Biography of Captain Robert Falcon Scott Part 1

About the biography of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, history of his great sacrifice.

THE COURAGEOUS NONSURVIVORS

CAPTAIN ROBERT FALCON SCOTT

In terms of sheer danger and daring, few feats of exploration--either on earth or in space--rank alongside the conquering of the South Pole. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the first expedition to the pole, but the enormity of the task--and the heroic dedication and determination required of those who undertook it--is nowhere better illustrated than in the saga of the man who arrived 34 days later.

Capt. Robert Falcon Scott was a 42-year-old career officer in the British navy when he and his team set off for the South Pole in 1910. A brilliant, courageous, and iron-willed man, Scott had led one previous Antarctic expedition in 1902, and though the purpose of that trip was purely scientific, it had brought him closer to the pole than anyone had ever been. One of the members of that expedition, Lt. Ernest Shackleton, came closer yet in 1908 (to within 120 mi.), and from that point on it was only a matter of time before someone went all the way.

Scott had every reason to believe he would be that person, and his confidence was only slightly shaken when, upon his arrival in New Zealand in October, 1911, he received news that--contrary to what Amundsen had led people to believe--he too was on his way to the Antarctic, no less determined than Scott to be the first man at the bottom of the world. Scott and 11 others left Cape Evans on Oct. 24 with motorized sleds and ponies. More disturbing was the news in November that Amundsen was finding the going relatively easy and was 60 mi. ahead, but Scott was nothing if not the indomitable Englishman, and he pressed on with ever greater resolve. Around the middle of December, while Amundsen was camping at the pole, Scott and his men were replacing their sled-pulling heavy ponies, which had died from exposure, with the only available alternative: themselves. At this point, seven of the men returned to the base camp, leaving Scott and four companions--L. E. G. Oates, E. A. Wilson, H. R. Bowers, and Edgar Evans. As late as Jan. 15, Scott was still optimistic, writing in his journal that "two long marches will land us at the Pole. . .it ought to be a certain thing now. . .the only appalling possibility is the sight of the Norwegian flag forestalling ours." Two days later, the appalling possibility became an appalling reality, and the sight was enough to shake even the iron-willed Briton. "Great God, this is an awful place," he wrote. "Now for the run home and a desperate struggle. I wonder if we can do it?"

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