In January 1912, these British explorers were in Antarctica. This photo marks the finish line of a race to discover new lands, where two expedition teams from England and Norway had traveled more than 870 miles to the coldest places on Earth and had to return before winter arrives.
Robert Falcon Scott
Robert Falcon Scott was a veteran explorer who meticulously planned this trip with the dream of becoming the first person to reach the South Pole. He carried out study on Antarctica and gathered information on the five seasonal cycles there along with the scientists and expedition team.
Scott intended to walk the remaining 124 miles across the top of the glacier, more than 298 miles to the poles, and the entire way back while carrying hundreds of pounds of equipment and supplies. Scott initially intended to use horses for the first 435 miles to cross the Ross Ice Shelf. He would then shoot the horses at the foot of Beardmore Glacier.
Scott’s decision to rely on the power of young men and horses was fairly rational at the time because British explorers had utilized similar strategy to deliver supplies on a previous Antarctic expedition. Additionally, British thought that using human strength was the most reliable approach to get to the glacier and the Antarctic Plateau because they had no experience with dogs. Despite the fact that Scott’s expedition team wasn’t traveling alone, the voyage was difficult, difficult, slow, and even terrifying.
On the other side of the race was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, whose expedition camped not far from Scott’s. Amundsen likewise desired to arrive first at the South Pole. All of the members of the Norwegian expedition crew were skilled skiers who were familiar with cold weather navigation. They also know how to handle dogs.
Scott was a little anxious after hearing about the Norwegian expedition, but he remained upbeat. Amundsen set out on a route that had not previously been shown to be traversable, starting roughly 95 kilometers from the pole. His expedition could be slowed by unintentionally running into an unidentified barrier or slipping into an unidentified ice trench.
Despite the challenges, the Norwegian explorers maintained their professionalism. Amundsen’s Norwegian flag was waiting for Scott when he crossed the finish line before him. The Norwegians and their dogs had hit their target five weeks earlier and had almost completed the return trip when the British reached the South Pole. Scott and his expedition were understandably devastated. This picture was taken on the day of the return trip in front of Amundsen’s tent. “I’m leaving this message to let everyone know that some friends and I visited the hut, Bowers was shooting pictures and Wilson was painting,” Scott wrote in his diary. We will return with a journey of more than 1,200km. Goodbye, far-off fantasies!
All of the problems suddenly descended upon the expedition party at this time. The picture was taken in the middle of January, which is still summertime in Antarctica. According to the expedition’s studies, the expedition team had about three months left before the temperature on the Ross Ice Shelf dropped to lethal levels, which was enough for them to make their long hike. But in 1912, things didn’t turn out as expected.
As the years went by, Scott was known as an intrepid but reckless explorer who rode horses through Antarctica. The issue is that Scott’s strategy ought to have succeeded. Modern weather station measurements along Scott’s trip demonstrate that his estimations were remarkably accurate and right. What Scott and the expedition experienced in 1912 was an anomaly, occurring every 15 years, turning an already risky journey hopeless.
H/T: The Guardian
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