Beholde I see the haven near at hand 
  To which I mean my wearie course to bend; 
  Vere the main sheet and bear up to the land 
  To which afore is fairly to be ken'd. 
   - SPENSER, Faerie Queene.

In their journey from Cape Washington to the south something had already been done to justify the dispatch of the expedition. A coast-line which hitherto had been seen only at a great distance, and reported so indefinitely that doubts were left with regard to its continuity, had been resolved into a concrete chain of mountains; and the positions and forms of individual heights, with the curious ice formations and the general line of the coast, had been observed. In short the map of the Antarctic had already received valuable additions, and whatever was to happen in the future that, at any rate, was all to the good.

At 8 P.M. on the 22nd the ship arrived off the bare land to the westward of Cape Crozier, where it was proposed to erect a post and leave a cylinder containing an account of their doings, so that the chain of records might be completed. After a landing had been made with some difficulty, a spot was chosen in the center of the penguin rookery on a small cliff overlooking the sea, and here the post was set up and anchored with numerous boulders. In spite of every effort to mark the place, at a few hundred yards it was almost impossible to distinguish it; but although this small post on the side of a vast mountain looked a hopeless clue, it eventually brought the Morning into McMurdo Sound.

While Bernacchi and Barne set up their magnetic instruments and began the chilly task of taking observations, the others set off in twos and threes to climb the hillside. Scott, Royds and Wilson scrambled on until at last they reached the summit of the highest of the adjacent volcanic cones, and were rewarded by a first view of the Great Ice Barrier. [Footnote: The immense sheet of ice, over 400 miles wide and of still greater length.]

'Perhaps,' Scott says, 'of all the problems which lay before us in the south we were most keenly interested in solving the mysteries of this great ice-mass.... For sixty years it had been discussed and rediscussed, and many a theory had been built on the slender foundation of fact which alone the meager information concerning it could afford. Now for the first time this extraordinary ice-formation was seen from above.... It was an impressive sight and the very vastness of what lay at our feet seemed to add to our sense of its mystery.'

Early on the 23rd they started to steam along the ice-face of the barrier; and in order that nothing should be missed it was arranged that the ship should continue to skirt close to the ice-cliff, that the officers of the watch should repeatedly observe and record its height, and that three times in the twenty-four hours the ship should be stopped and a sounding taken. In this manner a comparatively accurate survey of the northern limit of the barrier was made.

On steaming along the barrier it was found that although they were far more eager to gain new information than to prove that old information was incorrect, a very strong case soon began to arise against the Parry Mountains, which Ross had described as 'probably higher than we have yet seen'; and later on it was known with absolute certainty that these mountains did not exist. This error on the part of such a trustworthy and cautious observer, Scott ascribes to the fact that Ross, having exaggerated the height of the barrier, was led to suppose that anything seen over it at a distance must be of great altitude. 'But,' he adds, 'whatever the cause, the facts show again how deceptive appearances may be and how easily errors may arise. In fact, as I have said before, one cannot always afford to trust the evidence of one's own eyes.' Though the ship was steaming along this ice-wall for several days, the passage was not in the least monotonous, because new variations were continually showing themselves, and all of them had to be carefully observed and recorded. This work continued for several days until, on January 29, they arrived at a particularly interesting place, to the southward and eastward of the extreme position reached by Ross in 1842. From that position he had reported a strong appearance of land to the southeast, and consequently all eyes were directed over the icy cliffs in that direction. But although the afternoon was bright and clear, nothing from below or from aloft could be seen, and the only conclusion to be made was that the report was based on yet another optical illusion.

But in spite of the disappointment at being unable to report that Ross's 'appearance of land' rested on solid foundations, there was on the afternoon of the 29th an indescribable sense of impending change. 'We all felt that the plot was thickening, and we could not fail to be inspirited by the fact that we had not so far encountered the heavy pack-ice which Ross reported in this region, and that consequently we were now sailing in an open sea into an unknown world.'

