Once I marvelled that a just God could order his chosen people to exterminate any race. Now I marvel that a just God hath not exterminated many races long ago. We reached the crest of a swelling upland as the first sun-rays came through the frost mist in shafts of fire. A quick halt was called. One white-garbed scout went crawling stealthily down the snow-slope like a mountain-cat.
Our protecting promontory is to be "Hut Point," with "Arrival Bay" on the north and "Winter Quarter Bay" on the south; above "Arrival Bay" are the "Arrival Heights," which continue with breaks for about three miles to a long snow-slope, beyond which rises the most conspicuous landmark on our peninsula, a high, precipitous-sided rock with a flat top, which has been dubbed "Castle Rock"; it is 1,350 feet in height.
They might learn in time to interpret correctly the real meaning of shapes at which the uninitiated guess at random. But the mountaineer can go a step further, and it is the next step which gives the real significance to those delicate curves and lines. He can translate the 500 or 1,000 feet of snow-slope into a more tangible unit of measurement.
Our camp, as I have said, lay on the north side of King Haakon Bay near the head. Our path towards the whaling-stations led round the seaward end of the snouted glacier on the east side of the camp and up a snow-slope that appeared to lead to a pass in the great Allardyce Range, which runs north-west and south-east and forms the main backbone of South Georgia.
The spit was by no means an ideal camping-ground; it was rough, bleak, and inhospitable just an acre or two of rock and shingle, with the sea foaming around it except where the snow-slope, running up to a glacier, formed the landward boundary.
He had been steadied across the narrow bridge with the rope, hauled up the ice-walls and let down again on the other side. But he had come through. He took some pride in the exploit as he gazed back from the top of the snow-slope across the tumult of ice to the rocks on which he had slipped. He had come through safely, and he was encouraged to go on.
Nature had sent her Beauty of the Night and won the first assault. The others, routed and dismayed, fled far away. "Don't go back to your dreary old post office. We're going to have supper in my room something hot. Come and join us. Hurry up!" There had been an ice carnival, and the last party, tailing up the snow-slope to the hotel, called him.
We were travelling over a gently rising plateau, and at the end of an hour we found ourselves growing uncomfortably hot. Years before, on an earlier expedition, I had declared that I would never again growl at the heat of the sun, and my resolution had been strengthened during the boat journey. I called it to mind as the sun beat fiercely on the blinding white snow-slope.
There was a constant dread lest out ladder should break off, and we be thrown either down the snow-slope or into the bottom of the crevasse.
Fearing that the ridge by which we were mounting would become too precipitous higher up, I turned off to the left, and crossed a long, narrow snow-slope that descended between this ridge and another line of rocks more to the west. It was firm, and just steep enough to make steps cut in the snow comfortable, though not necessary; so the ice-axe was brought into use.