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Scaling the Castle

Posted by Conservators on Sep 26, 2013 4:45:53 AM

Yesterday evening the AHT team, along with a few other intrepid explorers under the guidance of the expert Mike Rowe, climbed Castle Rock, a prominent landmark on this peninsula which was often mentioned by the early explorers. Castle Rock is a reddish volcanic plug standing up sheer from the top of the ridge of the peninsula.

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Castle Rock prominent on the ridge line between Scott Base and Mt. Erebus © AHT/Josiah


We rode a Hagglund snow vehicle out about 3 miles to the base of the rock, then climbed around the side to the top in time to watch another fantastic sunset. The view from the top of the castle is stunning. The mighty volcanos Erebus and Terror, which form the backbone of Ross Island, dominate the eastern horizon.

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Mt. Erebus and Mt. Terror from Castle Rock © AHT/Josiah

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The conservators atop the Castle © AHT/Josiah


To the south is the ice barrier and White and Black Islands. To the west, the ridge tapers off to where Scott Base and McMurdo sit on either side of Observation Hill on the edge of the frozen sea. Across that sea Discovery Peak dominates a jagged range of mountains and glaciers that hold back the ice of the Antarctic plateau. To the north, we looked toward Cape Evans where we will be spending most of our summer, and beyond it to distant Cape Royds where some open water is showing beyond the edge of the sea ice.

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Cape Evans, Cape Roys and Delbridge Islands © AHT/Josiah

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Sunset over the Royal Society Range © AHT/Josiah


As the sun abruptly set behind the western mountains this tableau turned to gold, to fuchsia, and to plum.

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Mt. Erebus as the sun sets © AHT/Josiah

The ever whistling wind stung our cheeks and noses but it was hard to tear ourselves away from the spectacular view to hike back down to the Hagglund to return to our comfortable Scott Base. I hope that we may find another opportunity to go up to Castle Rock, but as the days rapidly lengthen I doubt if we will have another chance to see a sunset from up there again this year.

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Catching the Hagglund home © AHT/Josiah

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