On this day over 100 years ago, one of The Wild Geese had arrived in the Antarctic and began an adventure that would define his career and place his name among the great veteran explorers of the polar regions.
A few weeks ago we explored Tom Crean’s contribution to the Terra Nova Expedition (1910 – 1912), when he walked 35 miles in near white-out, freezing conditions to bring back help for his sick team mate Lt. Evans. It was during the Discovery Expedition, when this heroism started to show.
Tom Crean joined the Discovery Expedition in New Zealand, where the expedition’s leader, Captain Robert Scott had docked his ship to fit his ship and replenish her crew. From the moment Crean joined the expedition, Scott was impressed, and as they set sail for the Antarctic the world was at Tom’s feet.
Captain Scott remarked about Crean and his ship mate from the HMS Ringarooma: ‘I like the look of these two… and think they will do well’
The Discovery arrived in the Antarctic on the 8th February 1902 and established a base at ‘Hut Point’. From here the expedition collected scientific information. Tom Crean was mostly assigned to sledging journeys and set up depots for exploration of the polar region.
As the expedition continued, Crean grew to be a prominent member of the team. This was his first experience of the Antarctic, but the inhospitable conditions didn’t phase him. Instead he got stuck in, spurred on by the hard work that was needed to survive in the region.
Sledging was the only method of transport across the land, and was extremely hard work. It demanded man-hauling equipment and supplies across the snow and ice in order to set up supply depots. During the entire exhibition, Crean sledged for a total of 149 days.
Although the Discovery expedition was relatively free from the tragedies of Terra Nova, Crean was faced with significant risk, especially since he was a novice.