(End of Bowers’ Account.)
THE RETURN OF THE DOG PARTY
The history of the dog-teams was eventful. We travelled fast, doing nearly 78 miles in the first three days, by which time we were approaching Corner Camp. The dogs were thin and hungry and we were pushing them each day just so long as they could pull, running ourselves for the most part. Scott determined to cut the corner, that is to miss Corner Camp and cut diagonally across our outward track. It was not expected that this would bring us across any badly crevassed area.
We started on the evening of February 20 in a very bad light. It was coldish, with no wind. After going about three miles I saw a drop in the level of the Barrier which the sledge was just going to run over. I shouted to Wilson to look out, but he had already jumped on to the sledge (for he was running) having seen Stareek put his paws through. It was a nasty crevasse, about twenty feet across with blue holes on both sides. The sledge ran over and immediately on the opposite side was brought up by a large ‘haystack’ of pressure which we had not seen owing to the light. Meares’ team, on our left, never saw any sign of pressure. The light was so bad that we never saw this cairn of ice until we ran into it.
We ran level for another two miles, Meares and Scott on our left. We were evidently crossing many crevasses. Quite suddenly we saw the dogs of their team disappearing, following one another, just like dogs going down a hole after some animal.
“In a moment,” wrote Scott, “the whole team were sinking—two by two we lost sight of them, each pair struggling for foothold. Osman the leader exerted all his strength and kept a foothold—it was wonderful to see him. The sledge stopped and we leapt aside. The situation was clear in another moment. We had been actually travelling along the bridge [or snow covering] of a crevasse, the sledge had stopped on it, whilst the dogs hung in their harness in the abyss, suspended between the sledge and the leading dog. Why the sledge and ourselves didn’t follow the dogs we shall never know.”
We of the other sledge stopped hurriedly, tethered our team and went to their assistance with the Alpine rope. Osman, the big leader, was in great difficulties. He crouched resisting with all his enormous strength the pull of the rope upon which the team hung in their harness in mid air. It was clear that if Osman gave way the sledge and dogs would probably all be lost down the crevasse.