Although my time working around Scott Base has been incredible, the portion of my trip which I was really looking forward to was the 11-day trip camping out in the field. This was divided between Cape Royds – the location of Shackleton’s Nimrod Hut, and Cape Evans – the location of Scott’s Terra Nova Hut.
I had heard many great things about Cape Royds: the hut, the Adélie penguin colony and the possibility of seeing the open sea. I was certainly not disappointed.
Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds is set in a stunning location. The hut is a lovely design, with gable ends and open-plan inside. At one end is a beautiful ‘Mrs Sam’ cooking stove which would have created a lovely warm ambience over the long Antarctic winter.
The first day we arrived the sea was open, clear of ice. The water was a very dark royal blue, different to what I’m used to seeing in New Zealand. The next day however, the wind changed and blew the loose pack sea ice back south therefore choking the area of McMurdo Sound around Cape Royds, and removing all signs of open water as far as we could see.
The hut is situated near an Adélie penguin rookery. The proximity of the rookery to the hut gives the whole area a real sense of life – watching the penguins go about their lives is a constant source of amusement.
During our three days at Cape Royds, Martin, Nicola, Lizzie and I completed a range of maintenance and monitoring tasks including: snow shovelling, timber moisture measurements, hut structure and artefact collection monitoring, and collection of hut environmental data.