Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, May 8, 1916: “. . .the Antarctic Region is a harsh mistress.“

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

During breakfast on the 8th, the Skipper [Mackintosh] asked me what I thought about him going to Cape Evans, with Hayward, who volunteered to accompany him. . . . I told him we would have a blizzard within two hours and advised him not to attempt it. Although Cape Evans is only 3-1/2 hours’ journey by sledge, it would be hell to be caught in a blizzard on the thin ice. After breakfast the Skipper came to me again and remarked ‘he was going.’ I tried to persuade him otherwise, but his mind was already made up. He promised me faithfully if it came on to blow before he arrived at the Glacier tongue, he would turn back.

“So they left. Half an hour later came on to blow from the south and increased to a howling blizzard. Whether they arrived at Cape Evans I cannot say, but an experience Mack had previously on the sea-ice should have proved a warning without any further wish to court it again, for the Antarctic Region is a harsh mistress. Such is life, after dragging them back from death. . . .The blizzard carried on in all fury for a couple of days. I went to the summit of the hill and found open water to the north. Perhaps they have gone out on a floe. We do not intend to leave until the ice is safe.”

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