G DIf I could fallA GInto the skyG DDo you think time A GWould pass me by A G'Cause you know I'd walk G DA thousand milesIf I couldG D AJust see youIf i couldG D Ajust hold youGtonight
Just outside the western limit of the Australian Quadrant lies Gaussberg, discovered by a German expedition under Drygalski in 1902. Between the most westerly point sighted by the 'Terra Nova' and Gaussberg, there is a circuit of two thousand miles, bordering the Antarctic Circle, which no vessel had navigated previous to 1840.
After we had taken into account the valuable soundings of the 'Challenger' (1872), the above comprised our knowledge concerning some two thousand miles of prospective coast lying to the southward of Australia, at a time when the plans of the Australasian expedition were being formulated.
At 11 P.M. the 'Aurora' entered a bay, ten miles wide, bounded on the east by the shelf-ice wall and on the west by a steep snow-covered promontory rising approximately two thousand feet in height, as yet seen dimly in hazy outline through the mist. No rock was visible, but the contour of the ridge was clearly that of ice-capped land.
\"Having cleared this obstacle we followed the coastline to the west from point to point. Twelve miles away we could see the snow-covered slopes rising from the seaward cliffs to an elevation of one thousand five hundred feet. Several small islands were visible close to a shore fringed by numerous large bergs.
The distance from the Western Base in Queen Mary Land to Hobart was two thousand three hundred miles, through the turbulent seas of the fifties and forties. It was the end of a perilous voyage when the 'Aurora' arrived in Hobart with nine tons of coal.
Next morning the weather cleared still more, and we left just before noon. Three miles out, a mast and flag were erected, when our companions of the day before, who had again assisted us, turned back. At five and a half miles the brow of the main rise was reached, and the gradient became much flatter beyond it. The elevation was found to be one thousand five hundred feet.
On August 13, though there was a steady, strong wind blowing, we continued our advance to the south. The dogs hated to face wind, but, on the whole, did better than expected. In the afternoon, when only eight miles south of Winter Quarters and at an altitude of two thousand feet, dark and lowering clouds formed overhead, and I decided to give up any idea of going farther out, for the time being. We had provisions for a few days only, and there was every indication of thick, drifting weather, during which, in the crevassed ice of that vicinity, it would not be advisable to travel.
They made a great effort to get away next morning. The sledge was hauled for one thousand one hundred yards up to the magnetic ice-cave against a bitter torrent of air rushing by at eighty-two miles an hour. Here they retreated exhausted.
On September 4 there was a cloud radiant from the northwest, indicative of a change in the weather. Ninnis, Mertz and Murphy transported more food-bags and kerosene to Aladdin's Cave. They found Franklin one and a half miles south of the Hut lying on the ice quite well, but there was no sign of Scott. Both dogs were seen on the 1st of the month, when they were in a locality south-east of the Hut, where crevasses were numerous. It seemed most probable that Scott had lost his life in one of them. The party visiting the Cave reported a considerable amount of snow drifting above a level of one thousand feet.
\"From twenty to fifty miles 'out', the surface was neve with areas of sastrugi up to three feet in height. No crevasses were noticed. At twenty-eight miles out, we lost sight of the sea, and at forty miles an altitude of four thousand five hundred feet was reached.
At midnight the sun was peering over the southern sky-line, and we halted at an elevation of one thousand five hundred and fifty feet, having covered eight and a half miles in the day. The temperature was 5 degrees F.
Later in the afternoon Mertz and I went ahead to a higher point in order to obtain a better view of our surroundings. At a point two thousand four hundred feet above sea-level and three hundred and fifteen and three-quarter miles eastward from the Hut, a complete observation for position and magnetic azimuth was taken.
For fourteen miles the way led up rising snow slopes to the north-west until an elevation of two thousand five hundred feet had been reached. After that, variable grades and flat country were met. Though the sledge was light, the dogs required helping and progress was slow. The midnight sun shone low in the south, and we tramped on through the morning hours, anxious to reduce the miles which lay ahead.
Suddenly, gaping crevasses appeared dimly through the falling snow which surrounded us like a blanket. There was nothing to do but camp, though it was only 4.30 A.M., and we had covered but five miles one thousand two hundred and thirty yards.