The course lay well to the northward of east, and the change came at 8 P.M. when suddenly the ice-cliff turned to the east, and becoming more and more irregular continued in that direction for about five miles, when again it turned sharply to the north. Into the deep bay thus formed they ran, and as the ice was approached they saw at once that it was unlike anything yet seen. The ice-foot descended to various heights of ten or twenty feet above the water, and behind it the snow surface rose in long undulating slopes to rounded ridges, the heights of which could only be guessed. Whatever doubt remained in their minds that this was snow-covered land, a sounding of 100 fathoms quickly removed it.

But what a land! On the swelling mounds of snow above them there was not one break, not a feature to give definition to the hazy outline. No scene could have been more perfectly devised to produce optical illusions. And then, while there was so much to observe, a thick fog descended, and blotted out all hope of seeing what lay beyond the ice-foot. During the afternoon of January 30 the fog was less dense, but still no sign of bare land could be seen, and it was not until the bell had sounded for the evening meal that two or three little black patches, which at first were mistaken for detached cloud, appeared. 'We gazed idly enough at them till someone remarked that he did not believe they were clouds; then all glasses were leveled; assertions and contradictions were numerous, until the small black patches gradually assumed more and more definite shape, and all agreed that at last we were looking at real live rock, the actual substance of our newly discovered land.... It is curious to reflect now on the steps which led us to the discovery of King Edward's Land, and the chain of evidence which came to us before the actual land itself was seen: at first there had been the shallow soundings, and the sight of gently rising snow-slopes, of which, in the nature of things, one is obliged to retain a doubt; then the steeper broken slopes of snow, giving a contrast to convey a surer evidence to the eye; and, finally the indubitable land itself, but even then surrounded with such mystery as to leave us far from complete satisfaction with our discovery.'

The temptation to push farther and farther to the east was almost irresistible, but with the young ice forming rapidly around them, Scott, on February 1, decided to return, and on their way back along the barrier they experienced much lower temperatures than on the outward journey. During the return journey they landed on the barrier, and on February 4 preparations for a balloon ascent were made. 'The honor,' Scott says, 'of being the first aeronaut to make an ascent in the Antarctic Regions, perhaps somewhat selfishly, I chose for myself, and I may further confess that in so doing I was contemplating the first ascent I had made in any region, and as I swayed about in what appeared a very inadequate basket and gazed down on the rapidly diminishing figures below, I felt some doubt as to whether I had been wise in my choice.'

If, however, this ascent was not altogether enjoyed by the aeronaut, it, at any rate, gave him considerable information about the barrier surface towards the south; and, to his surprise, he discovered that instead of the continuous level plain that he had expected, it continued in a series of long undulations running approximately east and west, or parallel to the barrier surface. Later on, however, when the sledge-party taken out by Armitage returned, they reported that these undulations were not gradual as had been supposed from the balloon, but that the crest of each wave was flattened into a long plateau, from which the descent into the succeeding valley was comparatively sharp. On the evening of the 4th they put out to sea again, and on the 8th they were once more in McMurdo Sound, with high hopes that they would soon find a sheltered nook in which the Discovery could winter safely, and from which the sledge-parties could set forth upon the task of exploring the vast new world around them.

Without any delay they set out to examine their immediate surroundings, and found a little bay which promised so well for the winter that Scott's determination to remain in this region was at once strengthened. The situation, however, was surrounded with difficulties, for although the ice had broken far afield it refused to move out of the small bay on which they had looked with such eager eyes; consequently they were forced to cling to the outskirts of the bay with their ice-anchors, in depths that were too great to allow the large anchors to be dropped to the bottom. The weather also was troublesome, for after the ship had lain quietly during several hours a sudden squall would fling her back on her securing ropes, and, uprooting the ice-anchors, would ultimately send her adrift.

In spite, however, of the difficulty of keeping the ship in position, steady progress was made with the work on shore, and this consisted mainly in erecting the various huts which had been brought in pieces. The original intention had been that the Discovery should not winter in the Antarctic, but should land a small party and turn northward before the season closed, and for this party a large hut had been carried south. But even when it had been decided to keep the ship as a home, it was obvious that a shelter on shore must be made before exploring parties could be safely sent away; since until the ship was frozen in a heavy gale might have driven her off her station for several days, if not altogether. In seeking winter quarters so early in February, Scott had been firmly convinced that the season was closing in. 'With no experience to guide us, our opinion could only be based on the very severe and unseasonable conditions which we had met with to the east. But now to our astonishment we could see no sign of a speedy freezing of the bay; the summer seemed to have taken a new lease, and for several weeks the fast sea-ice continued to break silently and to pass quietly away to the north in large floes.'

