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Discovery Of The Magnetic Pole

( Originally Published 1910 )

Early in the spring the party divided, Professor David. Mawson and Mackay undertaking an expedition to the Magnetic Pole. They had first to relay provisions and equipment for about 200 miles over the sea ice.

Then proceeding inland they succeeded after much difficulty in ascending the great inland plateau and planted the Union Jack on the South Magnetic Pole on January 16th, 1909.

Returning to the coast, the party was picked up by the Nimrod.


Meanwhile Mr. Shackleton, accompanied by Adams, Marshall and Wild, had gone south, taking with him the four remaining ponies, and sledges, equipments and provisions for ninety-one days. A supporting party accompanied them for a short distance, but bad weather soon compelled the auxiliary to return to their winter quarters.

From this point the journey was attended with many thrilling experiences. Dangerous crevasses abounded. Pushing forward with all speed, early in December they encountered a mountain 4,000 feet high, which they ascended. A discovery was here made of a huge glacier which appeared to serve as the only road to the high tableland in front. It was here that the last pony disappeared down a crevasse, Wild having a narrow escape from being dragged down with it. The ascent of the glacier continued till Christmas Day 1908, great hardships being endured, and all the haulage of the sledges done by the men themselves. At one place coal was discovered. When at last the great inland plateau was reached they had ascended 10,000 feet.

On Christmas Day they enjoyed their last full meal. " We had a splendid dinner," says Mr. Shackleton, " First hoosh,' consisting of pony ration boiled up with pemmican, emergency Oxo, and biscuit ; then, in the cocoa water I boiled our little plum pudding ! "

With heroic perseverance the party continued their march southward till January 6th, when they encountered a terrific blizzard in latitude 88.7 south. Food supplies had then run almost out, and they were only able to make one more day's journey toward the pole. At latitude 88.23 south they hoisted the Union Jack. They were only ninety-seven miles from the southern limit, and it was with reluctance that they were compelled to abandon the quest and beat a forced retreat.


Mr. Shackleton described the difficulties of the journey back to the coast, when the men were desperately short of food and nearly worn out, and attacks of dysentery added to their troubles. On the morning of January 26th, when still thirty miles from their depot at the foot of the glacier, they ran out of food and marched till two o'clock on the following afternoon almost without a stop, and with nothing but a little tea to maintain their strength. On February 23rd, they reached a depot prepared for them by a party from the ship, and on March 1st Mr. Shackleton and Wild reached the Nimrod. Mr. Shackleton at once lead a relief party back to get Adams and Marshall, the latter having been unable to continue the march owing to dysentery, and on March 4th all the men were safe on board.

An interesting feature of the return of the explorers to England was the presence of the Nimrod in the Thames, the vessel being open for the inspection of visitors during September.

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