Return to Antarctica
By Adrian Raeside
Return to Antarctica marks the 100th anniversary of the Scott Expedition to the South Pole
A deadly race to the South Pole.
By 1910, the South Pole was the last place on earth that had never been explored, and British naval officer Robert Scott was obsessed that an Englishman — specifically himself — should conquer the Pole. Despite being under-funded and under-equipped, Scott gathered together an eclectic group of naval personnel and scientists and sailed south in the ex-sealing vessel Terra Nova.
Also aboard the Terra Nova was Canadian, Charles Seymour (Silas) Wright. Silas was studying physics at Cambridge University when he heard Scott was looking for a physicist to join the expedition to the Pole. Initially turned down by Scott, Silas walked from Cambridge to London to apply in person, where Scott changed his mind, appointing Silas the expedition’s official physicist and glaciologist. (Who else but a Canadian would know about glaciers?) Halfway through the rough passage to the Antarctic, Scott got word that rival explorer, Norwegian Roald Amundsen, was also making a run for the Pole and was close on their heels. What started out as a stroll to the South Pole became a race between two very determined and different men.
Picked to accompany Scott on the 900-mile journey to the Pole, Silas made it to within 283 miles of the Pole before being turned back by Scott. Scott and a five man party reached the South Pole on January 17, 1912, only to find that Amundsen had beaten them by days. Bitterly disappointed, Scott and his companions returned to the coast, but were caught in a fierce Antarctic blizzard that raged for days. Too weak to pull their sleds and out of food and fuel, they froze to death – only eleven miles from a cache of food and fuel. The next spring Wright navigated for the search party that went back to look for the remains of Scott and his party, and it was the sharp-eyed Wright who spotted the mound of snow covering the tent containing Scott, Wilson and Bowers’ frozen bodies. If it hadn’t been for Silas’s sharp eyes, the world might never have known what happened to Scott and his party.
The author, Adrian Raeside, is related to three members of the Scott Expedition: his grandfather, Sir Charles (Silas) Wright, his great uncle, Sir Raymond Priestley and his great uncle, Griffith (Griff) Taylor. In the Antarctic summer of 2008-2009, Raeside travelled to Antarctica to retrace his grandfather’s footsteps and to gain perspective on an adventure of a century ago that challenged men’s courage, strength and sanity. Raeside’s story telling, supported by revelations from previously unpublished accounts, drawings and photographs, does admirable justice to the legacy of the men who literally followed Robert Scott to the ends of the Earth.
Return to Antarctica ©Adrian Raeside, published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. In bookstores now. Order your personally autographed copy off this site.