Monday, November 20, 2006


dj and i got to go on a two hour delta ride to cape evans last week. the following i pasted from wickopedia regarding the history/info. on the hut.

Scott's Hut is a building located on the north shore of Cape Evans on Ross Island in Antarctica. It was erected in 1911 by the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1913 (also known as the Terra Nova Expedition) led by Robert Falcon Scott. From here Scott and four companions set out on the ultimately fatal trek to the South Pole. Although abandoned in 1913, the hut and its contents are remarkably well preserved today due to the constant freezing conditions.

In selecting a base of operations for the 1910-1913 Expedition, Scott rejected the notion of re-occupying the hut he had built on Ross Island during the Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904. This first hut, known as the 'Discovery Hut' *(photos from my blog earlier last year) is located at Hut Point, 20km south of Cape Evans. Scott's ship, the Discovery, had been trapped by sea ice at Hut Point, a problem he hoped to avoid by establishing his new base further north. Discovery Hut was never fully occupied during the Discovery Expedition, as most expeditioners elected to live aboard the ice bound ship. Ten years later when members of the Terra Nova Expedition journeyed south from Scott's Hut at Cape Evans they found Discovery Hut intact (although full of snow and ice), along with supplies left over from 1903. Discovery Hut was cleaned out and used during 1911 and 1912 as a staging and rendevous point for Terra Nova expeditioners heading south towards the Pole from Scott's Hut at Cape Evans.

Both Scott's Hut and Discovery Hut were prefabricated (in England and Australia respectively) before being brought south by ship. Discovery Hut is essentially square, with verandahs on three sides. The pyramidical roof is supported by a central post. Insulation was provided by felt placed between the inner and outer wood plank walls. This was found to be insufficient, and the hut was difficult to keep warm. The Discovery expeditioners largely preferred to live aboard their ship, ice bound just offshore. Seal blubber was used for heating Discovery Hut during subsequent expeditions, resulting in considerable staining of the interior walls and contents.

*(wickopedia does not mention that the discovery hut, based on australian hut design is meant to circulate air and COOL. not the best idea for antarctica.)

the following info. i got from our cape evans tour guide:
for his trip to antarctica, scott purchased the terra nova. he had originally, wanted to bring the discovery (the ship used on his first expedition), but the owners would not sell it to him. he settled for the discovery's sister ship, terra nova that had been used during the first expedition. during the trip south scott wished more than once that he had chosen a different ship. it was warm, but it leaked. during a storm on december 2, 1910, the bilge pumps stopped working and the crew had to empty water from the ship using buckets. the storm also caused problems for the animals. the dogs that were leashed on the top deck were being thrown around and the horses in the underbelly of the ship were slowly being covered in water. when all was said and done the expedition lost one dog and two ponies. it was a difficult loss, expecially since one dog and one pony had died before the terra nova left port. it could have been seen as a bad omen, but the captain and crew kept in good spirits. just over a month after they had left new zealand the men of the terra nova spotted the smoking peak of mt. erebus. the initial plan was to land near cape crozier, but they were unable to do so because of the sea ice. they sailed back to the familiar territory of mcmurdo sound and stopped at the skuary, which scott quickly renamed cape evans in honor of his second in command, teddy evans. as the men were unloading the boat, disaster struck once again. ponting, the expedition's photographer, was almost eaten by a group of killer whales, and one of the very expensive motorized sledges that scott had brought fell through the sea ice leaving them with only two.

the hut that was originally built in new zealand the previous october was unloaded onto the shore, put together, and occupied within two weeks. the hut is 50 feet long, 25 feet wide, and reached to nine feet at the peak. its double doors, during scott's expedition, were insulated with quilted seaweed and lined with felt. the roof was covered with three-ply rubberoid and the floor was laid with linoleum. the hut was equipped with acetylene gas jets, stoves, clotheslines, clocks, and a gramophone. the stoves were used to heat the hut. the floor was kept below freezing so that any snow that got into the hut could be easily swept out. mid-body level was kept at about 50 degrees, and the rafters would reach up to 70 degrees fahrenheit. the warmth of the air at the top of the hut was used to melt buckets of ice for the men to use for their baths once a week. the two sides of the hut were separated using crates, mostly of wine. on the left side of the hut were the officer's quarters, and the crewmen slept on the right. scott slept by himself on the far left corner of the hut. his room was separated using sheets. he used a linoleum-covered table as a desk for work. it is the table that now holds books and a penguin. across from scott's bed were the beds of edward atkinson, the expedition's surgeon, and george simpson its meteorologist. on the other side of the wall from scott's room there is a grouping of beds. that is where the rest of the officers, including oates, cherry-garrard, bowers, and meares slept. this section was known as "the tenements" because it was so cramped and there were very few items other than necessities. oates' only luxury was a bust of napoleon that he kept next to his bed. ponting made himself a darkroom and slept above it.

