Ross Island, in McMurdo Sound, has been the base of operations for Antarctic expeditions since the Heroic era. Scott’s Discovery Expedition (1901-1904) built a hut on Hut Point, Ross Island.
The hut is phenomenally cold! It was built and designed in Australia. Every aspect of it seems to shed (rather than keep) heat. The hut has a peaked roof, something like a false ceiling, that traps heat above the head of anyone who might be in the hut, and it is light colored. These heat reducing features are probably very handy if you live in the Australian outback, but in Antarctica it meant that the hut was primarily used for storage and emergency shelter. It was just too cold to stay inside very long!
One of my friends here is a hut guide… so she borrowed the key and we braved the cold to see the hut. It was amazing. The hut was pretty sparse (and cold), but there were lots of artifacts from Scott’s ultimately failed quest to be the first man to reach South Pole. The Hut is protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty. It has been restored, to reflect the its condition when it was abandoned. There are seal carcasses under the awning.
There is a pantry filed with meats from home (mutton, maybe some pork), assorted clothing items, tools, you know what you would expect in a storage shed/emergency shelter. The place had a the smell of long dead seal. In addition to those outside, there were chunks of what was presumably seal meat and blubber inside. When in use, the hut was heated by burning seal blubber. Over a hundred years later and the smell is still there.
Erected near the Hut is the Vince Memorial Cross. The cross honors George T Vince who was the first man to die in McMurdo Sound. He got lost and was wandering during a storm. He slipped off the edge of the cliff and into the sea ice. His body was never found.
I also had a chance to climb up Ob Hill. Ob Hill was used by Scott’s expeditions to navigate their way back to McMurdo Sound. It too is topped by a memorial cross. This one honoring those who died during Scott’s final and fatal attempt to reach the South Pole. The view atop Ob Hill is amazing!
I am so glad you got to experience this area of our world. It looks cold and fragile. I am glad to know how well our scientists are trying to keep it clean. ?Has Antarctica ever had native inhabitants like the Artic had (Canada, Alaska…)?
Hi Aunt Debbie,
Antarctica has never had native people’s like the Arctic. Antarctica was first sighted in the late 1800’s. Some South American countries have tried to establish colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula, but that has all been in modern times.