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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.

Trail Map.jpg
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.

View of McMurdo.JPG
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.



Posted by Cricket and Diana Oct 6, 2010

Posted by Diana


Date: October 5, 2010
Temperature: -14 degree Celcius
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -20 decrees Celcius
Sunrise: 6:07 am
Sunset 9:22 pm


If you go to any major harbour around the world or have sat at a railway crossing waiting for a freight train to pass, you will be familiar with containers. Also known as intermodal containers, ISO containers the dimensions of which have been defined by ISO: 8-ft(2.4m) wide x 8-ft(2.4m) high and in 10 ft (3m) increment lengths. They are constructed of .98in (25mm) thick corrugated steel. These containers are used to move freight using multiple modes of transportation from rail to ship to truck without ever having to be opened. The design incorporates a twist-lock mechanism atop each of the four corners, allowing the container to be easily secured and lifted using cranes. At New Zealand’s Scott Base they have many containers which arrive by ship in the summer months. They have multiple uses as readymade storage and shelters.
Lab outside.jpg

Outside view of summer lab © AHT/ Diana


The Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation lab is made of three refrigerator (reefer) style containers ingeniously attached together and equipped with electricity, windows and heat.
Inside view of summer © AHT/ Diana


There is a historic northern connection with this southern use of containers; one of the pioneers of intermodal containers was the White Pass and Yukon Route (WP&YR), an isolated narrow gauge railway which linked the port of Skagway Alaska with Whitehorse Yukon.   In 1955 WP&YR acquired the world’s first container ship the Clifford J. Rogers.

Next week I will talk about some of the other uses of these containers in Antarctica.