Skip navigation

Antarctic conservation

4 Posts tagged with the mc_murdo tag

Top memories

Posted by Conservators Feb 27, 2014

Author: Aline Leclercq

Date: 28/02/14


This is my first time in Antarctica, and since I have been here, each day is more surprising than the day before. After two weeks of getting to know the new lifestyle and the objectives of the paper conservation work, I went last week for an evening walk. Two friends from Scott Base working for Antarctica New Zealand came with me. We were enjoying the sun and the weather, still warm at the end of the summer (already -15 ⁰C). Walking here means being well covered especially because of the wind and the temperature, but the landscape and the silence around are very special.

Image 1 (Small).JPG

The cross at the top of Observation Hill last Friday


We went up Observation Hill, between Scott Base and McMurdo Station, where a cross was erected in 1913 in memory of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party who died on their return from the South Pole the previous year. Because of the difficulty of the path to the top, and the surrounding landscape, reaching the top and arriving at the cross was a very moving experience for me … I realised the danger and the exceptional lives of these men, who came to Antarctica more than a century ago.


Image2 (Small).JPG

My bench at work with artefacts in conservation treatment


After having spent my first week on the conservation of artefacts that represent their quotidian life in the Antarctic in Scott's Discovery Hut—their food, their tools, their clothes, etc.—and getting to the cross, I had a completely different feeling about these artefacts and realised in a very concrete manner the exceptional qualities of these men. Top view, top memories …


A walk to blue sky

Posted by Conservators May 20, 2013

Author: Marie

Date: 5/05/2013

Temperature: -25

Wind Speed: 10 knots

Temperature with wind chill: -30

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset: n/a


Last Suday to enjoy the last minutes of daylight we went for a walk that is quite famous here: Castle Rock loop. The track starts from McMurdo station, which is just over the hill, goes nice and flat to Castle rock (where we went for our first day out and also for the last sunset), comes down along the "Kiwi ski field" (open in summer but now closed). It's supposed to be a 5 to 8 hour journey, but in winter you would probably hike the loop in about 4 hours. It's too cold to stop moving or walking for long. Your camera freezes quickly if you spend too much time setting it. Alternatively, your battery goes flat quickly too if you take the camera out of your warm pocket too often.


Jamie and Molly in their winter gear


We still manage several breaks, at every emergency rescue station we pass by. Our American neighbours have two red domes that look half like a metal igloo, half like space craft. One of them has even got an old style phone. Overwintering Americans have also built a real igloo (out of ice bricks) where we had our first tea break out of a thermos bottle.



United State Antarctic Program Emergency Shelter


Down the Kiwi ski field there is a green bubble, the Antarctica New Zealand emergency shelter, where we had our last tea break before finishing our journey. The track is flagged all the way and very secure. Despite the grey weather, we enjoyed a pale light, and even some blue sky around 2pm. It was warm for Antarctica, only -25 and with almost no wind.


Peace at last

Posted by Conservators Mar 20, 2013

Author: Jaime

Temperature: -15C

Wind speed: 10 knots

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A



With departure of the last flight last Saturday, we are finally alone here and after the frantic activity of recent weeks, a real sense of calm has overtaken both Scott Base and Mc Murdo.

jamie blog ship.jpg

Ship offload at McMurdo © AHT/Jaime


A year's supply of fuel has been delivered, enough for both of the bases here, and the US base at the South Pole. The container ship was here for well over a week, off-loading food and equipment 24 hours a day, and finally departing loaded with unwanted waste, materials and vehicles. There has also been a huge exodus of personnel as science events depart and the additional staff needed to keep the bases running during this time, return home.

Jamie blog SB.jpg

Spot the departing plane © AHT/Jaime


So now, with just 145 people over at Mc Murdo and 15 here, it is all over until the end of August, when the whole process will begin again. We all gathered outside and toasted the departing plane, as it lifted off the ice in a cloud of blown snow, turned to make a farewell pass over the base and disappeared north to the real world.


Meat and Two Veg/Lemons

Posted by Conservators Jul 17, 2012

Author: Stefan

Date: 11 July 2012

Temperature: -22C

Wind speed: 15 Knots

Temp with wind chill: -38C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A



Food and drink, fascinating as a standard, becomes that much more intriguing in Antarctica. Deep into the season as we are now, when you consume something you can feel its positive or negative effect almost immediately. Vitamin C and the inclusion of ascorbic acid in the diet are ‘no-brainers’ these days, but frustratingly the battle against scurvy was still dangerously present for both Shackleton and Scott. 


As early as 1614 the East India Company’s pamphlet “The Surgeons Mate” was rightly advising the consumption of citrus fruit as a cure for scurvy. Unfortunately the trade route through the West Indies, and the mass availability of limes, saw to the reducing and boiling down of this potential cure, removing the vitamin C and just souring the taste of an already excruciating death.



Illustration from Henry Walsh Mahon ‘A Case of Scurvy Journal’


It was this confusion which meant that 300 years later the jury was still out for Scott and his men. Thankfully some focus was placed on the possible effect of eating rotten/tinned meat and the wasting effects of scurvy. Hence eat fresh (slightly raw) meat and you’ll be fine (with the raw meat containing the essential vitamins).


Modern day Scott Base is now well out of the grips of scurvy, but we do feel this pinch of cravings for food high in vitamin C. Trips to the lush wilds of McMurdo’s Hydroponics Unit give us a regular fix of green smells. My flat leaf parsley habit is getting way out of control, finger pointing to whom is snaffling the foliage can’t be far off.



Simon inspecting McMurdo Station's 2012 crop