Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
BLUFF DEPOT JOURNEY
JANUARY 15 TO FEBUARY 16, 1909
Dog-team with Load of 500 lb.: A Discovery Depot: Southern Party Overdue: Sledge-marks of Outward March of Southern Party found:
Good Work by Dogs
A PARTY, under Joyce, left Cape Royds on January 15 to place, at a point about fourteen miles off Minna Bluff, a depot of stores for the use of the Southern Party on its return journey. This work was very important as the four members of the Southern Party would be depending on this depot to supply them with the provisions necessary for the last 100 miles or so of the journey back to winter quarters.
Joyce was accompanied by Mackintosh, Day, and Marston. They took one sledge (with 500 lb. of provisions) drawn by eight dogs. They camped for the night at Glacier Tongue, and had to remain there until the 18th owing to a blizzard. A seven-foot sledge was loaded with 300 lb. of stores from the depot at the Tongue, and the four men took on the two sledges with a total weight of 800 lb. The dogs pulled very well, and the party reached Hut Point at midnight on the 18th.
Rapid progress was made over the Barrier surface, although they had unpleasant experiences with crevasses, and at midnight on January 25 the party reached their destination. During the spring journey of 1908 I had fixed the site of this depot, and arranged all details with Joyce.
The total height of the mound of snow, on the top of which two bamboos lashed together carried three black flags, was twenty-two feet. The depot could be seen at a distance of eight miles.
The party started north again on the 27th. After they had travelled a short way, Day sighted a pole about 8 ft. high (with a tattered flag attached) projecting from the snow, some distance to the west of their course. Joyce was able to identify this pole as marking the site of the depot laid out for the return of the Discovery's southern party in 1902.
Rapid progress was made towards Cape Armitage until the area of crevasses was reached again, when for thirty-seven miles the party twisted and turned in order to make a course past these obstacles. Joyce reported that he had counted 127 ranging from two to thirty feet in width. On the 30th the men were held up by another blizzard, which completely buried the dogs and sledge; but they reached Hut Point at 11 P.M. on January 31.
THE BLUFF DEPOT
Having secured a second load of stores from the depot (in-eluding some luxuries, such as apples and fresh mutton, brought by a party from the Nimrod), Joyce started again for Bluff Depot on February 2. He kept a course towards Cape Crozier for two days and then marched south. The party reached the Bluff Depot for the second time on February 8.
They found, to their surprise, that the Southern Party had not arrived. It came on to blow from the south, and the wind turned into a howling blizzard which did not cease until the 11th. The men climbed to the top of the snow-mound and searched the horizon with glasses, expecting to see the Southern Party loom up. out of the whiteness. As this party was now eleven days overdue, their non-arrival caused great anxiety.
After a consultation, it was decided (1) to lay depot flags in towards the Bluff, so that there would be no chance of the Southern Party missing the food depot; and (2) to march due south to look for the Southern Party.
After the flags had been laid three and a half miles apart, with directions where to find the depot, the march due south commenced. At every halt the horizon was examined, through glasses, from the top of the sledge.
On the 13th, Day found the hoof-prints of the ponies made on the outward march of the Southern Party three months before; the tracks of the four sledges showed distinctly. These tracks were followed for seven hours when they were lost.
Joyce then decided to return to the Bluff Depot, and the party arrived there at noon on the 16th. They found everything just as they had left it.
After examining the flags to the eastward, the party started on the march back to the coast, filled with gloomy thoughts as to the fate of the Southern Party, then eighteen days overdue.