December 21, 1911: Crevasses on the Upper Glacier

From Birdie Bowers’ sledging diary:

“. . . .We made towards the only place where it seemed possible to cross the mass of pressure ice caused by the junction of the plateau with the glacier, and congested between the nunatak [Buckley Island] and the Dominion Range.  Scott had considered at one time going up to westward of the nunatak, but this appeared more chaotic than the other side. . . .We did not go quite so close to the land as Shackleton did, and threfore, as had been the case with us all the way up the glacier, found less difficulties than he met with. . . .

“In this case we had fairly good going, but got into a perfect mass of crevasses into which we all continually fell; mostly one foot, but often two, and occasionally we went down altogether, some to the length of their harness to be hauled out with the Alpine rope.  Most of them could be seen by the strip of snow on the blue ice.  They were often too wide to jump though, and the only thing was to plant your feet on the bridge and try not to tread too heavily.

“As a rule the centre of a bridged crevasse is the safest place; the rotten places are the edges.  We had to go over dozens by hopping right on to the ice.  It is a bit of a jar when it gives way under you, but the friendly harness is made to trust one’s life to.  The Lord only knows how deep these vast chasms go down, they seem to extend into blue black nothingness thousands of feet below.”


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