of a small ridge. Adams was responsible 
for this, and as readings of the instruments were to be 
taken day and night at intervals of two hours, and as 
in thick weather the man trying to go between hut and 
screen might possibly lose his way, a line was rigged up 
on posts which were cemented into the ground by ice. 



As regards the inside of the hut the first thing done was 
to peg out a space for each individual, and we saw that 
the best plan would be to have the space allotted in 
sections, allowing two men to share one cubicle. This 
space for two men amounted to six feet six inches in 
length and seven feet in depth from the wall of the hut 
towards the centre. 

There were seven of these cubicles, and a space for 
the leader of the expedition ; thus providing for the 
fifteen who made up the shore party. 

One of the most important parts of the interior con- 
struction was the dark-room for the photographers, and 
as we were very short of wood we used cases of bottled 
fruit to build the walls. The dark-room was built in 

64 Shackleton 

the left-hand corner of the hut as one entered, and the 
cases were turned with their lids facing out, so that the 
contents could be removed without the walls being 
demolished. The interior of the room was fitted up by 
Mawson and the Professor, and as Mawson made the 
fittings complete in every detail, the result was as good 
as any one under the conditions could desire. 

Opposite the dark-room was my room, six feet long, 
seven feet deep, built of boards and roofed, the roof 
being seven feet above the floor. The bed-place was 
made of fruit-boxes, which, when emptied, served, like 
those outside, for lockers. My room contained the bulk 
of our library, the chronometers, chronometer watches, 
&c., and there was ample room for a table. The whole 
made a most comfortable cabin. 

We set up the acetylene gas-plant on a platform between 
my room and the dark-room, for our efforts to work it 
from the porch had failed owing to the lowness of the 
temperature. The simplicity and portability of this 
apparatus and the high efficiency of the light represented 
the height of luxury under polar conditions. The only 
objectionable ‘feature was the unpleasant smell when the 
carbide tanks were being recharged, but although we 
were soon used to this, the daily charging always drew 
down strong remarks on the unlucky head of Day, who 
was responsible for the acetylene plant. 

, As during the winter months the inside of the hut was 
the whole inhabited world to us, some of the distinctive 
features of our furnishing may be worthy of mention. 
The wall of Adams’ and Marshall’s cubicle, which was 
next to mine, was fitted with shelves made from Venesta 
cases, and this apartment was so neat and orderly that 
it was known by the address “ No. 1 Park Lane.” The 
beds of this particular cubicle consisted of bamboos 

66 Shackleton 

lashed together for extra strength, to which strips of 
canvas were attached, so that each bed looked like a 
stretcher. These beds took a little longer than the 
others to rig up at night, but this disadvantage was 
more than compensated for by the free space gained 
during the day. The wall end rested on stout cleats 
screwed on to the side of the hut, the other end on chairs, 
and so supported, the occupant slept very comfortably. 

The dividing curtain between this cubicle and the 
next — occupied by Marston and Day — had been adorned 
with life-sized coloured drawings of Napoleon and Joan 
of Arc, and as the colour of Joan and also portions of 
Napoleon oozed through, the curtain on Marston’s side 
did not require to be decorated ! This cubicle was known 
as “ The Gables,” and in it was set up the lithographic 
press. The beds were solid wood, and as Marston was 
the artist and Day the handy man of the expedition one 
naturally found an ambitious scheme of decoration. 

The next cubicle on the same side belonged to Armytage 
and Brocklehurst, where everything in the way of shelves 
and fittings was very primitive, and next to this cubicle 
came the pantry. 

Beyond the stove, facing the pantry, was Mackay and 
Roberts’ cubiae, the main feature of which was a pon- 
derous shelf, on which socks and other light articles 
chiefly rested, the only thing of weight being our gramo- 
phone and records. 

Between this cubicle and the next there was no division, 
neither party troubling to put one up. The result was 
that the four men were constantly at war regarding 
encroachments on their ground. Priestley, who was long- 
suffering, and who occupied the cubicle with Murray, 
said he did not mind a chair or a volume of the “ En- 
cyclopaedia Britannica ” being occasionally deposited upon 

In the Antarctic 67 

him while asleep, but that he drew the line at wet and 
dirty boots. This cubicle was garnished on Priestley’s 
side with bits of rock, ice-axes &c. and on Murray’s 
with biological requisites. 

The next cubicle was occupied by Wild and Joyce, 
and was known as the “Rogues’ Retreat,” a painting of 
two very tough characters, with the inscription The 
Rogues' Retreat painted underneath, adorning the 
entrance to the den. The couches in this house were 
the first to be built, and the first bed was made in 
Wild’s store-room for secrecy’s sake. It was to burst 
suddenly upon every one and to create feelings of 
admiration and envy. Unfortunately, however, in 
building it he had forgotten the size of the doorway 
through which it had to be taken, and it had igno- 
miniously to be sawn in half before it could be passed out 
of the store-room into the hut. 

The last compartment was the dwelling-place of the 
Professor and Mawson, and it would be difficult to do 
justice to the picturesque confusion of this cubicle. A 
miscellaneous assortment of cameras, spectroscopes, 
microscopes and the like lay in profusion on the blankets. 
Everything in the way of tin cans was collected by these 
two scientific men, and the Professor made a pile of 
glittering tins and coloured wrappers at one end of his 
bunk, and the heap looked like the nest of the Australian 
bower bird. 

The name given, though not by the owners, to th s 
cubicle was “ The Pawn Shop.” 

In order to give as much free space as possible in the 
centre of the hut, the table was so arranged that it could 
be hoisted over our heads after meals were over. At 
first we put the boxes containing knives, plates &c. on 
top of the table before hauling it up, but after these had 

68 Shackleton 

fallen on the head of the unlucky man trying to get 
them down, we were content to keep them on the floor. 

After hearing that the stove had failed to work during 
the blizzard which had kept me on board the Nimrod , I 
was very anxious about it. My anxiety, however, was 
dispelled after the stove had been taken to pieces, and 
it was found that eight important pieces of its structure 
had not been put in. As soon as this more than trifling 
omission was rectified the stove worked magnificently, 
and as it was kept going day and night for over nine 
months without once being put out for more than ten 
minutes, it was severely tested. 

Looking back to those distant days, it seems strange to 
me now that we should have taken so much trouble to 
furnish and beautify what after all was to be but a 
temporary home. Nevertheless it represented all the 
world to its inhabitants, and so we tried to make it as 
bright and cheerful a spot as possible. 

Divine service was held in the hut on Sundays during 
the winter months. 


The sledge which we used is the outcome of the 
experience of many former explorers, but to Nansen is 
the chief credit that it has become such a very useful 

Our experience on the Discovery expedition had con- 
vinced me that the eleven-foot sledge is the best for all- 
round use, but I took with me some twelve-foot sledges 
as being possibly more suitable for pony traction. A 


AIakston in his i Sea 01 

70 Shacki.eton 

good sledge for Antarctic or Arctic travelling must be 
rigid in its upright and cross-bars, and yet give to uneven 
surfaces. A well-constructed sledge needs to be supple 
without interfering with the strength of the structure, 
and in our case there was nothing wanting in this respect. 

The wooden runners were about four inches wide and 
made of hickory, and in pulling the sledge the direction 
of the grain on the snow surface has to be observed, for 
it is wonderful what a difference it makes whether one 
is pulling with or against the grain of the runner. 

The second point to consider is the height of the frame- 
work of the sledge above the surface of the snow, and as 
it has been found that a clearance of six inches is ample 
in ordinary circumstances, the uprights of our sledges 
were only about six inches high. 

An eleven-foot sledge, fully loaded, is at its best 
working weight with about 650 lb. on it, but this does 
not represent its actual strength capacity, for while we 
were unloading the ship we often placed over a thousand 
pounds’ weight on a sledge without damaging it in the 

Another vitally important article of equipment for the 
polar explorer is the cooker and cooking-stove, and here 
again we were indebted to the practical genius of Nansen 
who designed the form of cooker that is now invariably 
used in polar work. The stove was the ordinary “ primus,” 
burning kerosene, vapourised in the usual way. 

Such was the efficiency of the cooker and stove that, 
in a temperature of forty or fifty degrees below zero, the 
snow or ice, which would be at this temperature, could 
be melted and a hot meal prepared within half an hour 
from the time the cooker was placed on the primus. 
The whole apparatus, including the primus, did not weigh 
more than fifteen pounds. 

In the Antarctic 71 

The next important item was the tent, and as the 
usual unit for sledging consists of three men, our tents 
were designed to contain that number. The tent cloth 
was thin Willesden duck, with a “ snow-cloth ” of thicker 
material round the lower edge, and instead of a single 
tent-pole we used five bamboo rods fastened together at 
one end in a cap, over which the apex of the tent fitted. 
Inside the tent was placed on the snow a circle of thick 
Willesden waterproof canvas to protect the sleeping-bags 
from actual contact with the ground. 

It has been generally assumed by polar explorers that 
sledge travellers must wrap themselves up in furs, but 
my experience during two expeditions convinces me that 
except for the hands and feet in the way of personal 
clothing, and the sleeping-bags for camping, furs are 
unnecessary. The term “ bag ” literally describes this 
portion of the sledging gear, for it is a long bag with 
closely sewn seams, and is entered by means of a slit at 
the upper end. 

The appetite of a man who has just come to camp after 
a five-hours’ march in a low temperature is something 
that the ordinary individual at home might possibly envy 
but would scarcely understand, and, indeed, the sledger 
himself is sometimes surprised when his ration is finished, 
and he feels just about as hungry as before his meal. 

In choosing supplies I tried to provide those of heat- 
giving and flesh-forming materials, and to avoid foods 
containing a large amount of moisture. Our cuisine was 
not varied, but a voracious appetite has no nice discern- 
ment, indeed all one wants is more, and this is just what 
cannot be allowed if a party is to proceed a great distance 
while confined to man-haulage. It is hard for a hungry 
man to rest content with the knowledge that the food he 
is eating is sufficient for his needs, when he does not feel 

72 Shackleton 

satisfied after his meal and the aching void has not even 
temporarily disappeared. 

Pemmican, which consists of the finest beef powdered 
with 60 per cent, of fat added was one of the main items 
of our food supply, and biscuits are also a standard food 
in polar work. 

I secured thicker biscuits than were used in the previous 
expedition, and the Plasmon Company supplied a ton of 
the best wholemeal biscuit, and with an allowance of one 
pound for each man per day we were as regards farinaceous 
food considerably better off than those on the Discovery 
expedition had been. 

This allowance, I may mention, was reduced very 
considerably when food began to run short on the 
southern and northern journeys, but we had no fault to 
find with the quality of the biscuits and the addition of 
Plasmon certainly increased their food-value. 

Tea and cocoa were chosen as our beverages for use on 
the march, tea for breakfast and lunch; and cocoa, which 
tends to produce sleepiness, for dinner at night. Sugar 
is a very valuable heat-forming substance, and our 
allowance of this amounted to about a third of a pound 
per day for each man. 

We also took chocolate, cheese, and oatmeal, so that 
although there was not much variety we felt that we 
were getting the most nutritious food possible. 

I have already mentioned the clothing which I bought 
for the expedition, but as regards the most effective 
head-gear there were marked differences of opinion. The 
general method, however, of keeping head and ears warm 
was to wrap a woollen muffler twice round the chin and 
head, thus protecting the ears which are the first parts 
of the body to show signs of frost-bite. The muffler was 
then brought round the neck, and over the muffler was 


fP CP 

TjS Lab : 8 
0.0 _ 
u r 

Pantry. Table 

Pood cases. 


SirE Shackle ton's V-: 
Cabin. iv 




V.all built with 
I /ood | cases 

Plan of the Hut at Winter Quarters ( See ]> ar / t ? G4 » 

74 Shackleton 

pulled a fleecy travelling-cap, a woollen helmet something 
like an old-time helmet without the visor. 

If a blizzard were blowing the muffler was discarded, 
the helmet put on, and over this the. Burberry helmet, 
which has a stiff flap in front that can be buttoned into 
a funnel-shape. In very low temperatures, or even in 
moderately low temperature and a breeze, we had 
occasionally to inspect each others’ faces for the sign of 
frost-bite ; and if the white patch denoting this was 
visible, it had to be attended to immediately. 



The experiences of the National Antarctic Expedition 
and of the Discovery Expedition convinced me, that if we 
could use ponies instead of dogs for traction purposes we 
should be making a very successful change. 

It was a risk to take ponies from the far north through 
the tropics, and then across two thousand miles of stormy 
sea on a very small ship, but we eventually established 
ourselves at the winter quarters with eight ponies. 
Unfortunately, however, we lost four of them within a 
month of our arrival. 

In the case of three out of the four the loss was due to 
the facts that they were picketed at first on sandy ground, 
and that we did not notice that they were eating the 
sand. I had neglected to supply them with salt, and as 
they found a saline flavour in the sand they ate it at odd 

Until Sandy died and a post-mortem examination 
revealed the cause of his death, we were at a loss to know 

In the Antarctic 75 

why several of the ponies were ill. Naturally we shifted 
them at once to a spot where they could get no more 
sand, but in spite of the remedies we gave to them two 
more of the ponies died. 

The loss of the fourth pony was due to poisoning, for 
Manchurian ponies will eat anything that can possibly 
be chewed, and this particular — or unparticular — one 
seems to have eaten shavings in which chemicals had 
been packed. These losses were a matter of the deepest 
concern to us. 

We were left with four ponies, Quan, Socks, Grisi and 
Chinaman, and they were so precious in our eyes that 
they were guarded with most keen attention. During 
the winter months we had many opportunities to learn 
the different characters of each animal, and as every one 
of them seemed to possess an extraordinary amount of 
sense and cunning, we were not infrequently suffering 
from petty annoyances. 

Quan was the worst offender, his delight being to bite 
through his head-rope and attack the bales of fodder 
stacked behind him ; then, when we put a chain on him, 
he deliberately rattled it against the side of the hut, 
which operation kept us awake. Grisi was our best- 
looking pony, but he was so unfriendly to the others in 
the stables that we had to build him a separate stall. 

Socks was shaped like a miniature Clydesdale, and was 
always willing to work and very fiery. 

The last of our remaining ponies was Chinaman, a 
strong animal, sulky in appearance, but in reality one 
of the best of workers. He also liked to bite his head- 
rope, but when we put a chain on him he did not emulate 
Grisi by rattling it against the hut. 

We had been able to obtain only nine dogs, but many 
puppies — most of which came to an untimely end — 

j 6 Shackleton 

increased this number. The presence of the dogs around 
our winter quarters was very cheerful and gave a home- 
like feeling to the place, and our interest in the pups was 
always fresh, for as they grew up each one developed 
peculiarities of its own. 

All the pups were white and were most useful to us in 
guarding the ponies, for if a pony got adrift the little 
army of pups, which slept in the stables, at once surrounded 
him, and by their furious barking warned the night watch- 
man that something was wrong. 

I remember that on one occas^n Grisi got free and 
dashed out of the stables followed by the whole party of 
pups, and after Mackay had secured the truant the dogs 
followed with an air of pride as though conscious of 
having done their duty. 

Since we were reduced to four ponies it was necessary 
to consider the dogs as a possible factor in our work, and 
so their training was important. But after enjoying 
some months of freedom it seemed terrible to the young 
dogs when first a collar was put on them, and even less 
did they enjoy their experience of being taken to the 
sledge and there taught to pull. 

Peary’s account of his expeditions shows that in 
Arctic regions dogs have been able to traverse long 
distances very quickly. Once indeed over ninety miles 
were accomplished in twenty-three hours, but this 
evidently was done on smooth sea-ice or on the smooth 
glaciated surface of the land. Such a feat would be 
impossible on the Antarctic Barrier surface. 

In the Antarctic 


■teu Quarters 

on Marshall, David, Armitage, Mare ton 




Until March 3 the arrangement of all the details re- 
lating to settling in our winter quarters engaged our 
attention, but afterwards we at once began to seek some 
outlet for our energies which would advance the cause 
of science and the work of the expedition. 

I was anxious to make a depot to the south for the 
furtherance of our southern journey in the summer, but 
the open water between us and Hut Point forbade all 
progress in that direction ; neither was it possible for us 
to journey towards the western mountains, where the 
geology might have been studied with the chance of 
most interesting results. 

One journey, however, was possible, certainly a difficult 
one, yet gaining interest and excitement from that very 
reason, and this was an attempt to reach the summit of 
Mount Erebus. 

Both geologically and meteorologically the accomplish- 
ment of this work was desirable, but apart from scientific 
considerations the ascent of a mountain over 13,000 feet in 
height would be exciting both to those chosen as climbers, 
and to the rest of us who wished for their success. 

After deliberation I decided that Professor David, 
Mawson and Mackay should form the party that was to 
try to reach the summit, and they were to be provisioned 
for ten days. A supporting-party, consisting of Adams, 
Marshall and Brocklehurst, was to assist the main-party 
as far as possible, and the whole expedition was to be 
under Adams’ charge until he decided that his party was 
to return, when the Professor was to be in charge of the 

In the Antarctic 79 

In my written instructions to Adams, he was given 
the option of going to the summit if he thought it feasible 
for his party to push on, and he actually did so, though 
the supporting-party was only provisioned for six days, 
and was not so well equipped for mountain-work as the 
advance-party. I also gave instructions that the sup- 
porting-party was not to hamper the main-party, especially 
as regarded division of provisions, but instead of being 
drawbacks the three men were of great assistance to the 
advance division, and lived entirely on their own stores, 
and equipment. 

No sooner was the decision arrived at to make the- 
ascent than the winter quarters became busy with the 
bustle of preparation, and such was the energy thrown 
into this work, that by 8.30 a.m. on March 5 the men 
were ready to start upon the expedition. 

In ascending such a mountain as Erebus it was obvious, 
that a limit would soon be reached beyond which it would 
be impossible to use a sledge. To meet these circum- 
stances straps were arranged by which single sleeping- 
bags could be slung in the form of a knapsack upon the 
climber’s back, and inside the bags the remainder of the 
equipment could be packed. Both the advance and the 
supporting-party followed this arrangement. 

When they started I confess that I saw but litt.e 
prospect of the whole party reaching the top, yet when, 
from the hut, on the third day out, we saw through 
Armytage’s telescope six tiny black spots crawling up 
the immense deep snow-field, and when on the next day 
I saw the same small figures on the sky-line, I realised 
that the supporting-party was going the whole way. 

But before I give an account of this expedition as. 
reported to me most graphically by Professor David and 
Adams, I must say something about the mountam on 

80 Shackleton 

which these six men were winning their spurs not only 
on their first Antarctic campaign, but also in their first 
attempt at serious mountaineering. 

The name of Mount Erebus looms large in the history 
of polar exploration both north and south. On January 
28, 1841, Sir James Clark Ross named the great volcano — 
at whose base our winter quarters lay — after the leading 
ship of his expedition. 

The final fate of that ship is linked with the fate of 
Sir John Franklin and one of the most tragic stories of 
Arctic exploration, but though both the Erebus and 
T error have sunk far from the scenes of their first explora- 
tion, that brilliant period of Antarctic discovery will 
always be remembered by the mountains which took 
their names from those stout ships. Standing as a sentinel 
at the gate of the Great Ice Barrier, Erebus forms a 
magnificent picture. At the top of the mountain an 
immense depression marks the site of the old crater, and 
from the side of this rises the active cone, generally 
marked by steam or smoke. To ascend such a mountain 
would be difficult in any part of the world, but the 
difficulties were accentuated by the latitude of Erebus. 
The men, however, were determined to do their utmost 
to reach the crater itself, and how they fared and what 
they found must be told from the reports they gave 
to me. 



All hands accompanied the expedition when it started 
at a quarter to nine on the morning of March 5, and 
helped to pull the sledge along the slopes of Back Door 

In the Antarctic 

82 Shackleton 

Bay across Blue Lake, up the eastern slope to the first 
level ; and there we said farewell to the mountain 

They first steered straight up a snow slope, and about 
a mile out and 400 feet above sea-level a glacial moraine 
barred their path, and they had to portage the sledge 
over it by slipping ice-axes under the load between the 
runners and bearers of the sledge (total weight of sledge 
and load was 560 lb.), and lifting it over the obstruction. 
On the further side of the moraine was a sloping surface 
of ice and neve, on which the sledge capsized for the 
first time. Light snow was falling and there was a slight 

More difficulties were quickly encountered, and no 
sooner had the party managed, by struggling upon 
their hands and knees, to drag the sledge up the steep 
slope of a small glacier, than their progress was impeded 
by sastrugi. 

“ Sastrugi ” means wind furrow, and is the name 
given to those annoying obstacles to sledging, due to 
the action of the wind on the snow. These sastrugi 
vary in depth from two or three inches to three or four 
feet, according to the position of any rock masses near 
them and to the force of the wind for mi ng them. 

Though- they have many disadvantages, they are 
occasionally very welcome ; for sometimes it is impossible 
to see the way to steer unless one takes the line of 
sastrugi and notes the angle it makes with the compass 
course, the compass for the moment being placed on 
the snow to obtain the direction. 

The sledgers, at this particular juncture, had much 
trouble in keeping their feet ; and their remarks upon 
the subject of sastrugi were distinctly audible and 

In the Antarctic 83 

On the first evening the party camped at 6 p.m., 
about 2750 ft. above sea-level and a distance of seven 
miles from winter quarters ; and on the following morning 
they found that the temperature was io° below zero 

The gradient was becoming much steeper, being 
1 in 5, and sastrugi, running obliquely to their course, 
caused the sledge frequently to capsize. The heavy work, 
however, resulted in keeping the travellers warm ; and 
on the night of March 6 they had reached an altitude 
of 5630 ft., and a temperature of 28° below zero. 

On the following morning Adams decided that the 
supporting-party should attempt to reach the summit, 
though they were handicapped by having a three-man 
sleeping-bag — which article of bulk one man had to 
carry — and in various other ways. 

The party made a depot of the sledge and of some 
of the provisions and cooking utensils at the second 
camp, and then, starting with tent-poles among their 
equipment, they resumed their climb. Soon, however, 
they realised the impossibility of climbing the mountain 
with these articles, which had to be taken back to the 

Each man carried a weight of 40 lb., and on the third 
evening the party camped about 8750 ft. above sea- 
level. Between 9 and 10 p . m . of the 7th a strong wind 
sprang up, and when the men woke the following morning 
a fierce blizzard was blowing from the south-east. 

In the whirling snow and roaring wind, the two 
sections of the party, although only some ten yards 
apart, could neither see nor hear each other, and the 
blizzard increased in fury as the day wore on. 

In the afternoon, however, Brocklehurst emerged 
from the three-man sleeping-bag, and instantly a 

84 Shackleton 

fierce gust whirled away one of his wolfskin mits, and 
he, dashing after it, was swept down the ravine by the 
force of the wind. 

Adams, who had left the bag with Brocklehurst, saw 
the latter vanish, and in trying to return to the bag to 
fetch Marshall, he also was blown down by the wind. 
Meanwhile Marshall, the only occupant of the bag, had 
great difficulty in keeping himself from being blown, 
sleeping-bag and all, down the ravine. 

At last Adams, on his hands and knees, succeeded in 
reaching the bag, and at the same time Brocklehurst, 
also creeping along as best he could, appeared. It was a 
close call, for so biting was the cold that he was all but 
completely gone. 

During the day and night of the 8th the travellers 
had nothing to drink, as it would have been impossible 
to have kept the lamp alight to thaw out the snow. 
Happily, by 4 a.m. the blizzard was over, and soon 
afterwards the climbers were again on their way. The 
angle of ascent was now steeper than ever, being thirty - 
four degrees — that is, a rise of 1 in 1 and the travellers 
kept as much as possible to the bare rocks. During this 
day Brocklehurst, who was wearing ski boots, began to 
feel the cold attacking his feet, but did not think seriously 
enough of it to change into finnesko. 

At noon a fair camping-ground was found some 800 ft. 
below the rim of the old crater, and after a hasty meal 
the ascent was again tackled. Within a little distance 
from the top of the rim of the main crater, Mackay chose 
to work his way alone with his ice-axe up a long and 
very steep neve slope, instead of following the safer 
route by the rocks 

He passed from sight, and then was heard to call out 
that he was getting weak, and did not think he could 

In the Antarctic 

One thousand feet below the Active Cone 

86 Shackleton 

last much longer. Hastening to the ridge, Marshall and 
<he Professor dropped to the point where he was likely 
to be found, and fortunately met him, thoroughly 
exhausted, coming towards them. 

It appeared that Mackay had, with his heavy load, 
found the work of cutting steps more difficult than he 
had expected, and that he had only just managed to 
reach safety when he fell and fainted. No doubt this 
was partly due to mountain sickness, which under the 
severe conditions and at the high altitude also affected 

Having found a camping-place, the members of the 
party were at leisure to observe the nature of their 
surroundings ; and they found themselves on the very 
brink of a precipice of black rock, forming the inner 
edge of the old crater. This wall of dark lava was mostly 
vertical, and the base of the cliff was separated from the 
snow plain beyond by a deep ditch like a huge dry 
moat, evidently due to the action of the blizzards. 

But what surprised the explorers most were the extra- 
ordinary structures which rose here and there above the 
surface of the snowfield. They were in the form of 
mounds and pinnacles of most varied and fantastic 
appearance, some resembling beehives, others huge 
ventilating cowls, while others were like isolated turrets, 
and yet others looked like various animals in shape. 

At first sight no one was able to understand the origin 
of these remarkable structures, but as it was time for 
food, they left the closer investigation until later in the 

In the Antarctic 

8 7 



While some of the party cooked the meal, Marshall 
examined Brocklehurst’s feet, as the latter stated that 
for some time he had lost all feeling in them. When his 
boots and socks were removed it was found that both 
his big toes were black, and that four more toes were 
also frost-bitten. Ultimate recovery from so severe a 
frost-bite was bound to be slow and tedious, though 
Marshall’s and Mackay’s efforts to restore circulation 
were, under the conditions, fairly successful. To climb 
almost continuously for nine hours with badly frost- 
bitten feet up the steep and difficult track must have 
required splendid pluck and determination. 

After lunch Brocklehurst was safely tucked up in the 
three-man sleeping-bag, and the five other members of 
the party started off to explore the floor of the old crater, 
and the mystery of those remarkable structures was soon 
solved by the Professor. 

Directing their steps towards one of the ice mounds, 
which bore a whimsical resemblance to a lion couchant, 
and from which smoke seemed to be issuing, the Professor 
recognised that these structures were the outward and 
visible signs of fumaroles. 

In ordinary climates a fumarole, or volcanic vapour- 
well, may be detected by the thin cloud of steam above 
it, but in the rigour of the Antarctic climate the fumaroles 
of Erebus have their vapour turned into ice as soon as it 
reaches the surface of the snow-plain. 

Thus ice mounds, somewhat similar in shape to the 
sinter mounds formed by the geysers of New Zealand, 

88 Shackleton 

Iceland and Yellowstone Park, are built up round the 
orifices of the fumaroles of Erebus. 

Next morning when the party got up at 4 a. m. they had 
a splendid view of the shadow of Erebus projected on 
the field of cumulus cloud below them by the rising sun, 
and while Marshall was attending to Brocklehurst, the 
hypsometer, which had become frozen on the way up, 
was thawed out, and a determination of the boiling- 
point made. 

This, when reduced and combined with the mean of 
the aneroid levels, made the height of the old crater 
rim, just above the camp, 11,400 ft. 

At 6 a.m. the party left the camp, and, hastening to 
reach the summit of the present crater, were soon 
ascending rather steep slopes, formed of alternating 
beds of hard snow and vast quantities of large and perfect 
felspar crystals, mixed with pumice. And a little farther 
on they reached the base of the volcano’s active cone. 
Progress now became painfully slow, as the height and 
cold combined to make it difficult to breathe. 

The cone of Erebus is built chiefly of blocks of pumice, 
from a few inches to a few feet in diameter. Externally 
these were grey, or often yellow, owing to incrustations 
of sulphur, but when broken they were of a resinous, 
brown colour. 

