/ Antarctica / 1911

DestinAsian - - FLASHBACK -

The ill-fated Terra Nova Ex­pe­di­tion of 1910–1913 was one of the last great episodes in the age of ex­plo­ration, a Bri­tish sci­en­tific jour­ney to Antarctica led by Royal Navy cap­tain and sea­soned po­lar ex­plorer Robert Fal­con Scott. There was ev­ery expectation that Scott and his crew would achieve the pin­na­cle of Ed­war­dian der­ring-do— con­quer­ing the South Pole—with pho­tog­ra­pher Her­bert Ponting along to chron­i­cle the hero­ics. More than a cen­tury later, Ponting’s haunt­ing im­ages (in­clud­ing this pic­ture of the ex­pe­di­tion ship

Terra Nova in McMurdo Sound) re­main among the most en­dur­ing of the time, de­pict­ing yawn­ing ice caves, frozen rig­ging, and frost­bit­ten men eat­ing baked beans from the can. The jour­ney ended badly for Scott, who reached the Pole with four men on Jan­uary 18, 1912, only to dis­cover an­other na­tion’s flag al­ready fly­ing—Nor­way’s Roald Amund­sen had beaten them by just over a month. Scott and his team per­ished on the march back to their base camp; the last words in his diary read, “The end can­not be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.” The re­main­der of the ex­pe­di­tion, Ponting in­cluded, sailed home to in­form the world of the tragedy, lit­tle imag­in­ing that one day, al­most 40,000 tourists would visit the world’s least hos­pitable con­ti­nent ev­ery year. —David Tse

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