November 19, 1912: Mawson’s magnetic pole party heads out

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

“All were ready to be on the move at 8.45 a.m. on Novermber 19.  While Mertz and Ninnis built a cairn of snow, I wrote a note to be left on it in a tin, containing instructions to Stillwell in case he should happen on the locality.

“The weather was good and the temperatures were high, ranging at this time (one month from midsummer) between zero and 18 F.  When we camped for lunch the air was quite calm and the sun’s rays proved extremely warm.

“The surface became softer and smmoother as the afternoon lengthened until Mertz was tempted to put on his skis.  On account of their doubtful value under Adelie Land conditions we had not felt inclined to load ourselves up with the extra weight of skis.  However, as Mertz was exceptionally expert with them, it had been agreed that one pair should be included in the equipment.  On occasions such as the present when the surface was suitable, Mertz would don his skis and relieve Ninnis and myself in the van. . . .

“The evening camp was situated immediately above the last and steepest fall of a tributary valley which enters the main depression of the Mertz Glacier at the foot of the Aurora Peak.  Above us to the west stood a line of riven ice bluffs and behind our track, clearly defined, could be traced with the eye winding back up the valley, carefully avoiding crevassed areas on either hand.”

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