Race to the South Pole – The Incredible Journey

(dramatic music) (gentle music) – Can you imagine one of the greatest races in history happened here in Antarctica, the most remote continent on earth? Yes, two men racing across this forbidding ice and snow It was a race to the death Only one would return alive It would be a contest between the English naval officer Captain Robert Scott and the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen Back in 1911, each one wanted to be the first human being to reach the South Pole After all, back then every continent had been conquered except this one While one man would plant a flag at the bottom of the earth, the other would die trying There are some fascinating facts behind the heroic winner and the tragic loser You’re about to discover just what made the difference (dramatic music) (gentle music) Antarctica is earth’s southernmost continent It covers roughly 14 million square kilometres It’s bigger than Europe and almost double the size of Australia Most of Antarctica is covered in ice two kilometres thick In some places the ice is more than four kilometres thick Around 90% of all the ice on earth is found in Antarctica If all this ice were to melt, sea levels would rise around 60 metres Antarctica is a harsh and forbidding place It’s the coldest, windiest, driest and emptiest place on earth Any life that manages to survive here does so in the face of incredible conditions Temperatures can fall to almost minus 90 degrees Celsius Winds reach up to 300 kilometres an hour Only about four centimetres of rain fall here a year in the form of snow, and as mentioned, it’s the emptiest place on earth Apart from the penguins and a scattering of other species, its population is zero Human beings cannot live here permanently In fact, the Antarctic continent wasn’t even actually seen by anyone until 1820, and no person set foot in Antarctica until 1895 Just 16 years later, in this harsh and unbearable environment, the greatest of races took place, and the starting line was in the Ross Sea, at the edge of the Great Ice Barrier This stupendous mass constantly cracks, shifts and drifts, (ice rumbling) but in 1911 the finish line lay about 1,000 kilometres inland, a latitude of 90 degrees south, better known as the South Pole But what would compel anyone to compete in such a deadly race? The answer to that question lies on the other side of the globe In 1901 Captain Robert Scott was the naval officer in charge of the first British venture to the Antarctic, the Discovery Expedition The British Empire’s Royal Society contributed quite a few scientists who would study everything from palaeontology to meteorology and the earth’s magnetic fields Sometime during this journey to the continent of ice, a grand idea began to grow in Scott’s mind What if he could discover the South Pole, be the first human to set foot on it? It would take Scott a further six years after the Discovery Expedition to develop this ambition, but in 1910 he would launch the Terra Nova Expedition with one goal in mind (rousing music) – [Narrator] The main object of the expedition is to reach the South Pole and to secure for the British Empire the honour of this achievement – But Scott wasn’t the only one with ambition

to conquer the world’s last unknown spaces Captain Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who was the first to sail the Arctic’s Northwest Passage He also spent a winter south of the Antarctica Circle in 1898 In 1909 he was preparing to mount an expedition to reach the North Pole, when news arrived that two American explorers claimed to have got there ahead of him He continued his preparations, but quietly changed his goal On August 9, 1911, he set sail in his unique ice-resistant ship, Fram Two months into his voyage, he announced to the world his real destination Amundsen was heading for the South Pole – [Narrator] Our plan is one, and again one alone, to reach the pole For that goal I have decided to throw everything else aside – Amundsen made it to the opposite end of the planet with his team, his supplies and his secret intact It was only when he sailed out of his last port of call that he sent a cable to Scott, who was making his own preparations in Melbourne: Beg leave to inform you Fram proceeding Antarctic, Amundsen The race was on So there you have it, both of these men would end up in the Antarctic with a purpose in January of 1911 Amundsen set up his base on the Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales Scott would start out at Cape Evans on Ross Island Both resolved to set out as soon as winter ended And the two set off roughly about the same time, Amundsen on October 20, Scott on November 1 Both would end up leading a small team of five Amundsen’s route was closer to the pole by about 96 kilometres, but Scott’s route was more familiar He had travelled in this region before, and another British explorer, Ernest Shackleton, had trekked most of the way before him, having come within 157 kilometres of the pole One of these men would be the first to stand at the South Pole The other would never return He would become a frozen body in this icy world What made the difference? How did one man win the race while the other walked to his death? So who won the race to the South Pole? Who survived, and who didn’t? On December 14, 1911, it was Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, who first reached the bottom of the planet It was this man who put up a flag at 90 degrees south in latitude Amundsen arrived at the South Pole, where no other person had ever stood, a full 33 days ahead of Scott, almost five weeks, an incredible triumph But what happened to Robert Scott? His story is far more bleak Scott and his men managed to make it all the way to the South Pole, but only to discover that the Norwegians had beat them to it In his diary, Scott admitted this was a horrible day And then he wrote something quite scary He admitted for the first time that he and his companions might not survive the 1,000 kilometre journey back to the coast The five did start their return journey across the icy plains Soon the team grew more exhausted and frostbitten, but they trudged on Scott still stopped to collect 14 kilogrammes of fossilised plants to add to their sled But injuries were mounting and wounds were failing to heal At the bottom of a glacier, Edgar Evans collapsed and died Then the weather deteriorated Their progress slowed to a crawl, their supplies diminished to almost nothing Soon they were huddled together in a tent while the wind piled snow around them Lawrence Oates sacrificed himself for the group by wandering out into the snow The remaining three struggled on, trying desperately to reach a vital supply depot But Scott’s diary records that he sensed the end was near

