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Posted by Jane



Last week we decided to inspect the cross on Observation Hill before we lose the sun completely. We waited for a day with good weather. Friday was the perfect day - the sun was shining and there was barely a cloud in the sky. It was a good decision as the weather became quite stormy the following day.

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The AHT team on Ob Hill - Jane, Martin, Sarah and Julie (in Dr. Wilson style heroic stance) © AHT/Jane

The hill is quite steep in places and there was plenty of snow covering the ground so I climbed in a rather unelegant fashion up the slopes like a mountain goat about to fall off the side of a cliff.

At the top, the view was remarkable. The Transantarctic Mountains across the sound appeared as though a painting and McMurdo, which usually looks like a dirty mining town, looked slightly more attractive than usual with a light dusting of snow.

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Looking out over the Transantarctic mountains ©AHT/Jane

The cross was erected in 1913 and still looks the same even though the paint has now all but gone. It still sits on top of Observation Hill looking South toward Minna Bluff and the Pole in memory of Scott, Bowers, Oates and Evans.


Date: 13/04/11
Temperature: -19.2°C
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -26°C
Sunrise: 09.36
Sunset 16.09
Posted by Cricket
Date: 2 January 2011
Temperature: 1 C
Wind Speed: 10 knots


In taking a contract like working for the Antarctic Heritage Trust in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, I felt so lucky being chosen that I didn’t really think what it’d be like being away from home for 6 months.  Feeling a bit homesick, this Christmas I jumped at the chance to take a mini holiday and join six others from Scott Base on an overnight to Black Island.  Our goal was to climb 1000+m to the top of Mt. Aurora.  In two Hagglunds, it was a slow 5 hours ride, bumping around over the melting ice shelf, and navigating our way around large melt pools.  We arrived at Black Island in the evening, pitched camp, had a great meal of Christmas Eve leftovers and quickly went to bed.  We awoke at 4am to get ready and started climbing just after 5.


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Hagglund negotiating the melt pools © AHT / Cricket

The whole daylong was gorgeous and sunny with mild winds.  This was a treat since the weather here can change so quickly.  The climb up took just over 5 hours, and we climbed most of the way with crampons and pick axes towards a peak that remained elusive until the very end.  Minna Bluffs was our view from behind with Mt. Discovery on our left – it was fantastic seeing a different part of Antarctica and our home on Ross Island from a new perspective.  The windy summit forced a quick lunch and a few cameo photos, and then we quickly made our way down in just under 3 hours.  A quick base clean up and slow return home in the Hagglunds got us back to Scott Base in the evening.   For me, this trip was a recharge, and reminded me how lucky I am for being here.

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Climbing up Mt. Aurora © AHT / Cricket


Posted by Cricket


Date: 6 October 2010
Temperature: -15C
Wind Speed: 40 knots
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: 5:30am
Sunset 9:50pm


Sundays are our day off at New Zealand’s Scott Base, and, when the weather permits, these are the best days to set off on longer hikes.  There are a series of marked trails throughout the southern tip of Ross Island, one being a hike up to Observation Hill that Diana featured in previous blog, and another is called the Cape Armitage Loop.  Last Sunday, a friend and I walked the 8k trail that took us out in front of Scott Base, along a flagged route over the sea ice to the U.S. McMurdo Base.  It is an open and flat route that affords views of the distant Trans-Antarctic mountain range, and White and Black Islands, and follows along the back side of Observation Hill.

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Trail System on the Southern Tip of Ross Island © AHT/Cricket

The trail is named after Albert Borlase Armitage, who joined R.F. Scott’s 1901-1904 Discovery expedition from the merchant service and served as Scott’s navigator and second-in-command.  Among other accomplishments, Armitage successfully led the Western Journey, becoming the first to ascend the Ferrar Glacier and reach the summit of Antarctica.  This was quite a feat considering that his party consisted of seaman who had little cold weather and no climbing experience.  One author said that before this journey, the highest any man from that party had ever climbed was up the mast of a ship.  Though likely an exaggeration, it serves as a helpful reminder that most of Scott’s men had never before experienced anything like the Antarctic terrain and climate.

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View of McMurdo from Cape Armitage Loop © AHT/Cricket


Armitage’s Western Journey was quite difficult and the party suffered fierce blizzards, altitude sickness, and one even a heart attack.  Surprisingly, all survived and returned safely to the Discovery base camp.  Knowing a little of the history, I smile at the irony of the Cape Armitage Loop name, for the trek is a tranquil and relatively easy route that, as advertised, offers solitude and escape.  And, it conveniently ends near the coffee shop at McMurdo where you can sit back and have an easy rest of the day with a big mug of hot chocolate.