"Great God! This is an an awful place!"
- The Antarctic continent -
Photographies from the TAMSEIS Antarctic expedition
26. October to 13. December 2002, by Alexander Gerst.
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"Great God! This is an an awful place"
These were the words of Robert Falcon Scott when he finally reached the South Pole after an agonizing two and a half month long march, only to find Amundsens deserted tent. He was a broken man when he and his four companions turned around and started the long walk home towards their hut at Hut Point at the edge of the Ross ice shelf - which they would never reach. The march back became a nightmare. They were continually short of food, and the men were tormented by injuries, frostbite and infections. But they continued on, for what else could they do? Across the Polar Plateau, and down the Beardmore Glacier they went. Near the bottom of the glacier, Evans collapsed and died in the following night. The date was February 17, getting late in the season, and they were still a long way from the hut. A month later, they were still 140 miles away. Oates could go no further. He asked the others to leave him behind, but they refused. On the morning of March 17, he left the tent, saying "I am just going outside, and may be some time". He did not return, and the others never found him. He had realized that he was unable to go on, and rather than slow down his companions, he chose to walk out to his death.
Sadly, Scott, Wilson and Bowers continued on. Soon they were in the midst of a ferocious storm. There was no question of travelling in it. They were but eleven miles from a large supply depot. This was on March 19. The last entry in Scott's diary was dated March 29:
Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.
Outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift...
We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker... and the end cannot be far.
It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write any more--
For Gods sake look after our people!
The tent was found the following November, with the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers inside. The search expedition erected a cross on Observation Hill close to Hut Point. The inscription carried the words of A. E. Tennyson:
In Memoriam Scott, Wilson, Evans, Oates und Bowers, who died on their return from the Pole March 1912
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
This story shows the cruel and merciless side of the largely unconquered Antarctic continent. Yet the pictures presented here are meant to also show the other, unknown and beautiful side of Antarctica - and today's life as an Antarctic scientist.