– [Narrator] I do not think I can write more, our dead bodies must tell the tale – On March 29, 1912, Henry Bowers, Edward Wilson and Robert Scott would die in their tent of cold, dehydration and starvation, only 18 kilometres from their next supply depot Tragically, the planner would pass away in that brutal ice world, a nationally-celebrated explorer, but one who failed to attain his goal, while Amundsen would arrive safely back in Tasmania without losing a single man, hailed as a hero by kings and countrymen Now I’d like to share something very important with you about these two races to the South Pole Here’s the real distinction between the two teams This is what really lies behind ponies versus dogs, walking versus skiing, scientists versus navigators Now, ponies were just part of Scott’s transportation This planner actually had four options to start with, ponies, motor sledges, man-hauling and some dogs Unfortunately they were all partial options The motor sledges quickly broke down They hadn’t been tested in polar conditions What’s more, Scott sent the dogs back to the starting camp when he was three-quarters of the way to the pole He didn’t think they would do well crossing the crevasse-pocked terrain And the ponies? Well, they made slow, painful progress Scott and his men had to build walls of snow each night to protect those animals from the freezing wind They weren’t built for this cold, their hooves sank deep, their sweaty hides froze up, they didn’t survive very far This man actually wanted to rely on man-hauling in a way It was a source of pride Scott put it this way: – [Narrator] When a party of men go forth to face hardships with their own unaided efforts, the conquest is more nobly and splendidly won – So Scott’s men put themselves in the harnesses and dragged 90-kilo sleds step by step to the pole Amundsen, however, focused on basic transportation needs He used husky-type dogs who were made to survive in this cold, icy world They were low-maintenance haulers They could find shelter from the icy winds and keep themselves warm by digging holes in the snow and crawling in Amundsen understood he needed those dogs hauling sleds Ironically, Scott would march nine or 10 hours a day, desperately trying to win the race Amundsen would travel only five or six hours a day, and yet he sometimes covered twice the ground Scott had, because those huskies were dependable, moving quickly across the ice Beautiful, isn’t it? Ice and snow may be easy on the eyes, but they can also be very hard work on the muscles, another thing Scott and his party failed to take into consideration These aren’t just tools you can pick up and use straight away Amundsen, on the other hand, understood he and his men had to prepare for skiing He didn’t just select experienced skiers Months ahead of time, Amundsen designed special skis and goggles and dog harnesses He field-tested each one, he honed each one into better shape He also designed better tents and stripped back his sledges This man knew that trekking across the ice wouldn’t be easy He needed all the help he could get Scott, however, found himself busy with other things He and his men did refine their equipment somewhat during the winter, but they spent quite a bit of time just writing letters, playing sports, and giving lectures to each other When it came to moving across that ice world, Scott would discover that his were unwieldy and prone to tipping over, possibly because they were also overloaded And his men’s lack of skiing experience would tell against them Scott would even decide to add an extra man to the group that made the last trek to the South Pole,

one who didn’t even have skis, and that meant more walking, more unnecessary struggling And what about the people who made up Scott and Amundsen’s expedition, the scientists versus the navigators? Well, the bottom line is this, Amundsen focused on one single goal, reaching the South Pole But Scott wanted to be recognised as making scientific accomplishments too, so he had men with him whose job it was to make a variety of environmental observations They’d take some 2,000 photographs They also gathered a variety of stones, weighing the sleds down Those sleds were also loaded with scientific equipment, which meant they could carry less food On his return journey, Scott and his men would often barely make it to the next depot of food supplies before running out Scott had planned to put his furtherest food depot at the 80th parallel That way there would be supplies in reach of the exhausted team returning from the South Pole But on their preparation journey that Scott used to set up the depots, the men were tired and the ponies were floundering So Scott decided to drop supplies 50 kilometres shy of his target That proved fatal He and his men would lay down and die just 15 kilometres short of that essential depot Amundsen, however, grasped the need for food all the way there and back He made sure there were more than enough supplies in his depots, and what’s more, he made sure his team would reach them, even through thick fog or blizzards He placed a line of ten black flags spaced a half mile apart on both sides of each depot That way they could go from one marker to the other and reach that essential food You know what’s ironic about that South Pole race between the planner and the dasher? Amundsen, the dasher, actually planned better, because he focused on what he would need to reach his one all-important goal But Scott, the planner, actually dashed here and there, focusing on other things as he headed to the South Pole, with tragic results And I believe that’s one of the essential principles about our race through life It’s one of the most important factors that determines whether we’ll reach our goal or not It’s easy to be distracted as we journey from day to day It’s easy to take detours It’s easy for pride to keep us looking here and there instead of on the road ahead Are we meeting our basic needs? Amundsen made sure he did It’s such a vital component of any race, especially our race through life What really keeps us going as human beings is in here, it’s the state of our hearts and minds that will secure or deny us success, because our main obstacles are also in here In order to meet our basic needs, we have to get through basic obstacles like guilt, anger and insecurity These are like the elements that can really upset life’s journey Guilt, for example, makes you push things away, things you might actually need, like dogs moving fast over the ice Anger makes you stomp along, pounding on that snow It sinks you down, like walking instead of skiing And insecurity compels you to add too much, carry too much, to try to cover your inadequacy, scientific equipment over essential food, if you like Yes, guilt, anger, insecurity, they are the real obstacles when it comes to making progress in life So how do we deal with them? Well, I believe there are some spiritual qualities that counter those common problems I believe God has actually shown us how to meet our essential needs Do you know what’s the exact opposite of guilt, anger and insecurity? Well, it’s forgiveness, grace and love Let me explain by pointing you to the Bible,

