The Worst Journey in the World
I'd wanted to read this book since learning about it in connection with Admiral "Teddy" Evans' South with Scott. This book is very long, so took quite awhile to finish, but, as I expected, it was extraordinarily compelling. Oh for a good map, though there were a couple of small, local maps, but no good overall map of the entire continent.
The narrative covers the whole adventure, from the sailing of the Terra Nova to, described in the Foreword, the remorseful end of Cherry's life, in 1959. I felt like I was becoming better acquainted with old friends, and mourned their loss all over again, particularly Bowers. Edgar Evans perhaps comes off a bit better in this book.
I was surprised to find that the title actually refers not to the polar push, but to the winter journey -- the quest by Wilson, Bowers, and Cherry to collect penguin eggs. The horrors of this trip are unbelievable. Temperatures more than -70, permanent darkness (except for some cases of providential moonlight), reindeer sleeping bags so frozen it would take an hour to force your way into them. No animals to pull the sleds, only men, sometimes pulling hard for eight hours, only to make a mile and a half for the whole day, due to the crystalline condition of the snow.
After pages and pages of hardships on the winter journey, one beautiful sentence stands as a paragraph of its own:
"And then we heard the Emperors calling."
Nineteen days of hard travel, in the dark, in the cold, no living creatures but each other, but that moment made it worth the horrors.