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Cape Royds

Posted by Cricket and Diana Nov 30, 2010

Posted by Diana

 

Date: November 25, 2010
Temperature: - 6 degrees  c
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Sunrise: Sun is up
Sunset

 

We have been working at Cape Royds on the hut built in February 1908 by the British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition of 1907-09, which was led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. It was also periodically used by the Ross Sea Party of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917.

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Royds in Snow - Circa 1908 Photographer unknown © Alexander Turnbull Library

 

It is a lovely setting for a hut, nested in hills of volcanic rock which have been scoured by glaciers and the harsh Antarctic weather.


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Metal cladding on Stables © AHT/Diana

 

When we have visitors to the site one of the questions frequently asked is why is there metal sheeting on the side of the building?  It is hard to tell but this area used to be the stables. If the visitor looks closely they will see the feed troughs. Shackleton had taken ten white Manchurian ponies to Antarctica because they were know to work well in cold conditions and it was hoped they would be of great assistance in sledging to the South Pole. The stable walls were constructed of wooden cases filled with food and the roof was canvas, with sledges used over the top to assist in supporting the roof. The metal sheets were put up to protect the wooden cladding on the hut from the ponies kicking. Today the canvas is gone but some of the cases and the feed troughs remain.

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Feed troughs in Stables area © AHT/Diana

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Posted by Lizzie

 

I’m writing this from sunny Cape Royds, looking out onto Mt Erebus, just a small vapor trail visible today from Ross Island’s active volcano. All around me is the sound of a very busy camp - we’ve gone from four to nine! This week Diana, Cricket, JT and I have been joined by Randy (Canada), Jamie W (Scotland), Martin, Jamie C and Al (NZ).


Productivity has shot through the roof, offset by the time it takes to do all the dishes….

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From L-R: Jamie C, JT, Martin, Jamie W, Al, Randy © AHT

 

The last three days have seen the whole team moving artefacts, equipment and supplies from Scott Base to Cape Evans to Cape Royds and vice versa. It’s a big job involving several tracked vehicles, many sleds and the support of Antarctica New Zealand staff, who put in some long days to get us into the field and all set up.


We’ve had some fantastic weather – here’s a shot of the artefacts in transit with Mt Erebus in the background, and not a breath of wind!
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The artefacts on the move © Diana / AHT

 

Similarly to last year, the sea ice edge and open water are visible from the cliffs next to Cape Royds. The Adelie penguin pairs are looking plump, and are busy keeping their eggs warm, and taking turns to head out on fishing expeditions. Meanwhile the humans are waddling industriously about like giant orange and black penguins, returning artefacts to the hut…..

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Posted by Cricket

 


Ernest Shackleton’s hut from the Nimrod expedition at Cape Royds sits on the coast of Ross Island beside an Adelie penguin rookery.  In contrast to the quiet and elegant beauty of Captain R.F. Scott’s hut at Cape Evans, Royds seems more intimate and personable, partly due to it being nestled in a cove amongst rolling hills, but also because of our penguin neighbors.  I think Royds might be my favorite, and this is because we’re so close to the penguins, which we can watch across Pony Lake and hear chattering all day long as we work in and around the hut.  It’s fantastic to be so close to these funny little birds which seem to be constantly busy and fidgeting.

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Shackleton’s hut with the Adelie penguins in the background © AHT/Cricket


Last night we had a special treat.  After dinner we heard a different bird call like a low trilled honk.  It was the sound of Emperor penguins.  We spotted about a dozen coming along the coast from the north, slowing making their way south across the ice.  In contrast to the quick and sometimes random Adelies, the Emperors appear calm and methodical.  They are a stately bird.  They moved in a straight line, stopping at times for twenty to thirty minutes, before continuing on their way.  We sat on the cliff for almost two hours, eager for them to get closer and willing them to hurry.   They finally made it to the edge of the Adelie rookery where they paused for a time before carrying on.

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Emperor penguins on march © AHT/Cricket

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Hi, It's TV's Ben Fogle here.

 

I'm in Antarctica working on a documentary about Captain Scott. It's been a fantastic trip so far. I'm living with the Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation team at Cape Evans, the site of Captain Scott's last expedition base. A few days ago I helped Diana, Cricket and Lizzie load up the 1500 objects conserved at Scott Base over the winter and a hagglund (tracked vehicle) brought the vast array of objects out over the sea ice. A long slow and delicate operation. These arrived safely and the team have been busy repopulating the building with the objects.

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I have been struck with the atmosphere, presence and history at Cape Evans. The place has a unique smell which is not unpleasant. It's a mix of seal blubber, old food, leather and textiles. The classic images of Herbert Ponting coupled with the evocative diary entries of Scott's expedition members really bring this place to life.

 

The dedication of the Trust staff in this challenging environment is inspiring to witness. I'm hopeful we can do this magnificent place justice in the documentary.

 

Ben Fogle

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Posted by Diana


Date: November 12, 2010
Temperature: 0 degrees celcius
Wind Speed: none
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: The sun is up
Sunset: The sun does not go down


We have been working at Captain RF Scott’s Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans, Ross Island for two weeks. While onsite we live in a camp not far from the hut with views of Mt Erebus and the Barn Glacier.

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Dive hut with Erebus is the background © AHT/ Diana

 

Located close to our campsite is an American scientific event dive hut . A heated wanigan covers a diving hole which has been drilled into the ice.  You can see to the bottom 85 feet below, with krill and other small water creatures swimming round in the hole – a wonderful place to visit. This evening I walked across the sea ice from our camp on land to the hut. The snow has been blown off and the amazing warm weather and blazing sun have made the ice is so slippery you can almost skate with your boots.

