Authors: Apsley Cherry-Garrard
The Worst Journey in the World
From a 1922 edition.
© 2009 THE FLOATING PRESS.
While every effort has been used to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in The Floating Press edition of this book, The Floating Press does not assume liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in this book. The Floating Press does not accept responsibility for loss suffered as a result of reliance upon the accuracy or currency of information contained in this book. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Many suitcases look alike.
Chapter I - From England to South Africa
Chapter II - Making Our Easting Down
Chapter III - Southward
Chapter IV - Land
Chapter V - The Depôt Journey
Chapter VI - The First Winter
Chapter VII - The Winter Journey
Chapter VIII - Spring
Chapter IX - The Polar Journey
Chapter X - The Polar Journey (Continued)
Chapter XI - The Polar Journey (Continued)
Chapter XII - The Polar Journey (Continued)
Chapter XIII - Suspense
Chapter XIV - The Last Winter
Chapter XV - Another Spring
Chapter XVI - The Search Journey
Chapter XVII - The Polar Journey
Chapter XVIII - The Polar Journey (Continued)
Chapter XIX - Never Again
This volume is a narrative of Scott's Last Expedition from its departure
from England in 1910 to its return to New Zealand in 1913.
It does not, however, include the story of subsidiary parties except
where their adventures touch the history of the Main Party.
It is hoped later to publish an appendix volume with an account of the
two Geological Journeys, and such other information concerning the
equipment of, and lessons learned by, this Expedition as may be of use to
the future explorer.
This post-war business is inartistic, for it is seldom that any one does
anything well for the sake of doing it well; and it is un-Christian, if
you value Christianity, for men are out to hurt and not to help—can you
wonder, when the Ten Commandments were hurled straight from the pulpit
through good stained glass. It is all very interesting and uncomfortable,
and it has been a great relief to wander back in one's thoughts and
correspondence and personal dealings to an age in geological time, so
many hundred years ago, when we were artistic Christians, doing our jobs
as well as we were able just because we wished to do them well, helping
one another with all our strength, and (I speak with personal humility)
living a life of co-operation, in the face of hardships and dangers,
which has seldom been surpassed.
The mutual conquest of difficulties is the cement of friendship, as it is
the only lasting cement of matrimony. We had plenty of difficulties; we
sometimes failed, we sometimes won; we always faced them—we had to.
Consequently we have some friends who are better than all the wives in
Mahomet's paradise, and when I have asked for help in the making of this
book I have never never asked in vain. Talk of ex-soldiers: give me
ex-antarcticists, unsoured and with their ideals intact: they could sweep
The trouble is that they are inclined to lose their ideals in this
complicated atmosphere of civilization. They run one another down like
the deuce, and it is quite time that stopped. What is the use of A
running down Scott because he served with Shackleton, or B going for
Amundsen because he served with Scott? They have all done good work;
within their limits, the best work to date. There are jobs for which, if
I had to do them, I would like to serve under Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton
and Wilson—each to his part. For a joint scientific and geographical
piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a
dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of
a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time. They
will all go down in polar history as leaders, these men. I believe Bowers
would also have made a great name for himself if he had lived, and few
polar ships have been commanded as capably as was the Terra Nova, by
In a way this book is a sequel to the friendship which there was between
Wilson, Bowers and myself, which, having stood the strain of the Winter
Journey, could never have been broken. Between the three of us we had a
share in all the big journeys and bad times which came to Scott's main
landing party, and what follows is, particularly, our unpublished
diaries and letters. I, we, have tried to show how good
the whole thing was—and how bad. I have had a freer hand than many in
this, because much of the dull routine has been recorded already and can
be found if wanted: also because, not being the leader of the expedition,
I had no duty to fulfil in cataloguing my followers' achievements. But
there was plenty of work left for me. It has been no mere gleaning of the
polar field. Not half the story had been told, nor even all the most
interesting documents. Among these, I have had from Mrs. Bowers her son's
letters home, and from Lashly his diary of the Last Return Party on the
Polar Journey. Mrs. Wilson has given her husband's diary of the Polar
Journey: this is especially valuable because it is the only detailed
account in existence from 87° 32' to the Pole and after, with the
exception of Scott's Diary already published. Lady Scott has given with
both hands any records I wanted and could find. No one of my companions
in the South has failed to help. They include Atkinson, Wright,
Priestley, Simpson, Lillie and Debenham.
