Sarah, Monday 19 June 2006
Yesterday the conservation team went to Scott’s 1901 Discovery Hut. We left shortly after lunch, and the journey took about 10 minutes in a four-wheel drive, travelling along a wild, snow-drifted road.
We walked the last 100 metres, past some concrete barricades which have set up to protect the hut, which is close to the ice pier and (believe it or not) a hive of vehicle activity in the summer. The lights and sounds of McMurdo Station hummed in the background as the old hut slept peacefully as we approached.
There was not a breath of wind, it was about -30°C and the stars shone brightly. There was a pink glow on the northern horizon, even though it was two days before the middle of winter. This isn’t something we can normally see at Scott Base because we have the Hut Point Peninsular to our north.
When we opened the door we discovered that the doorway was about a quarter filled with pillows of snow, and there were icicles hanging from the lintels. Once we had dug out the snow, we entered an icy realm in which many of the artefacts were crowned with snow and the roof twinkled with ice crystals.
It feels colder inside than out - but perhaps that’s just the dark griminess of the hut, where the burning of seal blubber by Scott and his team have left many of the artefacts covered in greasy soot. I can understand why some of the explorers set a tent up inside the hut! The discomfort the men suffered is still really evident today, and certainly makes us realise how lucky we are to be here now and not 100 years ago.