Showing posts with label Robert Falcon Scott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Falcon Scott. Show all posts

Shackleton and Scott Antarctic Huts Saved From Ruin

Three small huts used by Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott as part of their Antarctic expeditions have been saved from destruction thanks to a major conservation effort that began nearly ten years ago. A team of 62 experts from 11 countries have worked hard to preserve these 100+ year old relics that are described as time capsule from a bygone era of exploration. Now, those efforts have payed off, and the huts have been restored to a point that they are accurate representations of the structures that were used as shelters for some of the most important expeditions in history.

The huts were used to launch both Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition as well as a for Shackleton's  famous Nimrod Expedition. They had been mostly abandoned and left alone for nearly a century until efforts to preserve them began in 2005. Two of the huts belonged to Scott – one at Cape Evans and the other at Hut Point – while the third was used by Shackleton at Cape Royds.

Without these conservation efforts it is likely that the three huts would have deteriorated so much that they would have been lost altogether. That is not surprising considering the conditions in which they have persisted for more than 100 years. It took a decade of work, and more than $6 million, to restore the huts, with the project being spearheaded by the Antarctic Heritage Trust - New Zealand.

Inside the shelters researchers found more than 18,000 artifacts including scientific instruments, notebooks, canned foods, and clothing. All of those items gave the team a glimpse into the past, and what explorers of that era had to endure in the Antarctic. That was something the restoration team got a taste of as well as they faced sub-zero temperatures while working on the exteriors of the three huts. That work included replacing the roofs, removing large chunks of ice, and waterproofing the walls against future damage. They also worked tirelessly to preserve most of the items found inside the buildings too, and placed them back in their original places to better restore the structures to their former glory.

While obviously none of the huts will see that many visitors, the conservationists felt that it was still worth all of the effort to preserve these historic places. These huts were a part of an important time in human history, and they will now continue to stand as monuments to the need for humans to explore our planet, and beyond.

Video: To The South Pole and Back - The Hardest 105 Days Of My Life with Ben Saunders

Last year, during the busy Antarctic season, explorer Ben Saunders attempted one of the most difficult and brutal expeditions ever when he traveled to the South Pole, and back to the coast, along the same route that Robert Falcon Scott took back in 1912. The journey covered more than 1800 miles (2896 km) and lasted 105 days, pushing Ben to his very limits. In this fascinating TED Talk, he speaks openly and candidly about that journey, and what he learned about himself along the way. This is some insightful stuff from an explorer who had to deal with everything imaginable on his adventure. Definitely a video you don't want to miss.

Notebook From Ill-Fated Antarctic Expedition Discovered in Ice

A notebook belonging to a photographer on the 1911-1912 Terra Nova Expedition to the Antarctic – famously led by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott – has been discovered frozen in the ice. The century-old book offers a glimpse of what conditions on that expedition were like, as Scott and his team attempted to become the first men to reach the South Pole.

The notebook belonged to a British scientist named George Murray Levick, who was a part of the Northern Party on the Scott expedition. The hand written notes are said to still be legible, although the binding has been worn away after being exposed for more than a hundred years to the elements. It was discovered outside of a cabin that served as Scott's last base before setting off to the Pole. Last year's ice melt exposed the book for the first time.

A team of forensic scientists painstakingly restored and preserved the pages, which contain details of the photos that Levick took while part of the expedition. The notes offer hints on the subjects, dates, and exposure details for the images that he shot. Levick himself was not a part of Scott's South Pole team, but he and others faced challenges of their own, spending the winter in ice cave while they waited to depart the harsh Antarctic climate.

The tale of Scott himself is well known at this point. After several failed attempts, he found himself in a race to become the first man to reach the South Pole with Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Both men actually achieved their goal, but Scott arrived just a few weeks behind his rival, missing the glory of being first by a narrow margin. On the return trip to the coast, Scott and his men faced numerous hardships before being caught in a massive blizzard. Tent bound, they ended up freezing to death, as they waited out a storm that lasted ten days. They perished just a few miles from a supply cache that would have saved their lives.

While this newly discovered notebook doesn't offer much insight into what Scott and his men faced on their final, dreadful, march, it does offer some insights to the expedition as a whole. Levick's team stayed along the coast, exploring a section of the Antarctic that remained unknown at the time. When winter pack ice made it impossible for the team's ship to retrieve them from the ice, they were forced to spend the winter in an ice cave that they dug themselves. They also ate seals and penguins in order to survive.

After restoring the notebook, the team of New Zealand researchers who found it have now returned it to Scott's cabin at his base camp on Cape Evans. Over the past few years, the same group has been meticulously restoring other artifacts from the expedition, and creating a make-shift museum of sorts in the Antarctic.