At last, just after 10 a.m. on March 10, the edge of the 
active crater was reached, and the little party stood on 
the summit of Erebus, the first men to conquer perhaps 
the most remarkable summit in the world. From measure- 
ments made while at the crater’s edge, Erebus may be 
calculated to rise to a height of 13,370 ft. above sea- 

The report most vividly describes the magnificent and 
awe-inspiring scene before the eyes of the travellers. 

90 Shackleton 

“ We stood on the verge of a vast abyss, and at first 
could see neither to the bottom nor across it on account 
of the huge mass of steam filling the crater and soaring 
aloft in a column 500 to 1000 ft. high. After a continuous 
hissing sound, lasting for some minutes, there would 
come from below a big, dull boom, and immediately 
great globular masses of steam would rush upwards to 
swell the volume of the snow-white cloud which ever 
sways over the crater. This phenomenon recurred at 
intervals during the whole of our stay at the crater. 
Meanwhile the air around us was extremely redolent of 
burning sulphur. Presently a pleasant northerly breeze 
fanned away the steam cloud, and at once the whole 
crater stood revealed to us in all its vast extent and 
depth. Mawson’s angular measurement made the depth 
goo ft., and the greatest width about half a mile. There 
were at least three well-defined openings at the bottom 
of the cauldron, and it was from these that the steam 
explosions proceeded.” 

As soon as the measurements had been made and 
Mawson had taken some photographs, the party returned 
to camp, because it had been decided to start the descent 
during the same afternoon. 

Numerous specimens of the unique felspar crystals 
and of the pumice and sulphur were collected on the way 
back to camp, and, having arrived there, the travellers 
made a hasty meal, packed up, and started down the 
steep mountain slope, Brocklehurst insisting on bearing 
his own heavy load in spite of his frost-bitten feet. 

Soon a point was reached where the party had either 
to retrace their way or to cut steps across a neve slope, 
or, lastly, to glissade down some 500 or 600 feet to a 
rocky ledge below. In their tired state, they chose the 
path of least resistance, which was offered by the glissade, 

In the Antarctic 91 

and consequently the loads were rearranged so that they 
might roll down easily. Brocklehurst’s load, which con- 
tained the cooking utensils, protested noisily as it went 
down, and the aluminium cookers received a severe 
battering from their abrupt contact with the rocks 

At this time the whole party were suffering from thirst, 
but a makeshift drink was obtained by gathering a little 
snow, squeezing it into a ball, and placing it on the 
surface of a piece of rock, where it melted almost at 
once on account of the heat of the sun. 

Adams and Marshall were the first to reach the depot,, 
having dropped down 5000 ft. between 3 p.m. and 7 pai., 
and they found that the blizzard of the 8th had played 
havoc with their gear, for the sledge had been over- 
turned and some of the load scattered to a distance and 
partly covered with drift snow. The party camped 
during that night at the depot, and by 5.30 aai. on the 
following morning the sledge was packed and the home- 
ward journey resumed. 

The sastrugi, however, were so troublesome that rope 
brakes were put on the sledge-runners, and two men 
went in front to pull when necessary, while two steadied 
the sledge, and two stayed behind to pull back when 

At this time, indeed, the conditions were most trying, 
for the sledge either refused to budge or suddenly it 
took charge, and overran those who were dragging it. 

Capsizes occurred every few minutes, and, owing to 
the slippery ground, some of the party who had not 
crampons or barred ski-boots were badly shaken up. 
One has to experience such a surface to realise how severe 
a jar one gets from falling. The only civilised experience 
akin to it is when one steps unknowingly on a 

92 Shackleton 

slide which some small street-boy has made on the 

The party reached the spot where they had made 
their first camp, six miles distant from Cape Royds, at 
7.30 a.m. By this time a blizzard seemed to be approach- 
ing. and the snow, which was beginning to drift before 
a gusty south-easterly wind, threatened to cut off all 
view of the winter quarters. Every one was tired, one 
of the tents had a large hole burnt in it, the oil supply 
was almost done, and one of the stoves had been put 
out of action as the result of the glissade. So in the 
circumstances the party decided to make a dash for 
Cape Royds, leaving sledge and equipment to be picked 
up later. 

In the grey light the sastrugi did not show up in 
relief, and every few feet some member of the party 
fell sprawling over the snow. At last their eyes were 
gladdened by the shining surface of the Blue Lake only 
half a mile distant from winter quarters. But now that 
the stress and the strain were over, their legs grew heavy 
and leaden, and that last half-mile seemed to be one of 
the hardest they had covered. 

Meanwhile, at winter quarters we had been busy 
opening cases, with the result that the cubicles of the 
absentees were crowded with an accumulation, of stores. 
We had just decided to make the cubicles tidy again for 
the travellers, and were beginning on the Professor’s, 
when I left the hut for a moment, and to my astonish- 
ment saw six slowly moving figures within thirty yards 
of me. 

Running towards them, I shouted, “ Did you get to 
the top ? ” and as there was no answer I asked again. 
Then Adams pointed with his hand upwards ; but, not 
satisfied by this, I repeated the question, and Adams 

In the Antarctic 


The Crater of K re bus, soo feet deep and half a mile wide. 
Steam rs seen rising o\ the left. The photograph was taken 


94 Shackleton 

replied “Yes.” After that I dashed to the hut and 
shouted to the others, who streamed out to cheer the 
successful venturers. A good feed followed, in which 
porridge had the place of honour. 

After some days’ delay on account of bad weather, a 
party consisting of Adams, the Professor, Armytage, 
Joyce, Wild and Marshall started to fetch in the sledge 
with the explorers’ equipment, and this work was success- 
fully accomplished. 

Among some of the scientific results of this expedition, 
as given to m& by Professor David, must be mentioned 
the calculating of the height of the mountains, and 
that “ as regards the geological structure of Erebus, 
there is evidence of the existence of four superimposed 

“ Two features,” the Professor wrote, “ in the geology 
of Erebus which are specially distinctive are : the vast 
quantities of large and perfect felspar crystals and the 
ice fumaroles. . . . Its situation between the belt of 
polar calms and the South Pole ; its isolation from the 
disturbing influence of large land masses ; its great 
height, which enables it to penetrate the whole system 
of atmospheric circulation, and the constant steam cloud 
at its summit, swinging to and fro like a huge wind vane, 
combine to make Erebus one of the most interesting 
places on earth to the meteorologist.” 

In the Antarctic 




After the journey to the summit of Erebus we began 
to prepare for the long winter months that were rapidly 

It was most important, for instance, that the geologists 
should get as far afield as possible before the winter 
night closed upon us ; so both the Professor and Priestley 
were out early and late collecting geological specimens 
which would need to be examined later on. 

There was also a fine field for Murray’s biological 
studies ; while the lengthening nights gave indications 
that the mysterious Aurora Australis would soon be 
waving its curtains and beams over our winter 
quarters ; and as information on this phenomenon 
was greatly needed, Mawson prepared to record the 

Adams was the meteorologist of the expedition, and 
he took all the observations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ; while 
the night-watchman was responsible for those taken 
from io p.m. to 6 a.m. 

In addition to the meteorological screen, Mawson 
built an erection on the top of the highest ridge, in which 
he placed an aneurometer of his own construction to 
register the strength of the heaviest gusts of wind during 
a blizzard. Frequently the squalls were found to blow 
with a force of a hundred miles an hour. 

There remained one more outdoor instrument connected 
with weather observation, and that was the snow-gauge. 
By using some spare lengths of stove chimney, the 
Professor erected a gauge into which the snow falling 
in a blizzard was collected, and when it was melted down 

96 Shackleton 

we could calculate fairly accurately the amount of 

This observation was very important, as it is on the 
precipitation in the form of snow, and on the rate of 
evaporation, that calculations regarding the formation 
of the huge snowfields and glaciers depend. 

As soon as the ice in the bay was strong enough to 
bear, Murray prepared to capture the different marine 
creatures that rest on the bottom of the sea or creep 
about there. His ultimate plan for the capture of 
specimens was, whenever a crack opened in the bay ice, 
to let down a line, one end being made fast at one end 
of the crack, and the length of the line allowed to sink 
in the water horizontally for a distance of sixty yards. 

A hole was dug at each end of the line, and a small 
dredge was let down and pulled along the bottom, 
being hauled up through the hole at the far end. By this 
means rich collections were made, and rarely did the 
dredge come up without some interesting specimens. 

Although terrestrial vegetation is very scanty in the 
Antarctic, the same cannot be said of the sub -aqueous 
plant-life ; and the investigations of the plant-life in 
the lakes was one of the principal things undertaken 
by Murray, Priestley and the Professor during the winter 

As the winter approached a regular winter routine 
was arranged for the camp, and apart from Brocklehurst, 
who was laid up with his frost-bitten foot, all the party 
had to do a certain amount of work for the common 
weal, apart from their own scientific duties. 

From the time we arrived we always had a night- 
watchman, and we now took turns to carry out this 
important duty, Roberts, who was busy cooking all day, 
being the only one who was exempt from night duties. 

In the Antarctic 97 

Many as the duties — such as taking the meteorological 
observations, looking after hut, ponies and dogs, and 
keeping up the fire — were, they were not unpleasant : 
for when our turn came round we had a chance to wash 
clothes, darn socks, and do little jobs which could not 
receive much attention during the day. The night- 
watchman generally took his bath either once a fort- 
night or once a month, as his inclination prompted 

The watchman during the earlier months was kept 
busy enough, for the ponies were constantly trying to 
break loose and, generally speaking, to upset things in 
the stable, and it was a comfort when they at last learned 
to keep fairly quiet. 

Another difficulty the watchman encountered was that 
of keeping the hut warm when, instead of lumps of coal, 
he had to content himself with very fine stuff. To meet 
this difficulty we had recourse to lumps of seal blubber, 
and it was good to know that with the large supply of 
seals obtainable in these latitudes no expedition need 
want emergency fuel. 

Towards mid-winter an institution known as eleven- 
o’clock tea grew into existence, the Professor being 
greatly attached to this, and generally undertaking to 
make the tea for the men still out of bed. By one o’clock, 
however, most of the hut party were wrapped in more 
or less noisy slumber. The watchman’s most trying time 
was about five o’clock in the morning : for then one’s 
eyes grew heavy, and great effort was needed to prevent 
oneself from falling asleep. 

At 7.30 a.m. Roberts was called, and at this hour 
Armytage or Mackay was roused up to feed the ponies ; 
but before mid-winter day Arntytage took over the 
entire responsibility of the stables and ponies. At 

98 Shackleton 

8.30 a.m. all hands were called, special attention being 
paid to turning out the messman for the day ; and at 
nine o’clock sharp every one sat down to breakfast. 


The duties of the messman were more onerous than 
those of the night watchman, and began by laying the 
table — a simple operation owing to the primitive condi- 
tions under which we lived. He then garnished this with 
hot sauces to tickle some of our tough palates, and when 
we sat down he passed up bowls of porridge and^ the big 
jug of hot milk, which was the standing dish every day. 

Then came the messman’s order, “Up bowls,” and, 
reserving our spoons, the bowls were passed along. If 
it were a “ fruit day ” — a day when the second course 
consisted of bottled fruit — the bowls were retained for 
this popular dish. 

After he had been assisted in washing up the breakfast 
things, the duty of the man in the house was to fill the 
melting-pots with ice, empty the ashes and tins into the 
dust-box outside, and get in a bag of coal. One often 
heard the messman anxiously enquiring what the dinner 
dishes consisted of, the most popular, from his point 
of view, being those which resulted in the least amount 
of grease on the plates. The hut was swept out three 
times a day, so that the building was kept in a tidy 

It would only be repetition to chronicle our doings 
from day to day, during the months that passed from 
the disappearance of the sun until the welcome daylight 

ioo Shackleton 

returned. We lived under conditions of steady routine, 
and having more than enough to occupy us in our daily 
work that spectre known as “ Polar ennui ” never 

At night some of us played bridge, poker and 
dominoes ; but Joyce, Wild, Marston and Day spent 
much time in the production of the “ Aurora Australis,” 
the first book ever written, printed, illustrated and 
bound in the Antarctic. 

Messrs. Joseph Causton & Sons, Ltd., had generously 
given us a complete printing outfit and the paper for the 
book, and Joyce and Wild had been instructed in type- 
setting and printing, Marston being taught etching and 

They had hardly become skilled craftsmen, but although 
the early days of the printing department were not exactly 
happy, the work progressed steadily, until at the end of 
a fortnight or so two pages could be printed a day. 
Day meanwhile prepared the binding by cleaning, 
planing and polishing wood taken from the venesta 
cases, while Marston reproduced the illustrations by 
printing from aluminium plates. 

Marston was handicapped by the fact that all our 
water had a trace of salt in it, but he managed to produce 
what we all regarded as creditable pictures. In its final 
form the book consisted of about 120 pages ; and at 
any rate it had helped to guard us from a dangerous 
lack of occupation during the polar night. 

On March 13 we experienced a very fierce blizzard, 
and cases weighing from 50 to 80 lb. were actually shifted 
from their positions ; so when the gale was over we put 
everything that could possibly blow away into places 
of greater safety. 

On this day Murray found living microscopical animals 


In the Antarctic 

on some fungus that had been thawed out from a lump 
of ice taken from the bottom of one of the lakes, this 
being one of the most interesting discoveries that had 
been made in the Antarctic, for the study of these minute 
creatures threw a new light on the capability of life to 
exist under conditions of extreme cold and in the face 
of great variations of temperature. 

From our point of view, it was humorous to see 
Murray trying to slay the little animals he had found. 
He used to thaw them from a block of ice, freeze them 
up again, and repeat this process several times without 
causing the rotifers any inconvenience. Then he tested 
them in brine so strongly saline that it would not freeze 
at a temperature above minus 7 0 Fahr., and still the 
animals lived, and a good proportion of them survived 
a temperature of 200° Fahr. It became a contest between 
rotifers and scientist, and generally the rotifers seemed to 

Tongue and pencil would sadly fail to describe the 
magic of the colouring in the days when the sun was 
leaving us. The very clouds at this time were iridescent 
with rainbow hues. The change from twilight into night, 
sometimes lit by a crescent moon, was extraordinarily 
beautiful, for the white cliffs gave no part of their 
colour away, and the rocks beside them did not part 
with their blackness ; so the effect of deepening night 
over these contrasts was singularly weird. Throughout 
April hardly a day passed without an auroral display, 
and about the beginning of that month the temperature 
began to drop considerably, and in calm, still weather 
the thermometer often registered 40° below zero. 

On April 6 Marshall decided that it was necessary to 

102 Shackleton 

amputate Brocklehurst’s big toe, as there was no sign 
of its recovery from frost-bite ; and the patient having 
been put under chloroform, the bone was removed, and 
the sufferer moved to my room, where he remained till 
just before mid- winter’s day. 

When mid- winter’s day had passed, and the twilight 
became daily more marked, I set on foot arrangements 
for the sledging work in the following spring. For it was 
desirable that, at the earliest possible date, a depot of 
stores should be placed at a point to the south, in pre- 
paration for the departure of the Southern Party, which 
was to march towards the Pole. This depot I hoped to 
make at least a hundred miles from the winter quarters. 

It was also desirable that definite information should 
be obtained regarding the condition of the snow surface 
on the Barrier ; and I also wanted various members 
of the party to have practice in sledging before the 
serious work began. Considering our scarcity of ponies, 
I resolved that these preliminary sledging journeys should 
be performed by man-haulage. 

During the winter I had given earnest consideration 
to the question of the date on which the party that 
was to march towards the Pole should leave the hut. 
Our hoped-for goal lay over 880 statute miles to the 
south, and the brief summer was all too short a time 
in which to march so far into the unknown and return. 
The ship would have to leave for the north about the 
end of February, for the ice would then be closing in ; 
and, moreover, we could not hope to carry on our sledges 
much more than a three months’ supply of provisions 
on anything like full rations. 

Finally, I resolved that the Southern Party should 
leave mid- winter quarters on October 28, for by starting 
earlier the ponies would probably suffer from the severe 

In the 




104 Shackleton 

cold at nights ; and if the ponies were quickly incapaci- 
tated, we should have gained no advantage from our 
early start. 

But the date having been fixed, it became necessary 
to arrange for the laying of the depot during the early 
spring, and I thought that the first step towards this 
should be a preliminary journey on the Barrier surface, 
so that we might gain an idea of the prevailing conditions, 
and find out if the motor-car would be of service for at 
any rate the early portion of the journey. 



The sun had not yet returned and the temperature was 
exceedingly low, but the Discovery expedition had proved 
that it is quite possible to travel under these conditions. 
Accordingly I started on this preliminary journey on 
August 12, taking with me Professor David, who was to 
lead the Northern Party towards the South Magnetic 
Pole, and Bertram Armytage who was to take charge of 
the party that was to journey into the mountains of the 
west later in the year. 

We were equipped for a fortnight with provisions and 
camp gear, packed on one sledge, and had three gallons 
of petroleum in case we decided to stay out longer. A 
gallon will last three men for about ten days, and we 
could get more food at Hut Point if we required it. We 
took three one-man sleeping bags, for although the larger 
bags are certainly warmer one’s rest in them is very likely 
to be disturbed by the movements of a companion. 

At first the weather was bad and consequently progress 

In the Antarctic 105 

was slow, but although the temperature was about forty 
degrees below zero we slept soundly at night, and arose 
praising the one-man sleeping bags. 

We reached the old Discovery winter quarters at Hut 
Point on the morning of August 14, and I took the 
Professor and Armytage over all the familiar ground. 

To me the revisiting of these old scenes was supremely 
interesting. Here was the place where, years before, 
when the Discovery was lying fast in the ice close to the 
shore, we used to dig for the ice required for the supply of 
fresh water. The marks of the picks and shovel could 
still be seen, and I noticed an old case bedded in the ice, 
and remembered the day when it had been thrown away. 
The fascination of the unknown swept upon me as I 
stood in those familiar surroundings, and I longed to be 
away towards the south on the journey that I hoped 
would lay bare the mysteries of the Pole. 

The old hut had never been a cheerful place even when 
we were camped alongside it in the Discovery , and it 
looked doubly inhospitable now after standing empty for 
six years. I proposed, however, to use it as a stores 
depot in connection with the southern journey, for it was 
twenty miles further south than our winter quarters. We 
slept there that night and on the following morning started 
for our journey across the Barrier. 

The chief result of this expedition was to convince me 
that we could not place much reliance on the motor-car 
for the southern journey, because the condition of the 
surface on the Barrier varied from mile to mile, and it 
would be impossible to keep changing the wheels of the 
car so as to meet the requirements of each new surface. 

Professor David and Armytage had also received a good 
baptism of frost, and as it was desirable that every 
member of the expedition should have personal experience 

106 Shackleton 

of travelling over ice and snow in low temperatures before 
the real work began, I arranged to dispatch a small party 
every week to sledge stores and equipment south to Hut 

I did not hesitate to let these parties face bad weather, 
because the road was well known, and a rough experience 
would be useful to men later on. Each party returned 
with adventures to relate, and curiously all of them 
encountered bad weather, but there were no accidents 
and the men seemed to enjoy the work. 

Early in September Adams, Marshall and I started 
for Hut Point, and decided to make one march of the 
twenty-three miles, and not camp on the way. A 
blizzard, however, struck us when we were near our goal, 
and abandoning the extra weights we were pulling for the 
depot, we managed to reach the hut in a sorely frost-bitten 
condition. I mention this to show how constantly one has 
to guard against the onslaughts of the elements in the 
inhospitable regions of the south. 

By the middle of September a good supply of provisions, 
oil and gear was stored at Hut Point, in fact everything 
needed for the southern journey had been taken there so 
that the start might be made from the most southern 
base available. Also while the men were gaining experi- 
ence the ponies were being given exercise, and I felt that 
these little Manchurian animals were going to justify my 
confidence. After many experiments I concluded that 
650 lb. per pony should be the maximum load, this weight 
including the sledge itself which weighed about 60 lb. 

When the question of weight came to be considered 
I realised more than ever the seriousness of the loss of the 
other four ponies. It was evident that we could not take 
to the Pole as much food as I would have liked. 

On September 22 I started out again with a party 

In the Antarctic 

The Leader of the Expedition in Winter fiARS 

108 Shackleton 

consisting of Adams, Marshall, Wild, Marston and Joyce 
and myself to place a depot 160 statute miles south of the 
Discovery winter quarters, the depot to consist of pony 
maize. The loads were about 170 lb. per man, and the 
journey was a severe one, for at times the temperature got 
down to 59 0 below zero Fahr. 

We reached the main depot in latitude 79 0 36' South, 
longitude 168 0 East on October 6, and this we called 
“ Depot A.” It was marked with an upturned sledge 
and a black flag on a bamboo rod, and here we deposited 
a gallon tin of oil and 167 lb. of pony maize so that our 
load would be materially reduced for the first portion of 
the journey south. 

The weather was shockingly severe on our return 
journey, and we did not reach the old Discovery winter 
quarters until October 13, but continuing our march 
home on the following day we were lucky enough to meet 
the motor-car, and with the sledges hitched on, we drove 
triumphantly back to winter quarters. 

During our absence the Northern Party, consisting of 
Professor David, Mawson and Mackay, had started on 
their journey to the South Magnetic Pole. I said good-bye 
to the Professor and his two companions on September 22 
and we did not meet again until March 1, 1909. 



The Southern Party was to leave winter quarters on 
October 29, so on our return from Depot A we began 
finally to prepare for our attempt to reach the South 
Pole. I decided that Adams, Marshall and Wild should 

In the Antarctic 109 

go ^ with me and that we should take provisions for 
ninety-one days. This amount of food with other equip- 
ment brought the load per pony up to the weight fixed as 
the maximum safe load. The supporting party was to 
accompany us for some distance so that we might start 
fairly fresh from a point beyond the rough ice off Minna 
Bluff, and we were to take the four ponies and four 

Early in 1907 I had proposed that one party should 
travel to the east across the Barrier surface towards 
King Edward VII Land, but the loss of so many ponies 
caused me to abandon this project. 

Arrangements, however, were made for sending out 
a party early in December to lay a depot for the Northern 
Party, and when this was done, the same men were to 
proceed to the western mountains. 

Also on January 15, 1909, a party under Joyce, was 
to lay a depot near Minna Bluff containing sufficient 
stores for the return of the Southern Party from that 
point. This same party was to return to Hut Point, 
reload and march out to the depot a second time, and 
await the arrival of the Southern Party until February 10, 
1909. If the Southern Party had not arrived by that 
date, Joyce and his companions were to go back to Hut 
Point and thence to the ship. 

Before my departure I left instructions which provided 
for the conclusion of the work of the Expedition in its 
various branches, and for the relief of the men left in the 
Antarctic in the event of the non-return of the Southern 

To Murray I gave command of the Expedition and 
full instructions during my absence. 

The provisioning of the Southern Party was long and 
anxiously considered, and Marshall went very carefully 



into the question of the relative food-values of the various 
supplies, and we were able to derive much useful informa- 
tion from the experience of previous expeditions. 

At length we decided that the daily allowance of food 
for each man on the journey, as long as full rations were 
given, was to be as follow’s : 


Pemmican 7-5 

Emergency Ration i . 5 

Biscuit 1 6 

Cheese or Chocolate 2 

Cocoa -7 

Plasmon i 

Sugar 4.3 

Quaker Oats i 


Tea, salt, and pepper were extras not weighed in with 
the daily allowance. We used about two ounces of tea 
per day for the four men, and the salt and pepper were 
carried in small bags, each bag to last one week. 

Everything was ready for the start as the end of 
October approached, and we looked forward with keen 
anticipation to the venture. The supporting-party, con- 
sisting of Joyce, Marston, Priestly, Armytage, and 
Brocklehurst, was to accompany us for the first ten days. 

The weather was not very good towards the end of 
October, but there were signs that summer was coming. 
We spent the last days overhauling sledges and equip- 
ment, and our evenings in writing letters for those at home, 
to be delivered in the event of our not returning from the 
unknown regions into which we hoped to penetrate. 


<11 \ 


HVy 1 





Brilliant sunshine and a cloudless sky were an auspicious 
beginning to the day on which we started upon our 
attempt to plant the Union Jack, which the Queen had 
given us, on the last untrodden spot of the world. Yet 
on leaving the hut where we had spent so many months 
in comfort, we had a feeling of real regret that never 
again should we all be together. 

The supporting-party started first, and at io a.m. we 
said good-bye to Murray and Roberts, who were to be left 
behind, and we four of the Southern Party followed 
with an intense desire to do well for the sake of every one 
concerned in the Expedition. 

Hardly, however, had we been marching for an hour 
when mishaps began to occur. First of all Socks went 
dead lame, and soon afterwards, when we were halting 
to feed ourselves and the ponies, Grisi lashed out and 
struck Adams just below the knee. 

Three inches higher and the blow would have shattered 
both his knee-cap and his hopes of reaching the South 
Pole. As it was the bone was almost exposed and he 
was in great pain, although he said very little about it. 
What he would have done if he had been completely 
knocked out it is impossible to imagine, as his interest 
in the Expedition was intense. 

On October 30 we reached Hut Point and with Adams 
better, the ponies recovered from their lameness, and 
the weather gloriously fine, we rejoiced to be out at last 
on the long trail. 

Quan fit or unfit was the most mischievous of all the 
ponies, for when any one was looking his special delight 

In the Antarctic 113 

was to bite his tether, and unfortunately he did this on 
one occasion when no one was watching him and played 
havoc with the maize and other fodder. When we tried 
to catch him he dashed from one sledge to another tearing 
bags to pieces and trampling the food out, kicking up his 
heels and showing that he was deliberately destructive, 
for his distended appearance proved that he had eaten 
more than his fill. 

We left the sea ice on November 3, but instead of finding 
a better surface on the Barrier, we discovered that the 
going was more difficult than ever. The ponies, however, 
pulled magnificently and every hour the pony-leaders 
changed places with the sledge-haulers. On the next 
day we wore goggles, as we were already feeling the trying 
light, and as soon as we had passed the end of White 
Island the surface became softer and it was trying work 
for both men and ponies. Still, however, we tramped 
along, the supporting-party pulling magnificently, and 
our march for the day was over sixteen miles. 

Up to this time we had been blessed with fair weather, 
but on Guy Fawkes’ Day we encountered driving snow 
which made our steering very wild. In the bad light 
the sastrugi could not be seen, and the surface was very 
bad for both ponies and men. Minor mishaps were 
natural under such conditions, and after Marshall, who 
was leading Grisi, had got his legs into a crevasse, and 
soon afterwards Wild, Adams and Marshall had got into 
another crevasse, there was nothing for it but to pitch 
camp and wait until the weather cleared. 

To our sorrow we had to lie during the whole of the 
next day in our sleeping-bags except when we went out 
of them to feed the ponies, for a blizzard was upon us 
with thick drift. One can scarcely realise how trying it 
is to be held up by blizzards, unless one has been on a 

1 14 Shackleton 

polar expedition and knows that each lost day means 
also the consumption of 40 lb. of pony feed alone. Never- 
theless, we endeavoured to make the best of an irritating 
situation, and in our one-man sleeping-bags each of us 
had a little home, where he could read and write and look 
at his household gods — if he had brought any with him. 

During the morning I passed the time reading Much 
Ado About Nothing — an inappropriate play perhaps for 
me to be reading when I was worrying over our delay 
and thought that I had good cause to be. 

The blizzard would not have mattered so much if we 
had only to consider ourselves, for we could save on the 
food, but if the ponies were to be of much use to us they 
had to be properly fed. 

On the 7th the weather was better, though still very 
thick and overcast, and cheered by the supporting-party, 
who were returning to winter quarters, we started off 
with the ponies pulling splendidly. But almost imme- 
diately we found ourselves in a maze of crevasses. The 
first one which Marshall crossed with Grisi was 6 ft. wide, 
and when I looked down there was nothing to be seen but 
a black yawning void. 

Crevasses were here, there, and everywhere, and we 
had to camp between two large ones and wait until the 
light became better, for to proceed in such weather was 
to court disaster. 

