Tina was invited to join an expedition cruise to Ross Island, Antarctica by Orion in the Winter of 2013. Here is her previously unpublished story of their landing at Captain Scott's hut. … read more
A single white bird, a snow petrel, glided over the ice traceable only by a dark shadow betraying its fleeting form. The darkest thing on sheets of white, it drew our attention. We’d been at sea for ten days by then. For hundreds of miles we carefully navigate our way through floating white cities and blankets of pack ice. Lone seals perch on drifting floes and scattered penguins dive in and out of the freezing water. The crew take their turns in the crow’s nest deciphering the clearest route through the frozen patchwork. At intervals deep reverberating rumbling sounds resonate in the boat where the ice is too thick or wide to pass.
A hundred years have passed since Scott’s expedition in the Terra Nova and yet the journey to Antarctica remains a challenging one. They were hit with a violent storm that saw them chain their dogs to the deck to prevent them being flung overboard which happened to one whose chains wrenched free. Two ponies were lost to injury being thrown to the floor by crashing waves. Further South their ship was held in ice for twenty days before reaching the open Ross Sea and finally arriving at the shores of Ross Island some thirty seven days after leaving New Zealand.
Snow dust blows from iceberg tops in a freezing stream of mist; icing sugar trailing off a cake in a sudden draught. We reach the white desert, Antarctica, a monochrome vista of slate grey skies, snow and black volcanic rock from old eruptions of Mount Erebus. Yards from the shore stands Scott’s hut weathered grey by salty air and freezing blizzards. Even the wildlife conforms to black and white and shades of in-between; birds, seals, whales and penguins inhabit a no-nonsense world, serious and sublime, dangerous and indifferent.
Inside Scott’s hut lie the frozen bones of a dog on its lead and piles of whale blubber still oozing fat. There are few places on Earth where you can wonder into someone’s home and find it almost as it was a hundred years ago. Their food stores seem like an ancient supermarket frozen in time. A dead penguin lies on Scott’s desk, its soft cream micro feathers ruffling gently from the wind brought by the unexpected visitors interrupting the silence of the shelter. We disturb a shrine of history and belongings, a shrine for the ambitions of men who sought to conquer the most unconquerable land on Earth, a land that doesn’t shelter or nourish but shifts and distorts with every snowstorm. Men stick their flags into the snow and from the deep icy caverns there is a great roar of laughter. We are but snow crystals blowing in the gale of time.view gallery