Monday, November 5, 2007

Robert Falcon Scott's Discovery Hut

Out at the end of the Hut Peninsula, on an arm extending out from the center of McMurdo Station out into the frozen Ross Sea, sits Discovery Hut. Discovery Hut was built by the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott on the Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904. On that expedition, he ship became locked in the closing sea ice in February of 1902, and he and his men built this hut to endure the long Antarctic winter.

The hut has been restored, and it is quite a remarkable place to visit. It is like stepping back into time 100 years, and seeing the food, cooking utensils, beds, and other gear laid out just as they were so long ago. Wandering through the hut, one feels a profound connection to Antarctic exploration history, and a sad reminder of the hardships that befell so many explorers. From the hut, one can gaze in one direction up Observation Hill and see the memorial cross for Scott, who died on the return from the south pole in the Terra Nova expedition of 1910 - 1913. Just beyond the Discovery Hut is a cross commemorating George T. Vince, a member of the Discovery Expedition, who fell to his death off the cliff face near the hut.

One is reminded frequently of the dangers of the Antarctic. Yet somehow, these dangers compel me all the more to follow in the footsteps of these explorers and bring their thrill of discovery back to life.

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