Sunday, January 23, 2011

And now for a little history...

Our camp has some history to it.  First of Mcmurdo is named after LT Archibald McMurdo, an officer aboard the TerrorTerror was one of three ships, Terror, Erebus and Terra Nova that were the first to penetrate the Antarctic Pack Ice in 1841 with James Clark Ross' expedition, hence Ross Island that I am on right now.

In 1901 Robert F. Scott pentrated the pack ice aboard Discovery and wintered over here in Winter Quarter's Bay, where McMurdo is right now.  His expediation erected "Scott's Hut" on what is known as Hut Point Penninsula. 

Scott's Hut from Hut Point Pennisula.  Winter Quarter's Bay, McMurdo
in the background.
This was base camp for Scott's early sledging parties where they deployed from in 1901-1903 and 1910-1913. Just to the southwest of  Scott's Hut lies Vince's Cross which was erected in 1902 in memory of Seaman George T. Vince who disappeared over Arrival Heights (a peak just behind McMurdo leading to the Erebus Glacier).  

Vince's Cross

Hut Point Penninsula. Arrival Heights is behind where the white dome is atop the hill.
Cape Royds is to the left.
 In 1902 Scott and Ernest Shacklton left Scott's hut on their first real attempt to reach the South Pole, which was not successful until 1911.
Scott's Hut
Seal carcass atop camp supplies left behind and never reclaimed by Scott's
party as they perished on their return trip from the South Pole expedition in 1912.
As a disclaimer, this is all real.  These aren't "recreations" of the sites.  This environment is so dry and moisture free, everything is preserved here perfectly.  Hundred year old food supplies still lay inside the hut as does expedition gear, etc.  It's actually a bit spooky.  The hut is a historical site and locked up.  It is opened on special occassion for historical studies but not open to the public. 

Hope that help's paint a nice grim reality of the fate of many early explorers here.  Having such history in my "backyard" is a nice reminder of the suffering these expeditions went through here when I start to complain of a little frost nip on my way from my heated room to the heated galley to eat a fresh hot meal!

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