110 years ago today, the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole – and found that Norwegian Roald Amundsen had reached it five weeks before. I can only imagine Scott’s reaction. He had contorted his entire life to be the first man to the South Pole, and had failed.
Camp 69. T. -22ºF at start. Night -21ºF. The Pole. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected….
We started at 7:30, none of us having slept much after the shock of our discovery….; the wind is blowing hard, T. -21ºF, and there is that curious damp, cold feeling in the air which chills one to the bone in no time…. Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority. Well, it is something to have got here, and the wind may be our friend tomorrow. We have had a fat Polar hoosh [food in liquid form, typically made of lard, oatmeal, beef protein, vegetable protein, salt, and sugar] in spite of our chagrin, and feel comfortable insideadded a small stick of chocolate and the queer taste of a cigarette brought by Wilson. Now for the run home and a desperate struggle. I wonder if we can do it.
He was correct to wonder. All five of them died on the return trip, defeated by hunger, frostbite, malnutrition, exhaustion – and disappointment.