seven journeys made in the Robertson Bay area were to be the training ground
for the Northern Party. Here they learnt
about sledging and living in the field. Knowledge,
that at the time, they did not realize was to be essential in surviving the
winter and spring of 1912.
- First how to survive blizzards: select
sheltered campsites; pitch camp in strong winds; ensure tents were securely
anchored using snow around the skirt. Snow
and ice techniques: how to travel over sea ice; recognize rotten or thin sea
ice; traverse pressure ice with fully laden sledges; handle deep snow
conditions where there was underlying pressure.
- They became aware of moisture and ice
problems with their sleeping bags and tents.
Having experiencing temperatures as low as minus 42.8oF they
knew how cold some nights could be.
- With their sledges, they learnt what
surface made the iron runner sledge superior to the conventional wooded runners.
- They modified the sledges, preventing the
loss of small items dropping through the sledge decking and refined their order, packing items onto the
sledge so in emergencies the necessary items were at hand.
- They found a better pulling
arrangement for handling the sledge in rough pressure. Here they attached the two harnesses to the
rear of the sledge thus allowing two of the four-man team to be beside the
sledge. This not only improved the
steering through pressure ice it also allowed the two rear pullers to keep the
- It was here they first used the two decking
system. When on a good surface one
sledge was placed on another, and both teams pulled the combination.
- Also, here in Robertson Bay they learnt when
on bad surface conditions there was nothing else to do but relay. With two sledges both parties would
pull one sledge then stop, walk back for the second, and pull it up to the
first. However, with one sledge this meant
the unloading part of the load pulling the remainder some distance, then unloading
and dragging the empty sledge back to pick jettisoned load. In both techniques, they walked or pulled the
sledge three times the distance they actually moved forward.