On the morning of the 10th there was no sign of the Ship and evidently Captain Davis had decided to wait no longer, knowing that further delay would endanger the chances of picking up the eight men who had elected to winter on the shelf-ice one thousand five hundred miles to the west. At such a critical moment determination, fearless and swift, was necessary, and, in coming to his momentous decision, Captain Davis acted well and for the best interests of the Expedition.
By 4 P.M. the wind had decreased to a light breeze. Work was very slow on a steeper up grade, and at six o'clock clouds came up quickly from the south-east and snow began to fall, so we camped at 7.30 P.M. thoroughly tired out. At twenty-four and a half miles the altitude was three thousand two hundred feet.
On the soft surface we were able to dispense with crampons. Hitherto, it had been impossible to haul over a slippery surface in finnesko. Now we felt as light as air and were vastly cheered when some one calculated that the six of us were saving I don't know how many thousand foot-pounds of work every mile. With a run of twelve miles we were forty-two miles from Winter Quarters.
The wind was too strong for travelling early in the day (November 25). While outside we suddenly observed two snow petrels. It was hard to realize that they had actually flown seventy-six miles inland to a height of two thousand four hundred and fifty feet. I dashed inside for the fishingline; Hurley got out the camera. They were a beautiful sight, hovering with outspread wings just above the snow, tipping it with their feet now and then, to poise without a flutter in a sixty-five-mile gale. Hurley secured a couple of \"snaps\" at the expense of badly frost-bitten hands. Just as I arrived with the line hooked and baited, the birds flew away to the north-east; our visions of fresh meat went with them. The line was always ready after this.
That night, after following the magnetic needle towards the south-east, we were fairly on the plateau at one hundred and forty miles, with an altitude of four thousand four hundred feet. The dip, however, had steadily decreased, standing now at 88 degrees 30'. There was some consolation in the hope that a big, sudden rise was stored up for us somewhere along the way ahead.
On the 12th we planned to reach a spot for the depot, two hundred miles out, and by 11.30 P.M. came on a fine site at one hundred and ninety-nine and three-quarter miles; altitude four thousand eight hundred and fifty feet, latitude 69 degrees 83.1' south; longitude 140 degrees 20' east. Everything possible was left behind, the sledge-decking being even cut away, until only three light bamboo slats remained. A pile, including ten days' food and one gallon of kerosene, was placed on a small mound to prevent it being drifted over. A few yards distant rose a solid nine-foot cairn surmounted by a black canvas-and-wire flag, six feet higher, well stayed with steel wire.
Latitude 70 degrees south was passed on the 17th and we were another fourteen miles to the good. The dip was on the increase 89 degrees 25' and the declination swung to 40 degrees east of the magnetic meridian. At two hundred and fifty-six miles the altitude was five thousand five hundred feet.
The mystery of the nunatak was about to be solved. Apparently it rose from the level of the glacier, as our descent showed its eastern flank more clearly outlined. It was three miles to the bottom of the gully, and the aneroid barometer registered one thousand one hundred and ninety feet. The surface was soft and yielding to finnesko crampons, which sank through in places till the snow gripped the knees.
At the evening camp the sledge-meter indicated that our distance eastward of the Hut was sixty miles, one thousand two hundred yards. The northern face of the gully was very broken and great sentinel pillars of ice stood out among the yawning caves, some of them leaning like the tower of Pisa, others having fallen and rolled in shattered blocks. Filling the vision to the south-west was Aurora Peak, in crisp silhouette against a glorious radiant of cirrus cloud.
For four miles we ran parallel to the one-thousand-foot wall of Horn Bluff meeting several boulders stranded on the ice, as well as the fragile shell of a tiny sea-urchin. The promontory was domed with snow and ice, more than one thousand two hundred feet above sea-level. From it streamed a blue glacier overflowing through a rift in the face. Five miles on our way, the sledge passed from frictionless ice to rippled snow and with a march of seven miles, following lunch, we pitched camp.
It was evident that without any more food, through this bottomless, yielding snow, we could never haul the sledge up to the depot, a rise of one thousand two hundred feet in three miles. One of us must go up and bring food back, and I decided to do so as soon as the weather cleared.
With hopes postponed to an indefinite future, another difficulty arose. As it was found that the wind would not al