 

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Inside the dive hut © AHT/ Diana

 

I was in the hut with Stu, one of the Antarctic Field Trainers from Scott Base, watching the marine life and thinking wouldn’t it be fun if a seal swam by when one appeared – it was barreling towards the hole till it saw us and then it made a big “U” turn. We were completely startled as she came so quickly and then swam by, a beautiful dappled grey form sliding by the hole.

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Scott Base to Cape Evans

Posted by Conservators Nov 10, 2010

Diana and Cricket have left the relative comfort of New Zealand’s Scott Base and travelled by Haggalund to Captain RF Scott’s hut at Cape Evans.  As they have no internet access at present and are unable to send blogs out, we thought followers of their blog might appreciate an update on their movements.

Carefully wrapped artefacts had been transported from Cape Evans to Scott Base for conservators to work on over the winter months and these objects must now be returned to Captain RF Scott’s hut. The trip to Cape Evans last week would have been slow as they cannot travel over 10 kilometers per hour when transporting artefacts. 

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Travelling by haggalund on frozen sea ice © AHT

On arrival at Cape Evans they would have been busy setting up camp, unpacking artefacts and adjusting to living in a more remote location.

They will probably be able to write a blog from Cape Evans next week and send it by Haggalund to Scott Base, for transmission by email to Christchurch, for placement on the NHM website.

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Scott Base weather

Posted by Cricket and Diana Nov 2, 2010

Posted by Diana


Date: November 3, 2010
Temperature: -15.4
Wind Speed: 12 knots with gust to 30 knots
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: The sun is up all the time
Sunset


Here in Antarctica the weather is very important, as it was when Captain RF Scott and his men were at Cape Evans. Back in 1912 the readings were all taken using manual instruments, as can be seen in this image of Dr. Simpson taking the weather at Wind Vane Hill.

 

Today we have an electronic system which monitors actual wind speed and temperature as well as recording it on a chart. This is in the weather area of the Hatherton laboratory at New Zealand’s Scott Base.

 

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Hatherton Laboratory ©   AHT/Diana


During a big storm the needle on the wind speed meter can jump up 50 knots, or sometimes more. There is also a graph which continually records data. Some mornings, if it was windy through the night, I go up to the Hatherton Lab to see how strong the wind was. Last night we had gusts over 50 knots. There was a white out when I happened to wake up and look out at 3 am. Thankfully the wind died down as today was the day we packed to head out to Cape Evans.  More on that to come.

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Science talk

Posted by Cricket and Diana Nov 2, 2010

Posted by Diana

 

Date: October 27, 2010
Temperature: -19.5 degrees Celsius
Wind Speed: none
Temp with wind chill: -19.5 degrees Celsius
Sunrise: The sun is up!
Sunset  Next sunset February 20, 2011


The first explorers to Antarctica came with a sense of adventure and purpose. They conducted significant scientific and meteorological observations as well as exploration. Today the main emphasize on Ross Island is science. Scott Base is supporting 75 scientific events this summer. Many science events are supported at US base McMurdo Station and there is also the Albert P. Crary Science and Engineering Center. While working at Scott Base we have the good fortune of attending talks presented by the scientists. This week we went to a talk at McMurdo presented by a joint US French group who are using super pressure balloons to take reading over Antarctica to assist in monitoring the ozone http://www.antarcticconnection.com/antarctic/science/aeronomy.shtml.

 

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Galley Hall at McMurdo © AHT/Diana

 

Early on in our stay at Scott Base (winfly) I joined some folks in a walk up Observation Hill.  Back then it was still dark after dinner but there was light in the sky from aurora borealis and a full moon so it was possible to see a lot. From high up Ob Hill we looked back at McMurdo Station and saw a bright green laser beam shining up from one of the research groups and then one of the high pressure balloons were launched. Spectacular!  It was nice to have the opportunity to hear what this balloon was doing up there in the sky.

 

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The cross on Observation Hill that night at winfly © AHT/Diana

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  Balloon inflated, 4 February 1902  © CR Ford, Royal Geographical Society

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Posted by Cricket

 

Date: 27 October 2010
Temperature: -20C
Wind Speed: 0 knots
Temp with wind chill: -20C
Sunrise: NA
Sunset NA


This week, Diana and I started preparing for the second phase of our 6-month summer term, which involves camping and working at historic British expedition huts.  Our target deployment date is next Tuesday, 2 November 2010, if everyone arrives from New Zealand in time and the weather permits.  Our schedule for the next three months begins with two weeks at R.F. Scott’s Terra Nova Hut at Cape Evans, a brief return to Scott Base to resupply, then a month-long session at E. Shackelton’s Nimrod Hut at Cape Royds, a two week re-group period back at Scott Base for Christmas, and, in January, a final month back at Cape Evans.  It’s a lot of movement, which requires careful planning on everyone’s part, including the engineers, carpenters, mechanics and field support staff at Scott Base.

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Sorting food boxes © AHT/Cricket 

For us, one of our tasks is to organize the 35 food boxes.  Each box contains provisions for one person for 20 days and includes a range of quick, high-energy food such as peanut butter, honey, jam, pasta, rice, spice packets, dehydrated meals, cookies, crackers, chocolate bars, oat bars, powdered milk, energy drinks, coffee, tea and cereal.  Yesterday we unpacked each box, parceled everything out and repacked placing one food type per box.  In the field, we’ll each rotate through cooking duty, and since our average group size is 10, having the boxes arranged by food type makes it easier to pull in bulk what’s needed for each meal.  Seeing all this food got me thinking about what meals I could make.  I’m certain about one thing, cereal will trump the dehydrated fish pie dinner.