Friday, January 28, 2011

Cape Evans Centenary 4/01/2011

(expedition seal)

Today marks One Hundred years since the landing of Scott and his 24 men, on the ship Terra Nova at Cape Evans. In the coming weeks they erected the Terra Nova hut in anticipation for the coming winter, various scientific endeavors and ultimately attainment of the South Pole (some 30 odd days behind the Norwegian Amundsen).

(The Tennements as they were)
Whilst there were no big celebrations planned there was a definite sense of occasion as we set off for work on Scotts hut, still standing tall after one hundred years on the harshest continent on earth. It was the usual work around the hut finishing off re-cladding the roof, repairing the stables and treating various atrefacts (currently Oates bed frame).

(recladding the roof)

As we worked through the evening an Emperor penguin approached us across the fractured sea-ice coming right up to the hut within arm’s reach of us. We watched intently as he carried on intrigued in our behaviour. Up close they truly are an impressive creature. Astonishingly large in stature both high and wide, their size enormous in comparison to their adelie cousins, the colour of their coats so stunning you could look for hours. It was certainly a moment to remember as well as a stark contrast (beyond the obvious) to the taxidermy penguin sitting on Scotts study table.


(scotts penguin)

After dinner I went for a walk to view the world from the lookout towards inaccessible island managing to avoid the usual attack by nesting Skua. Ahead lays open water in the distance with groups of seals and penguins surrounding the water as the Trans Antarctic ranges provide inspirational backdrop. As the snow began to fall lightly it became as serene as ever, imagining a group of men frantically unloading the ship to spend over a year isolated from the rest of the world to conquer the last frontier on earth. Whichever way you think about it the determination of those men was second to none, the stories of their hardships dressed down as only small hurdles.

(waters edge)

To end the day I had a walk around the hut as per usual. Sir David Attenborough described the Terra Nova hut as “a time warp without parallel”. Also a pretty cool way to wind down at the end of the day.

White Christmas

Out in the field at Cape Evans with five others from the AHT I am celebrating my first ever white Christmas! The day seemed to sneak up on us without the usual barrage of advertising or carols on the radio that you would expect in regular life.

Our celebrations started with fried eggs on toast for a late breakfast (a special treat considering that we are in the field) and a tradition brought to our team by Scottish conservation carpenter Jamie 'Jam' Ward. The team enjoyed a leisurely morning prior to lunch when the camp divided into Northern Hemisphere (Randy, Jam and Martin) and Southern Hemisphere (Al, J.T and myself) for Christmas games. J.T organized the games for the day with the “stick” game, dunnage toss (basically caber toss but with spare pieces of workshop lumber) and the “rope” game all being competed as teams and individuals, The Southerners coming out victors!

(dunnage toss)
The afternoon we went for a group walk up to the top ridge beside the Barne Glacier to enjoy the sunny still day and awe inspiring panoramic views.

(What a view)
To top the day off we exchanged gifts through a previously arranged secret Santa over a brilliantly cooked dinner.

(Christmas dinner in the field)
All in all a Christmas I will never forget!