On this day, 1912, English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition reached the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had gotten there first.
Scott's expedition has been viewed as a metaphor for disastrous
planning and mismanagement. Scott used skis, dogs, tractors (which broke down about 50 miles from base camp), and Mongolian Horses (which were eventually killed for food) on the initial stages of his journey. They did not handle dogs in the manner of Amundsen and did not use ski effectively. Scott calculated the supply requirements based on a number of expeditions, both by members of his team and by those of Shackleton. The shortage of food and fuel that eventually killed Scott's team was due to the unexpectedly cold weather and the injuries of members of the team slowing their progress and a leakage of fuel from the cans stored in the depots. The British Empire quickly adopted Scott as a hero after he and his party's frozen bodies were recovered on the Ross Ice Shelf, their sleds still heavily laden with scientific equipment.
The fact remains that Amundsen's party had good equipment, correct clothing, had a different understanding of the primary task, understood dogs and their handling, used skis effectively. He pioneered an entirely new route to the Pole and they returned.
Other stuff: Just a quick update, I've changed the way Thought Alarm accepts comments. Mainly so I could have the "recent comments" widget in my sidebar. Yeah, that's it. I'm fickle that way. Everyone's comments are still saved if I roll back to the original way of doing it. Feel free to give the new mechanism a spin, courtesy of HaloScan.