Our polar exploration has finally found success. This morning the normally low-key Jack Brown returned to camp in a state of total excitement. His face and beard were full of frost and his cheeks were pale with cold, but he was highly animated and his words came out in a breathless flurry. “North, near, big” were all that we could make out at first, but as Jack began to warm-up in the relative comfort of our hut his tale took on more sense. North of camp and a mile or so past the temporary weather station that we’d cobbled together, Jack had sighted what appeared to be 2 large tusks almost completely free of ice and above the snow line. The news quickly generated much excitement and in a matter of minutes the ennui that has plagued this mission had lifted totally and a happy buzz of commotion took over. Maps suddenly found their way to our makeshift table and everyone began to ready themselves for the march out to Jack’s discovery. Scientific instruments of all sorts were located, checked and packed on our smallest sledge. There was a small area of deep sastrugi between our camp and the site and I thought that the small sledge would best traverse the accursed peaks and dips. The day was dull, but thankfully polar night is still ahead of us and Jack’s tracks made navigation to the site easy. Within an hour the team was ready to go and we set out into the day full of happy anticipation. It was a short march and within 3 hours we could see the tusks from the eastern cliffs. When the tusks were first sighted Ned Barkley let out a whoop of excitement and the entire team became re-energized. A few hours of difficult descent later and we were all standing gaping in awe at Jack’s find. The tusks are massive and confirm my hypothesis that woolly mammoths did indeed migrate this far north. The head of the beast is partially exposed and should not be difficult to excavate. I ordered that a temporary camp be erected and sent Jason Digger and Ned back to our permanent camp with orders to pack up as much equipment and food as possible and relocate it to this new site. The hut and a supply of food will be left behind for our return journey, but the ponies are to be used to drag the sledges as far as possible and are then to be slaughtered and butchered. The men will then don the harnesses and drag the sledges the rest of the way. The find is so exhilarating that the entire team seems barely aware of the deep exhaustion that will set in soon. I have already begun taking measurements and am quite excited to begin the process of documenting this find for the Royal Society.
(With a nod to Sir Ernest Shackleton, the greatest polar explorer of all time.)