Scott arrives at Mount Hooper Depot
Terra Nova Expedition
Scott’s Journal – March 8th, 1912.
“The great question is, What shall we find at the depôt? If the dogs have visited it we may get along a good distance, but if there is another short allowance of fuel, God help us indeed. We are in a very bad way, I fear, in any case.”
― from “Journals: Captain Scott’s Last Expedition (Oxford World’s Classics)”
On the 9th of March 1912, Scott, Oates, Bowers and Wilson arrived at the Mount Hooper Depot, on their homeward march from the South Pole. At this point in their journey, Edgar Evans had died near the foot of the Beardmore Glacier on February 17th, and as the four remaining men had continued their struggle across the Barrier, they were subject to some of coldest and most severe weather conditions ever recorded in the area.
Scott had outlined in his journal, the difficulties they had encountered trying to haul the sledge across the ice shelf, and compared it to dragging over desert sands. The normally icy surface had become covered in crystallised snow, which caused friction beneath the sledges runners, and this had seriously slowed their progression.
To add to the mens woes, the Mount Hooper depot had not been restocked, and they discovered that there was a serious shortage of oil, as had been the case when they had reached the Mid-Barrier Depot on March 1st, as most of the supply had evaporated. It was a crushing blow to the men. With unseasonably low temperatures plummeting to as low as -40º C, the shortfall in oil was critical. It would deny the men the ability to prepare the necessary hot meals that their situation demanded, and left them with no means to melt ice for drinking water.
The party had also held out hope that they would encounter the dog teams, which would have been their salvation, but due to a prior order from Scott, not to risk the dogs unnecessarily, no relief team had ventured past One Ton Depot. Scott had initially hoped to spare the dogs for further sledging expeditions the following season, but had changed his mind when sending back Crean, Evans and Lashly as the last supporting team, 150 miles from Pole.
He had then issued Edward Evans with the instruction that Meares and the dog teams were to meet the returning Polar Party between latitude 82º S and 83º S, which was farther south than previously arranged.