September 12-15, 1912: Early spring sledging in Adelie Land

–Cecil T. Madigan’s account of the first journey into the interior of Adelie Land, quoted by Douglas Maswon in “The Home of the Blizzard“–

“After leaving Aladdin’s Cave on the 12th we continued due south, lunching at 2 p.m. on the site of Webb’s first camp.  Our troubles had already begun, the wind averaged sixty miles an hour all day with a temperature at noon of -14 F.  A few tears appeared in the tent during the night.  Crouched in the lee of the sledge a lunch was made of frozen butter, biscuit, and chocolate.  We sewed up the rents in the tent during the halt, having to use bare fingers in the open.  About four stitches at a time were as much as one man could manage, and then the other two took their turns.  The next day was the only comparatively calm period of the two weeks of travelling.  The wind was in the vicinity of thirty miles per hour, ad, going west, by nightfall we reached a spot twenty miles ‘out.’

“All day on the 15th a steady seventy-five mile wind accompanied by thick, low drift blew at right angles to our course.  The surface was partially consolidated snow, very hard and smooth.  Sometimes the sledge would grip and we could pull straight ahead.  Then, suddenly, it would slide away sideways down wind and often pull us off our feet with a sudden vicioius jerk.  Most of the time we were dragging in a south-westerly direction to make the sledge run west, now sliding away to leeward, ofthen capsizing and requiring to be laboriously righted and sometimes repacked.”

 

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