At last we were quite on our own resources, and as 
regards comfort in the tents were very well off, for with 
■only two men in each tent there was plenty of room. 
Adams began by sharing a tent with me, but we decided 
to shift about so that we could take turns with each other 
as tent-mates. 

In respect to books also we were well supplied, for I 
took Shakespeare’s Comedies with me, Marshall had 

In the Antarctic 

T H e Southern Pah tv m a item mi into tiie White Unknown* (tftr 1 L 2) 

n6 Shackleton 

Borrow’s “ The Bible in Spain,” Adams, Arthur Young’s 
“ Travels in France,” and Wild “ Sketches by Boz.” 
By changing round when we had finished, we had literature 
enough to keep us going for many hours when we were 
unable to march. 

No literature, however, could prevent us from chafing 
at the weather which kept us in our bags until the 
morning of November 9, but the difficulties of travelling 
over snow and ice in a bad light are practically insur- 

When the light is diffused by clouds or mist, it casts no 
shadows on the dead white surface, which consequently 
appears to the eye to be uniformly level. Often when 
we thought that we were marching on a level surface, 
we would suddenly fall two or three feet, and the strain 
on the eyes under these conditions was very great. 

It is, indeed, when the sun is covered and the weather 
thickish that one is in danger of snow-blindness, that 
painful complaint with which we all became too well 
acquainted during the southern journey. 

The only way to guard against an attack is to wear 
goggles the whole time, but when one is perspiring on 
account of exertion with the sledges, the glasses fog and 
they have to be taken off so that they may be wiped. 
When they were removed, the glare from the surrounding 
whiteness was intense, and the only relief was to get 
inside a tent, which was made of a green material very 
restful to the eyes. 

On the night of the 8th the weather cleared, and we 
saw that we were in a regular nest of crevasses, Marshall 
and Wild finding that their tent was pitched on the edge 
of a previously unseen one. 

To stand in drift for four days with 24 0 of frost was 
so bad for the ponies that we were thankful that their 

In the Antarctic 117 

appetites for the hot food we gave to them was not 
affected, but we wanted to get under way and put 
some good marches in before we could feel really happy. 

The distance as the crow flies from our winter quarters 
to the Pole is 750 geographical miles and as yet we had 
only done fifty-one. That a polar explorer needs a large 
stock of patience in his equipment is not to be denied, 
and as we lay in our bags anxious to be marching yet 
unable to move we drew heavy draughts upon our stock. 


The morning of the 9th was fine, calm and clear, and, 
as soon as we had dug the sledges out of the drift and 
breakfasted, we set out to find a track among the 
crevasses. Our hunt for crevasses was successful enough, 
for we discovered all sorts from narrow cracks to ugly 
chasms with no bottom visible, but to find a track through 
them was beyond our powers. 

There was indeed nothing for it but to trust to Provi- 
dence, and having got under way we got over the first 
few crevasses without difficulty. And then all of a 
sudden Chinaman went down a crack which ran parallel 
to our course. 

Adams tried to pull him out and he struggled gamely, 
but it was not until Wild and I left our sledges and hauled 
along Chinaman’s sledge that, just in time, he managed 
to get on to firm ice, for three feet more and it would have 
been all up with the Southern Journey. The three-foot 
crack opened out into a great fathomless chasm, and 
down that would have gone the pony, all our cooking 

n8 Shackleton 

gear and biscuits and half the oil, and probably Adams 
as well. 

But when things seem to be as hopeless as possible 
they often take a sudden change for the better, and in 
our case this was the last crevasse we encountered for 
some time, and at length, with a gradually improving 
surface, we were really able to push along. 

During the day we knocked off over 14 miles of those 
intervening between us and our goal, and we turned in 
for the night in a more cheerful frame of mind. Our 
rest, however, was disturbed by the mischievous Quan 
eating away the straps on his rug, and Grisi and Socks 
fighting over it. The propensities of Manchurian ponies 
for eating peculiar things must certainly be allowed to 
have their drawbacks. 

Such accidents may seem very trivial, but they meant 
work for us in repairing the damage, and when one is 
thoroughly tired after a day’s march one does not welcome 
any unlooked for labour. 

To our astonishment during our march in the afternoon 
we came across the track of an Adelie penguin, and where 
on earth the bird had come from was a mystery. It had 
been travelling on its stomach for a long way, and it had 
at least fifty miles to travel before it could reach food 
and water, and the nearest water in the direction from 
which it had come was over fifty miles away. Among 
pengidns this bird ought, I think, to have been credited 
wi+h an adventurous disposition. 

With better weather for the next few days we made 
good progress towards the depot where 167 lb. of pony 
food was lying, and our appetites were already too good 
for the amount of food we were allowing ourselves. 
Perhaps those who have never known what it is to be 
desperately hungry will be disgusted at us for remembering 

In the Antarctic 


Cape Barne and Inaccessible Island by Moonlight 

120 Shackleton 

that when the ponies had done their work we should be 
able to add horse-meat to our rations. But I can say 
with truth that until the ponies had to be killed they 
were treated with a liberality that we denied sternly to 

To pick up a depot which is only a tiny speck in a vast 
snowy plain and is nearly sixty miles from the nearest 
land, is like picking up a buoy in the North Sea with only 
distant mountains for bearings, and I was most anxious 
that we should reach it before the glorious weather broke 
up, for there was stored not only the pony feed but also 
a most valuable gallon of oil. 

Imagine then my delight when, on the evening of the 
14th, Wild, who was outside the camp looking through 
the Goertz glasses, shouted that he could see the depot. 
We rushed out at once, and there were the flag and sledge 
to be seen plainly through the glasses. On the next 
morning we found everything intact and the flag waving 
merrily in the breeze, and we camped there for a few 
hours so that we could distribute weights and parcel our 
provision to be left there for our return journey. 

It went to our hearts to leave a tin of sardines and a 
pot of black currant jam which we had intended for our 
feast on Christmas Day, but every ounce of additional 
weight was so important, that although we felt that we 
ought to take as much food as we possibly could these 
luxuries had to be left behind. 

We were on again soon after one o’clock and when we 
camped that night we built a snow mound as a guide 
to our homeward track, and decided to build one at each 
camp we made. Having two shovels with us, in ten 
minutes a mound 6 or 7 ft. high could be built, and 
although we wondered whether our tracks would remain 
longer than our mounds, or our mounds longer than the 

In the Antarctic 121 

tracks, we thought it most advisable to neglect no pre- 
cautions. And as a matter of fact these mounds remained 
after the sledge tracks had vanished, and were a great 
comfort to us on our journey back. 

Everything continued to go splendidly for us, and I 
could not help contrasting the progress of our last few 
days with the time six years before, when I was toiling 
along five miles a day over the same ground. 

On November 16, for instance, we covered over 17 
miles, a record day for us ; and also every one was in 
splendid health, my eyes (which had been attacked by 
snow blindness) were better, and although split lips 
prevented us laughing we were going straight as a die to 
the south — a reason sufficient in itself for our cheer- 

Another opportunity for contrast was that between our 
parsimony in the way of food and Quan’s wastefulness. 
To economise we saved three lumps of sugar each day so 
that in time we might build up a reserve stock, while 
Quan with his marvellous digestion preferred to 
eat a yard of creosoted rope than his proper bait, and 
often in sheer wantonness threw the food given to him all 
over the snow. 

By this time the work was beginning to tell upon the 
ponies, especially upon Chinaman, but all of them con- 
tinued to work splendidly in their own particular way, 
and naturally we were anxious to advance our food-supply 
as far as possible south before the ponies gave out. 

Quan plodded stolidly through everything, possibly 
thinking of what tricks he would play at night but at the 
same time working magnificently ; Chinaman was the 
first to show signs of collapse, but his spirit was willing 
though his strength was weakening ; Grisi and Socks 
took all soft places with a rush. 


But in spite of the hard labours of the day we always 
felt confident that the ponies would enjoy themselves 
in their peculiar way at night, and on one occasion I had 
to go out to prevent Socks from biting and swallowing 
lumps out of Quan’s tail. If we had ever anticipated 
that they would have played such games, we should have 
taken a longer wire to tether them and keep them apart. 



On November 18 I imagined that we had reached the 
windless area of the Pole, for the Barrier was a dead, 
smooth, white plain, weird beyond description, and, 
having no land in sight, we felt tiny specks in the immen- 
sity around us. It seemed as though we were in some 
other world, and yet the things that concerned us most 
were such trifles as split lips and big appetites. 

Already the daily meals were all too short, and we 
wondered what it would be like when we were really 
hungry. However, we were moving on at a rate of about 
fifteen miles a day, and every night that we camped we 
felt that another long step towards our desire had been 

Soon I discovered that I was wrong in thinking that 
we had reached the windless area, for all the sastrugi 
began to point due south, but the whole place and con- 
ditions were so unlike anything else in the world of our 
experience, that it was extremely difficult to make correct 
forecasts as to what we should next encounter. 

At one moment I thought of Coleridge’s “ Ancient 
Mariner ” : “ Alone, alone ; all, all alone, alone on a 

In the Antarctic 123 

wide, wide sea ” ; and then, when the mazy clouds sprung 
silently up and, not followed by any wind, drifted quickly 
across our zenith, the only word to describe my feeling 
is uncanny. 

It was as though we were truly at the world’s end, and 
were bursting in on the birthplace of the clouds and the 
nesting-home of the four winds, and we could not suppress 
a feeling that we mortals were being watched with a 
jealous eye by the forces of nature. 

Still, in spite of these sensations, which every one who 
goes out into the intensely lone places of the world must 
experience, we were more interested in such things as 
heavy going and soft surfaces than in anything else, for 
the surface was all-important to us and played the leading 
part in our day's work. 

On November 20 we met with a terribly soft surface — 
so bad, in fact, that it sounded the death-knell of poor 
old Chinaman, who was no longer able to keep up with 
the others ; and so we had to shoot him on the following 

Let me say again that the killing of the ponies was not 
pleasant work, and that our only satisfaction was in 
knowing that they were well fed up to the last, and had 
suffered no pain. When we had to kill a pony we threw 
up a snow-mound to leeward of the camp, and took the 
animal behind this out of sight of the others. 

Of necessity we had to eat the meat, and as within a 
very short time after killing the carcase was frozen solid, 
we always tried to cut the meat into small pieces before 
this occurred. 

On the same day that saw the death of Chinaman we 
made our second depot, and left there 80 lb. of pony 
meat, one tin of biscuits weighing 27 lb., some sugar, and 
one tin of oil to see us back to Depot A. 

124 Shackleton 

With three ponies dragging 500 lb. each we left our 
depot, with its black flag flying on the bamboo lashed to 
a discarded, sledge, and were soon in new land to the 
south — land never before seen by human eyes. 

The land consisted of great snow-clad heights rising 
beyond Mount Longstaff, and also far inland to the north 
of Mount Markham. We found that our latitude was 
8i° 8' south. 

The weather still remained splendid for marching, with 
a cool breeze from the south and the sun slightly hidden, 
but our enjoyment of the glorious view of peaks new to 
human eyes was marred by Wild being temporarily 
unwell, and by Adams suffering badly from toothache. 
Our first attempt to pull out this tooth merely resulted 
in the tooth breaking, but at a second attempt Marshall 
succeeded in getting it out, an achievement — under the 
conditions — as creditable to the one as it was welcome 
to the other. 

Steady progress was made until November 26, which 
is a day which we travellers at least shall remember, for 
on it we passed the “ farthest south ” previously reached 
by man. On this night we reached latitude 82° 18 south, 
and our “ farthest south ” in the march with Captain 
Scott was 82° i6£'. 

As each hour passed on this memorable day we found 
new interest to the west where the land lies, for we opened 
out Shackleton Inlet, and up the inlet a great chain of 
mountains, and far into the west still more peaks. To 
the west of Cape Wilson another chain of peaks about 
10,000 ft. high appeared, and to the south-south-east 
new mountains were continually coming into view. It 
falls to the lot of few men to see land not previously looked 
upon by human eyes, and it was with feelings of keen 
curiosity and awe (mingled in my case with a fervent 

In the Antarctic 125 

hope that no land would block our path) that we watched 
the new mountains rise from the great unknown that lay 
before us. 

No man of us' could even guess what wonders might be 
revealed to us in our march south, and our imaginations 
took wings until a stumble in the snow or the sharp pangs 
of hunger brought back our attention to the needs of 
the immediate present. 

Our anxiety, however, to learn what lay before us was 
as keen as it could be, and the long days of marching 
over the Barrier surface were saved from monotony by 
the continued appearance of land to the south-east. As 
we marched on and new mountains kept on rising, we 
were concerned to notice that they trended more and 
more to the eastward, for that meant that we must alter 
our course from nearly due south. Nevertheless, we hoped 
that when we reached them some strait might be found 
which would enable us to go right through them and on 
south. Really, however, patience was of more use to us 
than speculation, for, come what might, we meant to 
push on until our limit of strength was reached. 

By November 28 we had reached a truly awful surface, 
and poor Grisi, who had been smitten with snow-blindness, 
had to be shot in the evening. Having made Depot C. 
and left one week's provisions and oil to carry us back to 
Depot B, we went on the next morning with 1200 lb. 
weight, which we decided to pull with the ponies, but 
we quickly discovered that the ponies would not pull 
when we did, so we had to untoggle our harness. 

The whole country seemed to be made up of range 
upon range of mountains, but the surface over which we 
were going was so bad that the ponies sank in right up 
to their bellies, and we had to pull with might and main 
to get the sledges to move. 

126 Shackleton 

By evening the ponies were nearly played out, especially 
old Quan, who was suffering, not from the weight of the 
sledge, but from the effort of lifting his feet and limbs 
through the soft snow, and on the following days we had 
practically to pull his sledge. 

The time had come for him to go, and I am sure that 
we all felt losing him and I was especially sorry, as he 
had been my special pony for several months. In spite 
of all his annoying tricks, his immense intelligence made 
him a general favourite. 



On December i we reached latitude 83° 16' south and 
could see land stretching away to the east with a long 
white line in front of it that looked like a giant barrier. 
It seemed as though there was going to be a change 
in some gigantic way in keeping with the vastness of our 

At one moment our thoughts were on the grandeur 
of the scene, the next on what we would have to eat if 
we were let loose in a good restaurant. For we were very 
hungry in these days, and lived mainly on pony-meat, 
while on the march, to cool our throats as we pulled in 
the hot sun, we chewed frozen meat. 

The four of us had, now that Quan was gone, to haul 
one sledge while Socks followed behind with the other, 
and he soon got into our pace and did splendid work. 
Although we were working only in shirts and pyjamas, 
the sun beat down on our heads and we perspired freely, 
whilst our feet were cold in the snow. 

In the Antarctic 127 

It was heavy work for ns as the surface was as bad 
as it could be, but soon after midday we got close enough 
to see that ahead of us were enormous pressure ridges, 
heavily crevassed and running a long way east, with not 
the smallest chance of our being able to get southing that 
way any longer on the Barrier. So we had to strike due 
south in toward the land, and in the evening were close 
to the ridges off the coast. 

There was a red hill about 3000 ft. near to us which 
we decided to go up on the following day, so that we 
could gain a view of the surrounding country. How 
anxious a time this was for us I need hardly mention, 
for time was precious and food more so, and unless we 
could find a good route through the mountains our way 
to the Pole was well-nigh blocked. 

Accordingly after breakfast we started off, leaving all 
camp gear standing and a good feed by Socks to last 
him for the day. Our allowance for lunch was four biscuits, 
four lumps of sugar, and two ounces of chocolate each, 
and we hoped to get water at the first of the rocks when 
we landed. 

Hardly had we gone one hundred yards when we came 
to a crevasse, and, finding it difficult to see clearly with 
my goggles, I took them off, and in consequence was 
afterwards attacked by snow-blindness. 

Several crevasses were successfully crossed, and then 
we were brought up standing by an enormous chasm of 
about 80 ft. wide and 300 ft. deep which lay across our 
route. By going round to the right we found that this 
chasm gradually became filled with snow, and so we 
were able to cross and resume our line to the land, which 
deceptively appeared quite close but was really miles 

Crossing several more crevasses, we reached about 

128 Shackleton 

midday an area of smooth blue ice where we obtained a 
drink of delicious water, and after travelling for half a 
mile we got to the base of the mountain which we hoped 
to climb so that we might view the country. At i p.m. 
we had a couple of biscuits, and then started to make our 
way up the steep rock-face. 

This was the most difficult part of the whole climb, for 
the granite was weathered and split in every direction, 
but at last we clambered up this face, and finally gained 
the top of a ridge from which an open road to the south 
burst upon our view. For running almost north and 
south between two huge mountain ranges a great glacier 
stretched before us. 

Eagerly we clambered on to the top of the mountain, 
and from the summit we could see the glacier stretching 
away south inland until at last it seemed to disappear 
in high inland ice. This was what we had seen ahead of 
us and speculated about so freely. 

There was no longer any question as to the way which 
we should go, for though on the glacier we might meet 
crevasses and difficulties not to be met with on the 
Barrier, yet on the latter we could get no farther than 
86° south, and then would have to turn in towards the 
land and get over the mountains before we could reach 
the Pole. 

Our main difficulty on the glacier route would be, we 
thought, with Socks, for as yet we could not hope to 
drag the full load ourselves without relay work. All the 
afternoon of December 4 we toiled at the sledge while 
Socks pulled his load with ease, and eventually we reached 
the head of the pass, 2000 ft. above sea-level. 

From that point there was a gentle descent towards 
the glacier, and we camped for the night close to some 
blue ice with granite boulders embedded in it, round 

In the Antarctic 129 

130 Shackleton 

which, were pools of water. This last fact may seem 
unimportant, but it was really of consequence to us as 
this water saved our oil, for we had not to melt snow or 

The pass through which we had come was flanked by 
great granite pillars at least 2000 ft. in height, and which 
made a magnificent entrance to the “ Highway to the 



The morning of December 5 saw us breaking camp at 
eight o’clock, and proceeding south down an icy slope 
to the main glacier. Soon, however, the ice slope gave 
place to a snow slope, and after a time the snow was 
replaced by blue ice split by so many cracks and crevasses 
that it was impossible for Socks to continue to drag the 
sledge without our risking his life in one of the many 

Snow-blindness was still troubling me so much that 
I stayed in camp after lunch was over, while Marshall 
and Adams went on to spy out a good route for us to 
follow. They found that there was more cracked-up 
blue ice ahead of us, and — what was much more remark- 
able— they also discovered a bird, brown in colour with 
a white line under each wing, which had flown just over 
their heads and had disappeared to the south. 

Such an incident was wonderfully strange in latitude 
83° 40' south, and what this bird was I am unable to say, 
for both Adams and Marshall were sure that it was not a 
skua-gull, which was the only bird I could imagine 
venturing so far south. 

In the Antarctic 13 i 

Our camp for that night was pitched under a wonderful 
pillar of granite, and as pieces of granite, from the size 
of a hazel-nut to great boulders weighing thirty tons or 
more, were lying all around, we felt that at any moment 
a great piece of rock might come hurtling upon us. On 
one snow slope, indeed, we could see the fresh track of 
a fallen rock, but as it was impossible to spread a tent 
on the blue ice we were compelled to camp, for half a 
mile of crevassed ice lay between us and the snow slope 
to the south-south-west, and we were too tired to march 
any farther. 

We left a depot at this spot, and then, refreshed by 
sleep, we divided up our load and managed to get the 
whole lot over the crevasses in three journeys. 

But it was an awful job, for every step was a venture, 
and one felt that at any moment our journey towards 
the Pole might come to a permanent close. Having, 
however, succeeded in crossing this particularly dangerous 
half-mile, my companions (leaving me to rest with one 
eye entirely blocked up by snow-blindness) went back 
for Socks, and early in the afternoon we were once more 
camped upon snow. During the rest of that day we had 
a wonderful view of the mountains which rose up in 
peaks and ranges, but the going was exceedingly heavy 
and our progress was consequently very slow. 

He, however, who hopes to go into the unexplored spots 
of the world must harden himself to labour, and find 
causes for cheerfulness in conditions which are at the 
best only comparatively cheering. For instance, on the 
following afternoon we were congratulating ourselves 
that if the crevasses were as frequent as ever, the light, 
at any rate, was better than it had been during the 
morning, when suddenly we heard a shout of “ Help ” 
from Wild, who was following us with Socks. 

132 Shackleton 

Stopping immediately, we rushed to his assistance, 
and saw the pony sledge with the forward end down a 
crevasse, and Wild reaching out from the side of the 
gulf and hanging on to the sledge. There was no sign 
whatever of Socks, and Wild’s escape was simply miracu- 

He had been following our tracks, which passed over 
a crevasse entirely covered with snow, when the weight 
•of the pony had broken through the snow crust and in 
a second all was over. Wild told us that he felt a sort of 
•rushing wind, that the leading rope was snatched from 
his hand, and that he put out his arms and just caught 
the further edge of the chasm. 

Fortunately for Wild and for us, Socks’s weight snapped 
the swingle-tree of the sledge, so it was saved though 
the upper bearer was broken. 

We lay down on our stomachs and looked into the gulf, 
but no sound or sign came to us ; we seemed to be gazing 
down into a black bottomless pit. 

Poor Socks was gone beyond recall, but if ever men 
had cause for gratitude we had in Wild’s escape, and in 
the saving of the sledge. If the sledge had gone we should 
have been left with only two sleeping-bags for the four 
■of us, and with such a short equipment we could scarcely 
have even got back to winter quarters. As it was, the loss 
of Socks was a most serious loss to us, because we had 
counted upon his meat, but all we could do was to take 
•on the maize so that we could eat it ourselves. 

Crevasses and pits of unknown depth continued to 
beset us, and with 250 lb. per man to haul we naturally 
-could not march at any great rate ; indeed, our anxiety 
to find a level and inland ice-sheet, so that we could 
increase our speed, was terrific. 

Falls, bruises, cut shins, crevasses, razor-edged ice, 



in ttie Forkgroejtw 

134 Shackleton 

and heavy upward pulls were the sum of our days’ trials, 
not interesting subjects for conversation when the night 
found us in camp ; but, as a matter of fact, our talk was 
mainly about food and the things we would like to eat. 
To show how hungry we were, I have only to mention 
that by December 9 we were all looking forward to 
Christmas Day, for then, whatever happened, we were 
resolved to be full of food. On the tenth, after a day’s 
strenuous fight with the glacier, we camped under a 
mountain which we named the “ Cloud-Maker,” and 
ground up the balance of the maize between flat stones, 
so that we might use it to eke out our supply of food. 

The method of preparation was as primitive as the 
food would have been unpalatable to most people, but 
it was the only way we could make the maize fit to cook 
without using more oil than we could spare for lengthy 

Critical as our position was, we were cheered by the 
thought that we were still getting south, but the sledges 
were being badly damaged by the continual ice-work, 
and as there were still 340 geographical miles between 
us and the Pole, we longed for a surface which was a 
little less like walking over a cucumber-frame. Of all 
the surfaces on which to travel, none can be more irri- 
tating than that of rotten ice through which one’s feet 
are everlastingly breaking. 

On such a surface, however, we could make a certain 
amount of progress, and it was not until December 12 
that we met with conditions which reduced our progress 
for the day to a miserable three miles. Sharp-edge blue 
ice full of chasms and crevasses, and rising to hills and 
sinking into gullies, provided us with obstacles unequalled 
in any polar work for difficulty in travelling. Under such 
circumstances we had to have recourse to relay work, 

In the Antarctic 135 

for we could only take on one sledge at a time, two of us 
pulling while the others steadied and held the sledge 
to keep it straight. In this way we advanced for a mile, 
and then returned over the crevasses and hauled up the 
other sledges over a surface where often and often a slip 
meant death. 

In such rough-and-tumble work the sledges naturally 
suffered, and the one with the broken bow frequently 
striking against hard, sharp ice, pulled us up with a jerk 
and flung us down. In all our difficulties and dangers, 
however, we found solace in the thought that the glacier 
must eventually end and our longed-for plateau be 

By December 16 we had crossed nearly one hundred 
miles of crevassed ice and risen 6000 ft. on the largest 
glacier in the world, and on the following afternoon we 
burned our boats behind us as regards warm clothing, 
and made a depot of everything except the barest neces- 
sities. But relay work still hampered our progress towards 
our goal, and no thirsty man ever longed for water with 
more eagerness than we longed for the plateau and the 
end of that vast glacier. 



Never do I expect to meet anything more tantalising 
than the plateau on which our hopes were set. By 
December 18 I thought that we were almost up, and yet 
we had to go on and on, apparently unable to get rid 
of the crevasses. 

By this time we were fully conscious that food was 

136 Shackleton 

to be the key to our success or failure to reach the Pole, 
and we began to save food in order to spin it out, a saving 
which made us almost ravenous with hunger. Each day 
we saved two biscuits per man, and also some pemmican 
and sugar, and we tried to satisfy our hunger by eating 
pony maize, which we soaked in water to make it less 
hard. If only dreams prevented one from hunger we 
should have been well off, for each night we all dreamed 
of foods. 

A week before Christmas we had food for thirty-five 
days, and were about three hundred geographical miles 
from the Pole, with the same distance back to the depot 
we had just made, so that at the best we knew that we 
must march on short rations if we were to reach our goal. 

Each succeeding day we hoped to get rid of the cre- 
vasses, but although we were fortunate in having been 
favoured with splendid weather, we had to camp each 
night sustained by the hope that on the morrow we 
should really be upon the plateau, and by the thought 
that Christmas Day — with its splendid dinner — was 

By December 21 — Midsummer Day — the weather had 
changed, and we encountered 28° of frost and such 
a strong blizzard wind that both our fingers and our ears 
were frost-bitten, while our beards were masses of ice 
all day long. From the conditions I could easily imagine 
that we were on a spring sledging journey, for such a 
chilly wind was blowing that it found its way through 
the nearly worn-out walls of our tent. 

Relay work still continued to hamper us, and on the 
22nd we had to work with the alpine rope all day, drag- 
ging 400 lb. at a time up steep slopes and across ridges, 
and roping ourselves together when we went back for 
the second sledge, because the ground was so treacherous 

138 Shackleton 

that often we were only saved by the rope from falling 
into fathomless pits. 

Wild described this sensation of walking over a surface 
of half-ice and half-snow as like walking over the glass 
roof of a station, and so accustomed did we become to 
crevasses that our usual question when any of us fell 
into one was, “ Have you found it ? ” 

I suppose that we became callous as regards immediate 
dangers, though I confess that we were always glad to 
meet crevasses with their coats off, that is, not hidden 
by their perilous snow-coverings. Longing as we were 
really to stretch out our legs for the Pole, it can easily 
be imagined how irksome this constant succession of 
crevasses was. And to add to our discomforts, the tem- 
perature had become so low that the pony-maize refused 
any longer to swell in the water, the result being that it 
swelled after we had eaten it. 

Christmas Eve, however, brought a change in our 
fortunes, and was much the brightest day we had enjoyed 
since entering our southern gateway. We covered over 
eleven miles, and at night were 9095 ft. above sea-level, 
and the way before us was still rising. 

So far we had seen no sign of the very hard surface 
that Captain Scott speaks of in connection with his 
journey on the Northern Plateau, but we were determined 
not to give up hopes of better surfaces, for without them 
we knew that we should not reach the Pole. As Christmas 
approached our thoughts naturally turned to home and 
the festivities and joys of the time. How greatly we 
longed to hear “ the hansoms slurring through the London 
mud ” it is impossible to say. But instead of the sights 
and sounds of London we were lying in a little tent, 
isolated high on the roof of the end of the world, far 
indeed from the trodden paths of men. 

In the Antarctic 139 

Nevertheless our thoughts flew across the wastes of 
snow and ice, and across the oceans to those for whom 
we were striving, and who, we knew, were thinking of 

By noon on Christmas Day we had by hard hauling 
covered over five miles, and had reached a latitude of 
85° 51' south. Then I took a photograph of the camp 
with the Queen’s flag flying and also our tent flags, my 
companions being in the picture, and in the evening we 
had a splendid dinner, the details of which I cannot 
refrain from giving. 

