January 13, 1911: The last supporting party goes into the trap

–from Lt. Edward Evans’ account, “South with Scott”–

“. . .on the 13th of January my party found itrself right above the Shackleton Icefall, and gazed down upon the more regualar surface of the Beardmore Glacier hundreds of feet below us.

“To reach the glacier we were faced with two alternatives:  either to march right round the icefalls, as we had done coming south, and thus waste three whole days, or to take our lives in our hands and attempt to get the sledge slap over the falls.  This would mean facing tremendous drops, which might end in catastrophe.  The discussion was very short-lived, and with a rather sinking feeling the descent of the great ice falls was commenced.  We packed our ski on the sledge, attached spiked crampons to our finneskio, and guided the sledge through the maze of hummucks and crevasses. . . .

“We encountered fall after fall, bruises, cuts, and abrasions were sustained, but we vied with one another in bringing all our grit and patience to bear; scarcely a complaint was heard. . . .The whole forenoon we worked down towards the more even surface of the great glacier itself, but the actual descent of the steep part of the Shacklleton Icefalls was accomplished in half an hour. . . .

“None of us can ever forget that exciting descent.  The speed of the sledge at one point must have been 60 miles an hour.  We glissaded down a steep blue ice slope; to brake was impossible. . . . We held on for our lives, lying face downwards on the sledge.  Suddenly it seemed to spring into the air, we had left the ice and shot over one yawning crevasse before we had known of its existence almolsg–I do not imagine we were more than a second in the air, but in that brief space of time I looked at Crean, who raised his eyebrows as if to say, ‘What next!’  Then we crashed on to the ice ridge beyond this crevasse, the sledge capsized and rolled over and over, dragging us three with it until it came to a standstill.”

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