Much like the differences in the historic huts, compared to the cosy cabin at Cape Royds in which we were cooking dinner, Cape Evans field camp was a five star hotel. It had a heater, a gas stove, you could fit more than 2 people in there without having to squeeze, and most importantly it came with a fresh supply of survival chocolate!
It was here that we encountered our first storm of the season, but like the hard explorers that built these huts, a little poor weather wasn’t going to stop us from working to restore the hut. We had to mark a trail between our camp and the hut as when the wind picks up it picks up the snow on the sea ice, and forms an impenetrable wall of drifting snow. This also happened to redeposit most of the snow that we had dug out. Back to the shovel for me.
Cape Evans sits at the base of one of the main glaciers from Mt Erebus, the Barne! What a stunning blue that ice sheet was, just dropping into the frozen sea. Later in the season when the sea ice bubbles up and forms pressure ridges seals will come out to sunbathe on the ice, unfortunately none were to be found today.
During the trip out from Scott base, we heard a shout over the radio of “THAT’S FANTASTIC” from the group travelling out to Cape Evans, and we knew that could only mean one thing, EMPERORS! Luckily they weren’t too far from our base and that night I set off to find them. Just around the corner from the cape sitting on the sea ice fast asleep were four teenage trouble makers, clearly miles from home up to no good. I wish I could take daytime naps like these guys.
I waited for them to wake up and do something, I waited until my hands had almost fallen off, and waited some more and then….. They continued to sleep and completely ignored my existence!
It was time to say goodbye to Cape Evans, it was forecast to be terrible weather and I hoped it would turn out to be true so I could spend another day out there. Alas, Hagglunds as it turns out can travel in any kind of weather and so we spent a bumpy two-hour ride in complete whiteout conditions wishing that we could see more penguins.
Written by Chris Ansin, Antarctic Heritage Trust and Sir Peter Blake Trust Antarctic Youth Ambassador.