First came “ hoosh,” consisting of pony ration boiled up 
with pemmican and some of our emergency Oxo and 
biscuit. Then in the cocoa-water I boiled our little 
plum pudding, which a friend of Wild’s had given him. 
This, with a drop of medical brandy, was a luxury which 
the greatest glutton living might have envied. And 
afterwards came cocoa ; and, lastly, cigars and a spoonful 
of liqueur sent us by a friend in Scotland. 

We were really satisfied for once, and as we knew that 
we should not be in that happy state again for many a 
long day, we discussed the situation after dinner and 
decided still further to reduce our food. 

On Christmas Day we were nearly 250 geographical 
miles from the Pole, and having one month’s food but 
only three weeks’ biscuit, we resolved to make each 
week’s food last ten days, and to throw away everything 
except the most absolute necessities. 

Already we were as regards clothes down to the limit, 
but at this time we decided also to dump a lot of spare 
gear — and risk it. 

P ullin g 150 lb. per man, we spent our Boxing Day 
among ridges and crevasses. Every time we reached the 
top of a ridge we said to ourselves, “ Perhaps this is the 

140 Shackleton 

last,” but the last was long in coming. And in the mean- 
time our maize was nearly finished, and our rations were 
bound to be shorter than ever. Considering that hard 
half -cooked maize gave us indigestion, it is, perhaps, 
curious that we were very sorry that there was so little 
of it left, but those who have suffered from both hunger 
and indigestion know too well which is the harder to 

On December 28 we reached 10,199 ft. above sea-level 
and a latitude of 86° 31', and bad headaches — which 
were, I think, a form of mountain sickness — began to 
attack us. The sensation was as though the nerves were 
being twisted up with a corkscrew and then pulled out. 
Our sledge was by this time badly strained, and on the 
dreadful bad surface of soft snow was very hard to move ; 
and when it is remembered that physical labour of any 
kind is always trying at a great height, it is not to be 
wondered at that we were beginning to feel nearly spent. 

If the rise would only have stopped we could have 
endured the cold, but the two together were terribly 
trying ; and then, to add to our unhappiness, the last 
day but one of the old year brought with it such a blizzard 
from the south that we had to spend nearly the whole of 
it in our sleeping-bags. 

There we lay while precious time and food were going, 
and tried to think how we could improve the situation, 
but all we could find to console us was the resolution 
that if we could get near enough to the Pole to rush for 
it, we would leave almost everything behind us and make 
the attempt. The last day of the year brought us eleven 
miles nearer to our goal, and although our heads were 
aching and the shortness of food was telling on us terribly, 
we were, in spite of everything, cheered by the thought 
that we were still getting south. 

In the Antarctic 

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By the evening of New Year’s Day we were within 
172-5- miles of the Pole, so we had managed to beat all 
records North and South, and we also had hopes of a better 
surface — which were, unfortunately, not fulfilled. Again 
we had to battle over very soft snow, and the cold wind 
seemed to go right through us, weakened as we were 
from want of food. 

Impossible as it was to think of failure yet, I compelled 
myself to look at the matter sensibly and to consider the 
lives of those who were with me. I felt indeed that if 
we went on too far it would be impossible to get back 
over such a surface, and then all the results of our efforts 
would be lost to the world. 

We had now definitely located the South Pole on the 
highest plateau in the world, and our geological and 
meteorological work would be of the greatest use to 
science. But all this was not the Pole. And how sadly 
I realised that I need not say. 

Still, man could only do his best, and after ten hours’ 
struggle against the strongest forces of nature, one pan- 
nikin of food with two biscuits and a cup of cocoa did 
but little to warm and comfort and satisfy him. 

I resolved to make a depot on the 4th and then to 
dash for the Pole, and on that day we left a depot on the 
great wide plateau, a risk which nothing but the circum- 
stances could justify, but to which my companions agreed 
with the regardlessness of self which they had always 

Pathetically small did the bamboo look which we left 
to mark the little stock of provisions — indeed, we lost 

In the Antarctic 143 

sight of it in half an hour, and had to trust that our 
footprints in the snow would guide us back again to the 

By night, however, I knew — and had to acknowledge — 
that our limit was almost reached. We had only been 
carrying 70 lb. per man since we had made our last 
depot, but it was harder work than the 100 odd lb. we 
had been pulling the day before, and far harder than 
250 lb. had seemed some three weeks previously. 

Nothing could more clearly have convinced me of our 
failing strength, even if I could have shut my eyes to the 
facts that our faces were cut, our feet and hands always 
on the verge of frost-bite, our boots nearly worn out, 
and that when we got up in the morning out of the wet 
bag, our Burberries became immediately like a coat of 
mail, and also that our heads and beards got iced up 
with the moisture when breathing on the march. 

What we would have given at that time for a pair of 
scissors to trim our beards I should not like to say, and 
had we known that we were going to experience such 
cold weather we should certainly have kept a pair. 

The main things, indeed, against us were the altitude 
and ice-cold wind. Nature had declared against us, and 
at the best I had to abandon all hopes of getting nearer 
than 100 geographical miles to the Pole. 

During the next day we were absolutely obliged to 
increase our food if we were to get on at all, for our 
temperatures were far below normal, and I had such a 
headache that I should be sorry for any living man who 
had to endure such pain. 

Never once had the thermometer been above zero 
since we had been on to the plateau, though this was the 
height of summer, and on January 6 we had to endure 
57 0 of frost with a strong blizzard and high drift. 

144 Shackleton 

Still, helped by the bigger rations — which did not 
amount to anything approaching full rations — we marched 
thirteen and a quarter geographical miles and reached 
88° 7' south. But at night I had to admit that this must 
be our last outward march, though I determined that 
we would make one more rush south with the flag. With 
what feelings of sadness I came to this decision I cannot 
even try to describe. Only one thing softened our grievous 
disappointment, and that was the conviction that we 
had striven to the very limit of our strength, and had not 
given in until the forces of nature combined with our 
scanty supply of food had conquered us. 

Two days, however, had to be passed in our bags before 
we could make the final dash with the flag, days of 
shrieking blizzard and piercing cold, days in which our 
valuable food was going without our marching, and in 
which we had a gloomy foreboding that our tracks, to 
which we were trusting mainly to find our depot, might 
drift up. 

Truly we realised that we had taken a most serious 
risk, and that we were in a most critical situation, but 
we were partly sustained by the fact that, at any rate, 
we had played the game to the last and utmost. 

With 72 0 of frost the wind cut searchingly into our 
thin tent, and even the drift found its way on to our 
bags, which were wet enough already. Cramp kept on 
attacking us, and every now and then a frozen foot had 
to be nursed into life again by placing it inside the shirt 
and next to the skin of the sufferer’s almost as suffering 
neighbour. To add to our dreariness we had nothing to 
read, as we had depoted our little books so that we 
might save weight. 

We had honestly and truly shot our bolt at last, and 
when the wind dropped about midnight we were soon up 

The Farthest South Camp afl'er sixty hours' Buzzard. (XVc paye 144) 

146 Shackleton 

and ready to struggle forward a little further and hoist 
the flag as near to the South Pole as we could possibly 
bear it. 

At 9 a.m. on January 9 we were in latitude 88° 23' 
south, longitude 162° east, half running and half walking 
over a surface much hardened by the recent blizzard, 
and it was indeed strange to us to go along without the 
nightmare of that heavy sledge dragging behind us. 

Soon the time came when we had to hoist Her Majesty’s 
flag and afterwards the other Union Jack, and then we 
took possession of the plateau in the name of His Majesty. 
And while the Union Jack blew out stiff in the icy gale 
which was still cutting us to the bone, we looked south 
with our powerful glasses, but could see nothing but the 
dead white snow plain. 

No break in the plateau was to be seen as it extended 
toward the Pole, and we felt absolutely sure that the 
goal which we had struggled for — and failed to reach — 
lay on this plain. 

We stayed only for a few minutes, and then, taking 
the Queen’s flag with us, we turned our backs upon the 
Pole and began to retrace our steps. Regretfully it is 
true, but conscious that, though failure was ours, we had 
done our best to avoid it. 


Our homeward marches are a tale of sufferings from 
hunger and dysentery, of struggles against blizzards and 
crevasses and bad surfaces. One desire drove us on from 
depot to depot, and that was our supreme craving for 

In the Antarctic 147 

All of us had tragic dreams of getting food to eat, but 
rarely did we have the satisfaction of dreaming that we 
were actually eating. I did, however, once have a dream 
that I was eating bread arid butter. Conscience is said 
to make men cowardly, and I am sure that it is as true 
to say that hunger makes them very peevish and irritable. 
We looked at each other as we ate our scanty meals, and 
felt a distinct grievance if one man managed to make 
his ration last longer than the rest of us. Sometimes 
we did our best to save a bit of biscuit for the next meal, 
but the problem whether it was better to eat the food at 
once or to keep a fragment to nibble afterwards was 
never solved. 

At the start circumstances may be said to have favoured 
us, for we picked up the depot which we had ventured 
to leave on the great white plain, and the wind was so 
strongly behind that we were able to put the sail on the 

In five days we had knocked off some eighty-six 
geographical miles of those which separated us from our 
home, and as we were left with only six days’ biscuit on 
short ration and had to go 120 more miles before we 
reached our next depot, we decided to cut down our 
food by another biscuit. 

A following wind continued to help us, and the sail was 
of such assistance that on one day we made a record of 
twenty-six and a half miles, and beat it on the next by 
doing twenty-nine miles. 

But although to beat records is pleasant under any 
circumstances, my own pleasure was rather diminished 
by the facts that my heels were frost-bitten and cracked, 
and that there were also cracks under some of my toes. 

We had, however, struggled on until we were within 
eight and a half miles of our depot, though had we been 

148 Shackleton 

hindered instead of helped by the strong blizzard wind, 
it is no exaggeration to say that our chance of escaping 
starvation would have been inexpressibly small. 

On the 20th we reached our depot at 12.30 p.m. with 
sore and aching bodies, and after a struggle against 
countless difficulties. For two hours we descended a 
snow-slope, with heavy sastrugi, and then we struck 
half a mile of badly crevassed neve. After that we got on 
to blue slippery ice, where we could obtain no foothold, 
and to add to the discomfort and danger of the situation, 
a gale was blowing which swept the sledge sideways and 
knocked us off our feet. 

All of us had heavy falls, and I had two very heavy 
ones which shook me severely. On several occasions one 
or more of us lost our footing and were swept by the wind 
down the ice-slope, only with the greatest difficulty 
getting back to our sledge and companions. 

Bad, however, as that day was, and perilous as was 
our position, we had said a glad farewell to that awful 
plateau, and were on our way down the glacier. 

On the next day I harnessed up for a while, but so 
bruised and battered was I by my falls that I soon had 
to give up pulling and to content myself by walking by 
the sledge. Fortunately we had a fair wind and a down- 
hill course, so my inability to pull was not an important 

The 24th saw us with only two days’ food left and one 
day’s biscuit on much reduced ration, and we had to 
cover forty miles of crevasses before we could reach our 
next depot. Crevassed ice still added terribly to our 
troubles, but though weak I had almost recovered from 
my falls. 

Continually we seemed to be fighting for the same 
thing, to struggle on from one depot to the next to save 

Farthest South, January 9, 1909, jw&e I4(M 

150 Shackleton 

ourselves from starvation. A lunch of a cup of tea, two 
biscuits, and two spoonsful of cheese does not make one 
exactly buoyant to attack the march of the afternoon, 
but by the 25th we were reduced to this, and at night 
the food, with the exception of one meal, was completely 

No biscuit was left, and all we had to sustain us was 
cocoa, tea, salt and pepper, and very little of these. On 
that night we were very tired indeed, and we knew that 
it was absolutely necessary for us to reach our depot 
on the following day. By 7 a.m. on the 26th we came to 
the end of all our provisions except a little tea and cocoa, 
and that day and the following one can never be erased 
from our memories, for they were the hardest and the 
most trying that any of us had ever spent in our 

From 7 a.m. on the 26th till 2 p.m. on the 27th we did 
sixteen miles over the worst surfaces and most dangerous 
crevasses we had encountered, only stopping for tea and 
cocoa till they were finished, and marching twenty hours 
at a stretch through snow 10 to 18 in. thick as a rule, 
with sometimes 2 \ ft. of it. Often and often we fell 
into hidden crevasses, and were only saved by each other 
and by our harness. No words of mine could bring 
before you the mental and physical strain of those forty- 
eight hours. I will only say that had not an all-merciful 
Providence guided our steps we could never have arrived 
safely at the depot. 

When we started at 7 a.m. on the 26th we had no 
biscuit left, and with only one pannikin of hoosh, mostly 
pony-maize, and one of tea, we marched till noon. Then 
we had another pannikin of tea and one ounce of choco- 
late and marched till 4.45 f.m. Having no food, we then 
had another pannikin of tea and marched until 10 p.m.. 

In the Antarctic 151 

when we had one small pannikin of cocoa. On again 
after that until 2 a.m., when we were utterly played out 
and slept until 8 a.m. Then we had a pannikin of cocoa 
and marched until 1 p.m., when we camped about half 
a mile from our depot. 

Both Adams and Wild had fallen exhausted in their 
harness, but had recovered and gone on again. Marshall 
went on to the depot for food, and at 2 p.m. we got the 
meal we so desperately needed. And after this very 
near call we turned in and slept, thankful indeed to have 
escaped so far with our lives. 


At last we were on the Barrier again, and with six days’ 
food and only fifty miles between us and our next supply 
I thought that grave danger was behind us. But the man 
who congratulates himself that anxieties and perils are 
over, before he has reached the very end of his polar 
exploration work is wasting his time. 

In our case Wild developed dysentery, the cause of 
which we could only ascribe to the horsemeat ; while 
just before we left the glacier I broke through some soft 
snow and plunged into a hidden crevasse. The harness 
jerked up under my heart, and it seemed as though the 
glacier were saying, “ There is the last touch for you ; 
don’t you come up here again ! ” 

Certainly we were as tired of that glacier as it apparently 
was of us, and our joy at leaving it was tremendous ; 
for although the Barrier gave us a most unfriendly 
greeting, we knew that a great many dangers were 

152 Shackleton 

over, and thought that nothing except blizzards and 
thick weather were to be feared. 

The Barrier, however, did not mean to be beaten by 
the glacier in the way of treating us harshly, for during 
our first day on it we were attacked by a wind which 
froze solidly all our wet clothes, and five minutes after 
the wind had sprung up we were struck by a furious 
blizzard of snow and heavy drift. Under the circum- 
stances we had to pitch our camp, and He in our bags, 
patching our worn-out clothes — a rather tedious, if 
useful, pursuit when one was literally aching to go on. 

During the following days there was a variety in 
our misfortunes — a variety, indeed, which was so terribly 
weakening that by the beginning of February our out- 
look had become more serious than it had ever been. 

Dysentery had attacked all of us acutely ; but if 
there was a variety in our troubles, there was none in 
our food, for we had only four miserably thin biscuits 
a day to eke out our horsemeat. 

On February 2 we reached our next depot, and 
started on the following day with a new sledge and 
150 lb. more weight. But on that day all of us were 
suffering from dysentery, and Wild was very bad indeed. 

On the 4th I wrote in my diary, “ Cannot write more. 
All down with acute dysentery ; terrible day. No march 
possible ; outlook serious. Fine weather.” 

It gives me joy now to think that, anxious and spent 
as we were, trusting indeed to God to pull us through, 
but too weary and weak to be very hopeful or to care 
very much, we still hung on to the geological specimens 
we had collected. 

By the 6th we were all better, but we were terribly 
hungry, and six biscuits per day and one pannikin of 
horsemeat each meal did nothing to enable us to regain 

In the Antarctic 

The Camp under the Granite Pillar, half a mile from the 
Lower Glacier Depot, where the Party camped on January 2 7 

(See page 151 ) 

154 Shackleton 

our strength. Indeed, my fear was that this incessant 
hunger would weaken us so much that our return would 
never be accomplished. 

On the 7th Adams and Marshall were again attacked 
by dysentery ; and, though Wild and I were free of it, 
all of us were pitiably weak. Still we struggled on, 
starving for food, and talking about it all the time as we 
advanced slowly towards the north. 

The mounds which we had laid on our way out con- 
tinued to guide us on our return, and were a great comfort, 
but all our thoughts and our conversation were about 
food. Wind and weather helped us through that desperate 
time, or again in our weakened and starving condition 
we could never have hoped to reach our next depot. 

Assisted, however, as we were, we reached the depot 
on February 13 without a single particle of food left. 
There we found poor old Chinaman’s liver, and thought 
it a dish that kings might envy. We looked round for 
any spare bits of meat, and while I was digging in the 
snow I came across some hard red stuff, which turned 
out to be Chinaman’s blood frozen into a solid core. 
We dug it up, and in such straits were we that we found 
it a most welcome addition to our food. When boiled 
up, it seemed to us like beef-tea. 

Truly I was in luck in those days, for the fifteenth of 
February was my birthday, and I was given a present 
of a cigarette made out of pipe tobacco and some paper 
we had with us. It tasted absolutely delicious. 

Those, however, were glad moments in a most distress- 
ing time, for on the day following my smoke all of 
us were again so appallingly hungry, and consequently 
so weak, that even to lift our almost empty provision- 
bag was an effort. 

When we broke camp in the morning we pulled the 

In the Antarctic 155 

tent off the poles and took it down before we moved 
the things inside, for the effort of lifting anything through 
the doorway was too much for us. At night we some- 
times had to lift our legs one at a time with both hands 
in getting them into the tent, and after we had stiffened 
from the day’s march it seemed almost impossible to 
lift our feet without assistance. 

On the 17th we had to march in a blinding blizzard, 
with 42 0 of frost, but mercifully the wind was behind 
us ; and although the sledge with the sail up sometimes 
overran us and sometimes, getting into a patch of soft 
snow, brought us up with a jerk, we were thankful that 
we had not to face such a wind. The jerks, however, 
were very painful ; for when we were brought up 
suddenly, the harness round our weakened stomachs 
hurt us very much indeed. 

All of us had tragic dreams of getting food to eat, 
and with four men as hungry as we were, I can assure 
you that it saves much envy if all of them finish their 
meal at precisely the same moment. The man in our 
party who managed to make his hoosh last longer than 
the rest of us was not for the time being at all a popular 

On the 18th we sighted Mount Discovery, and it seemed 
to be a connecting link between us and our winter 
quarters. Its big, bluff form showed out in the north- 
west, and we felt that this same mountain might at the 
very moment be drawing the eyes of our own people. 
It looked like a reminder that there was still a place 
called “ home,” and helped to cheer us on our painful 

Mount Erebus was sighted on the following morning, 
and if we had not come to the end of our supplies again, 
except for some scraps of meat scraped off the bones of 

156 Shackleton 

Grisi after they had been lying on the snow and in th 
sun for months, all would have been well. To eat these 
however, was too great a risk until we were faced wit] 
absolute and complete starvation, and on the following da; 
we hoped to reach Depot A. 

Calls to breakfast had long since been things of th 
past. The cook of the day no longer said, “ Come on 
boys ; good hoosh,” for no good hoosh was to be had 
and in less time than it has taken me to write this ou 
food was finished, and then our hopes and thought 
lay wholly in the direction of the next feed, so calle< 
from force of habit. 

On the 20th we were impeded by such a bad ligh 
that we could only see a little way ; but by 4 p.m. w< 
reached Depot A, at which was the tin of jam that w< 
had originally intended to eat on Christmas Day — an< 
never did jam taste more delightful ! Our depotec 
tobacco and cigarettes were also there, and apart fron 
the intense enjoyment of a good smoke, I felt sure tha 
tobacco would make up for the shortage of food unti 
we reached the Bluff depot. This last depot was the om 
which I had told J oyce to lay out, and which was the om 
ray of hope in front of us during these days of hunge: 
and disease. 

At any rate, we had to stake upon finding provision: 
at the Bluff, for we had not food enough to carry us bad 
to the ship. In fact, if we did not find it we were lost men 
Each time we took in another hole in our belts we sai( 
that everything would be all right as soon as the Bluf 
was reached, and so eager were we to reach the gooc 
things in store for us that on the 21st we struggled 01 
through a blizzard with as many as 67° of frost. 

In ordinary polar work no one would think of travellinj 
in such weather, but our need was extreme and we ha( 

158 Shackleton 

to keep on going. Food lay ahead and death stalked us 
from behind. We were so thin that our bones ached as 
we lay on the hard snow in our sleeping-bags. Was it to 
be wondered at that, blizzard or no blizzard, we were 
determined to struggle forward until we dropped ? 

And on the 22nd we had a splendid day, and came 
across the tracks of men with dogs, which assured us 
that the depot had been laid all right. Soon afterwards 
we passed their noon camp, and as tins were lying round 
which had different brands from those of the original 
stores, we were certain also that the ship had returned. 

After carefully searching the ground for unconsidered 
trifles, we found three small bits of chocolate and a tiny 
bit of biscuit, and we “ turned backs ” for them. I was 
unlucky enough to get the biscuit, and a curious and 
unreasoning anger took possession of me for a moment 
at my bad luck. Nothing could show more strikingly 
how primitive we had become, and how much the question 
of even a morsel of food affected our judgment. 

However, we were near to the Bluff, but though we 
felt certain that food was going to be there in plenty, we 
also were occasionally beset by the thought that if by 
some chance it was not, then all chance of our safety was 
at an end. 


Early on the morning of the 23rd we broke camp, and 
in a few hours Wild saw the Bluff depot miraged up. It 
seemed to be quite close, and the flags were waving 
and dancing, as though to say, “ Come, here I am ; 
come and feed ! ” 

In the Antarctic 159 

It was indeed a cheerful sight for weary and hungry 
men, and directly we saw it we devoured the few biscuits 
we still possessed. 

At 4 p.m. we reached this haven, and found that 
Joyce and his party had done their work splendidly ; 
and I, climbing to the top of it, told those below of the 
glorious feeds awaiting us. Luxuries there were in plenty : 
Carlsbad plums, cakes, eggs, plum puddings, and even 
fresh boiled mutton from the ship. Apart, however, 
from these luxuries there was an ample supply of ordinary 
sledging rations, so that we were safe from a want of 
food, and had only to get back to the ship. 

With what thankfulness we set upon our provisions 
those who have not suffered from want and hunger 
cannot imagine. Suddenly we found ourselves with 
meals fit for the gods, and with appetites that the gods 
might have envied. Our contracted bodies, however, 
would not stand the strain of much food, but I cannot 
express the relief it was to know that we had only to 
stretch our hands to touch food, even if we could not 
eat it. I lay writing in my bag that night with biscuits 
and chocolate and jam. beside me. I dare say this reminds 
the reader of a greedy schoolboy ; but it is true, and I 
see no reason to think that it was anything but perfectly 

At the Bluff we did not receive much news of the 
Nimrod , except that Evans, who had towed us down 
in the Koonya, was now in command of it ; and we 
heard nothing of either the northern or the western 

Now our main object was to get back to the ship 
before she was compelled to sail, and full of hope we 
proceeded on our way during the 24th. 

On the following day, however, Marshall was attacked 

160 Shackleton 

by paralysis of the stomach and renewed dysentery, 
and as a blizzard was blowing we decided to lie in our 
bags and wait. These misfortunes were particularly 
distressing, for it was absolutely necessary to push on 
if we were to catch the Nimrod. According to orders, 
the ship might very possibly leave on March i if the 
Sound was not clear of ice, and we had already arrived 
at February 26 in a year which unhappily was not Leap 

On the 26th we did manage to do twenty-four miles, 
but although Marshall never complained, he suffered 
severely, and as his dysentery was getting worse and 
worse, I decided, on the afternoon of the 27th, to leave 
him in the care of Adams, and to push ahead with 

My hope was that we should pick up a relief party at 
the ship, and so we hurried on with no sleep and with 
the briefest stoppages for meals, until we had been 
marching for nearly twenty-four hours. 

By this time our food was finished, and naturally we 
were very tired, but although we kept on flashing the 
heliograph in the hope of attracting attention from 
Observation Hill, where I thought a party would be' on 
the look-out, there was no return flash. 

Still, there was nothing to do except to push ahead, 
and once we thought that we saw a party coming over 
to meet us, but to our sorrow the “ party ” turned out 
to be a group of penguins at the ice edge. 

At 2.30 p.m. we sighted open water ahead, but the 
weather had suddenly become so thick that it was 
impossible to see far, and our arrival at the ice edge was 
quite sudden and unexpected. The ice was swaying up 
and down so warningly that to continue on that course 
was to run grave risk of being carried out, so we decided 

■ ft-' a 

v r*| 



to follow another route, seven miles round by the other 
side of Castle Rock. 

At last, after what seemed a never-ending struggle, 
we reached Castle Rock, from whence we could see that 
there was open water all round the north. Indeed, it 
was a different home-coming from the one we had 

Often on the Barrier and up on the plateau our 
thoughts had turned to the day when we should return 
to winter quarters, but never had we imagined that we 
should have to fight our way to the back door, so to 
speak, in such a cheerless fashion. 

At 7.45 p.m. we reached the top of Ski Slope, and from 
there both the hut and the bay could be seen. But no 
sign of the ship could we find, and no trace of life could 
be seen at the hut. 

With our minds full of gloomy possibilities, we hurried 
on to the hut, and discovered that every one had gone 

A letter had been left for us stating that all the parties 
had been picked up except ours, and that the ship would 
be sheltering under Glacier Tongue until February 26. 
As it was already February 28 there is no need to say 
how distressed we were at this new development of the 
situation. For if the ship was gone, both the plight of 
the two men out on the Barrier and of ourselves was a 
most serious one. 

That was a bad night for Wild and myself, for although 
we were able to have a good meal, we had left our 
sleeping-bags behind, and had to wrap pieces of roofing- 
felt round us in our attempts to keep warm. Our efforts 
were neither successful in that direction nor in that of 
trying to signal for help. For we could not get the 
magnetic hut to light, and we were so tired and cold 

In the Antarctic 163 

that when we endeavoured to tie up the Union Jack on 
the hill the knots were too much for us. 

In the morning, however, we managed to make both 
of these signals, and all our fears vanished with one 
glad swoop when we saw the shH in the distance. 

At 11 a.m. on March 1 we were once more on board 
the Nimrod, and I will not aaempt to describe the 
load which was suddenly lifted from my shoulders, or 
the reception we received from our friends who had 
given us up for lost, and who on that same day were 
going to send out a search-party in the hope of finding 
some traces of us. 

The ship brought us nothing but good news from the 
outside world, and I found that every member of the 
Expedition was well, and that the work laid down had 
been accomplished. 

The immediate thing, however, to do was not to 
delay over these splendid reports, but to bring in Adams 
and Marshall ; and in the afternoon I started off again 
from the Barrier edge with Mackay, Mawson and 
McGillan, leaving Wild on the Nimrod. 

We found that Marshall’s health had been im- 
proved by the rest, but the march renewed the attack, 
and it was with feelings of great relief that we at 
length got him back to winter quarters and put him to 

By 1 a.m. on March 4 we were all once more safe on 
board the Nimrod; but Adams, after surviving all the 
dangers of the interior of the Antarctic continent, was 
nearly lost within sight of safety. Owing to the fact 
that he was wearing new finnesko he slipped at the 
ice edge, and only just managed to save himself from 
going over, and to hang on until he was rescued 
by a party from the ship. He had begun with a 

164 Shackleton 

painful accident and nearly finished with a fatal 

The Southern Party were in safety once more, but how 
often and often we were almost hopeless of ever making 
our way back to the ship I cannot say. We had taken 
our lives in our own hands, and God had preserved them. 
Perils from starvation, disease, and sudden death had 
surrounded us, and as we had learned to know what it 
is to suffer and to endure, we had also learned what it 
is to feel supremely grateful for mercy and for guidance. 