humanity’s clearest map of the human heart In it, the Apostle John acknowledges troubles of the human heart, and writes down what God can do about guilt, all our guilt Listen: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness Opening up to God, laying out our problems, our mistakes, that’s how we get access to that divine forgiveness that wipes out our guilt Jesus Christ paid the price for all of our faults and failures on the cross, so we don’t have to carry any of them anymore And it’s a sense of forgiveness that enables us to look forward on life’s journey Guilt keeps us looking back to some mistake in the past It keeps us pushing things away, things that we really need But forgiveness, yes, it gives us a clear, positive focus for the way ahead And here’s the second quality that will help, the opposite of anger, grace Here’s how the Apostle Peter expresses it: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you Anger tears us down, but God’s grace builds us up God’s grace restores, produces a gracious way of life It washes away all the bitterness that keeps us angry We don’t have to keep stomping around We can move forward smoothly, like we’re skiing on ice And the third quality? What deals with our insecurity? Well, the opposite of insecurity, love All those obstacles that insecurity puts up, they’re all there because love hasn’t built us up Here’s the Apostle John again, describing the best kind of love for building strong lives: See that kind of love the Father has given us, See that kind of love the Father has given to us, God the Father cherishes us as his beloved children When we trust our lives to him, we are completely accepted into God’s family We are regarded as valuable as his other Son, that heroic Jesus that lived a perfect life so we could be saved It’s this divine love that can really counter insecurity When we’re genuinely loved we don’t have to pretend, we don’t have to hide Our real needs can be met We can lay out those supply depots We can get all of the emotional and spiritual nourishment we need Yes, I believe it’s what God can give us, forgiveness, grace and love that moves us forward, that propels us through life in the best possible way, which is why the Bible encourages us: Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God Do you want to escape from pain and shame, to find refuge in some heavenly place? Then start the race marked out for us, start building a strong life on the only sure foundation, Jesus Christ He’ll keep you moving forward He’ll enable you to experience that forgiveness, that grace, that love He will take you all the way to our ultimate destination, the right hand of the throne of God Why not make that decision right now as we pray Dear Father, we do face a lot of obstacles in our lives We’d like to move forward, we’d like to build strong lives, to run a good race But guilt and anger and insecurity get in our way So we choose to place our faith in this Jesus Christ who laid down such a good life for us

We choose to keep our eyes on him as a redeemer and as our shining example In Jesus’ name, amen The story of the great race to the South Pole has both fascinated and inspired people for over 100 years It also reminds us that we are all participants in the great race of life In this race we all face obstacles and challenges If you’re struggling with the challenges of life, or with guilt, shame and insecurity, then I’d like to recommend the free gift we have for all our viewers today It’s the book The Solution to the Guilt Problem This book is our gift to you and is absolutely free There are no costs or obligations whatsoever Many have been blessed and inspired by this book, The Solution to the Guilt Problem So make the most of this wonderful opportunity to receive the gift we have for you today Here’s the information you need Phone or text us at 0436 333 555, or visit our website www.tij.tv to request today’s free offer, and we’ll send it to you totally free of charge and with no obligation So don’t delay, call or text 0436 333 555 in Australia, or 020 422 2042 in New Zealand, or visit our website www.tij.tv to request today’s offer Write to us at PO Box 5101, Dora Creek, New South Wales 2264, Australia, or PO Box 76673, Manakau, Auckland 2241, New Zealand Don’t delay, call or text us now If you’ve enjoyed today’s journey, be sure to join us again next week, when we will share another of life’s journeys together and experience another new and thought-provoking perspective on the peace, insight, understanding and hope that only the Bible can give us The Incredible Journey truly is television that changes lives Until next week, remember the ultimate destination of life’s journey Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes There shall be no more death nor sorrow nor crying There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away (dramatic music)