On This Day – February 4th In Antarctic History

February 4th 1902

Discovery Expedition

On 4 February 1902, Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery Expedition, landed on the Barrier and unloaded an observation balloon which Scott had brought along for the purpose of achieving aerial surveys. Scott himself was first to climbed aboard the balloon and it rapidly ascended to a height of 180 m, but thankfully the balloon was firmly tethered. Ernest Shackleton piloted the second ascent, and as with Scott, the only thing observable, even at that height was the seemingly endless expanse of icy whiteness that constituted the Barrier. The expeditions junior doctor and zoologist, Edward Wilson privately thought the flights to be “perfect madness”.

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On This Day – February 17th 1912

Edgar Evans Dies On Scott’s Return March

Terra Nova Expedition

Edgar Evans - Terra Nova Expedition

Edgar Evans – Terra Nova Expedition

On February 17th 1912, Edgar Evans died near the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, as he returned from the South Pole with Scott, Oates, Wilson and Bowers.
The Welshman who Scott had described as “…a giant worker”, was 35 years old, and tragically, left behind a widow, Lois, and three young children.
The five men had arrived at the Pole a month earlier on January 17th, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had beaten them there, having arrived at 90º South, on the 15th of December.
The arduous return journey, soon became a desperate struggle for the Polar Party, and as they descended the Beardmore Glacier, both the physical and mental condition of Edgar “Taff” Evans were in steady decline.

As Scott’s party made their weary return from the pole, Evans was suffering badly from frostbite to his fingers, nose and cheeks. He had also fallen into crevasses on two occasions. The second of these falls on February 4th, when both he and Scott fell, prompted a rapid decline in Evans’ condition. He suffered a serious concussion from which he would never recover, and Scott described him afterwards as being “broken down in the brain”.
Evans did struggle onwards though, but dropped out of the harness, and no doubt his condition delayed the progress of the team. Considering the fine margins of the return plan, and the harshness of the theatre it was being played out in, it can be suggested that the decline of Edgar Evans between the 4th and 17th of February, would subsequently contribute to the deaths of the rest of the team. Surplus rations were used up as depots were not reached on schedule, and the consequent shortfall of distance covered, could perhaps be equated to the 11 mile expanse, between One Ton Depot, and the bodies of Scott, Bowers and Wilson.
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