We brought back with us from our march towards the 
Pole vivid memories of how to feel intensely, fiercely 

From November 15, 1908, until February 23, 1909, we 
had but one full meal on Christmas Day, and even then 
scarcely any time had passed before we were as hungry 
as ever. Our daily allowance of food would have been 
a small one for a city worker in a temperate climate, and 
in our own case hunger was increased by the fact that 
we were performing vigorous labour in a very low tem- 

When our evening meal was prepared we used to 
“ turn backs ” in order to ensure fair divisions of the food. 
The cook used to pour the hoosh into pannikins and 
arrange the biscuits in four heaps, and as soon as we were 
all satisfied that the divisions were equal one man would 

In the Antarctic 

The Southern Party on board the “Nimrod." Lett to right : Wild* Sfiackueton, 

Marshall, Adams. {Set page 164) 

166 Shackleton 

turn his back, and another, pointing at one lot, would say 
“ Whose ? ” 

Then the man with his back turned would mention a 
name, and so the distribution proceeded, each of us 
feeling sure that the smallest share had fallen to 
his lot. 

On alternate days we had chocolate and cheese for 
lunch, and since the former was more satisfying and 
easier to divide we infinitely preferred it. Considering 
how greatly we depended during our march upon pony- 
meat, the reader will readily understand that the loss of 
Socks was a terrible blow to us. 

If we had been able to use poor Socks for food there 
is no doubt that we should have been able to get further 
south, and perhaps even have reached the Pole itself. 
But I must also mention that had we managed to 
get to the Pole, we could scarcely have caught the ship 
before she was compelled to leave by the approach of 

During the last weeks of the journey outwards, and 
the long march back when our allowance had been 
reduced to twenty ounces per man a day, I confess with- 
out one atom of shame that we really thought of little 
but food. Man becomes very primitive when he is 
desperately hungry, and neither the glory of the 
mountains that towered high on our sides, nor the majesty 
of the great glacier up which we travelled so painfully, 
appealed to any extent to our emotions. 

I used often to find myself wondering whether people 
who suffer from hunger in the big cities of civilisation felt 
as we were feeling, and I concluded that they did not, for 
no barrier of law and order would have been allowed to 
stand between us and any food that had been available. 
The difference must be that the man who starves in a 

In the Antarctic 167 

city is weakened and hopeless and without spirit while 
we — until nearly the end — were vigorous and keen. 

We could not joke about food in any way that is possible 
for the man who is hungry in the ordinary sense. True 
we thought and talked about it most of the time, but 
always in the most serious manner. 

On the outward march we were not severely hungry 
until we reached the great glacier, and then we were so 
occupied with the dangers of climbing and of crossing 
crevasses that we were unable to talk much. And after- 
wards on the plateau our faces were generally so covered 
with ice that unnecessary conversation was out of the 

It was on the march back, after we had got down the 
glacier, and were tramping over the Barrier surface that 
we talked freely of food. Strange feelings, indeed, did I 
have when I looked back over our notes, and saw the 
wonderful meals that we promised to eat when we could 
get inside a really good restaurant. 

We used to tell each other, with perfect seriousness, 
about the new dishes that we had thought of, and if the 
dish met with general approval there would be a chorus 
of “ Ah l That’s good.” 

The “ Wild roll ” was admitted to be the high-water 
mark of gastronomic luxury. He proposed that the 
cook should take a supply of well-seasoned minced meat, 
wrap it in rashers of fat bacon, and place around the 
whole an outer covering of rich pastry so that it would 
take the form of a big sausage-roll. Then this roll was 
to be fried with plenty of fat. 

My best dish, \vdiich I admit I put forward with a good 
deal of pride as vte marched over the snow, was a sardine 
pasty. And I remember that one day Marshall came 
forward with a proposal for a thick roll of suet pudding 

i 68 Shackleton 

with plenty of jam all over it, and there arose quite a 
heated argument whether he could claim this dish to be 
an invention, or whether it was not the jam roll already 
known to the housewives of civilisation. 

One point there was on which we were all agreed, and 
that was our wish not to have any jellies or things of that 
sort at our future meals. The idea of eating such slippery 
stuff as jelly did not appeal in the least to any one of us. 

Perhaps all this sounds very greedy and uncivilised 
to anyone who has never been on the verge of starvation, 
but I wish to say again that hunger makes a man primi- 
tive. Not a smile broke from us as we planned wonderful 
feats of over-eating, in truth we were intensely serious 
about the matter, and we noted down in the back pages 
of our diaries details of feasts we would have when we got 
back to the land of plenty. 

The dysentery from which we suffered was certainly 
due to the meat from the pony Grisi. This animal was 
shot when greatly fatigued, and I think that his flesh was 
poisoned by the presence of the poison of exhaustion, as 
is the case with animals that have been hunted. The 
manner in which we contrived to continue marching 
when suffering, and the speed with which we recovered 
when we got good food, were rather remarkable, and the 
reason doubtless was that the dysentery was due to 
poison, and was not produced by organic trouble. 

Providentially we had a strong wind behind us during 
that period of distress and this assuredly saved us, for 
in our weakened state we could not have made long 
marches against a head-wind, and without long marches 
we would have starved between the depots. 

In the early part of the journey over the level Barrier 
surface we felt the heat of the sun severely, although the 
temperature was very low. It was quite usual to feel 

In the Antarctic 169 

one side of the face getting frozen while the other side 
was being sunburnt. Later on when our strength had 
begun to lessen, we found great difficulty in hoisting the 
sail on our sledge, because when we lifted our arms over 
our heads to adjust the sail, the blood ran from our fingers 
and they promptly froze. Our troubles with frost-bite 
were doubtless due partly to the lightness of our clothing,, 
but there was compensation for this in the greater speed 
with which we were able to travel. 

I am convinced that men engaged in polar exploration 
should be clothed as lightly as possible, even if they are 
in danger of being frost-bitten when they halt on the 
march. We owe many grudges against the glacier which 
caused us so many difficulties, but my chief one now is 
that we brought back no photographs of a very interesting 
portion of it. This was due to the facts that we expected 
to take as many photographs as we had plates to spare 
on our return journey, and that when we returned we 
were so short of food that we could not afford the time 
to unpack the camera. 

The glacier itself presented every variety of surface, 
from soft snow to cracked and riven blue ice, but later 
the only constant feature were the crevasses, from which 
we were never free. 

Some were entirely covered with a crust of soft snow, 
and we discovered them only when one of us broke 
through and hung by his harness from the sledge. Others 
occurred in mazes of rotten ice, and were even more 
difficult to negotiate than the other sort. The sledges, 
owing to their length, were not liable to slip down a 
crevasse, and when we were securely attached to them 
by their harness we. felt fairly safe, but when the surface 
was so bad that relay work was necessary we used to miss 
the support of a sledge on the back journeys. 

170 Shackleton 

We would advance one sledge half a mile or a mile, 
put up a bamboo pole to mark the spot, and then go back 
for the other. For the walk back we were always roped 
together, but even then we felt a great deal less secure 
than when harnessed to one of the long, heavy sledges. 

One piece — or two pieces — of fortune we assuredly did 
have upon the glacier, for both when we were struggling 
up and scrambling down it the wind was behind us. 
But on the glacier we were often troubled at night by 
the fact that there was no snow on which to pitch our 
tent, and consequently when we were weary after the 
day’s march an hour had frequently to be spent in smooth- 
ing out a space for the camp on a rippled, sharp-pointed 
sea of ice. 

The provision bags and sledges were packed on the 
snow cloths round the tents and it was indeed fortunate 
for us that we met no bad weather while we were marching 
up the glacier. Had a blizzard come on while we were 
asleep, it would have scattered our goods far and wide, 
and we would have been faced with a most serious 

The upper glacier depot was overhung by great cliffs 
•of rock, shattered by the frosts and storms of countless 
centuries, and many fragments were poised in such a 
fashion that scarcely more than a touch seemed necessary 
to bring them hurtling down. All around us on the ice 
lay rocks that had recently fallen, and it was not a com- 
forting sensation to feel that at any moment a huge 
boulder might drop upon our camp. 

We had no choice of a camping-ground, as all around 
was rough ice. The cliffs were composed largely of 
weathered sandstone, and it was on the same mountain 
higher up on the glacier that Wild discovered coal, at a 
point where the slope was comparatively gentle. 

1 J 2 Shackleton 

One of our greatest disappointments was that th< 
last ridge of the great glacier having been passed anc 
the actual plateau gained, we did not meet with a hare 
surface, such as the Discovery expedition had encounterec 
in the journey to the plateau beyond the west of McMurdc 
Sound, but still had to battle with soft snow and hare 

After the fierce blizzard which raged from the nighl 
of January 6 until the morning of January 9, we hac 
better conditions under which to make our final marct 
southwards, for the wind had swept away the soft snow : 
and unencumbered with the sledge we could advance 
more easily. 

In reviewing the experience gained on the southern 
journey, I do not think that I could suggest any importanl 
improvements in equipment for future expeditions. 
Evidently the Barrier surface varies remarkably, and the 
traveller must be prepared for either a very hard or a 
very soft surface, both of which he may encounter in the 
same day’s march. 

On the glacier we should have been glad to have had 
heavy Alpine boots with nails all round, but as the 
temperature is too cold to permit of the explorer wearing 
ordinary leather boots, some boot would have to be 
designed which was at once warm enough for the feel 
and strong enough to carry the nails. 

Our clothing proved to be quite satisfactory, bul 
experience goes to show that a party which hopes tc 
reach the Pole must take more food per man than we did 
I would in no case take cheese again, for chocolate is 
more palatable and easier to divide. 

Each member of our Southern Party had his owr 
particular duties to perform, Adams being responsible 
for the meteorological observations which involved— 

In the Antarctic 173 

among other duties — the taking of temperatures at 
regular intervals. Marshall took the meridian altitudes, 
and the angles and bearings of all the new land, and his 
work was most discomforting, for at the end of a day’s 
march and often at lunch-time as well, he would be 
compelled to stand in the biting wind handling the screws 
of the theodolite. He also prepared the map of the 
journey and took most of the photographs. 

Wild attended to the repair of the sledges and equip- 
ment, and also assisted me in the geological observations 
and the collection of specimens. My other work was to 
keep the courses and distances, and to work out observa- 
tions and lay down our directions. 

I kept two diaries, one my observation book, and the 
other a narrative diary. But although all of us kept 
diaries we were more often than I care to remember 
too spent and cold at night to pay much attention to 



During the winter the Nimrod had been laid up in 
Port Lyttelton, and had been thoroughly overhauled so 
that she should once more be ready to battle with the ice. 
Captain F. P. Evans had been appointed master of the 
ship under my power of attorney, Captain England having 
resigned on account of ill-health, and towards the end 
of the year sufficient stores were taken on board to 
provide for a party staying at Cape Royds through the 
winter, in case one of the sledging-parties had not returned, 
and also to provide for the ship if she herself was frozen 

174 Shackleton 

The Nimrod left Lyttelton again on December i, 1908, 
and enjoyed fine weather for the voyage southwards, 
the experience of Captain Evans on this voyage going to 
show that, under normal conditions, the pack that 
stretches out from the Barrier to the eastward of the 
Ross Sea is impenetrable, and that the Discovery was 
able to push to within sight of King Edward VII Land 
in 1902 because the ice was unusually open during that 
season. Twenty-eight miles from Cape Royds fast ice 
was encountered, and as there seemed to be no immediate 
possibility of the ship being able to proceed, Captain 
Evans decided to send Mackintosh with three men to 
convey a mail-bag to the winter quarters. No very great 
difficulties were anticipated for this expedition, but as 
it turned out, not only difficulties but also dangers and 
almost death were to be met with. 

On January 3 Mackintosh set out with McGillan, 
Riches and Paton, but in the afternoon Riches and Paton 
returned to the ship and Mackintosh and McGillan 
proceeded alone. 

On the second day their way was blocked by open water 
with pressure ice floating past, and although they walked 
for two hours in a westerly direction to see how far the 
water reached, they did not get to the end of it. The 
whole of the ice to the southward seemed to be moving, 
and as the open water seemed to take away any possi- 
bility of reaching Cape Royds, they started back to the 

Presently Mackintosh discovered that there was also 
open water ahead of them, blocking the way to the 
ship, and a survey of the position revealed the unpleasant 
fact that the floe -ice was breaking up altogether, and 
that they were in serious danger of drifting out into the 
Sound. Safety lay only in a hurried dash for the shore 

In the Antarctic 175 

to the east, and every two hundred yards or so they had 
to drag their sledge to the edge of a floe, jump over a. 
lane of water, and then with a big effort pull the sledge 
after them. 

After an hour of this work their hands were cut and 
bleeding, and their clothes were frozen as stiff as boards, 
for they had frequently slipped and fallen when crossing 
from floe to floe. At last, however, they approached the 
land, and came to a piece of glacier ice that formed a 
bridge. The floe that they were on was moving rapidly, 
so they had to make a great effort and drag the sledge 
over a six-foot breach. They succeeded in doing this 
and were in a safe position again, but had they been fifteen 
minutes later they would have been lost, for by that time 
there was open water where they had gained the land. 

Near this spot they decided to camp, and McGillan 
was almost at once so badly attacked by snow- blindness 
that his face was badly swollen and his eyes tightly 
closed. So bad indeed was McGillan that, until Mackintosh 
could bear the pain no longer in silence, he did not know 
that his companion was suffering from the same complaint 
as himself. 

For several days they stayed in camp, and when their 
eyes were better they studied the bird-life of the neigh- 
bourhood, until, tired of seeing no sign of the ship. 
Mackintosh decided that they would leave the heavy 
mail-bag in their tent and march to Cape Royds. Then 
followed one of those battles against crevasses and hidden 
dangers with which those who take part in polar explora- 
tion are too intimately acquainted. Once McGillan fell 
into a yawning chasm and was only held up on a projec- 
tion of ice, and frequently one slip would have meant 
the end of all things in this world for both of them. 

At last a point was reached at which their way was 

176 Shackleton 

blocked in every direction by crevasses, ascent was no 
longer possible, and below them lay a steep slope running 
down for about 300 ft. What lay at the bottom they 
could not tell, but their case was desperate and they 
decided to glissade down. 

Their knives, which they attempted to use as brakes, 
were torn from their grasp, but they managed to keep 
their heels in the snow and to reach the bottom in safety. 

Hunger had seized them for they had practically no 
food left, but two hours after they had dashed down the 
slope they could see Cape Royds and hoped soon to be 
at the winter quarters. 

Immediately afterwards, however, such thick snow 
began to fall that they could not see two yards ahead, 
and for hours they were stumbling along in the blinding 
storm. Occasionally they rested for a few minutes, but 
icicles hung from their faces, and they did not dare to 
stay still for long. 

Heavy snow continued to cut off all view of the sur- 
rounding country, and they had been wandering for 
twenty-seven hours after their glissade, when Day found 
them in a state of complete exhaustion, and just stagger- 
ing along because they knew that to stop meant death. 
Had not Day been outside the hut — to which the travellers 
had no idea they were close — watching for the return 
of the ship, that expedition, undertaken so light-heartedly, 
must almost certainly have been a fatal one to .Mackintosh 
and McGillan. 

The two weary men reached the hut on January 12, 
but a week before that date the Nimrod had arrived at 
Cape Royds, and had gone north again to search for 
them. Doomed to disappointment and horror were the 
men at the hut when they learned that not only were 
they not to have any letters, but that also Mackintosh 


The u N IMROD n HELD LP IK THE ICE. {tft't* JWtfi: ITS) 

178 Shackleton 

and McGillan had left the ship on the 3rd to try to bring 
the letters more quickly over the sea-ice and over the 
bay, which even then was filled with loose pack and 
which a few days before had been open water. 

On January 7 the Nimrod left Cape Royds again to 
seek for the lost men, and in a few hours was beset by 
ice, and so remained for practically the whole of the 
time between the 7th and the 15th. On the afternoon 
of the 16th, however, the ship cleared the ice, and 
approached the only piece of shore on which there was 
a chance of finding Mackintosh and McGillan. Near the 
end of a stretch of beach a small patch of greenish colour 
was seen, and the telescope revealed the details of a 
deserted camp and a tent torn to ribbons. A boat was 
at once sent ashore, and the bag of letters was discovered, 
and also a note from Mackintosh telling of his risky 
attempt to cross the mountains. 

As Murray, who was on the ship, knew the frightfully 
crevassed character of the ground which Mackintosh and 
McGillan had determined to cross, little hope of their 
safety remained. 

Judge, then, the joy of those on board the Nimrod 
when two men came out to meet the ship on its arrival 
at Cape Royds, and one of them was seen to be McGillan. 


How well Joyce and his party, consisting of Mackintosh, 
Day and Martin, placed a depot of stores about fourteen 
miles off Minna Bluff, and how glad the Southern Party 
were to find them there has already been told. 

In the Antarctic 179 

In the depoting of these stores Joyce made two journeys, 
starting for the first from winter quarters on January 15 
and returning to Hut Point on January 31, and leaving 
there again with a second load of stores (which had been 
brought by a party from the Nimrod) and reaching the 
Bluff Depot for the second time on February 8. 

On their re-arrival at this depot they found, to their sur- 
prise, that the Southern Party had not appeared, and for 
some days Joyce and his companions searched the horizon 
with glasses, in the hope of sighting the overdue travellers. 

They waited until the Southern Party was eleven days 
after the time fixed for their return, and then decided to 
lay a depot flag in towards the Bluff so that by no chance 
could the food be missed, and, secondly, to march due 
south to look for the Southern Party. In this march 
they were, as is known, unsuccessful in finding the weary 
travellers, and eventually they returned to the Bluff 
Depot and found everything as they had left it. 

Filled with gloomy thoughts as to the fate of Adams, 
Marshall, Wild and myself — for we were then eighteen 
days overdue — they started on the 16th to march back 
to the coast. But although they did not find us, they had 
nevertheless saved our lives by the provisions they had 
so laboriously brought to the depot. 

At the same time that we of the Southern Party were 
fighting our way towards the Pole, the Western Party, 
consisting of Armytage, Priestley and Brocklehurst, 
were working in the western mountains. 

On December 9 they left winter quarters and reached 
the “ stranded moraines ” four days later. These moraines, 
which were found by the Discovery expedition, are relics 
of the days of more extensive glaciation, and as they 
present a most varied collection of rocks they are of 
very great interest. 

180 Shackleton 

There the party succeeded in securing a large number 
of skuas’ eggs, but the anticipated feast was not enjoyed, 
for, to quote the words of one of the expedition, only 
about a dozen of the eggs were “ good enough for eating.” 
The other eggs were thrown on the snow near the tent, 
with the result that there was an invasion of skuas, the 
birds not only eating the eggs but also making them- 
selves a nuisance by pulling about the sledge-harness 
and the stores. Geological specimens this party secured 
in valuable abundance, and, as was the case with the 
•other sledging expeditions that were out at the time, a 
-special feast was provided for Christmas Day. 

That Priestley enjoyed this feast is shown by his diary, 
in which he wrote, “ The plum pudding was ‘ top-hole.’ 
Must remember to give one of the pot-holed sandstones 
to Wild for the New Zealand girl who gave him the 
plum pudding.” 

This party were on the look-out for the men who had 
gone north in search of the Magnetic Pole, but failing to 
find any sign of them, they went back to their depot 
•on January 14 and pitched camp to wait for the Northern 
Party until the 25th, when they were either to make their 
way back to winter quarters or to signal for the ship by 
means of the heliograph. 

On the 24th, however, this party had the narrowest 
•escape from never seeing either winter quarters or the 
Nimrod again. They were camped on the sea-ice at the 
foot of Butter Point, in a position which to all appearances 
was one of safety. Armytage indeed had examined the 
tide-crack along ’the shore and had found no signs of 
more than ordinary movement, and the ice all round 
seemed to be quite fast. 

But early in the morning of the 24th, Priestley, who 
was first out of the tent, abruptly dispelled any feelings 

182 Shackleton 

of security that his companions possessed. At once he 
discovered that the ice they were on had broken away 
and was drifting north to the optn sea, and, returning to 
tell the others, they immediately turned out, to find 
that this statement was only too true. Two miles of 
open water already intervened between the floe and the 
shore, and they were to all appearances moving steadily 

“ When,” Armytage wrote in his report, “ we found 
that the ice had gone out, we loaded up the sledge and 
started to see whether we could get off the floe to the 
north. The position seemed to be rather serious, for we 
could not hope to cross any stretch of open water, there 
was no reasonable chance of assistance from the ship, 
and most of our food was at Butter Point. We had not 
gone very far to the north when we came to an impassable 
lane of open water, and we decided to return to our original 
position. We went into camp and had breakfast at 
II A.M.” 

After that the three men waited for some time on the 
off-chance of the ship coming along one of the lanes and 
picking them up, or of the current changing and the ice 
once more touching the shore, but at the end of four 
anxious hours there was no improvement in their position. 
Killer-whales were spouting in the channels, and occa- 
sionally bumping the ice under the floe. 

Unable to wait any longer, the party marched right 
round the floe but met with open water in every direction, 
and at io p.m. they were back in their old position, only 
encouraged by the fact that they had apparently stopped 
moving north, and were possibly getting a little nearer 
to fast ice again. 

Soon afterwards Brocklehurst turned out to see if the 
position had changed, and reported that the floe seemed 

In the Antarctic 183 

to be within a few hundred yards of the fast ice, and was 
still moving in that direction. Then Armytage got up, 
and half an hour later saw that the floe was only about 
two hundred yards off fast ice. 

“ I ran back,” he reported, “ as fast as I could, deciding 
that there was a prospect of an attempt to get ashore 
proving successful, and gave the other two men a 

They struck camp and loaded up within a few minutes, 
while I went back to the edge of the floe at the spot 
towards which chance had first directed my steps. Just 
as the sledge got up to me I felt the floe bump the fast 
ice. Not more than six feet of the edge touched, but we 
were just at that spot, and we rushed over the bridge 
thus formed. We had only just got over when the floe 
moved away again, and this time it went north to the 
open sea. The only place at which it touched the fast 
ice was that to which I had gone when I left the tent, 
and had I happened to go to any other spot we would 
not have escaped.” 

After this Providential deliverance from a perilous 
situation, the party made their way back to Butter 
Point and camped about 3 a.m. ; and when they got up 
some hours later open water was to be seen where they 
had been drifting on the floe, and also the Nimrod was 
sighted some miles out. 

The heliograph was flashed to the vessel, and in the 
afternoon the party — having left a depot of provisions 
and oil at Butter Point in case the northern travellers 
should arrive there — were safe on board again. 

Towards' the end of January fine weather was very 
rare, for the season was advanced, and consequently the 
fast ice remaining in the Sound began to break up quickly 
and took the form of pack trending northwards. 

184 Shackleton 

The waiting for the other parties to come in was 
unpleasant for the remaining members of the shore- 
party and for those on board the ship, because the time 
was approaching when the Nimrod must either leave 
for the north or be frozen in for the winter. And still 
both the Southern and the Northern Parties tarried. 

Instructions had been left that if the Northern Party 
had not returned by February 1, a search was to be made 
along the western coast in a northerly direction. This 
party by that time was three weeks overdue, and so 
Captain Evans proceeded north with the Nimrod on 
the 1st, and began closely to examine the coast. This 
search was both dangerous and difficult, for Captain 
Evans had to keep near to the coast, in order to guard 
against the chance of missing any signal, and the sea 
was obstructed by pack-ice. The work, however, was 
done most thoroughly in the face of what Captain Evans 
afterwards described as “ small navigational difficulties.” 



The Northern Party, which consisted of Professor David, 
Douglas Mawson, and Alistair Mackay, was under the 
command of the Professor, and the tale of their adven- 
tures will be related by himself. But before the party 
set out upon this important expedition I gave final 
instructions to them, an extract from which is given. 

“ Dear Sir,” I wrote to the Professor, “ you will 
leave winter quarters on or about October 1, 1908. The 
main objects of your journey to be as follows : 


T HE M OT O R HAULING STO K E S F0 H A I>EPOT, ( S<'C pttfjr 1 A 8 > 

186 Shackleton 

(1) To take magnetic observations at every suit- 
able point, in order to determine the dip and position 
of the Magnetic Pole ; and if time, equipment, and 
supplies are sufficient, you will try to reach the Magnetic 

(2) To make a general geological survey of the 
coast of Victoria Land ; this work, however, is not to 
interfere with your attempt to reach the Pole. 

“ (3) I particularly wish you to be able, to work at 
the geology of the Western Mountains, and for Mawson 
to spend at least a fortnight at Dry Valley to prospect 
for minerals of economic value on your return from the 
north. I do not wish to limit you to an exact date for 
return to Dry Valley, if you think that by lengthening 
your stay up north you can reach the Magnetic Pole ; 
but I consider that the thorough investigation of this 
valley is of supreme importance. 

(4) The Nimrod is expected in the Sound about 
January 15, 1909. If the ship is not in, or if she does 
not see your signals, you will take into account your 
supply of provisions, and proceed either to Glacier 
Tongue or Hut Point to replenish, if you have not sufficient 
provisions at Butter Point. 

“ (5) At Butter Point a depot of at least fourteen days’ 
food and oil will be laid for you. 

“ (6) I shall leave instructions for the master of the 
Nimrod to proceed to the most accessible point at the 
west coast and there ship all your specimens. 

“ (7) If by February 1, after the arrival of the Nimrod, 
there is no evidence that your party has returned, the 
Nimrod will proceed north along the coast, looking out 
for your signals. 

“ (8) Should any accident happen to you, Mawson is 
to be in charge of the party. 

In the Antarctic 187 

(9) Trusting that you will have a successful journey 
and a safe return, 

“ I am, yours faithfully, 

“ (Signed) Ernest H. Shackleton. 

“ Commander.” 

In addition to these instructions, I also wrote to the 
Professor : 

“ Dear Sir, — If you reach the Magnetic Pole, you 
will hoist the Union Jack on the spot, and take possession 
of it on behalf of the above expedition for the British 

“ When you are in the Western Mountains, please 
do the same at one place, taking possession of Victoria 
Land as part of the British Empire. 

“ If economic minerals are found, take possession of 
the area in the same way on my behalf as commander 
of this expedition. 

“ Yours faithfully, 

“ (Signed) Ernest H. Shackleton. 

“ Commander.” 

This letter was dated September 20, 1908, and on 
that same night we gave a farewell dinner to the 
Northern Party. 



The first thing to be done in connection with our attempt 
to reach the Magnetic Pole was to lay depots, and so 
on September 25, after delay from bad weather, Priestley, 

188 Shackleton 

Day and I (David) started in the motor-car, dragging 
behind us two sledges over the ice. 

One sledge with its load weighed 606 lb., the other 
250 lb., and as soon as Day put the car on her second 
gear we sped over the floe-ice at a rate of fourteen miles 
an hour, much to the admiration of the seals and penguins. 
Accidents, however, both to the car and to Day, who 
alone of us could be trusted to drive it, hindered us from 
making our final start until October 5. On that day 
Brocklehurst took a photograph of the Northern Party 
and soon afterwards we boarded the car and the sledges 
and, cheered by those remaining behind, proceeded on 
our way. 

At first Day, Priestley and Roberts accompanied us, 
but we had only gone a little over two miles, when the 
snow had become so thick that I did not think it prudent 
to take the car farther, and accordingly we had to say 
good-bye to our companions. Strapping on our harness, 
we toggled on to the sledge rope, and with a “ One, 
two, three and away,” we began our long journey over 
the sea-ice. 

On the following morning we had to start our relay 
work, and dragged the Christmas Tree sledge on first, 
as we were specially liable to lose parcels off it, for a 
distance of nearly half a mile. Then we returned and 
fetched up what we called the Plum Duff sledge, chiefly 
laden with our provisions. 

After a heavy day’s work on the following day, we 
camped for the night close to a seal-hole which belonged 
to a fine specimen of Weddell seal, but our slumbers were 
disturbed by the snorting and whistling of the seals 
as they came up for their blows. 

