On the 17 March, 1912, suffering from severe frostbite and exhaustion, Captain Oates, left the small comforts of a frozen tent in Antarctica and in 10 famous words said “I am just going outside and may be some time”.
He never returned.
As a schoolboy I read those 10 words; and as a schoolboy I wrote down my own ten words; “One day I will go, and find out what’s outside”. 45 years later, in the wake of Captain Oates, I stood inside the wooden hut at Cape Evans, where under the leadership of Captain Scott, Oates and his three companions left to reach the South Pole. They never returned.
Inside the hut the personal belongings of Scott, Oates and their companions, still remain in situ. Outside, buffeted by strong katabatic winds coming off the polar ice cap, it remains as cold as ever. This frozen area of the Antarctica, known as the ‘Gateway to the South Pole,’ is one of the most remote places on planet earth, and is where Antarctic explorers of the heroic age of exploration made history.
I was soon able to return to the safety of the research vessel. Oates, Scott and his companions, still remain in the frozen ice shelfs of the Ross Sea.