Date: 15 June 2011
Temperature: -13 Deg C
Wind Speed: 35 knots
Temp with wind chill: - 27
In 1914 a group of men known as the “Ross Sea Party” landed at Cape Evans on Ross Island. The Ross Sea Party’s mission was to lay vital food and equipment depots for Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition which was planning to cross Antarctica.
A small science party was to remain ashore. Apart from some stores, very little equipment and no clothing was taken ashore. On 6 May 1914 the ship the Aurora was blown out to sea and could not return. The ten men ashore feared the worst, thinking all hands had been lost.
The men decided that their second planned trip to cache supplies for Shackleton must be completed despite their setbacks and lack of supplies. They had no way of knowing that the Endurance was also in terrible trouble, and the depots they would lay, which took a deadly toll, would never be used.
Lacking the appropriate clothing, the Ross Sea Party improvised sledging clothing from fabric and tents left behind by Scott’s 1910 expedition. Below is an image of a handmade jacket sewn from canvas material, that is also found in the hut as curtains, insulation and bags. Although sewn with a heavy hand, the jacket with its wooded toggle buttons is very well crafted. The wind proof trousers are made from green canvas, which is also found as tents, tarpaulins and bags inside the hut at Cape Evans.
Ross Sea Party hand-made jacket © AHT
The grimy, sooty nature of both articles of clothing tells the tale of the hardship that the Ross Sea Party went through. The men saved precious fuel for depot laying and burned seal blubber for heating and cooking, the greasy soot infiltrating all aspects of life in the hut.
Ross sea part hand-made trousers © AHT