Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party on the Barrier, March 25th, 1915: “One realizes this is a game of life.”

–from Ernest Joyce’s account “The South Polar Trail”–

“March 25th. A woe-begotten night, the temperature below -50º. Feet and hands throbbing all night through the blisters. Made breakfast and proceeded toward the [Discovery] Hut. We are on the trail of a sledge track. Expect it was the one made by the Padre and his party. It led to a comfortable down trail on the sea-ice. On inspection, the ice was thin, therefore treacherous.

“We decided to climb the slopes. Proceeded to an easy slope I remembered well on the Scott expedition, Pram Point. . . . After a sever struggle we reached the summit of the hills, and looked down on a plateau between Cape Armitage and Hut Point. . . .Expected to find the Hut deserted. To our surprise, Cope appeared; he was alone. We climbed through the window.

“Our eyes soon accustomed to the smoke-grimed interior. A blubber fire burning, our frozen helmets thawed, beards frozen on our chests, gradually thawing over the blubber stove, assisted by our swollen frostbitten hands; the ice as it fell from our faces rattled and sizzled on the stove.

“There were no tables of chairs, just a few old provision cases, but it was a palace after the gruelling we had been through. One realizes this is a game of life.”

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