To all these good friends I can do no more than express my very sincere
As to production, after a good deal of experience, I was convinced that I
could trust a commercial firm to do its worst save when it gave them less
trouble to do better. I acknowledge my mistake. In a wilderness of firms
in whom nothing was first class except their names and their prices, I
have dealt with R. & R. Clark, who have printed this book, and Emery
Walker, who has illustrated it. The fact that Emery Walker is not only
alive, but full of vitality, indicates why most of the other firms are
When I went South I never meant to write a book: I rather despised those
who did so as being of an inferior brand to those who did things and said
nothing about them. But that they say nothing is too often due to the
fact that they have nothing to say, or are too idle or too busy to learn
how to say it. Every one who has been through such an extraordinary
experience has much to say, and ought to say it if he has any faculty
that way. There is after the event a good deal of criticism, of
stock-taking, of checking of supplies and distances and so forth that
cannot really be done without first-hand experience. Out there we knew
what was happening to us too well; but we did not and could not measure
its full significance. When I was asked to write a book by the Antarctic
Committee I discovered that, without knowing it, I had intended to write
one ever since I had realized my own experiences. Once started, I enjoyed
the process. My own writing is my own despair, but it is better than it
was, and this is directly due to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw. At the age of
thirty-five I am delighted to acknowledge that my education has at last
Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having
a bad time which has been devised. It is the only form of adventure in
which you put on your clothes at Michaelmas and keep them on until
Christmas, and, save for a layer of the natural grease of the body, find
them as clean as though they were new. It is more lonely than London,
more secluded than any monastery, and the post comes but once a year. As
men will compare the hardships of France, Palestine, or Mesopotamia, so
it would be interesting to contrast the rival claims of the Antarctic as
a medium of discomfort. A member of Campbell's party tells me that the
trenches at Ypres were a comparative picnic. But until somebody can
evolve a standard of endurance I am unable to see how it can be done.
Take it all in all, I do not believe anybody on earth has a worse time
than an Emperor penguin.
Even now the Antarctic is to the rest of the earth as the Abode of the
Gods was to the ancient Chaldees, a precipitous and mammoth land lying
far beyond the seas which encircled man's habitation, and nothing is more
striking about the exploration of the Southern Polar regions than its
absence, for when King Alfred reigned in England the Vikings were
navigating the ice-fields of the North; yet when Wellington fought the
battle of Waterloo there was still an undiscovered continent in the
For those who wish to read an account of the history of Antarctic
exploration there is an excellent chapter in Scott's Voyage of the
Discovery and elsewhere. I do not propose to give any general survey of
this kind here, but complaints have been made to me that Scott's Last
Expedition plunges the general reader into a neighbourhood which he is
supposed to know all about, while actually he is lost, having no idea
what the Discovery was, or where Castle Rock or Hut Point stand. For the
better understanding of the references to particular expeditions, to the
lands discovered by them and the traces left by them, which must occur in
this book I give the following brief introduction.
From the earliest days of the making of maps of the Southern Hemisphere
it was supposed that there was a great continent called Terra Australis.
As explorers penetrated round the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, and
found nothing but stormy oceans beyond, and as, later, they discovered
Australia and New Zealand, the belief in this continent weakened, but was
not abandoned. During the latter half of the eighteenth century eagerness
for scientific knowledge was added to the former striving after
individual or State aggrandizement.
Cook, Ross and Scott: these are the aristocrats of the South.
It was the great English navigator James Cook who laid the foundations of
our knowledge. In 1772 he sailed from Deptford in the Resolution, 462
tons, and the Adventure, 336 tons, ships which had been built at Whitby
for the coal trade. He was, like Nansen, a believer in a varied diet as
one of the preventives of scurvy, and mentions that he had among his
provisions "besides Saur Krout, Portable Broth, Marmalade of Carrots and
Suspissated juice of Wort and Beer." Medals were struck "to be given to
the natives of new discovered countries, and left there as testimonies of
our being the first discoverers."
It would be interesting to know
whether any exist now.
After calling at the Cape of Good Hope Cook started to make his Easting
down to New Zealand, purposing to sail as far south as possible in search
of a southern continent. He sighted his first 'ice island' or iceberg in
lat. 50° 40' S., long. 2° 0' E., on December 10, 1772. The next day he
"saw some white birds about the size of pigeons, with blackish bills and
feet. I never saw any such before."
These must have been Snowy Petrel.
Passing through many bergs, where he notices how the albatross left them
and penguins appeared, he was brought up by thick pack ice along which he
coasted. Under the supposition that this ice was formed in bays and
rivers Cook was led to believe that land was not far distant.
Incidentally he remarks that in order to enable his men to support the
colder weather he "caused the sleeves of their jackets (which were so
short as to expose their arms) to be lengthened with baize; and had a cap
made for each man of the same stuff, together with canvas; which proved
of great service to them."
For more than a month Cook sailed the Southern Ocean, always among bergs
and often among pack. The weather was consistently bad and generally
thick; he mentions that he had only seen the moon once since leaving the
It was on Sunday, January 17, 1773, that the Antarctic Circle was crossed
for the first time, in longitude 39° 35' E. After proceeding to latitude
67° 15' S. he was stopped by an immense field of pack. From this point he
turned back and made his way to New Zealand.