Sunday, February 16, 2014

CHAPTER 8: ESCAPE FROM THE ICE

               SOUTH! THE STORY OF SHACKLETON’S LAST 

                             EXPEDITION 1914–1917

 Two men in heavy clothing stand surrounded by mounds of ice which extend well above the height of their heads
Early next morning (April 15) all hands were astir. The sun soon shone brightly and we spread out our wet gear to dry, till the beach looked like a particularly disreputable gipsy camp. The boots and clothing had suffered considerably during our travels. I had decided to send Wild along the coast in the Stancomb Wills to look for a new camping-ground, and he and I discussed the details of the journey while eating our breakfast of hot seal steak and blubber. The camp I wished to find was one where the party could live for weeks or even months in safety, without danger from sea or wind in the heaviest winter gale. Wild was to proceed westwards along the coast and was to take with him four of the fittest men, MarstonCreanVincent, and McCarthy. If he did not return before dark we were to light a flare, which would serve him as a guide to the entrance of the channel. The Stancomb Wills pushed off at 11 a.m. and quickly passed out of sight around the island. Then Hurley and I walked along the beach towards the west, climbing through a gap between the cliff and a great detached pillar of basalt. The narrow strip of beach was cumbered with masses of rock that had fallen from the cliffs. We struggled along for two miles or more in the search for a place where we could get the boats ashore and make a permanent camp in the event of Wild’s search proving fruitless, but after three hours’ vain toil we had to turn back. We had found on the far side of the pillar of basalt a crevice in the rocks beyond the reach of all but the heaviest gales. Rounded pebbles showed that the seas reached the spot on occasions. Here I decided to depot ten cases of Bovril sledging ration in case of our having to move away quickly. We could come back for the food at a later date if opportunity offered. 

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