In addition to the erection of the main hut, two small huts which had been brought for the magnetic instruments had to be put together. The parts of these were, of course, numbered, but the wood was so badly warped that Dailey, the carpenter, had to use a lot of persuasion before the joints would fit.

On February 14 Scott wrote in his diary: 'We have landed all the dogs, and their kennels are ranged over the hillside below the huts.... It is surprising what a number of things have to be done, and what an unconscionable time it takes to do them. The hut-building is slow work, and much of our time has been taken in securing the ship.... Names have been given to the various landmarks in our vicinity. The end of our peninsula is to be called "Cape Armitage," after our excellent navigator. The sharp hill above it is to be "Observation Hill."... Next comes the "Gap," through which we can cross the peninsula at a comparatively low level. North of the "Gap" are "Crater Heights," and the higher volcanic peak beyond is to be "Crater Hill"; it is 1,050 feet in height. Our protecting promontory is to be "Hut Point," with "Arrival Bay" on the north and "Winter Quarter Bay" on the south; above "Arrival Bay" are the "Arrival Heights," which continue with breaks for about three miles to a long snow-slope, beyond which rises the most conspicuous landmark on our peninsula, a high, precipitous-sided rock with a flat top, which has been dubbed "Castle Rock"; it is 1,350 feet in height.

'In spite of the persistent wind, away up the bay it is possible to get some shelter, and here we take our ski exercise.... Skelton is by far the best of the officers, though possibly some of the men run him close.'

On the 19th the first small reconnoitering sledge party went out, and on their return three days later they were so excited by their experiences that some time passed before they could answer the questions put to them. Although the temperature had not been severe they had nearly got into serious trouble by continuing their march in a snowstorm, and when they did stop to camp they were so exhausted that frost-bites were innumerable. The tent had been difficult to get up, and all sorts of trouble with the novel cooking apparatus had followed. 'It is strange now,' Scott wrote three years later, 'to look back on these first essays at sledding, and to see how terribly hampered we were by want of experience.'

By February 26 the main hut was practically finished, and as a quantity of provisions and oil, with fifteen tons of coal, had been landed, the ship could be left without anxiety, and arrangements for the trip, which Scott hoped to lead himself, were pushed forward. The object of this journey was to try and reach the record at Cape Crozier over the barrier, and to leave a fresh communication there with details of the winter quarters. On the following day, however, Scott damaged his right knee while skiing, and had to give up all idea of going to Cape Crozier. 'I already foresaw how much there was to be learnt if we were to do good sledding work in the spring, and to miss such an opportunity of gaining experience was terribly trying; however, there was nothing to be done but to nurse my wounded limb and to determine that never again would I be so rash as to run hard snow-slopes on ski.'

By March 4 the preparation of the sledge party was completed. The party consisted of four officers, Royds, Koettlitz, Skelton and Barne, and eight men, and was divided into two teams, each pulling a single sledge and each assisted by four dogs. But again the want of experience was badly felt, and in every respect the lack of system was apparent. Though each requirement might have been remembered, all were packed in a confused mass, and, to use a sailor's expression, 'everything was on top and nothing handy.' Once more Scott comments upon this lack of experience: 'On looking back I am only astonished that we bought that experience so cheaply, for clearly there were the elements of catastrophe as well as of discomfort in the disorganized condition in which our first sledge parties left the ship.'

The days following the departure of the sledge party were exceptionally fine, but on Tuesday, March 11, those on board the ship woke to find the wind blowing from the east; and in the afternoon the wind increased, and the air was filled with thick driving snow. This Tuesday was destined to be one of the blackest days spent by the expedition in the Antarctic, but no suspicion that anything untoward had happened to the sledge party arose until, at 8.30 P.M., there was a report that four men were walking towards the ship. Then the sense of trouble was immediate, and the first disjointed sentences of the newcomers were enough to prove that disasters had occurred. The men, as they emerged from their thick clothing, were seen to be Wild, Weller, Heald and Plumley, but until Scott had called Wild, who was the most composed of the party, aside, he could not get any idea of what had actually happened, and even Wild was too exhausted, and excited to give anything but a meager account.