The seals, however, were nothing to the Emperor 
penguins, which awakened us by their chatter on the 

In the Antarctic 189 

morning of the 10th. Evidently they had marched down 
on our tent during the night to investigate us, and the 
sounds they made may be described as something 
between the cackle of a goose and the chortle of a 

I saw four of them standing by the sledges, and when 
they caught sight of me they were much interested, 
and the conversation between them became very lively. 
I have no doubt that they took us for penguins of an 
inferior type, and the tent for our nest. At any rate, 
they were kind enough to take careful note of our doings, 
and to give us a good send-off when we left them. 

During that day a blizzard was behind us, and as 
the strength of it increased we found that we could 
draw both sledges at the same time, which was, of course, 
a great saving of labour. Tempted, however, to continue 
our march under these favourable conditions, we went 
on longer than was wise, with the result that when we 
stopped it was extremely difficult to get the tent up. 

Slipping the tent over the poles placed close to the 
ground in the lee of the sledge, two of us raised the 
poles while the other shovelled snow on to the skirt of 
the tent, which we pulled out by degrees until it was 
finally spread to its full dimensions. Glad indeed were 
we to turn in and escape from the biting blast and drifting 

This violent blizzard blew throughout the whole of 
the next day, and we spent it for the most part in our 
sleeping-bags ; but on the 13th we arrived at Butter 
Point, which is merely an angle in the low ice-cliff near 
the junction of the Ferrar Glacier valley with the main 
shore of Victoria Land, and made a depot there. 

Altogether we lightened our load by about 70 lb., and 
we also left letters there for Lieutenant Shackleton and 

190 Shackleton 

R. E. Priestley respectively, stating that in consequence 
of our late start from Cape Royds, and also on account 
of the slowness of our progress thence to Butter Point, 
we could not return to the Point until January 12 at 
the earliest, instead of the first week in January, as had 
been anticipated. Months later we heard that this little 
depot survived the blizzards, and that Army t age, 
Priestley and Brocklehurst had read our letters. 

A few days later we landed at Cape Bernacchi, and 
on October 17 we hoisted the Union Jack and took 
possession of Victoria Land for the British Empire. 
The geology of Cape Bernacchi is extremely interesting, 
the dominant type of rock being a pure white coarsely 
crystalline marble, which has been broken through by 
granite rocks, the latter in places containing small red 

On the next day we reached a headland where the 
rocks resembled those at Cape Bernacchi, and Mawson 
considered that some of the quartz veins traversing this 
headland would prove to be gold-bearing. 

That same night I was attacked by snow-blindness 
through neglecting to wear my snow-goggles regularly, 
and as I was no better when the time came for us to 
march, I asked Mawson to take my place at the end of 
the long rope, the foremost position in the team. So 
remarkably proficient was he on this occasion, and 
afterwards, at picking out the best track for our sledges 
and in steering a good course, that at my request he 
occupied this position throughout the rest of the journey. 

Uneventful days followed, but by the 23rd it was 
quite clear that at our rate of travelling — about four 
statute miles daily by the relay method — we could not 
get to the Pole and back to Butter Point early in January, 
so we held a serious council as to the future of our journey 

192 Shackleton 

towards the Magnetic Pole, and I suggested that the 
most likely means to get there and back in the time 
specified by Lieutenant Shackleton would be to travel 
on half-rations, depoting the remainder of our provision 
at an early opportunity. 

After some discussion, Mawson and Mackay agreed 
to try this expedient, and we decided to think over the 
matter for a few days and then make our depot-. 

In pursuing our north-westerly course we presently 
passed a magnificent bay, which trended westwards 
some five or six miles away from the course we were 
steering. On either side of this bay were majestic ranges 
of rocky mountains, parted from one another at the 
head of the bay by an immense glacier with steep ice 

On either side of this glacier were high terraces of 
rock reaching back for several miles from a modem 
valley edge to the foot .of still higher ranges. It was 
obvious that these terraces marked the position of the 
floor of the old valley at a time when the glacier ice was 
several thousand feet higher and some ten miles wider 
than it was when we saw it. 

We longed to explore these inland rocks, but time was 
too precious. Later on we discovered that the point 
opposite which we had arrived was really Granite 
Harbour, and that its position was not correctly shewn 
on the chart. 

By the night of October 29 we were all thoroughly 
done up after completing our four miles of relay work, 
and we discussed the important question whether it 
was possible to eke out our food supplies with seal- 
meat so as to avoid putting ourselves on half- rations, and 
we all agreed that this should be done. The chief problem 
in connection with the seal-meat was how to cook it 

In the Antarctic 193 

without the aid of paraffin oil, for we could not afford 
paraffin for that purpose. 

On the next day we tried the experiment of strengthen- 
ing the brew of the tea by using the old tea-leaves of a 
previous meal mixed with the new ones — an idea of 
Mackay’s which Mawson and I did not appreciate at 
first, though later on we were glad enough to adopt it. 

By this time the weather had become warmer, and 
consequently the saline snow on the sea-ice was sticky, 
and gripped the runners of the sledges like glue. Only 
by the greatest exertion could we drag the sledges along 
even at a snail's pace. 

But although we were thoroughly exhausted when we 
camped on the evening of the 30th, our evening meal 
revived us so much that we walked over to a small 
island about three-quarters of a mile distant, which 
turned out to be a truly wonderful place for a geologist 
and a perfect paradise for the mineralogist. 

On this island, which we afterwards called Depot 
Island, Mawson discovered a translucent brown mineral, 
which was proved to be titanium mineral. 



How to reach the Pole was still our engrossing subject 
of discussion, and on November 1 we decided that our 
only hope of reaching it, was by travelling on half- rations 
from the point we had reached to the point on the coast 
at the Drygalski Glacier, where we might hope to be 
able to turn inland with reasonable prospect of success. 
Mawson was convinced that we must keep six weeks of 

194 Shackleton 

full rations for our inland journey, and this meant that 
we must march on half-rations for about ioo miles. 

While I was busy in calculating times and distances 
for the remainder of our journey, Mawson and Mackay 
conducted experiments upon the cooking of seal-meat 
with blubber. At winter quarters Mackay had experi- 
mented with blubber as a fuel, but his efforts had not 
been taken seriously, and, to our sorrow, his blubber 
lamp had been left behind. 

Eventually, however, as a result of Mackay and 
Mawson’s experiments, we secured an effective cooking 
stove, which was made out of one of our large empty 
biscuit tins, and a broth from seal-meat was made upon 
this stove. The broth was apparently very nutritious, 
but in my case it was also indigestible. 

While Mawson was still engaged on cooking experi- 
ments, Mackay and I went to the highest point of the 
island, and chose a spot for a cairn to mark our depot 
and Mackay began to build the cairn. 

It had, of course, become clear to us, from what we 
had already seen of the cracking sea-ice, combined with 
our slow progress, that our retreat back to camp from 
the direction of the Magnetic Pole would probably be 
cut off altogether through the breaking up of the sea-ice. 

Under these circumstances we resolved to take the 
risk of the Nimrod returning safely to Cape Royds, 
where she would be instructed to search for us along the 
western coast ; and also the risk of her not being able 
to find our depot and ourselves. 

We knew that there was some danger in this course, 
but we also felt that we had got on so far with the work 
entrusted to us by our commander that we could not 
honourably turn back. 

Under these circumstances we each wrote farewell 

In the Antarctic 195 

letters to those who were nearest and dearest, and at 
4.30 a.m. on the following morning we posted them in 
one of our empty dried-milk tins, which had an air-tight 
lid, and, having walked up to the cairn, I lashed our 
post-office to the flagstaff by means of cord and copper 

There we also left several bags of geological specimens, 
and with lighter loads were prepared to go onwards 
towards the Pole. 

It was later than usual when we left our depot, and 
as the sun's heat was already thawing the surface of 
the snow our progress was painfully slow. So terribly 
hard, indeed, was it to get along at all, that, after going 
two miles, we camped and resolved to go on again at 
midnight, when we hoped to avoid the sticky surface. 

This experiment was fairly successful, and by Novem- 
ber 5 we were opposite to a most interesting panorama 
some twenty miles north of Granite Harbour. 

During that same day we had a very heavy surface 
to hamper and tire us, but as an offset to these troubles 
we had that night, for the first time, the use of a new 
frying-pan, ingeniously constructed by Mawson out of 
one of our empty paraffin tins. Indeed, Mawson’s cooking 
experiments continued to be highly successful and entirely 
satisfactory to the party. 

At this time we encountered a good deal of brash ice, 
and noticed that this type of ice surface was most common 
in the vicinity of icebergs. The brash ice is, I think, 
formed by the icebergs surging to and fro in heavy 
weather and crunching up the sea-ice near to them. 
The sea-ice, of course, refreezes, producing a surface 
covered with jagged edges and points. 

But although brash ice was too plentiful biscuits were 
too scarce, and we were already reduced to one plasm on 

196 Shackleton 

biscuit each for breakfast and one for evening meals, 
and we had become exceedingly careful over the crumbs. 
At first, on this expedition, when biscuits were more 
plentiful we had munched them boldly, regardless of the 
loss of crumbs. Not so at this time, when crumbs were 
collected most carefully by the man to whom they 

Uneventful days of sledging followed — days on which 
we were tired at night and hungry nearly always ; but 
on the 9th we were cheered by a fine, though distant, 
view of the Nordenskjold Ice Barrier to the north of us, 
and we were all extremely anxious to find out what sort 
of surface for sledging this great glacier was going to 
offer us. 

According to the Admiralty chart, prepared from 
observations by the Discovery expedition, this glacier 
was twenty-four to thirty miles wide, and projected 
over twenty miles from the rocky shore into the sea. 
We hoped that we should be able to cross it without 
following a circuitous route along its seaward margins. 

Two days later we reached the Nordenskjold Ice 
Barrier, and as Mawson wished to take some observa- 
tions, Mackay and I decided to explore the glacier for 
the purpose of selecting a suitable track (if we could find 
it) for our sledges. 

On our return we were able to tell Mawson the good 
news that the barrier was quite practicable for sledging ; 
while he informed us that, as the result of his observa- 
tions, the Magnetic Pole was probably about forty miles 
further inland than the theoretical mean position 
calculated for it from the magnetic observations of the 
Discovery expedition seven years before. 

Early on the morning of the 12th we packed up and 
started to cross the barrier, and on the second day we 

In the Antarctic 197 

had not sledged for more than a thousand yards when 
Mawson suddenly exclaimed that he could see the end 
of the barrier, where it ended in a white cliff some 
600 yards ahead. 

We halted the sledge, and while Mawson took some 
theodolite angles Mackay and I tried to find a way down 
the cliff, but failed to find it. Once more we reconnoitred, 
and this time Mawson and I found some steep slopes 
formed by drift snow, which were just practicable for 
a light sledge lowered by an alpine rope. 

We chose what seemed to be the best of these slopes 
and Mackay, having tied the rope round his body and 
having taken his ice-axe, went down the slope cautiously, 
Mawson and I holding on to the rope meanwhile. 

The snow gave a good foothold, and he was soon at 
the bottom without needing support from the rope. Then, 
when he had returned to the top, we all set to work 
unpacking the sledges, and after loading one sledge 
lightly we lowered it little by little down the slope, one 
of us guiding the sledge while the other two slackened 
out the alpine rope above. The man who went to the 
bottom unloaded the sledge on the sea-ice, and then 
climbed back again, while the others hauled up the empty 
sledge. This manoeuvre was repeated again and again 
until everything was safe, and we very glad to have 
crossed the ice barrier so quickly. There can be little 
doubt, I think, that this Nordensjold Ice Barrier is 

On the following day we were naturally anxious to 
be sure of our exact position on the chart, in view of 
the fact that we had come to the end of the barrier 
some eighteen miles quicker than the chart had led us 
to anticipate. Accordingly, Mawson worked up his 
meridian altitude, while I plotted out the angular dis- 

198 Shackleton 

tances he had found respectively for Mount Erebus, 
Mount Lister and Mount Melbourne. 

As the result of the application of our calculations to 
the chart it became evident that we were opposite to 
what on Captain Scott’s chart was termed Charcot 
Bay, and consequently were nearly twenty miles nearer 
north than we had thought ourselves to be. This was 
splendid news, and cheered us up very much. 

We were still travelling by night and sleeping during 
the afternoon, and when we got out of our sleeping- 
bags at 8 p.m. on the night of the 15th there was a 
beautifully perfect “ Noah’s Ark ” in the sky. We also 
saw fleecy sheets of frost-smoke arising from over the 
open water on Ross Sea, and forming dense cumulus 
clouds. This warned us that open water was not far 
away, and impressed us with the necessity of pushing 
on if we hoped to reach our projected point of departure 
on the coast for the Magnetic Pole before the sea-ice 
entirely broke up. 

Difficult surfaces continued to beset us, and our 
progress was consequently exceedingly slow. 

By the 24th we were suffering both from exhaustion 
and want of sleep, and I rued the day when we chose 
the three-man bag in preference to the one-man bag. 

A three-man sleeping-bag, where you are wedged in 
more or less tightly against your mates, where all snore 
and shin one another, and where each man feels on 
waking that he is more shinned against than shinning, is 
not conducive to real rest. 

In the Antarctic 




On November 26 Mawson and I ascended a rocky pro- 
montory, while Mackay was securing some seal-meat, 
and from the top we had a splendid view across the level 
surface of sea-ice far below us. 

But although what we saw was magnificent, it was 
also discomforting, for at a few miles from the shore an 
enormous iceberg, frozen into the floe, lay right across 
the path which we had meant to travel on the next day. 

To the north-west of us was Geikie Inlet, and beyond 
that, stretching as far as the eye could follow, was the 
great Drygalski Glacier. Not a little concerned were we 
to observe with our field-glasses that the surface of this 
glacier was wholly different to that of the Nordenskjold 
Ice Barrier. 

Clearly the surface of the Drygalski Glacier was formed 
of jagged surfaces of ice very heavily crevassed, but we 
could see that at the extreme eastern extension, some 
thirty miles from where we were standing, the surface 
appeared to be fairly smooth. 

It was also obvious to us, from what we had seen 
looking out to sea to the east of our camp, that there 
were large bodies of open water at no great distance 
from us trending shorewards in the form of long lanes. 
The lanes of water were only partly frozen over, and 
some of these were interposed between us and the Dry- 
galski Glacier. 

Not a moment was to be lost if we were to reach the 
glacier before the sea-ice broke up, for one strong blizzard 
would have converted the whole of the sea-ice between 
us and the glacier into a mass of drifting pack. 



The thing, indeed, for us to do was to push on with 
all our might, and still with slushy surfaces to hinder us 
we pulled and tramped until — on the 28th — we came to 
a point where for some time it seemed as if our progress 
further north was completely blocked. Eventually, 
however, we found a place where the ice might just bear 
our sledges, and, having strengthened it by laying down 
slabs of sea-ice and shovelfuls of snow, we rushed our 
sledges over safely. Extremely thankful were we to get 
them over to the other side, for the ice was so thin that 
it bent under our weight, and once Mackay broke through 
and very nearly got a ducking. 

Next we had to encounter some very high sastrugi of 
hard tough snow, and as these were nearly at right- 
angles to our course, the work of dragging our sledges 
over them was very distressing. And after the sastrugi 
we met with an ice-surface which kept continually crack- 
ing as we passed over it, with a noise like that of a whip 
being cracked. 

We were unable by this time to talk about anything 
but cereal foods, such as cakes of various kinds and 
fruits, for we were very short of biscuits and were conse- 
quently seized with food obsessions. 

The sun, however, which had during the afternoons 
considerable heating power, and in one way was hindering 
us by making the surfaces so slushy, helped us in another 
way. For when I put some snow into our aluminium 
cooking-pot and exposed it for several hours — while we 
were camping — to the direct rays of the suns, I was 
glad to find that half the snow was thawed down, 
a result that, of course, saved us both paraffin and 

On the 30th the ice ridges fronting us became higher 
and steeper, and strain we ever so mightily we could 


scarcely get the sledges to move up the steep ice slopes, 
and the sledges also skidded a good deal as we dragged 
them obliquely upwards. 

The glacier was now spread before us as a great billowy 
sea of pale green ice, with here and there high embank- 
ments of marble-like neve resembling railway embank- 
ments. Unfortunately for our progress, the trend of the 
latter was nearly at right -angles to our course, and as 
we advanced the undulations became more and more 
pronounced, the embankments higher and steeper. 

These embankments were bounded by cliffs from forty 
to fifty feet in height, with overhanging cornices of tough 
snow. The cliffs faced northwards, and such serious 
obstacles were the deep chasms which they produced 
to our advance that we had often to go a long way round 
in order to head them off. 

December began with a very laborious day, and after 
battling on for several hours we had only advanced a 
little over half a mile. So we decided to camp, for Mackay 
and me to try to find a way for the sledge out of the 
maze of chasms that beset us, and for Mawson to take 
magnetic observations. 

During that afternoon we discussed our situation at 
some length. Most probably the Drygalski Glacier was 
twenty miles wide, and if we were to cross it along the 
course we were travelling at the rate of a mile a day it 
would take us twenty days to get over, even if we took 
no account of the unforeseen delays which our experience 
had already taught us were sure to occur. From what 
Mackay and I had seen ahead of us, our difficulties were 
bound, for a considerable distance, to increase rather 
than grow less. 

Under these circumstances we were reluctantly forced 
to the conclusion that our only hope of ultimate success 

In the Antarctic 


lay in retreat, and so we resolved to drag the sledges back 
off the glacier on to the sea-ice by the way along which 
we had come. 


Our retreat began early on the morning of December 2, 
and after a week's struggle on the glacier Mackay, just 
before camping-time on the 9th, sighted open water on 
the northern edge of the Drygalski Ice Barrier, from three 
to four miles away. This convinced us that we could not 
hope for sea-ice over which to sledge westwards to that 
part of the shore where we proposed to make our final 
depot, before attempting the ascent of the great inland 
plateau in order to reach the Magnetic Pole. 

On the 10th, however, at the end of the day’s sledging 
we rejoiced to find ourselves off the true glacier type of 
surface, and on to one of the undulating barrier type. 
This improvement enabled us to steer westwards, and 
on the following day we had a fine view of “ Terra Nova ” 
Bay, and as far as could be judged the edge of the Dry- 
galski Ice Barrier on the north was scarcely a mile distant. 

So surprised were we at the general appearance of the 
outline of the ice, which did not seem to agree with 
the shape of this region as shown on the Admiralty chart, 
that we halted a little earlier than usual to reconnoitre. 
Mackay started off with the field-glasses to a conspicuous 
ice-mound about half a mile to the north-west, Mawson 
began to change his plates, while I went out with my 
sketch-book to get an outline panoramic view of the 
grand coast ranges in sight. 

So few had been the crevasses of late that I failed to 

204 Shackleton 

take my ice-axe with me and I had scarcely gone half 
a dozen yards from the tent when the lid of a crevasse 
collapsed under me, and let me down nearly up to my 

I only saved myself from going right down by throwing 
out my arms and staying myself on the snow-lid on 
either side. The lid was so rotten that I did not dare to 
move for fear that I might be thrown into the abyss, 
but fortunately Maws on was near, and on my calling to 
him he brought an ice-axe and chipped a hole in the 
firm ice on the edge of the crevasse nearest to me. Then 
he inserted the chisel edge of the ice-axe in the hole and, 
holding on to the pick-point, swung the handle towards me. 
Grasping this, I was able to climb out on to the solid 

On the following day we sledged on until we were close 
to the ice-mound already mentioned, and decided that 
as this mound commanded such a general view of the 
surrounding country, it must also be a conspicuous object 
to any one approaching the Drygalski Glacier by sea 
from the north. And so we decided that as we could find 
no trace of the “ low, sloping shore ” — as it was called 
on the Admiralty chart — we would make our depot at 
this spot. 

We estimated that we still had 220 miles to travel 
from this depot on the Drygalski Glacier to the Magnetic 
Pole, and therefore it was necessary to make preparations 
for a journey there and back of at least 440 miles. We 
considered that with detours the journey might possibly 
amount to 500 miles. 

Our first business, therefore, was to lay in a stock of 
provisions sufficient to last us for our journey, and after 
Mackay had killed some seals and Emperor penguins 
we started cooking our meat for the trip. Our calculation 

In the Antarctic 205 

was that the total weight — when we depoted one sledge 
with spare equipment and all our geological specimens — 
would be 670 lb. But we were very doubtful whether we, 
in our stale and weakened condition, would be able to 
pull such a load. 

We unpacked and examined both sledges, and found 
that of the two, the runners of the Duff sledge were the 
less damaged. 

On the 14th we were still busy preparing for the great 
trek inland. Mackay was cooking meat, Mawson was 
employed in transferring the scientific instrument boxes 
and other things from the Christmas Tree sledge to the 
Duff sledge, while 1 was engaged on fixing up depot flags, 
writing letters to the commander of the Nimrod, Lieu- 
tenant Shackleton, and my family, and fixing up a milk- 
tin to serve as a post office on to the depot flag-pole. 

When we were fully prepared the Christmas Tree 
sledge was dragged to the top of the ice-mound, where 
we cut trenches with our ice-axes in which to embed 
the runners of the sledge ; then we fixed the runners 
into these grooves, piled the chipped ice on top, and then 
lashed the flag-pole about six feet high with the black 
flag displayed on the top of it very carefully to the 
sledge. We all felt quite sorry to part with the Christmas 
Tree sledge, which by this time seemed to us like a bit 
of home. 

Anxious as we were to start for our dash towards the 
Pole, we were prevented by a furious blizzard from 
getting on our way until the 16th. Then we were delighted 
to find that, in consequence of our three days' rest we 
were able to pull our sledge with comparative ease. 

Soon’ afterwards we reached another open tide-crack, 
and had to spend some time in going round it, and on 
the far side of this crack we encountered a large pressure 

206 Shackleton 

ridge forming a high and steep slope which barred our 
advance. Its height was about eighty feet, but if we 
were to go on there was nothing to do but drag our sledge 
up the slope, a most exhausting work which was made 
more difficult still by the fact that this ice-slope was 
traversed by numerous crevasses. 

At last we got up the slope, only to see in the dim light 
that a succession of similar slopes were ahead of us, 
becoming continually higher and steeper. The ice, too, 
became a perfect network of crevasses, some of which 
were partly open, but most of them covered with snow 

Suddenly, when crossing one of these lids, and just as 
he was about to reach firm ice on the other side, we heard 
a slight crash, and Mawson instantly disappeared. For- 
tunately the toggle at the end of his sledge-rope held, 
and he was left swinging in the empty space between 
the walls of the crevasse, being suspended by his harness 
attached to the sledge-rope. 

Mackay and I hung on to the rope in case it should part 
at the toggle, but when Mawson called out for the alpine 
rope to be passed down to him I left Mackay and hurried 
back to the sledge to get it. Just, however, as I was 
trying to disengage a coil of rope, Mawson called out that 
he felt he was going, so I returned to help Mackay in his 
effort to keep a strain on Mawson’s harness rope. Then 
Mawson said that he was all right, and the rope having 
suddenly cut back through the lid of the crevasse was 
probably the reason why he had felt that he was falling. 

I now held on to the harness rope while Mackay got 
the alpine rope, and made a bow-line at the end in which 
Mawson could put his foot. In the meantime Mawson, 
who was down about eight feet below the level of the 
snowy lid, secured some ice crystals from the side of the 

In the Antarctic 207 

crevasse and threw them up for subsequent exam- 

The alpine rope having been lowered, we eventually 
hoisted him up little by little to the under surface of 
the snow-lid, but as his harness rope had cut back a 
narrow groove in this snow-lid several feet from where 
the snow gave way under him, he found his head and 
shoulders pressing against the under side of the snow- 
lid and had difficulty in breaking through this in order 
to get out his head. 

At last the top of his head appeared, and presently he 
got safely out on the near side of the crevasse, a deliver- 
ance for which we were all supremely thankful. After 
this too-exciting episode we were extra-cautious in 
crossing crevasses, but the ice was simply seamed with 

Twice when our sledge was being dragged up ice- 
pressure ridges it rolled over sideways with one runner 
in a crevasse, and once the whole sledge all but disappeared 
into a crevasse, the snow-lid of which partly collapsed 
under its weight. Had it gone down completely we should 
certainly have been dragged down with it, as it weighed 
nearly one-third of a ton. 

It was clear to us that these numerous crevasses which 
we had reached were caused not by the Drygalski but 
by the Nansen Glacier. 

On the 20th we held a council of war, the question 
being whether we should continue in the direction of 
the Mount Nansen Glacier, or whether we should retreat 
and try to find some other way to the plateau. Mackay 
was in favour of hauling ahead over the glacier, while 
Mawson and I favoured retreat, and at last we decided 
to retreat once more. 





So far as the possibility of reaching the Magnetic Pole 
was concerned, our fortunes seemed to have reached a 
low ebb. It was already December 20, and we knew 
that we had to be back at our depot on the Drygalski 
Glacier not later than February 1 or 2, if there was to be 
a reasonable chance of our being picked up by the 
Nimrod. That meant that we had to travel at least 480 
to 500 miles before we could hope to get to the Magnetic 
Pole and back to our depot, and there remained only six 
weeks to accomplish this journey. 

At the same time we should have to pioneer a road up 
to the high plateau, and now that everything was buried 
under soft snow it was clear that sledging would be slower 
and more difficult than ever. Under the circumstances it 
was, perhaps, not to be wondered at that we were not 
hopeful of our chance of success. 

However, there was nothing to do but to reconnoitre 
in a south-westerly direction to see what way was most 
practicable for us, and after paddling, unwillingly, in 
many shallow pools of water and crossing much pressure- 
ice and several crevasses, we at last saw that we should 
have to drag our sledge up a steep slope encumbered with 
soft deep thawing snow. 

We also collected several specimens, including a 
solitary coral, and while we were collecting them we could 
hear the roar of many mountain torrents descending 
the steep granite slopes of the great mountain mass. 

Occasionally, too, we heard the boom and crash of an 
avalanche descending from the high mountain top, and 
such sounds were strange to our ears, accustomed so long 

210 Shackleton 

to the almost uninterrupted solitude and silence of the 

On the 22nd we were suddenly struck by a furious 
blizzard which hindered us until Christmas Eve, but by 
ten o'clock on that evening we had succeeded in struggling 
on until we were above the uncomfortable zone of thaw, 
and everything around us was once more crisp and dry 
though cold. We had reached over 1200 ft. above sea 
level, and our spirits mounted with the altitude. 

On Christmas Day we were delayed at first by a 
blizzard, but in spite of this we managed to travel about 
four miles and to camp at night over 2000 ft. above sea- 
level. Having no other kind of Christmas gift to offer, 
Mawson and I presented Mackay with some sennegrass 
for his pipe, his tobacco having been exhausted long 

The following day saw us again crossing crevasses, and 
as some of them were from 20 to 30 ft. wide, it was 
fortunate that the snow lids were strong enough to carry 
safely both the sledge and ourselves. Mackay suggested 
that, for greater security, we should fasten the alpine 
rope around Mawson, who was in the lead, and secure 
the other end of it to the sledge. The rope was left just 
slack enough to admit of the strain of hauling being taken 
by the harness rope, and so Mawson had two strings 
to his bow in case of being suddenly precipitated into a 
crevasse. It was a good system, and we always adopted 
it afterwards in crossing heavily crevassed ice. 

On the next day we made a small depot of our ski 
boots, all our geological specimens, and about one day’s 
food supply together with a small quantity of oil, and 
this we called the Larsen Depot as it was close to one 
of the southern spurs of Mount Larsen. 

Our eyes were now straining, as we advanced with the 


In the Antarctic 

sledge, to see whether any formidable mountains still 
barred our path to the plateau, and our thankfulness 
was unbounded when at last we realised that apparently 
we were going to have a fairly easy ascent of hard neve and 
snow on to the plateau. On that day we advanced a little 
over ten miles, and on December 30 we reached an 
altitude of nearly 5000 ft., our breath freezing into lumps 
of ice and cementing our Burberry helmets to our beards 
and moustaches as in winter time. 

New Year's Eve brought with it some disappointment 
from Mawson's announcement — after he had taken a fresh 
set of magnetic observations — that he made out the 
Magnetic Pole to be further inland than had been 
originally estimated. We were still dragging the sledge 
on an up grade and on a softer surface than before, and as 
we were also obliged to put ourselves on somewhat shorter 
rations, in order to form an emergency food-supply in 
case our journey proved longer than we anticipated, we 
were very much exhausted by night. 