although they didn't have much, spirits in the hut remained high during the winter. scott credited that to the fact that everyone stayed relativly busy during this time. there were a number of scientific experiments being done. the equipment that was going to be used for the polar traverse had to be checked and mended. the men kept detailed records of the weather around mcmurdo sound. cherry-garrard began producing the south polar times once again, and kept a good record of life in the hut at cape evans. the men celebrated mid-winter day on june 22nd as if it were christmas. the men were good at livery. they often had evening lectures. one of the scientists would talk about the recent findings of his work, or they would simply tell stories and laugh. when the weather was good they would even go out on the sea ice and play soccer. during the winter three of the men, wilson, cherry-garrard, and bowers, left on an expedition to cape crozier. wilson wanted to study the incubation of emperor penguins. although the expedition was successful in the fact that the men did collect samples from the penguins, it was almost deadly. the men made it back to cape evans barely alive, and when cherry-garrard published a book about the journey it would forever be known as "the worst journey in the world." *(i have been told that this book is very good. i've yet to read it.) on august 23, 1911, the sun rose for the first time in six months. after two more near tragedies, atkinson almost being lost in a blizzard and the ponies nearly dying of colic, all thoughts were turned toward the pole. as the supplies were readied for the journey, the men wondered who would get to be in scott's final polar party.

on october 24, 1911, two motor sledges with teddy evans, day lashly, and hooper left cape evans heading towards one-ton depot. a week later, on november 1, scott and the other eight men on the polar expedition left cape evans. as they started out on the journey, only ten of the 19 original ponies were left. they still had dogs, but none of the men were accustomed to them, and scott felt that dogs were unreliable. he also felt that harming animals was wrong, and more than once he put the lives of his men in danger in order to save an animal. on december 20 the party had reached their safety camp. the first four men were sent back to cape evans hut. atkins, wright, cherry-garrard, and keohane were upset that they had come so far but would not be seeing the pole. they left in good spirits nonetheless. two weeks later, three more were sent home and the five remaining men set out for the pole. on january 6 they crossed the line of latitude that marked the point where shackleton had turned around. they were farther south, they believed, than anyone had ever been before. unfortunately, they were wrong. one week later they crossed the 89th parallel and laid their last depot. three days later as they walked towards the pole they began to see something in the distance. what had first appeared to be a fuel cairn turned out to be a flag and a tent. norwegians had beaten them to the pole. the group was tired and dispirited. all were happy that they reached their goal, but the ultimate prize had been stolen from them.

the return trip would not help them. soon after they left the pole the weather got worse. each day was torture. they were moving much slower than they had originally planned. they were all tired, and many days they were unable to move because of blizzards. two of the men died along the route: oates by walking out in the cold in order to relieve the rest of the men of the burden he had become. on february 11, 1912, they took a wrong turn and ended up in a horrible storm. only miles from the next depot, they were unable to move. all three remaining men were too tired to brave the storm, and all three had been suffering from frostbite for a long time. they stayed in their tent, and that is where the search party, led by evans, would find their bodies. next to them all were their journals and letters that they had written home in their last moments before death. beside scott was a book of browning's poems. inscribed in the book was a quote from tennyson's ulysses. the men etched the quote into the cross that they erected on observation hill commemorating the men in scott's south pole party.
*(photos of and from observation hill and the cross are among the very first in last year's blog entries)

i was suprised to find out how many other huts there are/were. this link is to a table which shows the different huts, there state of decay, and location etc. etc.

this link is info for scott's discovery expedition (this is the hut from earlier in my blog)

this link is info for scott's terra nova expedition


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