CLOSURE. I need some closure!
For years I have carried a distinct heaviness from a British Antarctic explorer by the name of Robert Falcon Scott. He led an expedition to the South Pole. They spent the winter of 1911 on Cape Evans, part of Ross Island, in a structure they built known as “Scott’s Hut”. From here, Captain Scott selected four men to continue on for the South Pole. Scott intended to get there before anyone else. There was a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, taking an Antarctic expedition for the South Pole at the same time. Thus, a race. Robert Scott reached the South Pole (01/17/1912) and was unfathomably despaired to see a tent, left by Roald Amundsen. Inside the tent a note addressed to Scott explained that Amundsen’s team had arrived on December 14th, five weeks before Scott’s five-man team reached the Pole. Amundsen and his team made it back to Norway. Scott and his five man team died on the Ice.
So, where do I come in? I worked in an Antarctica field camp (there are quite a few of us Antarcticans) for five months, a breakfast cook. One evening, I was told to grab my ECW gear (Extreme Cold Weather) and climb into a Hagglund (below, http://www.milmac.se/index.php?page=hagglunds-bv206-personell-carrier&hl=usa).
We were going to Scott’s Hut. The place is remarkably preserved, due to cold temperatures / low humidity. I stood by the long dining table, next to the chair where Scott sat at the head of the table. I feel like I know this guy; impossible … as he died before I was born. His story is haunting; his pictures are haunting. Maybe its time for me to quit thinking about Scott and Amundsen. Maybe not. His mission was a tragedy, not very positive. Here’s the rub: Scott’s story is a prolific example of courage / desire to take on dangerous adventures. Things get crazy, sometimes, in a harsh environment. Scott’s diaries show that he went after this dream.
I think of Antarctica as a cold, merciless, jealous, mistress that refuses to let some men leave; such as the five men on Scott’s polar team, pictured below: (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/jan-18-1912-robert-falcon-scott-discovers-tent-of-explorer-who-beat-him-to-south-pole/?_r=0)
Here is an image of his last diary entry. The lines read:
“We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.
For God’s sake look after our people.”