Scott, however, did manage to discover that a party of nine, In charge of Barne, had been sent back, and early in the day had reached the crest of the hills somewhere by Castle Rock. In addition, Wild told him, to the four who had returned, the party had consisted of Barne, Quartley, Evans, Hare and Vince. They had thought that they were quite close to the ship, and when the blizzard began they had left their tents and walked towards her supposed position. Then they found themselves on a steep slope and tried to keep close together, but it was impossible to see anything. Suddenly Hare had disappeared, and a few minutes after Evans went. Barne and Quartley had left them to try to find out what had become of Evans, and neither of them had come back, though they waited. Afterwards they had gone on, and had suddenly found themselves at the edge of a precipice with the sea below; Vince had shot past over the edge. Wild feared all the others must be lost; he was sure Vince had gone. Could he guide a search party to the scene of the accident? He thought he could - at any rate he would like to try.

The information was little enough but it was something on which to act, and though the first disastrous news had not been brought until 8.30 P.M. the relieving party had left the ship before 9 P.M. Owing to his knee Scott could not accompany the party, and Armitage took charge of it.

Subsequently the actual story of the original sledge party was known, and the steps that led to the disaster could be traced. On their outward journey they had soon come to very soft snow, and after three days of excessive labor Royds had decided that the only chance of making progress was to use snow-shoes; but unfortunately there were only three pairs of ski with the party, and Royds resolved to push on to Cape Crozier with Koettlitz and Skelton, and to send the remainder back in charge of Barne.

The separation took place on the 9th, and on the 11th the returning party, having found an easier route than on their way out, were abreast of Castle Rock. Scarcely, however, had they gained the top of the ridge about half a mile south-west of Castle Rock, when a blizzard came on and the tents were hastily pitched.

'We afterwards weathered many a gale,' Scott says, 'in our staunch little tents, whilst their canvas sides flapped thunderously hour after hour.... But to this party the experience was new; they expected each gust that swept down on them would bear the tents bodily away, and meanwhile the chill air crept through their leather boots and ill-considered clothing, and continually some frost-bitten limb had to be nursed back to life.'

At ordinary times hot tea or cocoa would have revived their spirits, but now the cooking apparatus was out of order, and taking everything into consideration it was small wonder that they resolved to make for the ship, which they believed to be only a mile or so distant.

'Before leaving,' Barne wrote in his report, 'I impressed on the men, as strongly as I could, the importance of keeping together, as it was impossible to distinguish any object at a greater distance than ten yards on account of the drifting snow.' But after they had struggled a very short distance, Hare, who had been at the rear of the party, was reported to be missing, and soon afterwards Evans 'stepped back on a patch of bare smooth ice, fell, and shot out of sight immediately.'

Then Barne, having cautioned his men to remain where they were, sat down and deliberately started to slide in Evans's track. In a moment the slope grew steeper, and he was going at such a pace that all power to check himself had gone. In the mad rush he had time to wonder vaguely what would come next, and then his flight was arrested, and he stood up to find Evans within a few feet of him. They had scarcely exchanged greetings when the figure of Quartley came hurtling down upon them from the gloom, for he had started on the same track, and had been swept down in the same breathless and alarming manner. To return by the way they had come down was impossible, and so they decided to descend, but within four paces of the spot at which they had been brought to rest, they found that the slope ended suddenly in a steep precipice, beyond which nothing but clouds of snow could be seen. For some time after this they sat huddled together, forlornly hoping that the blinding drift would cease, but at last they felt that whatever happened they must keep on the move, and groping their way to the right they realized that the sea was at their feet, and that they had been saved from it by a patch of snow almost on the cornice of the cliff. Presently a short break in the storm enabled them to see Castle Rock above their heads, and slowly making their way up the incline, they sought the shelter of a huge boulder; and there, crouched together, they remained for several hours.

