January 17, 1912: The last supporting party lost in a maze of crevasses

–from Lt. Edward Evans’ memoir “Happy Adventurer”–

“We fought on until we were forced to camp for lunch from sheer exhaustion. We had considerable difficulty in finding a place big enough to pitch the tent, owing to the badly crevassed state of the ice across which we were travelling. . . .We munched our biscuit in silence, for we were too tired to talk. . . .We finished our lunch, and then we got under way.

“A little discussion and a wealth of whole-hearted good-fellowship from my companions gave me the encouragement which meade leading these two men so easy. Warmed by the tea, cheered by the meal, and rested by the halt, we pushed on once more, although to go forward was uncertain and to work back impossible. . . .

“When the afternoon march had already extended for hours we found ourselves travelling mile after mile across the line of our intended route to circumvent the crevasses. They seemed to brouw bigger and bigger. At about 8 p.m. we were travelling on a ridge between two stupenduous gulfs, and we found a connecting bridge that stretched obliquely across. . . .

“After a minute’s rest we placed the sledge on the ice-bridge, and, as Crean described it afterwards, “We went along the crossbar of the H of Hell.” It was not at all misnamed either, for Lashly, who went ahead, dared not walk upright. He actually sat astride the bridge, and was paid out at the end of our alpine rope. He shuffled his way across, fearing to look down into the inky-blue chasm below, but he fixed his eyes on the opposite wall of ice, and hoped the rope would be long enough to allow him to reach it and climb up, for he would never have dared to come back. . . .

“We wasted no time in beginning the passage. The method of procedure was this. The sledge rested on the narrow bridge, which was indeed so shaped that the crest only admitted of the runners resting on each side of it; the slope away was as sharp as on an inverted “V” and while Lashly sat gingerly on the opposite ridge, Crean and I, facing one another, held on to the sledge-sides, balancing the whole concern. It was one of the most frightening moments of our lives.

“We launched the sledge across foot by foot as I shouted “One, Two, Three–Heave!” Each time the signal was obeyed we drew nearer to the opposite side. . . .Neither of us spoke, except for the launching signal, but each looked steadfastly into the other’s eyes–never did we look down.”

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