On that same evening a skua gull came to visit us, I 
am afraid not with any intention of giving us New Year’s 
greetings, but because he mistook us for seals crawling 
inland to die, as is not infrequently the habit of these 

New Year’s Day gave us beautifully calm weather, and 
to celebrate the beginning of 1909 Mawson provided us 
with a grand hoosh and a rich pot of cocoa, which we 
enjoyed thoroughly after an exhausting march. 

Hunger, indeed, was beginning to beset us, and we 
should also have liked more to drink if we could have 
afforded it. In fact instead of talking about what we 
would like to eat, we began to talk about what we would 
drink if we had the chance. Mackay would have liked 
to drink a gallon of buttermilk straight off, Mawson wanted 


a big basin of cream, while my choice was several pots of 
the best coffee with plenty of hot milk. 

We were still climbing on January 3, but on the next 
day we were pleased to find that the up grade was becoming 
less steep. We had reached an altitude of over 6000 ft. 
and found breathing in the cold air distinctly trying. 
It was not that definite mountain sickness had attacked 
us, but that we felt weaker than usual as the result, doubt- 
less, of the height combined with the cold. 

Still, we were progressing at the rate of about ten miles 
a day, and that was enough to make us hopeful in spite 
of everything. 

On the 6th I left off my crampons and put on a new 
pair of finnesko, with the result that I fell heavily over one 
of the sastrugi, and slightly straining some muscles on 
the inner side of my left leg, just below the knee, I suffered 
a considerable amount of pain for the rest of the journey. 

Mountain lassitude still continued to attack us and 
our hands were often frost-bitten when packing up the 
sledge. By the 9th we were completely out of sight of 
any mountain ranges, and were toiling up and down 
amongst the huge billows of a snow sea. 


Each successive evening saw us some ten miles nearer 
to the Magnetic Pole, but by the nth we had various 
inconveniences (to name them mildly) to add to our 
difficulties. Mawson had a touch of snow-blindness in 
his right eye, and both he and Mackay suffered much 
through the skin of their lips peeliner off, leaving the raw 

In the Antarctic 213 

flesh exposed. Mawson, particularly, experienced great 
difficulty every morning in getting his mouth to open, as 
his lips were firmly glued together. 

The compass by this time was very sluggish, in fact 
the theodolite compass would scarcely work at all. This 
pleased us all a good deal, and at first we all wished more 
power to it ; and then, recognising our mistake, we 
amended the sentiment and cordially wished less power 
to it. 

On the evening of the 12th, Mawson, after carefully 
analysing the results set forth in the advance copy of 
the Discovery Expedition Magnetic Report, decided that, 
although the matter was not expressly so stated, the Mag- 
netic Pole instead of moving easterly, as it had done in 
the interval between Sabine’s observation in 1841 and 
the time of the Discovery expedition in 1902, was likely 
now to be travelling somewhat to the north-west. 

The results of dip readings taken earlier in the journey 
also agreed with this decision. It would, therefore, be 
necessary to travel farther in that direction than we had 
expected, if we were to reach our goal. Most extremely 
disquieting news was this for us, as we had come almost 
to the end of our provisions, after making allowance for 
enough to take us back on short rations to the coast. 
Still, in spite of anxiety, our overwhelming weariness 
enabled us to get some sleep. 

At breakfast on the following morning we fully dis- 
cussed our future movements, and Mawson, having 
carefully reviewed his observations as to the position of 
the Magnetic Pole, decided that we must travel four more 
days if we were to reach it, and we resolved to go on 
sledging for that time. 

On that day we advanced thirteen miles, and on the 
next the snow surface over which we were sledging 

214 Shackleton 

sparkled with large reconstructed ice crystals, about 
half an inch in width and one sixteenth of an inch in 
thickness, which it seemed a sacrilege to break. 

On the 15th about twenty minutes before true noon 
Mawson took magnetic observations with the dip circle 
and found the angle only fifteen minutes off the vertical, 
the dip being 89° 45'. Naturally we were very much 
rejoiced to find that we were close to the Magnetic Pole. 
The observations made by Bernacchi, during the two years 
of the Discovery expedition sojourn at winter quarters on 
Ross Island, showed that the extent of daily swing of 
the magnet was sometimes considerable. The compass 
at a distance from the Pole pointing in a slightly varying 
direction at different times of the day, indicates that the 
polar centre executes a daily round of wanderings about 
its mean position. 

Mawson considered that we were already practically at 
the Magnetic Pole; and that if we waited for twenty-four 
hours taking constant observations at the spot we had 
reached, the Pole would, probably, during that time, come 
vertically beneath us. We decided, however, to go on 
to the spot where Mawson concluded the approximate 
mean position of the Magnetic Pole would lie. That 
evening the dip was 89° 48'. 

From the rapid rate at which the dip had been in- 
creasing, as well as from a comparison of Bernacchi's 
magnetic observations, Mawson estimated that we were 
about 13 miles distant from the probable mean position 
of the South Magnetic Pole. To locate, he said, the 
mean position accurately it was possible that a month 
of continuous observation would be necessary, but that 
the position he indicated was as close as we could 
locate it. 

Consequently we decided to make a forced march of 

In the Antarctic 215 

13 miles on the following day to the approximate mean 
position of the Pole. 

On Saturday, January 16, we were up at 6 a.m. and 
soon started, pulling our sledge for two miles. We then 
depoted a lot of our heavy gear and equipment, and 
having gone on for another two miles we fixed up the legs 
of the dip circle, the compass moving in a horizontal 
plane being useless for keeping us on our course. 

Two miles farther on we fixed up the legs of the theo- 
dolite, and after another two miles we put up our tent and 
had a light lunch. 

Afterwards we walked five miles in the direction of the 
Magnetic Pole so as to place us in the mean position 
calculated for it by Mawson, 72 0 25' South latitude, 155 0 
16' East longitude. Mawson placed his camera so as 
to focus the whole group, and in the meantime Mackay 
and I fixed up the flag-pole. 

Then at 3.30 p.m. we bared our heads and hoisted the 
Union Jack with the words uttered by myself, in con- 
formity with Lieutenant Shackleton’s instructions : “ I 
hereby take possession of this area now containing the 
Magnetic Pole for the British Empire.” 

At the same time I fired the trigger of the camera by 
pulling the string which Mawson had arranged, and 
finally we gave three cheers for His Majesty the King. 

The temperature at the moment we hoisted the flag was 
exactly o° Fahr. 

It was an intense satisfaction and relief to all of us to 
feel that at last, after so many days of toil and danger, we 
had been able to carry out our leader’s instructions, and 
to fulfil the wish of Sir James Clarke Ross that the South 
Magnetic Pole should be actually reached, as he had 
already in 1831 reached the North Magnetic Pole. 

At the same time we were too utterly weary to be 

216 Shackleton 

capable of any great amount of exultation. I am sure 
the feeling that was uppermost in all of us was one of 
devout and heartfelt thankfulness to the kind Providence 
which had so far guided our footsteps in safety to that 

With a fervent “ Thank God ” we all did a right-about 
turn, and marched as quickly as tired limbs would allow 
us back towards our little green tent in the wilderness 
of snow. Reaching our depot a little before io p.m. that 
night, we turned into the sleeping-bag faint and weary, 
but happy that a haunting load of possible failure was at 
last removed from our minds. 


I called the camp later than usual on the following 
morning, and we discussed our chances of catching the 
Nimrod if she searched for us along the coast in the 
direction of our depot on the Drygalski Glacier. 

At the Magnetic Pole we were fully 260 statute miles 
distant, as the skua gull flies, from our depot, and as we 
had knocked off eleven of these miles on the previous 
day we still had 249 miles to cover. If, then we were 
to reach the Drygalski depot by February 1, we had only 
fifteen days in which to do it, and we should have to 
average sixteen and two-third miles a day in order to 
reach the coast in the time specified. 

This, of course, did not allow for any delay from 
blizzards, and we knew from the direction of the sastrugi 
during our last few days’ march that the prevailing 
direction of the blizzards was likely to be exactly in our 

In the Antarctic 


Heady to staat Home. (Stv page 233 ) 

218 Shackleton 

teeth. The prospect, therefore, of reaching our depot in 
the specified tirne did not appear to be bright. 

On starting, however, on the 17th we had most glorious 
weather, and the wind which had helped us towards 
the Pole turned round and helped us away from it. 
In spite of our late start we sledged 16 miles, and on 
the following day, although Mawson's left leg was paining 
him, we covered practically the same distance. 

The 19th saw us still keeping up the same rate of 
progress, but owing to some miscalculation of mine we 
discovered that we had no tea for this week, our sixth 
week out, unless we took it out of the tea-bag for the 
seventh week. Accordingly we halved the tea in the 
seventh week bag, and determined to collect our old 
tea-bags at each camp as we passed it, and to boil these 
bags together with the small pittance of fresh tea. 

As we progressed coastwards we soon had quite an 
imposing collection of muslin bags with old tea leaves, 
and with the thorough boiling they got there was a strong 
flavour of muslin added to that of old tea. But neverthe- 
less we considered that this drink was nectar. 

In view of the steady sixteen miles a day that we were 
doing Mawson proposed on the 20th that we should return 
to nearly full rations, a proposal which was hailed with 
delight, for we were becoming very exhausted through 
insufficient food. 

Up to that date we had been able still to follow our 
old sledge tracks, which was a great blessing when the 
magnetic needle was of so little use to us. But on the 
following days we, lost these tracks, and had a great 
deal of pie-crust snow to cross, which made our work 
terribly fatiguing. 

However, we managed to keep up our sixteen miles 
per day, and on January 24 we were cheered by sighting 

In the Antarctic 219 

Mount Baxter. Towards evening we discussed whether 
we were following approximately our old out-going 
tracks. Mackay thought we were nearer to the mountain 
than before, I thought we were farther to the south- 
west, Mawson, who was leading, said that we were pretty 
well on our old course. Just then I discovered that we 
were actually on our old tracks which showed up plainly 
for a short distance, and which were striking evidence of 
Mawson’s skill as a navigator. 

On the next day we encountered a mild blizzard, but 
we also managed to sight Mount Nansen just before 
we camped, and when we resumed our march we reached 
a surface of hard marble-like neve, which descended 
by short steep slopes. 

At first we did not realise that we were about to 
descend what we had called the Ice Falls on the outward 
journey, and as the sledge occasionally took charge and 
rushed down this marble staircase Mawson and I came 
some heavy croppers. 

On the 27th we were delighted at last to sight Mount 
Larsen, and to have reached a point only forty miles 
from our Larsen Depot. 

The wind was blowing at about 25 miles an hour, and 
occasionally, in an extra strong puff, the sledge took 
charge. On one of these occasions it suddenly charged 
into me from behind, knocked my legs from under me, 
and nearly juggernauted me. But I was quickly rescued 
from this undignified position by Mawson and Mackay. 

At lunch, with a faint hope of softening the heart of 
Mackay — who was messman for the week — I mildly 
informed him that it was my birthday. He took the 
hint and both at lunch and dinner we all fared, wJtiat 
we considered, sumptuously. 

We advanced twenty miles towards the coast on that 



day, but it had been a most fatiguing journey, and when 
we started again we decided that pulling the sledge was 
less exhausting than the sailing had proved to be. 

Hour by hour we steadily pulled on, Mounts Nansen 
and Larsen growing larger and clearer, and we began 
to hope that we might be able to reach our depot that 
night. But later on Maws on's sprained leg pained him 
so much that we had almost decided to camp, when 
Mackay’s sharp eyes sighted our little blue flag tied to 
the ice-axe at our depot. It was, however, past midnight 
before we turned into our sleeping-bags. 

On the next morning — January 30 — we were up at 
9 a.m., and after breakfast we collected the material at 
our depot, such as ski boots, oil, and geological specimens 
and loaded these on to our sledge. 

During this day we discussed whether it would be 
wiser to descend by the old track up which we had come, 
or make down the main Larsen Glacier to the point 
where it j oined the Drygalski Glacier. Mackay favoured 
the former route, while Mawson and I were in favour 
of the latter, and, as subsequent events proved, Mackay 
was right and we were wrong. 

We held on down the main glacier, and the descent 
was soon so steep that only with difficulty could we 
prevent the sledge from charging down the slope. 

On January 31 we took half the load off the sledge, and 
started with the remainder to try and work a passage of 
the ice-pressure ridges of the combined Drygalski and 
Larsen Glaciers on the smoother sea-ice, and eventually 
on to the Drygalski Ice Barrier. 

While Mawson and Mackay pulled, I steadied the 
sledge on the lower side in rounding the steep sidelings, 
but in spite of my efforts to keep it on even keel the 
sledge frequently capsized. At last we arrived at the 


In the Antarctic 

foot of an immense ice-pressure ridge, a romantic-looking 
spot with a huge cliff of massive granite rising up on our 
left to heights of about 2000 ft., although I admit that at 
the time we did not exactly appreciate its romantic beauty. 

Mackay reconnoitred, and found that the large pressure 
ridge which seemed to bar progress towards our depot 
must be crossed. So taking our ice-axes we smoothed 
a passage across part of the ridge — a tough job — and 
then unloaded the sledge and passed each one of our 
packages over by hand. Finally we dragged the sledge 
up, and hoisted it over and lowered it down safely 
on the other side. 

Little by little the surface improved after this, until 
our progress was once more barred, but on this occasion 
by what may be termed an ice donga, apparently an 
old channel formed by a river of thaw-water. 

We encountered three of them during that afternoon 
from a few feet to 50 or 100 ft. broad, and often we had 
to take our sledge a long way round to cross them. 

Our difficulties were increased by the innumerable 
crevasses and steep ice ridges, and once Mackay and I 
were in the same crevasse at the same time, he up to his 
shoulders and I up to my waist. Fortunately, however, 
we were able to save ourselves from falling right through 
the lid by throwing out our arms. 

While we sledged on through the night, snow began 
to fall, and when we camped at 7 a.m. on February 1 we 
were all most thoroughly weary. 





It continued to snow heavily during the day. But 
although Mawson’s leg pained him a great deal we had 
to push on, for we were still sixteen miles, we thought, 
from our depot on the Drygalski Glacier, and we had 
only two days’ food left. So we started to sledge in the 
thick, driving snow, but as the work under these con- 
ditions were excessively exhausting, and we were also 
unable to keep our proper course while the blizzard lasted, 
we camped at 8 p.m. and were soon sleeping the sleep of 
worn and weary wanderers. 

On the morning of February 2 we were rejoiced to 
find the sun shining, and we resolved to make a desperate 
attempt to reach our depot on this day, for we knew that 
the Nimrod would be due — perhaps overdue — by the 
night. On looking back we saw that our track of the 
day before was about as straight as a corkscrew. 

Once more we pulled out over the soft snow, but 
although a little refreshed by our good sleep we found 
the work extremely trying and toilsome. 

We crossed an ice donga, and about four miles out 
reached the edge of a second donga. Here we determined 
to leave everything but our sledge, tent, sleeping-bag, 
cooking apparatus, oil and food, and make a forced 
march to the Drygalski depot. Accordingly we camped 
and having fixed up our depot, we marked the spot 
with a little blue flag tied on to an ice-axe. 

The sledge thus lightened was far easier to pull, and 
having crossed the donga by a snow-bridge we pulled 
steadily onwards, Mawson occasionally sweeping the hori- 
zon with our field-glasses in hopes of sighting our depot. 

In the Antarctic 223 

Suddenly he exclaimed that he saw the depot flag 
distinctly on its ice mound, about seven miles distant, 
but when Mackay and I looked through the glasses 
neither of us could see any trace of the flag. Mawson 
considered that both of us must be snow-blind, but when 
he looked again he at once exclaimed that he could no 
longer see the flag. The horizon seemed to be walloping 
up and down, just as though it was boiling, evidently the 
result of a mirage. 

Mawson, however, was so confident that he had seen 
the flag, well round on the starboard bow of our sledge 
that we altered our course, and after going a little over a 
mile, we were rejoiced to hear that he could distinctly see 
the depot flag. Full of hope we kept on sledging for 
several miles farther, but at midnight when the tempera- 
ture had fallen to zero I felt that one of my big toes was 
getting frost-bitten. All day my socks had been wet 
through, and with the sudden fall of temperature the 
water in the socks had turned to ice. 

So we halted for me to change my socks and for all of 
us to have a midnight meal, and much refreshed we 
started off again, thinking that at last we should reach 
our depot, or at all events the small inlet a little over a 
mile from it. But “ the best laid schemes of mice and 
men gang aft agley.” 

There was an ominous white streak ahead of us 
with a dark streak just behind it, and soon we saw 
that this was due to a ravine in the snow and ice 
surface interposing itself between ourselves and our 
depot, and shortly afterwards we reached the near 
cliff of the ravine. 

This ravine was 200 yds. broad, and from 30 to 40 ft. 
deep ; and it was bounded by a vertical cliff or very 
steeply inclined slope on the north-west side, and by an 

224 Shackleton 

overhanging cliff on the south-east side. Inland the 
ravine extended as far as the eye could reach. 

We determined to try to cross the ravine, at the 
bottom of which we were excited to see a number of seals 
and Emperor penguins dotted over the ice floor. Af 
last by means of making fast the Alpine rope to the bow 
of the sledge we reached the bottom, and there Mackay 
killed two penguins to replenish our exhausted larder. 
Meanwhile Mawson was looking out for a spot where we 
might swarm up, and as I was feeling much exhausted, 
I asked him to take over the leadership of the expedition. 

I considered myself justified in taking this step as the 
work assigned to us by our leader was accomplished, and 
we were within two or three miles of our depot and had 
no reason to fear the danger of starvation. 

On the other hand, as regards our ultimate personal 
safety, our position was rather critical. In the first place, 
we were not even certain that the Nimrod had arriven in 
Ross Sea ; in the second place, assuming that she had, if 
was quite possible that she would miss sighting our depot 
flags altogether. 

In the event of the ship not appearing within a few 
days, it would have been necessary to take immediate 
action with a view either to winter at the Drygalski 
depot or to an attempt to sledge over the steeply 
crevassed glacier for over 200 miles to Cape Royds. 

Even at the moment, had some immediate strenuous 
action been necessary from the Nimrod suddenly appear- 
ing, I thought that it would be best for Mawson, who was 
less physically exhausted than I was, to be in charge. 

He had, throughout the whole journey, shown excellenl 
capacity for leadership, and when I spoke to him he al 
first demurred, but finally said he would act for a time. 

At first we thought that there was one very difficult bui 

In the Antarctic 225 

apparently possible means of ascent up the cliff face ; 
our efforts, however, in this direction were doomed to 
failure, and we were compelled to retrace our steps up 
the ravine down which we had previously lowered the 

This was a tremendous labour, for we could only force 
the sledge up a few inches at a time ; eventually, however, 
we found ourselves on the level plain at the top of the 
ravine, but, of course, on the wrong side as far as our 
depot was concerned. There we thought it safe to camp, 
for we were within three miles of the open sea, and had 
the Nimrod sighted our depot flag and stood in to the 
coast, we could easily have hurried down to the entrance 
of the inlet and made signals to her. 

At 7 a.m. we turned in after toiling for twenty-three 
hours, and at about a quarter-past seven, as we learnt 
later, the Nimrod must have passed ; but owing to a light 
wind with snow drift she was unable to sight either our 
depot flag or tent. 

Having had four hours’ rest we packed our sledge and 
started along the north bank of the snow gorge, the snow 
and ice at the bottom being dotted with basking seals 
and moulting Emperor penguins. 

At first, in our tired and weak state, we were much 
dispirited to find no means of crossing the ravine, but 
eventually Mackay, who had gone ahead, shouted that 
he had discovered a snow-bridge across it, and when he 
had rejoined us we pulled the sledge to the head of the 

There was a crevasse at both the near and far ends of 
the bridge, and stepping over the crevasse at the near 
end we launched the sledge with a run down to the centre 
of the bridge and then struggled up the steep slope facing 
us, Mackay steadying the sledge from falling off the 


226 Shackleton 

narrow causeway, while all of us pulled for all we were 

In another minute or so we were safely across with our 
sledge, and thankful to have surmounted the last obstacle 
between us and our depot. 


As we were all thoroughly exhausted and had reached a 
spot from which we could get a good view of the ocean 
beyond Drygalski Barrier, we camped at 10.30 p.m. on 
that evening (February 3) a little over a mile away from 
our depot. 

During that day we had two of the most satisfying 
meals we had eaten for a very long time ; a soupy mince- 
meat of penguin for lunch, and plenty of seal for dinner. 

And after the second meal Mawson and I turned into 
the sleeping-bag, leaving Mackay to take the first of our 
four-hour watches on the look-out for the Nimrod. 
During his watch he walked up to the depot and dug out 
our biscuit tin, which had served us as a blubber lamp 
and cooker, together with the cut-down paraffin tin which 
we had used as a frying-pan, and carried them to the tent. 

Then he cooked some penguin meat and regaled him- 
self with dainty morsels from the savoury dish, and when 
he called me at 4 a.m. I found that he had thoughtfully 
put into the frying-pan about two pounds of penguin’s 
breast for me to toy with during my watch 

During the afternoon of the 4th we . discussed our 
future plans, and decided that we had better at once 
move the tent up to our old depot, where it would be a 

In the Antarctic 



EXTREME RIGHT. iSi'P gag* 1 60) 

228 Shackleton 

conspicuous object from the sea, and where, too, we 
could command a more extensive view of the ocean. 

We also talked about what it would be best to do if the 
Nimrod did not appear, and determined that we ought to 
tackle the journey to Hut Point, keeping ourselves alive 
on the way, as best we might, with seal-meat. 

While, however, Mackay thought we ought to start in 
a few days, Mawson and I, on the other hand, thought 
that we should wait where we were until late in February. 
From whatever point of view we looked at it, our lot was 
not a happy one. 

Dispirited, indeed, by forebodings of much toil and 
trouble, we were just preparing to set our weary limbs in 
motion to pack up and trek up to the depot, when — Bang ! 
went something, seemingly close to the door of our tent. 
The sound thrilled us ; in another instant the air rever- 
berated with a big boom, much louder than the first 

Mawson was the first to give tongue, roaring out, “ A 
gun from the ship ! ” and dived for the tent door. As the 
latter was narrow there was for the moment some con- 
gestion of traffic. I dashed my head forwards, only in 
time to receive a few kicks from the departing Mawson. 
Just as I was recovering my equilibrium, Mackay made 
a wild charge, rode me down, and trampled over my 
prostrate body. 

When at last I got started, Mawson had got a lead 
of a hundred and Mackay of about fifty yards. “ Bring 
something to wave,” Mawson shouted, and rushing back 
to the tent I seized Mackay’s ruck-sack. 

And then as I ran forward again, what a sight met my 
gaze ! Not a quarter of a mile away was the dear old 
Nimrod, steaming straight towards us up the inlet, and 
at the sight of the three of us hastening frantically to 

In the Antarctic 229 

meet the ship, hearty ringing cheers burst forth from all 
on board. 

It would be hard, indeed, for anyone who has never 
been situated as we had been, to realise the sudden 
revulsion of our feelings, or to understand how those 
cheers stirred every fibre within us. In a moment, as 
dramatic as it was heavenly, we seemed to have passed 
from death into life. 

My first feelings were of intense joy and relief, then of 
fervent gratitude to the kind Providence which had so 
mercifully led our friends to our deliverance. 

Suddenly, however, a shout from Mackay called me 
back to earth : “ Mawson’s fallen into a deep crevasse — 
look out, it’s just in front of you,” he called, and I saw 
him kneeling near the edge of a small oblong hole in the 

“ Are you all right, Mawson ? ” he asked, and from 
the depth came up the welcome word, “Yes.” 

Mackay then told me that Mawson was about twenty 
feet down the crevasse, and we decided to try to pull him 
up with the sledge harness and hurried back to get it. 
Our combined strength, however, was not enough to pull 
him up, and as there was a danger of the snow lid at the 
surface falling in on Mawson unless it was strengthened 
with some planking, we gave up our attempt, I remaining 
at the crevasse while Mackay hurried off for help to the 

“ Mawson has fallen down a crevasse, and we got to 
the Magnetic Pole,” Mackay called out, and almost in 
less time than it takes to write it officers and sailors 
were swarming over the bows of the Nimrod and dropping 
on to the ice barrier. 

I called to Mawson that help was at hand, and he 
replied that he was quite comfortable, for although there 

230 Shackleton 

was seawater at the bottom of the crevasse, he was able 
to sustain himself a couple of feet above it on the small 
ledge that had stopped his fall. 

Meanwhile, the rescue party, headed by J. K. Davis, 
the first officer of the Nimrod, had arrived, and when the 
crevasse had been bridged with a piece of sawn timber, 
Davis, with the thoroughness which characterised all his 
work, promptly had himself lowered down the crevasse. 
And presently Mawson, with only his back slightly bruised 
from this fall, and then Davis were safely on the top. 

What a joyous grasping of hands and hearty all-round 
welcoming followed, and foremost among those old friends 
who greeted us was Captain Evans who had commanded 
the Koonya , and who was then in command of the Nimrod, 
a fact which gave us the greatest satisfaction. Quickly 
he assured me of the good health of my wife and family, 
and while willing hands packed up our sledge and other 
belongings, Captain Evans walked with us to the rope 
ladder hanging over the bows of the Nimrod. 

Quickly as all this had taken place, Mackay had 
already found time to secure a pipe and some tobacco 
from one of our crew, and was pulling away to his 
heart’s content. 

After our one hundred and twenty-two days of hard 
toil over the sea ice of the coast, and the great snow 
desert of the Hinterland, the little ship seemed to us as 
luxurious as an ocean liner. Pleasantly the buzz of our 
friends’ voices — giving us all the news — blended itself 
with the gentle fizzing of steam from the Nimrod's boiler, 
and surely since the days of John Gilpin “were never 
folk so glad ” as were we three. 

Afternoon tea came first and then the joy of reading 
the home letters, and finding good news in them. Later 
we three had a novel experience, the first real wash for 

In the Antarctic 231 

over four months, and after diligent scrubbing bits of 
our real selves began to show through the covering of 
seal-oil and soot. 

Of course we over-ate ourselves at dinner, but all the 
same we were ready to partake liberally of hot cocoa and 
biscuits before we turned in at 10 p.m. 

Under Providence we felt we owed our lives to the 
thorough search, sound judgment and fine seamanship 
of Captain Evans, and the devotion to duty of his officers 
and crew. 

My last thought in the twilight that comes between 
wakefulness and sleep is expressed in the words of our 
favourite record on the gramophone, “ So long Thy power 
hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.” 



The Nimrod, with Professor David, Mawson and Mackay 
aboard, got back to winter quarters on February ir and 
landed Mawson. No news had been heard of the 
Southern Party, and the depot party, commanded by 
Joyce, was still out. On February 20 it was found that 
the depot party had reached Hut Point, and had not 
seen Marshall, Adams, Wild or myself. My instruc- 
tions had provided that if we had not returned from our 
journey toward the South Pole by February 25, a party 
was to be landed at Hut Point with a team of dogs, and 
on March 1 a search-party was to go south. Murray, who 
was in command of the expedition during my absence, 
was in no way responsible for the failure of that party to 
be landed, and obeyed faithfully my full instructions. 

232 Shackleton 

All arrangements being completed, most of the members 
of the expedition went ashore at Cape Royds to get their 
property packed in readiness for departure. The ship 
left Cape Royds on the 21st, and was lying under Glacier 
Tongue when I arrived at Hut Point with Wild on 
February 28, and after I had been landed with the relief 
party in order that Adams and Marshall might be brought 
in, the ship went to Cape Royds so that the remaining 
members of the shore-party and some specimens and 
stores might be taken on board. 

The Nimrod anchored a short distance from the shore, 
and two boats were launched. As everything had to be 
lowered by ropes over the cliff into the boats, the work 
of embarkation took some time, but by 6 a.m. on March 2 
only the men and dogs remained to be taken on board. 

