February–March 1912 main content.

February–March 1912

Part of the Race to the End of the Earth exhibition.


Injuries, Malnutrition Dog Scott's Team

Conditions Prove Fatal For Evans And Oates: February-March 1912

On January 25, the British team reached a major depot and were able to replenish their supplies, but there was no fresh meat. It had been six weeks since they had last consumed pony meat and what little vitamin C it contained. Injuries plagued the crew and slowed progress. Wounds were slow to heal, and the workload at 10,000 feet each day was accompanied by nosebleeds, dehydration, and severe headaches. P. O. Evans's fingers were in bad shape from frostbite and a knife gash accidentally inflicted weeks before, and even Wilson and Scott were suffering from painful injuries that made man-hauling ever more difficult.

On February 4, both Scott and Evans fell into a crevasse--Evans for the second time in a few days. This time it seemed to have a serious effect on the seaman, because Scott observed he was becoming "dull and incapable." Two days later, Scott wrote in his diary that "Evans is the chief anxiety now; his cuts and wounds suppurate, his nose looks very bad, and altogether he shows considerable signs of being played out."

Evans Succumbs, Conditions Ever More Serious

Navigating the ice and crevasses of the Beardmore Glacier was difficult, as old tracks were lost and precious hours were consumed finding the way down and trying to locate depots. On February 13 Scott observed, "There is no getting away from the fact that we are not going strong." Evans's condition had been deteriorating, as Scott noted, "from bad to worse"; two days later he was "nearly broken down in brain, we think."

With 400 miles (880 km) to go, Oates pondered, "God knows how we are going to get him home. We could not possibly carry him on the sledge." A few days later, Evans dropped out of harness and shambled along behind the sledge. By noontime he had fallen far behind, causing Scott and the others to go back on skis after him. They found him on his knees, his "clothing disarranged, hands uncovered and frostbitten, and a wild look in his eyes." They had scarcely gotten him into the tent when Evans became unconscious. He died later that night. "It is a terrible thing to lose a companion in this way," Scott wrote, " ... but calm reflection shows that there could not have been a better ending to the terrible anxieties of the past week. Pray God we have no further set-backs."