January–February 1911 main content.

January–February 1911

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


Laying Out Supplies For The Impending Attempt At The Pole

Bad Weather And Poor Transportation Choices Hinder Depoting Plans

Once the hut at Cape Evans had been erected and stores stowed in their proper places, it was time to start laying depots for next summer's journey to the pole. Scott estimated that he and his men had about a month's time to lay a series of food and fuel dumps along the first part of his intended path to the pole. This was vital: There was no way that they could carry everything they would need on a round trip that might take up to 150 days.

On January 25, only a week after finishing the hut, Scott set out with ponies, dogs, and motor sledges to lay his caches. His plan was to drop off supplies; at intervals over a significant distance, but the weather and the poor performance of the ponies and sledges conspired against him. His last depot, named One Ton after the weight of food and fuel left there on February 17, was laid about 37 miles short of the target, latitude 80°S. This would have consequences later.

Ponies And Motor Sledges Prove Poor Choices As Scott Hears Of The Norwegian Presence

An immediate problem was that seven of Scott's seventeen ponies died or had to be killed on the way back to Cape Evans. Since the motor sledges had completely broken down, this drastically reduced transportation alternatives for the upcoming polar journey.

It was also during the depot-laying journey that Scott learned from the crew of the Terra Nova what had happened to Amundsen.

His base, Framheim, had been set up just 400 miles to the east, on the margin of the Ross Ice Shelf. Amundsen seemed to have an excellent plan for his polar journey, and his men and dogs were in prime condition. Scott brooded, "above and beyond all, he can start his journey early in the season -- an impossible condition with ponies."

The race was now on, whether or not Scott wished to acknowledge it as such. Much would depend on how the two teams readied themselves for the task ahead.