July 1912: Getting ready for the spring campaign

–from Douglas Mawson’s account “The Home of the Blizzard”–

[Mawson’s account was written at Cape Denison at Commonwealth Bay, but speaks of preparations that were going on in Queen Mary Land and at Cape Evans as well]

“Throughout the winter, the preparation of sledging equipment was a standing job in whilc all participated as opportunity offered.  The world of fashion insists on its minute vagaries of dress not always with an eye to utility, and an explorer in the polar regions is a very fastidious person, expending a vast amount of care on his attire, but with the sole idea of comfort, warmth, and usefulness.  The clothes he wears are many and often cumbersome, but they have gradually been perfected to meet the demands of the local weather conditions. . . .

“There remains to be mentioned only fact that under extremely severe conditions of Adelie Land, much ingenuity was applied to make us masters of the climate.  This principally consisted in strengthening the outer garments, and in additional lashings to secure things and prevent drift snow from penetrating within. . . .

“The fur-boots, or finnesko, made of reindeer skin are worn with the hair outside.  They are soft and warm on the feet and made amply large to receive, within, a warmth-retaining sole-pad and stuffing of dried grass.  The padding used was Lapland sennaegrass which is particularly absorbent of moisture.  Each pair lasts a distance of several hundreds of miles unles, as is unfortunately frequently the case, the fur suddenly commences to moult and the soles become bald.”

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