Meanwhile the party had remained in obedience to orders at the head of the slope, and had shouted again and again in the lulls of the whirling storm. But after waiting for a long time they felt that something was amiss, and that it was hopeless to remain where they were. 'As usual on such occasions,' Scott says, 'the leading spirit came to the fore, and the five who now remained submitted themselves to the guidance of Wild, and followed him in single file as he again struck out in the direction in which they supposed the ship to lie.' In this manner they descended for about 500 yards, until Wild suddenly saw the precipice beneath his feet, and far below, through the wreathing snow, the sea. He sprang back with a cry of warning, but in an instant Vince had flashed past and disappeared.

Then, horror-stricken and dazed, they vaguely realized that at all costs they must ascend the slope down which they had just come. All of them spoke afterwards of that ascent with horror, and wondered how it had ever been made. They could only hold themselves by the soles of their boots, and to slip to their knees meant inevitably to slide backwards towards the certain fate below. Literally their lives depended on each foothold. Wild alone had a few light nails in his boots, and to his great credit he used this advantage to give a helping hand in turn to each of his companions. When, after desperate exertions, they did reach the top of the slope their troubles were not finished, for they were still ignorant of the position of the ship. Wild, however, again took the lead, and it was largely due to him that the party eventually saw the ship looming through the whirl of snow. 'It is little wonder that after such an experience they should have been, as I have mentioned, both excited and tired.'

The hours following the departure of Armitage and his search party on this fatal night were unforgettable. Scott, hatefully conscious of his inability to help on account of his injured leg, admits that he could not think of any further means to render assistance, but he says, 'as was always my experience in the Discovery, my companions were never wanting in resource.' Soon the shrill screams of the siren were echoing among the hills, and in ten minutes after the suggestion had been made, a whaler was swinging alongside ready to search the cliffs on the chance of finding Vince.

But for Scott and those who had to wait inactively on board there was nothing to do but stand and peer through the driving snow, and fully three hours passed before there was a hail from without, and Ferrar appeared leading three of the lost - Barne, Evans and Quartley. An hour later the main search party returned, having done all that men could do in such weather. A more complete search was impossible, but it had to be admitted that the chance of seeing Hare or Vince again was very small. Sadly it had to be realized that two men were almost certainly lost, but there was also no disguising the fact that a far greater tragedy might have happened. Indeed, it seemed miraculous that any of the party were alive to tell the tale, and had not Barne, Evans and Quartley heard the faint shrieks of the siren, and in response to its welcome sound made one more effort to save themselves, the sledge party would in all probability not have found them. All three of them were badly frost-bitten, and one of Barne's hands was in such a serious condition that for many days it was thought that his fingers would have to be amputated.

The end of this story, however, is not yet told, for on March 13 Scott wrote in his diary: 'A very extraordinary thing has happened. At 10 A.M. a figure was seen descending the hillside. At first we thought it must be some one who had been for an early walk; but it was very soon seen that the figure was walking weakly, and, immediately after, the men who were working in the hut were seen streaming out towards it. In a minute or two we recognized the figure as that of young Hare, and in less than five he was on board.... We soon discovered that though exhausted, weak, and hungry, he was in full possession of his faculties and quite free from frost-bites. He went placidly off to sleep whilst objecting to the inadequacy of a milk diet.'

Later on Hare, who like Vince had been wearing fur boots, explained that he had left his companions to return to the sledges and get some leather boots, and had imagined that the others understood what he intended to do. Soon after he had started back he was wandering backwards and forwards, and knew that he was walking aimlessly to and fro. The last thing he remembered was making for a patch of rock where he hoped to find shelter, and there he must have lain in the snow for thirty-six hours, though he required a lot of persuasion before he could be convinced of this. When he awoke he found himself covered with snow, but on raising himself he recognized Crater Hill and other landmarks, and realized exactly where the ship lay. Then he started towards her, but until his intense stiffness wore off he was obliged to travel upon his hands and knees.

But though Hare was safe, Vince was undoubtedly gone. 'Finally and sadly we had to resign ourselves to the loss of our shipmate, and the thought was grievous to all.... Life was a bright thing to him, and it is something to think that death must have come quickly in the grip of that icy sea.'

