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9-Canwe to the Boomerang-p2

11 January 1912

At 5.30 am this morning, it was still misty and snowing hard.  By 7.30 am, it was beginning to clear and by 9 am they were off sledging.  Their way ahead was covered in 15 inches to 2 feet [i] of snow, a result of the recent heavy snowfall and southerly wind. A bad surface for sledging with the sledges sinking  in the soft snow  making  pulling them extremely strenuous.  So much so they were forced to relay and even then with six pulling one sledge it was still difficult.

Relaying – where the two teams combine to pull one sledge.  Then march back, hitch up and pull the second sledge up to the first.  For every mile forward, they  have covered three miles.

Figure 1  A photo showing the struggle of six men pulling a heavily laded
sledge in deep snow.  Although this is not the Northern Party it does show
the problems of deep snow. (SPRI p2005-5-1287)

Putting on skis made the hauling the sledges easier.  The ski tracks providing  a rough channel of harder snow for the sledge.  

This overcame the drag problem, caused by the cross and vertical sledge support members becoming in contact with the snow, as the sledge sank deeper into the snow. 

Figure 2  the cross and vertical supports on a typical Nansen type
sledge. (Canterbury Museum)


A good discussion of sledging through deep snow and possible solutions will be found in the article “Notes on Sledges” By C S Wright published in 1921. [ii]  

Campbell also made everyone fit lengths of seal-skin under their ski making it easy for the ski to slide forward but not back.  This made pulling more efficient and as Campbell writes in his diary 'thereby enabling the greatest duffer to ski'.[iii]

Even after 11 months at Cape Adare, where most of their travel had been on sea ice this deep snow was new to some of the party. Although a few had tried binding cord around their skis to create friction when pulling, the use of skins with the skis was new to most of them.

Late morning the weather cleared, even though the pulling was difficult, they had a magnificent view up the glacier.  This reinforced Campbell’s belief they were on a glacier emanating from the western slopes of Mount Melbourne.   From their vantage point they also saw a curved glacier merging from the west a few miles south of the mountain. This they later called the Boomerang Glacier because the curved  shaped looked like a boomerang to them or at least to Priestley.

Campbell then says 'In the afternoon a SW wind improved the surface and each team was able to manage their own sledge'. [iv]  Now with wind at their backs sledging had become much more agreeable as they headed up the glacier (Browning Pass).

That night the weather was good and six tired men slept well. 

[i] Priestley, p. 202.

[ii] Colonel H G Lyons, British (Terra Nova) Antarctic Expedition 1910--1913, 1921, pp. 40-44.

[iii] King, p. 114.

[iv] King, p. 114.

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