Friday, January 20, 2012

Centennial for Robert Scott's Historic South Pole Arrival

Scott's team at the Pole, Wikipedia Link
January 17 was the centennial of Scott Team's arrival at the Pole to find that Amundsen had already come and gone.  Combined with the grim fact that the team did not make it all the way back across the Ross Ice Shelf it was not as much of a to-do as last month.  We did however, on Monday have a special presentation by  Lt Col Henry Worsley of the Royal British Legion share some British Antarctic history and some of his own expedition experiences with the community Monday evening the 16th at 8pm in the Galley.  

Henry is a distant relative of the Captain of the Endurance, Commander Frank Worsley of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1916. Frank Worlsey also navigated Shackleton’s three life boats to Elephant Island and then the James Caird party to South Georgia seeking help for Shackleton’s stranded crew.  Frank Worsley is immortalized by a bronze bust that resides where he was born in Akaroa, NZ. 

Henry was the leader of the 2008-2009 Shackleton Centenary Expedition that recreated Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition that reached the furthest south until Amundsen’s expedition at a latitude of 88° 23′ S, just 112.2 miles from South Pole and he is here at South Pole this summer to celebrate the Scott Centennial.   He traveled both the Amundsen route and the Scott route and in his presentation he did not so much share his journeys as much as to give us a side by side and blow by blow recount of what is known of the two expeditions and a review of the Shackleton ground breaking trip which we rarely hear about.  

It was a fascinating lecture and showed also the different attitudes and approaches of the two teams.  While Amundsen was better prepared and ended up choosing the better route he also had a rather brutal and ruthless attitude especially towards the dogs teams.  Scott was also picking up samples and artifacts for scientific study as he went.  He reached the plateau following the Shackelton route about the same time as Amundsen reached the pole.  His route was both a more difficult journey up the mountains but also he was less prepared.  He made the Pole with 4 of his men, turning some around at the plateau.  But the Pole team didn't quite make it back to their major stock depot on the way back due to a storm and perished at their camp.

Celebration of the Scott centennial at the Geographic Pole
While Lt. Col. Worsley spoke mostly of these three intrepid expeditions, he did show pictures from the historic journeys side by side with his re-photography of the same locations.  Less hype than last month but it was quite a fascinating centennial.  For the ceremony itself on Tuesday,  several of us missed it due to a critical meeting that had been postponed from Monday which was the last step for us in allowing us to stay on for the winter contracts. The photo supplied above was from the Galley Scroll and is of the crowd who gathered around the new pole marker for a half hour local celebration of the event held at as close to the time of Scott's arrival as could be estimated, 6PM on the 17th.  (Note the British flag just behind Bill - the speaker).

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