It is time for a very special OHYAT: The Tealin's Been A Flake And Hasn't Kept Up: Catching Up With The Guys
On November 25th the dog parties, who were the first to return from the Search Journey, pulled up to Cape Evans to find that Lt. Campbell and his five men had arrived safely from where they had overwintered up the coast. They'd picked their way down the sea ice from the north, and turned up just five days after the main party had left in search of traces of the Polar Party. The hut at Cape Evans had been empty when they found it, as Debenham and Archer, the only men remaining at base, were out on some errand. The six of them settled back into 'civilised' life and all its untold luxuries – according to Silas, Priestley gained 33lbs in the six days after their homecoming. In a note to the returning parties, Campbell said he was disappointed they were too late to join the main search party. Cherry would later write, “If I had lived through ten months such as those men had just endured, wild horses would not have dragged me out sledging again.”
A large party of scientists and a few of the ratings went out to Shackleton's old hut at Cape Royds in December, to study the Adélie penguins at their rookery, do some parasitology, properly survey the area, and make as large a dent as possible in the luxurious stores left by the Nimrod Expedition – canned chicken, ginger, Garibaldi biscuits, an assortment of soups – though they never found the crates of whisky that have been so famous
these last few years. It also served as base camp for Debenham, Priestley, Gran, and a few others to make an ascent of 13,400ft Mt Erebus, which had loomed over them for nearly two years. Deb had picked out a route up the mountain by telescope from Cape Evans, and the climb turned out to be fairly easy, just long. Deb and one of the others got altitude sickness a couple days into the climb but he got a good amount of geological work done before he had to turn back; Priestley and Gran were the ones who made it all the way to the lip of the second crater, on December 12th. It was decided to leave a record there in a tin, but on the way back down they realised they'd left the tin of exposed film rather than the one with the record in it. Gran volunteered to go back and swap the two, and while he was up there the second time, Erebus coughed up a small eruption of gas and pumice. He made it down OK but it must have been very exciting for both of them.
When they returned to Cape Evans in the latter half of the month, they commenced packing up, with the intent of shipping everything as quickly as possible the moment the Terra Nova
appeared. The remaining stores weren't sufficient to have much of a Christmas feast, and they had to consider the possibility that the ship might not arrive in time – or at all – and that they should be prepared to sit out another winter. None of them relished the idea much. By the 29th, Gran wrote, they were ready to leave at a moment's notice.