Arctic Fox Range Map

Ever since his own return to England, Scott had been planning his next expedition to Antarctica. Shackleton’s close encounter immediately acted as a spur to move his plans forward quickly. Although he had married in 1908 and his son, Peter Scott, had been born in 1909, nothing would deter him. By early 1910 he had secured sufficient funding and after a rousing send-off party by the Lord Mayor, his final expedition ship set sail from the port of Cardiff, Wales, for Australia.

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Learning that Robert Peary had reached the North Pole in April 1909, Amundsen, the totally dedicated Norwegian explorer, without even telling his crew, secretly changed his original plans to try for the North Pole. He determined to make the South Pole his and they set off in August 1910 in his polar ship, the Fram. Only when they reached the island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean did he inform his confused crew of his new decision. ‘We are going to try for the South Pole, not the North Pole. Anyone who doesn’t want to come with me, leave now.’ None of his crew left the ship and they all became completely committed to his challenge to be the first.

Scott was in Melbourne, preparing his own South Pole expedition when he received the telegram that must have literally sent shivers up his spine, ‘Beg to inform Fram proceeding south. Amundsen.’ The race was on. But this was like no other race. There was no official starting date. Each of the bitter rivals had to decide his own course of action. First the two teams made their way down to the Ross Sea where patiently or impatiently they both would have to wait out the next winter and then decide when and how to head off across the frozen ice. Scott arrived in the Bay of Whales on 4 January 1911 and Amundsen ten days later.

In fact neither was aware of each other’s arrival until February when in an outward expression of comradeship, their inner feelings presumably quite the opposite, Amundsen had lunch on board Scott’s ship, Terra Nova. This was a great ship also built in Dundee in 1884, which had been used on several earlier expeditions. It was subsequently continued in service until it sank in 1943 off Greenland, fortunately without the loss of any lives.

Amundsen’s expedition was meticulously planned and he decided to rely solely on dogs, not concerning himself overly with any suffering they might endure. He also chose to ignore all scientific aspects of the expedition and reduced his party to a minimum to save on the supplies needed. The race was all. His team were expert skiers and this in particular was to prove a tremendous advantage. Scott had been considerably disturbed by the sufferings of his dogs on the earlier Discovery expedition and therefore only wanted to use them as a back-up resource. His initial intention was to rely mainly on his motor sledges and donkeys. It turned out to be a disastrous mix. In addition, his team were mostly inexpert at skiing and they took much too long to become reasonably proficient. Both teams had settled in for the long winter to make their final preparations but Amundsen’s plans were to beat Scott no matter what, and he was determined to embark first.

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