A stiff breeze was blowing, and by the time the dogs 
had one by one been lowered into the boats, the wind had 
freshened to blizzard force, and the sea had begun to run 
dangerously. The waves had deeply undercut the ice- 
cliff, leaving a projecting shelf. 

One boat, in charge of Davis, succeeded in reaching 
the ship, but a second boat, heavily laden with men and 
dogs, was less fortunate, and before it had gone many 
yards from the shore an oar broke. 

The Nimrod, owing to the severity of the storm was 
forced to slip her moorings and steam from the bay, and 
an attempt to float a buoy to the boat was not successful. 

Consequently Harbord and his men were in great 
danger, for they could not get out of the bay owing to the 
force of the sea, and the projecting shelf of ice threatened 
disaster if they approached the shore. Flying spray 
had encased the men in ice, and their hands were numb 
and frozen. 

At the end of an hour they managed to make fast to a 

In the Antarctic 233 

line stretched from an anchor a few yards from the cliff, 
the men who had remained on shore pulling this line taut. 

Their position was still dangerous, but eventually the 
men and dogs were all safely hauled up the slippery ice- 
face before the boat sank. Hot drinks were soon ready 
for them in the hut, and although the temperature was low 
and nearly all the bedding had been sent on board, they 
were thankful enough to have escaped with their lives. 

On the following morning (March 3) the ship came 
back to Cape Royds, and having got all the men and 
dogs aboard, went back to the Glacier Tongue anchorage 
to wait for the relief party. 

About ten o’clock that same night Mackintosh was 
on deck talking to some other members of the expedition, 
when he suddenly became excited and said, “ I feel that 
Shackleton has arrived at Hut Point.” He was very 
anxious that the ship should proceed to the Point, but 
no one paid much attention to him, and Dunlop advised 
him, if he was so sure about it, to go aloft and look for a 
signal. Accordingly Mackintosh went aloft, and im- 
mediately seeing our flare at Hut Point the ship left at 
once, and by 2 a.m. on March 4 the entire expedition was 
safe on board. 

If we were to try to complete our work there was no 
time to be lost, for the season was far advanced and the 
condition of the ice was already a matter of anxiety. 
But as I was very eager to undertake exploration with 
the ship to the westward towards Adelie Land, with the 
idea of mapping the coast-line in that direction, I gave 
orders to steam north, and in a very short time we were 
under way. 

First of all, I wished to round Cape Armitage and pick 
up some geological specimens and gear that had been left 
at Pram Point, but young ice was forming over the sea, 

234 Shackleton 

and it was evident that we had scarcely an hour to waste 
if we were not to spend a second winter in the Antarctic. 

Having brought the Nimrod right alongside the pressure 
ice at Pram Point, Mackintosh at once landed with a 
small party, and as soon as they returned we steamed 
north again. 

On passing our winter quarters at Cape Royds we all 
turned out to give three cheers, and to take a last look 
at the place where, in spite of discomforts and hardships, 
we had spent so many happy days. We watched the 
little hut, which had been our home for a year that must 
always live in our memories, fade away in the distance 
with feelings almost of sadness, and there were few men 
aboard who did not cherish a hope that some day they 
might again live strenuous days under the shadow of 
mighty Erebus. 

I left at the winter quarters on Cape Royds a supply 
of stores sufficient to last fifteen men for one year, for 
the changes and chances of life in the Antarctic are such 
that this supply might be most valuable to some future 
expedition. The hut was locked up and the key hung 
where it might easily be found, and we re-adjusted the 
lashing of our home so that it might withstand the fury 
of many blizzards. There our hut stands waiting to be 
used, and containing everything necessary to sustain life. 

I was anxious to pick up some geological specimens 
left on Depot Island, but as the wind had freshened to a 
gale, and we were passing through streams of ice, it was 
too risky to chance even a short delay, and consequently 
I gave instructions that the course should be altered to 
due north. 

My object was to push between the Balleny Islands 
and the mainland, and to make an attempt to follow the 
coast line from Cape Nort westward, so as to link up 

In the Antarctic 235 

with. Adelie Land. No ship had ever succeeded in 
penetrating to the westward of Cape North, heavy pack 
having been encountered on the occasion of each 
attempt. In our attempt we did not manage to do all 
that I hoped, but all the same we had the satisfaction of 
pushing our little vessel along that coast to longitude 
166 0 14 ' East, latitude 69° 47' South, a point farther 
west than had been reached by any previous expedition. 

On the morning of March 8 we saw, beyond Cape North, 
a new coast-line extending first to the southwards and 
then to the west for a distance of over 45 miles, and 
Professor David was of opinion that it was the northern 
edge of the polar plateau. 

Gladly would we have explored this coast but that 
was impossible, for the ice was getting thicker and 
thicker, and it was imperative that we should escape to 
clear water without delay. 

I still, however, hoped that we might skirt the Balleny 
Islands and find Wilkes Land, but about midnight on 
March 9 I saw that we must go north, and the course was 
set in that direction. 

As it was we were almost too late, and the situation 
looked black indeed when we were held up by the ice, 
and the ship was quite unable to move. Fortunately we 
found a lane through which progress could be made, and 
by the afternoon of the 10 th we were in fairly open water. 

Our troubles were ended, for we had a good voyage to 
New Zealand, and on March 22 we dropped anchor at the 
mouth of Lord’s river on the south side of Stewart Island. 
I did not go to a port because I wished to get the news 
of the expedition’s work through to London before we 
faced the energetic newspaper men. 

That day in March was a wonderful one to all of us. 
For over a year we had seen nothing but rocks, ice, snow 

236 Shackleton 

and sea. No green growth had gladdened our eyes, no 
musical notes of birds had come to our ears. No man 
who has not spent a period of his life in those “ stark and 
sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole ” will understand 
fully what trees, and flowers, and running streams mean 
to the soul of a man. We landed on the stretch of beach 
that separated the sea from the luxuriant growth of the 
forest, and scampered about like children in the sheer 
joy of being alive. 

Early next morning we hove up the anchor, and at 
10 a.m. we entered Half Moon Bay. There I went ashore, 
and having despatched my cablegrams from the little 
office I went on board again and ordered the course to 
be set for Lyttelton, the port from which we had sailed 
on the first day of the previous year, and we arrived 
there on March 25 late in the afternoon. 

The people of New Zealand would have welcomed us, 
I think, whatever had been the result of our efforts, for 
since the early days of the Discovery expedition their 
keen interest in Antarctic exploration has never faltered, 
and their attitude towards us was always that of warm 
personal friendship. 

But the news of the measure of success we had achieved 
had been published in London and flashed back to the 
southern countries, and we were met out in the harbour 
and on the wharves by cheering crowds. Enthusiastic 
friends boarded the Nimrod almost as soon as she entered 
the heads, and when our gallant little vessel came along- 
side the quay the crowd on deck became so great that 
movement was almost impossible. 

Then I was handed great bundles of letters and cable- 
grams. The loved one at home were well, the world was 
pleased with our work, and it seemed as though nothing 
but joy and happiness could ever enter life again. 

Empfrou rnnus.^ (Sec paje 23S) 




[Some Notes by James Murray , Biologist to the 

Though so much has been written about them, penguins 
always excite fresh interest in every one who sees them 
for the first time. 

There is endless interest in watching them ; the 
dignified Emperor, dignified in spite of his clumsy waddle, 
going along with his wife (or wives) by his side, the very 
picture of a successful, self-satisfied, unsuspicious country- 
man, and gravely bowing like a Chinaman before a 
yelping dog, and also the little undignified matter-of-fact 
Adelie, minding his own business in a most praiseworthy 
manner. Often they behave with apparent stupidity, 
but sometimes they show a good deal of intelligence. 
Their resemblance to human beings is always noticed, 
partly because they walk erect, but they also have many 
other human traits. They are the civilised nations of the 
Antarctic regions, and their civilisation, if much simpler 
than ours, is in some respects higher and more worthy of 
the name. 

But there is also a good deal of human nature in them. 
As in the human race, their gathering in colonies does 
not show any true social instinct ; each penguin is in the 
rookery for his own ends, there is no thought of the 
general good. You might exterminate an Adelie rookery 
with the exception of one bird, and he would not mind 
so long as you left him alone, 

Some suggestion of unselfishness dees appear in the 
nesting habits of the Adelie, and like men the Adelies 

In the Antarctic 239 

have the unpleasant habit of stealing and the pleasant 
one of not making eating the prime business in life. 
Both Emperors and Adelies, when nesting is off their 
minds, show a legitimate curiosity, and having got into 
good condition they leave the sea and go off in parties 
for weeks, apparently to see the country. 

We saw the Emperor penguins only as a summer 
visitor, when having finished nesting and having fed up 
and become glossy and beautiful, they came up out of 
the sea, apparently to have a good time before moulting. 
While the Adelies were nesting the Emperors came in 
numbers to inspect the camp, the two kinds usually 
paying no attention to each other unless an Adelie 
thought an Emperor came too close to her nest, when an 
odd unequal quarrel followed. Little impudence, pecking 
and scolding, and being more than able to hold her own 
with the tongue, but knowing the value of discretion 
whenever the Emperor raised his flipper. 

The Emperors were very inquisitive and would come a 
long way to see a motor-car or a man, and when out on 
these excursions the leader kept his party together by a 
long shrill squawk. Distant parties saluted in this way. 

The first party to arrive inspected the boat, and then 
crossed the lake to the camp, but when they discovered 
the dogs all other interests were swallowed up. After 
the discovery crowds of Emperors came every day, and 
from the manner in which they went straight to the 
kennels one was tempted to believe that the fame of the 
dogs had been noised abroad. 

As regards meetings, Emperors were very ceremonious, 
whether meeting other Emperors, men, or dogs. They 
came up to a party of strangers in a straggling procession, 
some big aldermanic fellow leading. At a respectful 
distance they halted, and the old male waddled close up 

240 Shackleton 

and bowed gravely until his head almost touched his 
breast. With his head still bowed he made a long speech 
in a muttering manner, and having finished his speech he 
still kept his head bowed for a few seconds for politeness 
sake, and then raising it he described with his bill as large 
a circle as the joints of his neck would allow, and finally 
looked into our faces to see if we understood. If we had 
not, as usually was the case, he tried again. 

He was infinitely patient with our stupidity, but his 
followers were not so patient with him, and presently 
they would become sure that he was making a mess of it. 
Then another male would waddle forward and elbow the 
first Emperor aside as if to say, “ I’ll show you how it 
ought to be done,” and went again through the whole 

Their most solemn ceremonies were used towards the 
dogs, and three old fellows were seen calmly bowing and 
speaking at the same time to a dog, which was yelping 
and straining at its chain in the desire to get at them. 

Left to themselves the Emperor penguins seemed 
perfectly peaceable, but if they did use their flippers 
they could strike forward or backward with equal ease. 

They seemed to regard men as penguins like them- 
selves, but if a man walked too fast among them or touched 
them they were frightened and ran away, only fighting 
when closely pressed. As one slowly retreated, fighting, 
he had a ludicrous resemblance to a small boy being 
bullied by a big one, his flipper being raised in defence 
towards his foe as he made quick blows at the bully. 
It was well to keep clear of that flipper, for it was very 
powerful and might easily break an arm. 

Many of the stupid acts of both kinds of penguins are 
doubtless to be traced to their very defective sight in air, 
and to this defect one must ascribe the fact that 

In the Antarctic 241 

when they fought the blows from their bills always fell 

The Emperor can hardly be said to migrate, but 
nevertheless he travels a good deal, and the meaning of 
some of his journeys remain a mystery. 

On journeys they often travel many miles walking 
erect, when they get along at a very slow shuffle, making 
only a few inches at each step. In walking thus they 
keep their balance by means of their tails, which forms a 
tripod with the legs. When, however, they are on a 
suitable snow surface, they progressed rapid y by to- 
bogganing, a very graceful motion, when they made 
sledges of their breasts and propelled themselves by their 
powerful legs, balancing, and perhaps increasing their 
speed, by means of their wings. 

Eight of them visited the car one day, sledging swiftly 
towards us, and one obstinate old fellow, who was not 
going to be hurried away by anybody, had to see the car 
bearing down upon him before he was persuaded to 

The Adelie is always comical. He pops out of the 
water with startling suddenness, like a jack-in-the-box, 
alights on his feet, shakes his tail, and toddles off about 
his business. He always knows where he wants to go 
and what he wants to do, and it is difficult to turn him 
aside from his purpose. 

In the water the Adelie penguins move rapidly and 
circle in the same way as a porpoise or dolphin, for which 
they are easily mistaken at a little distance. On level 
ice or snow they can get along about as fast as a man at a 
smart walk, but they find even a small crack a serious 
obstruction, and pause and measure with the eye one 
of a few inches before very cautiously hopping over it. 
They flop down and toboggan over any opening more 


242 Shackleton 

than a few inches wide. Very rarely they swim in the 
water like ducks, and on these infrequent occasions their 
necks are below the surface and their heads are just 

The Adelie shows true courage in the breeding-season, 
for after he has learned to fear man he remains to defend 
the nest against any odds. When walking among the 
nests one is assailed on all sides by powerful bills, and for 
protection we wore long felt boots reaching well above 
the knee. Some of the clever ones, however, realised 
that they were wasting their efforts on the boots, and 
coming up behind would seize the skin above the boot 
and hang on tight, beating with their wings. 

Some birds became so greatly interested in the camp 
that they wanted to nest there. One bird (we believe 
it was always the same one) could not be kept away and 
used to come every day, until at last he was carried away 
by Brocklehurst, a wildly struggling, unconquerable 

The old birds enjoy play, while the young ones are 
solely engaged in satisfying the enormous appetites they 
have when growing. While the Nimrod was frozen in 
the pack some dozens of them disported themselves in a 
sea-pool alongside. They swam together in the duck 
fashion, then at a squawk from one they all dived and 
came up at the other side of the pool. 

Early in October they began to arrive at the rookery, 
singly or in pairs. The first to come were the males, and 
they at once began to scrape up the frozen ground to 
make hollows for nests, and to collect stones for the walls 
with which they surrounded them. 

When the rookery is pretty well filled, and the nest- 
building is in full swing, the birds have a busy and 
anxious time. To get enough suitable small stones is a 

244 Shackleton 

matter of difficulty, and may involve long journeys for 
each single stone, so the temptation is too strong for 
some of the birds, and they become habitual thieves. 
The bearing of the thief, however, clearly shows that he 
knows that he is doing wrong, for very different is his 
furtive look, even after he is quite out of danger of 
pursuit, from the expression of the honest penguin 
coming home with a hard-earned stone. 

A thief, sitting on its own nest, was stealing from an 
adjacent nest, whose honest owner was also at home but 
looking unsuspectingly in another direction. Casually 
the latter turned his head and caught the thief in the very 
act, whereupon the culprit dropped the stone and pre- 
tended to be busy picking up an infinitesimal crumb from 
the neutral ground. Undoubtedly then the penguin has 
a conscience, at least a human conscience, that is the fear 
of being found out. 

This stone -gathering is a very strong part of the 
nesting instinct, and even if at a late stage the birds lost 
their eggs or their young, they began again, in a half- 
hearted way, to heap up stones. Unmated birds occupied 
the fringe of the rookery, and amused themselves p ilin g 
and stealing till the chicks began to hatch out. 

After the two eggs were laid the males — who always 
seemed to be in the majority — used to do most of the 
work, and judging from certain signs it would seem that 
some of the birds never left their nests to feed during 
the whole period of incubation. Many birds lost their 
mates through the occasional breaking loose of a dog, 
and these birds could not leave their nests. 

In the Antarctic 




The rookery is most interesting after the chicks arrive. 
The young chicks are silvery or stately grey, with darker 
heads, which are heavy for the first day or so and hang 
down helplessly. After hatching the parents take equal 
share in tending the chicks, whatever they may have 
done before. For some weeks the nest cannot be left 
untended, or the chicks would perish of cold or fall victims 
to the skuas. 

When the young ones can hold up their heads the 
feeding begins, and at first the parent tries to induce its 
offspring to feed by tickling its bill and throat. After 
the chick has once learned to feed the parents are taxed 
by the clamouring for more food. 

For some weeks after hatching life in the rookery is 
smooth enough, for one parent is always on the nest and 
the young birds do not wander. Then the trouble begins, 
for the young begin to move about, and if anything 
disturbs the colony they suffer from panic. 

The chicks knowing neither nest nor parent cannot 
return home, so they meet the case by adopting parents, 
and although some of the old ones resent this method 
most of the chicks succeed in getting into nests. The old 
bird may have chicks already, but as she does not know 
which are her own she cannot drive the intruders away, 
and sometimes we saw a sorely puzzled parent trying to 
cover four gigantic chicks. 

The times comes when both parents must be absent 
together to get food for the growing chicks, and then the 
social order of the rookery gives way to chaos. But the 
social condition which is evolved out of the chaos is one of 

246 Shackleton 

the most remarkable in nature, and both serves its purpose 
and saves the race. The parents returning with food 
come back from the sea with the intention of finding 
their nests and feeding their own young ones, but the 
young one assumes that the first old one that comes 
within reach is its parent, and, perhaps, it really thinks 
so, as the parents are all alike. 

An old bird, coming up full of shrimps, is met by 
clamorous youngsters before it has time to begin the 
search for its nest. The chicks order the parent to stand 
and deliver, and the latter scolds and runs off. But the 
chicks are both wheedling and imperative, and soon there 
begins one of those parent hunts which were so familiar 
at the end of the season. 

The result, however, is never in doubt. At intervals 
the old one is weak enough to stop and expostulate, but 
there is no indecision on the part of the young ones, 
which in the most matter-of fact and persistent manner 
hunt the old one down. 

Sometimes these chases last for miles, but in the end 
the old one stops, and still spluttering and protesting 
delivers up. 

One would think that under these circumstances the 
weaker chicks would go to the wall, but as far as could 
be seen there were no ill-nourished young ones. Perhaps 
the hunt takes so long that all get a chance. 

A few days after the eggs began to hatch there was a 
severe blizzard, which lasted for several days. Where 
the snow had drifted deepest, nests and birds were covered 
out of sight, and the indication of the whereabouts of a 
bird was a little funnel in the snow, at the bottom of 
which an anxious eye could be seen. On a moderate 
estimate about half the young perished in this blizzard. 

The old Adelies do not mind the cold, their thick 


248 Shackleton 

blubber and dense fur protecting them sufficiently, and 
in a blizzard they will lie still and let the snow cover 
them. Once after a blizzard I went to the rookery and 
could see no penguins, but suddenly, at some noise, 
they sprung out of the snow, and I was surrounded by 

While the Adelie appears to be entirely moral in his 
domestic arrangements, his stupidity (or his short- 
sightedness, which causes him to seem stupid) gives rise 
to many complications. All the birds go to their nests 
without hesitating when they come from the sea by the 
familiar route, but if taken from their nests to another 
part of the rookery, some easily find their way back but 
others are quite lost. They are most puzzled when 
moved only a little way from home, and they will fight 
to keep another bird’s nest while their own is only a 
couple of feet away. 

There is no doubt, however, that the presence of our 
camp upset their social arrangements, and probably 
when undisturbed there would be no confusion and 

As it was, a mere walk among the nests caused in- 
numerable entanglements, for one bird would leave its 
nest in fright, and flop down a yard away beside a nest 
already occupied, or on a nest left exposed by another 
frightened bird. 

But in all such cases, even when a bird got established 
on the wrong nest, things were always put straight after- 
wards. When they calmed down they became uneasy, 
probably observing the landmarks more critically, and 
they would even leave a nest with chicks for their own 
empty nest. 

We tried some experiments on the penguins in order 
to trace the working of their minds. If one of us stood 

In the Antarctic 249 

between a bird and its nest so as to prevent it from 
approaching, the bird would make many furious attempts 
to reach home. After a time, however, it would appear 
to meditate, and then walk off rather disconsolately, 
and having made a tour of the colony would approach 
the nest from the other side. Apparently it was greatly 
astonished to find that the intruder was still there, and 
this curious trait was often seen. 

It is like the ostrich burying its head in the sand and 
imagining itself safe, or like a man refusing to believe his 
own eyes. It appears to think that if it comes to the 
nest from the other side the horrible vision will have 

A lost chick was never sought for, indeed there would 
have been no use in such a proceeding for it could not be 
recognised. On account of this peculiarity we were able 
to make many readjustments of the family arrange- 
ments. When the blizzard destroyed so many chicks 
we distributed the young from nests where there were 
two to nests where there were none, and these chicks 
were usually adopted with eagerness. 

When both birds are at a nest that is disturbed, or 
when the mate comes up from feeding to relieve guard, 
there is an interchange of civilities in the form of a loud 
squawking in unison, accompanied by a curious move- 
ment. The birds’ necks are crossed, and at each squawk 
they are changed from side to side, first right then left. 
We were for some time mistaken in thinking that this 
harsh clamour was quarrelling. 

A bird returning from the sea came to the wrong nest 
and tried to converse with the occupant, who would 
have nothing to do with him. The occupant knew that 
her mate had just gone off for the day, and would not 
be such a fool as to return too early, so she sat still, 

250 Shackleton 

indifferent to the squawking of the other. Presently a 
look of distress came into the visitor’s face as he failed 
to get a response, but he was very slow to realise that he 
had made a mistake. 

The Adelies are not demonstrative of their affections, 
and it is difficult to discover if they have any beyond 
the instinctive affection for the young. One curious 
incident, however, did occur, which possibly, was in 
opposition to what we expected after a long study of the 
penguins’ habits. 

An injured bird which we had tried to nurse died, and 
shortly afterwards a live penguin was found standing by 
it. We moved the dead bird to a distance, and after a 
time found the other again standing beside it. It was 
the general opinion that this was the dead bird’s mate 
which had found it out. From any point of view the 
occurrence was puzzling, but I find it less difficult to 
believe that the bird had found its dead mate than that 
it took an interest in a dead stranger, because there were 
always plenty of dead birds about a rookery, and the 
living went about entirely indifferent to them. 

Instances of real kindness were sometimes noticed; 
for instance, our passage through the rookery frightened 
away the parent of a very young chick, and a bird passing 
a few yards away noticed this and came over to the chick. 
The bird cocked his head on one side as if saying : 
“ Hullo ! this little beggar’s deserted ; must do some- 
thing for him.” Then he tickled its bill, but the chick 
was too frightened to feed. After coaxing it in this way 
the bird turned away and put some food on the ground, 
and then lifting a little in his bill he put some on each 
side of the chick’s bill. This was not an isolated case, 
but was observed on several occasions, the helper always 
running off when the rightful parent returned. 


Penguins listening to the Gramophone during the Summer 

252 Shackleton 

One incident seemed to reveal true social instinct. 
From a small colony all the eggs except one were taken 
to see if the birds would lay again. As it happened they 
did not, and, after the birds had sat on their empty 
nests for some time, they disappeared. But when the 
time came for the solitary egg to hatch quite half the 
nests were re-occupied, and the birds took their share in 
defending the one chick. 

When the young birds have shed most of their down 
they cease from hunting the old ones for food, and con- 
gregating at the edge of the sea appear to be waiting for 
something. When the right time, which they seem to 
know perfectly, comes, they dive into the sea, sometimes 
in small parties, sometimes singly, disappear and may 
be seen popping up far out to sea. They dive and come 
up very awkwardly, but swim well. 

It is marvellous how fully instinct makes these birds 
independent, for the parents do not take them to the 
water and teach them to swim, indeed the old ones stay 
behind to moult. Though the chicks have spent their 
lives on land and only know that food is something found 
in an old bird’s throat, when the time comes they leave 
the land and plunge boldly into the sea, untaught, to 
get their living by straining Crustacea out of the water 
in the same way as a whale does. 

Some of our party did report that they saw penguins 
teaching the young to swim, but if this ever happens 
it is not general. 

Like the Emperor, the Adelie is fond of travelling 
when free from family cares. The great blizzard un- 
fortunately left hundreds of old birds with no chicks to 
guard and feed, and they began to explore the country 
in bands. The round of the lakes was a favourite trip, 
and tracks also led to the summits of some of the hills, 

In the Antarctic 253 

although the short-sighted Adelie could hardly have 
gone there for the view. 

There was no general trek southwards, such as the 
Emperors made, but the Southern Party found tracks 
of two Adelies at a distance of some 80 miles from the 

While chaos reigned in the rookery I found two Adelie 
chicks exhausted and covered with mire, and I took 
them to the hut and bestowed upon them the dignified 
names of Nebuchadnezzar and Nicodemus. They were 
placed in a large cage in the porch, and fed by hand 
with sardines and fish-cakes. They did not, however, 
like our way of feeding them, and it was necessary to force 
the food so far down their throats that they were com- 
pelled to swallow it. 

In a few days they became quite tame and recognised 
those who fed them. Familiar only with our peculiar 
method of feeding them, one of them used to show when 
he was hungry by taking my finger into his bill. 

We shortened their names to Nebby and Nicky and 
they answered to them, but they answered with equal 
readiness to the common name of Bill. When sounds 
from the rookery reached them they would become 
greatly excited, and tried so desperately to get through 
the netting of their cage that we used to take them out 
for a walk. Then they would make no attempt to go to 
the rookery and were rather frightened. 

Nebuchadnezzar was a very friendly little fellow, and 
would follow me about outside and come running when 
called. But their feeding was unnatural, and for this 
reason, doubtless, both of them died after a few weeks. 

A single ringed penguin appeared at Cape Royds at 
the end of the breeding season, just as the Adelies were 
beginning to moult. It is about the same size as the 

254 Shackleton 

Adelie but is more agile, and at a little distance, among 
a crowd of old Adelies, he looked not unlike a young 
Adelie with the white throat. But when I picked him up 
by the legs to investigate, he surprised me by curling 
round and biting me on the hand — a feat that the Adelie 
could not perform — and a closer examination showed 
me what he was. Never before had a ringed penguin been 
seen in this part of the Antarctic. 


The first seals which we met on this expedition were 
seen on our voyage from New Zealand before we entered 
the actual line of bergs. I did not see them myself, but 
from descriptions I gathered that one was a crabeater, 
and the other a Weddell seal. Later on, of course, seals 
were to be seen in numbers, and one of the reasons why 
I selected Cape Royds for our winter quarters was because 
I saw plenty of them lying on the bay ice, and conse- 
quently we should not be likely to suffer from a lack 
of fresh meat. 

Oil the return from the Magnetic Pole, Mackay found 
two young seals, which behaved in a most unusual 
manner, for instead of waiting without moving, as did 
most of the Weddell seals, they scuttled away actively 
and quickly. 

Later on he discovered that these two seals belonged 
to the comparatively rare variety known as Ross seal. 

On our voyage back to New Zealand I sent a party to 
the seal rookery near Pram Point to see if they could find 
a peculiar seal that we had noticed on the previous night. 

In the Antarctic 255 

This seal was either a new species or the female of the 
Ross seal. It was a small animal, about four feet six 
inches long, with a broad white band from its throat right 
down to its tail on the underside. The search, however, 
proved a fruitless one. 

On our voyage out albatrosses were numerous, especi- 
ally the sooty species, the death of which, on Shelvoke’s 
voyage, inspired Coleridge’s memorable poem. I noticed 
one, flying low between the two ships, strike its wings 
against the wire tow-line, which had suddenly emerged 
from the waves owing to the lift of the Koonya’s stern 
upon a sea. 

Skua gulls were bathing and flying about in hundreds 
when we first arrived at Cape Royds. But the most 
remarkable bird seen on our expedition was discovered 
by Marshall and Adams on our southern journey, re- 
markable because it was seen in latitude 83° 40' South. 

This bird was brown in colour with a white line under 
each wing, and it flew just over their heads and dis- 
appeared to the south. 

They were sure that it was not a skua gull, which was 
the only bird I could think would venture so far south. 
Indeed, on my previous southern trip, when in latitude 
80 0 30' South, a skua gull had arrived shortly after we 
had killed a dog. 

As regards bears I have nothing to say except that 
there are none down south.