This fatal mishap naturally caused increased anxiety about the three men who had gone on, and anxiety was not diminished when, on the 19th, Skelton was seen coming down, the hill alone. The others, however, were close behind him, and all three of them were soon safely on board.

On the 15th Royds had been compelled to abandon the attempt to reach the record at Cape Crozier, but he did not turn back until it was evident that a better equipped party with more favorable weather would easily get to it. On comparing notes with his party, Scott recognized what a difference there might be in the weather conditions of places within easy reach of the ship, and not only in temperature but also in the force and direction of the wind. It had not occurred to anyone that within such a short distance of the ship any large difference of temperature was probable, and as the summer was barely over, Royds, Koettlitz and Skelton had only taken a light wolf-skin fur suit for night-wear. This, however, had proved totally inadequate when the thermometer fell to - 42°, and on the night of the 16th uncontrollable paroxysms of shivering had prevented them from getting any sleep. The value of proper clothing and the wisdom of being prepared for the unexpected rigors of such a fickle climate, were two of the lessons learnt from the experiences of the Cape Crozier party.

As the days of March went by Scott began really to wonder whether the sea ever intended to freeze over satisfactorily, and at such an advanced date there were many drawbacks in this unexpected state of affairs. Until the ship was frozen in, the security of their position was very doubtful; economy of coal had long since necessitated the extinction of fires in the boilers, and if a heavy gale drove the ship from her shelter, steam could only be raised with difficulty and after the lapse of many hours. There was, too, the possibility that the ship, if once driven off, would not be able to return, and so it was obviously unsafe to send a large party away from her, because if she went adrift most of them would be needed.

Another annoying circumstance was that until they had a solid sheet of ice around them they could neither set up the meteorological screen, nor, in short, carry out any of the routine scientific work which was such an important object of the expedition.

At this time Scott was eager to make one more sledding effort before the winter set in. The ostensible reason was to layout a depôt of provisions to the south in preparation for the spring, but 'a more serious purpose was to give himself and those who had not been away already a practical insight into the difficulties of sledge traveling. But as this party would have to include the majority of those on board, he was forced to wait until the ship was firmly fixed, and it may be said that the Discovery was as reluctant to freeze-in as she was difficult to get out when once the process had been completed.

On March 28, however, Scott was able to write in his diary: 'The sea is at last frozen over, and if this weather lasts the ice should become firm enough to withstand future gales. We have completed the packing of our sledges, though I cannot say I am pleased with their appearance; the packing is not neat enough, and we haven't got anything like a system.'

Three days later a party of twelve, divided into two teams, each with a string of sledges and nine dogs, made a start. Their loads were arranged on the theory of 200 lbs. to each man, and 100 lbs. to each dog, but they very quickly discovered that the dogs were not going to have anything to do with such a theory as this. The best of them would only pull about 50 lbs., and some of the others had practically to be pulled.

Later on Scott learned that it was a bad plan to combine men and dogs on a sledge, because the dogs have their own pace and manner of pulling, and neither of these is adapted to the unequal movement caused by the swing of marching men. And on this occasion another reason for the inefficiency of the dogs was that they were losing their coats, and had but little protection against the bitterly cold wind. 'As a matter of fact, our poor dogs suffered a great deal from their poorly clothed condition during the next week or two, and we could do little to help them; but Nature seemed to realize the mistake, and came quickly to the rescue: the new coats grew surprisingly fast, and before the winter had really settled down on us all the animals were again enveloped in their normally thick woolly covering.

The refusal of the dogs to work on this trip meant that the men had to do far more than their share, and from the first they had no chance of carrying out their intentions. Each hour, however, was an invaluable experience, and when a return was made to the ship Scott was left with much food for thought. 'In one way or another each journey had been a failure; we had little or nothing to show for our labors. The errors were patent; food, clothing, everything was wrong, the whole system was bad. It was clear that there would have to be a thorough reorganization before the spring, and it was well to think that before us lay a long winter in which this might be effected.'

But in a sense even these failures were successful, for everyone resolved to profit by the mistakes that had been made and the experience that had been gained, and the successful sledge journeys subsequently made in the spring were largely due to the failures of the autumn.