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4 - Ravenshead Newsletter  - 03-2021

    In the Footsteps of Shackleton and Scott  -  Part 2.

   A feature of the Antarctic climate is its dryness which has helped preserve artefacts left behind in all three huts. They have been
   removed, curated, repaired and replaced on site more or less where they were found. We visited the hut in small groups having
   again undergone bio-security checks of our kit to avoid taking, for example, sea salt into the building and risking corrosion.
   Artefacts included tins of Huntley and Palmer biscuits and a Primus Stove used to cook 'Hoosh,' a thick stew made from
                                                      pemmican (a mixture of dried meat, fat and cereal) mixed with
                                                      other meat such as seal, biscuits and water.
                                                      On to Cape Evans and Scott's 1911-13 expedition hut which was
                                                      brought from England on the Terra Nova along with two early
                                                      tractors, dogs and mules. Captain Robert Falcon Scott was
                                                      competing with the Norwegian Roald Amundsen who had sailed
                                                      South on the Fram and set up his hut, Framheim, on the Ross Ice
                                                      Shelf. Amundsen had experience of Arctic exploration and learnt
                                                      from the Inuit Indians.  In particular, he relied on dogs and made
                                                      it to the South Pole ahead of Scott in December 1911. Meanwhile
                                                      Scott's tractors had broken down and sunk in the ice, his mules
                                                      had become exhausted and had had to be shot, the dogs had
                                                                                                 hauled the
                    Scott’s Birthday Party                                                       sleds back
   to Cape Evans leaving Scott and his party of five to man                                      haul their
   sleds to the Pole where in January 1912 they found the                                        Norwegian
   flag. The original plan had been a polar party of four                                        but Scott
   decided to take along Petty Officer 'Taff' Evans for his                                      strength
   but he was the first to succumb to injury, scurvy and                                         exhaustion
   followed by Oates, who probably did not say 'I may be                                         a while.'
   Scott, Bowers and Wilson died in their tent in March                                          where their
   bodies were found later that year.
   Scott's hut had over 11,000 artefacts including the                                           dining
   tables in both the officers' and the ratings' quarters.                                       When the
   site was abandoned over 100 years ago, surviving dogs         The Hut and Table Today         were either
   left to die or shot and the skeletons of two of them are there today still attached to their traces with some of the fur intact. Scott
   had celebrated his 42  birthday in June 1911 during the Antarctic winter in a scene captured by the expedition's photographer
   Herbert Ponting who composed this poem about the sleeping bag of the day
                       On the outside grows the furside. On the inside grows the skinside.
                       So the furside is the outside and the skinside is the inside.
                       As the skinside is the inside (and the furside is the outside)
                       One 'side' likes the skinside inside and the furside on the outside.
   On to Cape Royds and Shackleton's Nimrod expedition hut which could only be reached by us after a forty minute trek from the
   landing beach. His hut was a simpler affair as there was no demarcation between officers and other ranks and from it his party
   explored the region including an ascent of Mount Erebus, an active volcano of about 12,500 ft. named after one of the ships on
   James Clark Ross's 1839-41 expedition. The other ship was HMS Terror captained by Lieutenant Archibald McMurdo.
   Shackleton and two companions got to 88°23' but he wisely decided that, if they pressed on to the Pole, they would not be able
   to get back. He later proudly reported that he had not lost a single man on that expedition.
   He was not so lucky
   with his Imperial
   Expedition of 1914-17
   when his ship
   Endurance was
   crushed by the ice in
   the Weddell Sea on the
   other side of the
   Continent and he had
   to escape by boat to
   South Georgia in an
   epic adventure of
   courage, navigational
   skill and endurance. Meanwhile his Ross Sea party was operating out of Scott's hut in a bid to lay depots for Shackleton on the
   Ross Ice Shelf and the Beardmore Glacier. Poor leadership by the Naval officer Macintosh led to the loss of their supply ship, the
   Aurora, and arguments with the more experienced non-commissioned Joyce over the use of dogs which Joyce preferred.
   Operating from Cape Evans and Hut Point the team were out on the ice for 198 days during which another team member, the
   Reverend Stuart-Smith, died. Macintosh and Hayward later disappeared in a blizzard having decided to walk back from Hut
   Point to Cape Evans and the remaining three were rescued by Shackleton in January 1917.
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