King penguins

Farthest south!


Day 10 (a) - The Historic Huts - Cape Royds


     This journal is constructed as one web page for each day of my journey, including the arrival day in Auckland, and the final two days, which I spent in Hobart.  I have tried to keep the picture images of a reasonable size for easy web page loading.  To see a much larger view of (practically) any image, just left-click on the photo.

     It was an overcast day when we awoke.  There also was a bit of wind kicking up.  For a while, it was unclear if we would be able to make the helicopter trip to Cape Royds this morning.  While conditions were marginal, we got the go-ahead in the late morning.  I flew over with the first group and arrived about 10 a.m.  Here is where Shackleton built a hut in 1908 for an attempt at the South Pole.  He got to within 97 miles before being forced to turn around and return to Cape Royds.  It is rightly one of the great stories of polar exploration.

     Huts get three names (sort of like the cats in Logan's Run) - one for the person, one for the place and one for the ship.  So, this hut may be referred to as Shackleton's hut, or as the Cape Royds hut, or as the Nimrod hut.  This is as close to McMurdo as Shackleton could get for a landing, so the ice was clearer for him than for us.  Although the setting is quite stark, with Mt. Erebus looming behind it seemed truly surreal.  Shackleton's men were the first humans to climb up Erebus, which stands a bit under 13,000 feet high.

Flying over Cape Royds. Nimrod Hut and Mt. Erebus. Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds.

Shackleton sat here!
I couldn't resist this shot.  Just don't
spend too much time trying to
visualize what it was like back then!

Shackleton's Nimrod Hut. 

Pony feeding area. 

Dog houses at Cape Royds.

Dennis at Shackleton's Hut.

     The hut is in good shape.  There is a lot of junk laying around - a trash pit, scattered crates and nails to list but a few of the items.  The wheels caught our attention right away - Shackleton brought along a car, but its value was about what the temperature is on a fair day - zero.  Also here are some dog houses and a trough that the ponies fed from, including some hay nearby.

     It was very cold and windy - the bitterest day of our whole journey.  While uncomfortable, it did give us a small hint of what it was like down here in those days.  Still, how much worse it must be in the dead of winter!  Inside the hut, it felt fine, especially with a few people around to help generate a bit of warmth.  It is amazing what a windbreak can do for one's disposition.

Supplies inside hut.  Stove inside hut. Oatmeal and parsnips.

Salt.  Lighting system. Supply crate as shelf.

Sledges for furthest south. Historic hut marker.

     Eight of us could visit inside the hut at a time.  John talked about different items that were around.  I think all of us could have spent a couple of hours in here, but in order to give everyone a chance, we had to move along after only ten minutes or so.  The hut had plenty of leftover stores.  Clearly, they misjudged how much table salt and parsnips they were going to need!  One tin was labeled "Irish Brawn" which someone told me meant "leftover bits."  For me, the highlight in the hut was to see the sledges wedged into the rafters over our heads.  These are the ones used in Shackleton's furthest south journey.  The sense of history is palpable.

Adelie rookery at Cape Royds.  The Krasin. Returning to Khlebnikov.
     Next to the hut is a small Adelie rookery - many hundreds of penguins; maybe even a couple of thousand.  It is the most southerly penguin colony in the world (beating out an Emperor colony on the other side of Ross Island).  We could walk over to a bluff and wander out a ways, but few did so, it being too cold and windy to want to do much besides huddle in some calm spot.  From the bluff, I watched as the penguins were trekking to, and from, the water some half mile, or more, away.

     We didn't have to return to the ship as a group.  So, I was at Cape Royds for about three hours, returning the the Khlebnikov at 1 p.m.  Then, I hooked up all my batteries to recharger units, as we have another major landing later this afternoon - Scott's hut at Cape Evans.

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