Exhausted with desperation, in the dimming light of the Antarctic Autumn, the heroic men of the Terra Nova expedition left back at Cape Evans knew with certainty that the South Pole expedition had failed. It would be another 6 months until the first light of day gave any hope of finding the bodies and learning the terrific and terrible tale of Robert Falcon Scott.
Jars full of salt on the walls, wheels of cheese high above, and at both ends of the hut were two ovens that would have radiated lifesaving warmth. Seal fat still to this day dripping from the blubber pile and a vast array of scientific equipment throughout the hut. This expedition lived in relative comfort, yet the challenges and hardship faced by these brave men were incredibly real. The polar party never returned, meeting their fate just 11 miles from a wrongly located lifeline of food and supplies, enough to ensure a safe return home.
To this day, the Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans stands strong, the Antarctic Heritage Trust having conserved and made the hut almost liveable for another hundred years. So strong that it was almost enveloped in snow when we arrived. Good thing that I had just had lots of experience digging snow and ice at Cape Royds. We arrived on Friday and spent Saturday digging out the snow to uncover the hut beneath. On Sunday, a trip from Scott Base arrived to explore the hut and completed what we had achieved in an entire day in a matter of minutes. They did have a shorter walk to the snow pile!
Scott’s Hut at Cape Evans is magical. It portrays a life of exploration in the quintessential British way of hardship and vision. It shocks you into a reality as if you are part of the expedition. The richness of the environment and the quantity of artefacts makes you feel like you are genuinely living alongside these men, yet it is steeped with tragedy from every heroic era expedition that stepped through those doors and slept on those beds. The hairs on the back of your neck tingle as you bend down to enter, with the memories of the expedition still so present today.