Notebook

What Campbell and his five men endured beggars belief, even in the steely annals of Antarctic hardship. They had been out from February 1911  until November 1913… In January 1912  they were picked up by the Terra Nova  on her way from New Zealand and deposited further down the coast, but when exceptionally bad ice conditions prevented her from relieving them, they made their home in an ice cave on Inexpressible island (it was they who named it). The cave was nine feet by twelve, and five-feet-six high, which meant they could never stand upright. They spent much of their second winter lying in their bags talking about food. They had to ration themselves to one match a day to light the stove,  and the practically all-meat diet meant that the acid content of their urine was exceptionally high, with the result that they wet themselves all the time and everyone had haemorrhoids. When Campbell had a touch of dysentery he got his penis frostbitten. “The road to hell might be paved with good intentions,” one of the party  wrote, “but it seemed probable that hell itself would be paved something after the style of Inexpressible Island.” But they saved twenty-five raisins apiece to celebrate birthdays,  and held divine service on Sundays. Finally, not having washed or changed their clothes for eight months, they sledged the 230 miles back to Cape Evans, still friends.

Sara Wheeler, “Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard”.

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