Antarctic “Hike”: Hut Point & Discovery Hut

Just a 5 minute walk away from McMurdo Station can take you to a serene point that sits quietly on the sea where you can listen to seals sing, the ice move, and the blowing wind.

Seals resting on the ice at Hut Point.
Seals resting on the ice at Hut Point.

Hut Point is an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) due to it’s historical significance as one of the principal sites of human activity in Antarctica.  As you approach Hut Point from town, you first come across Discovery Hut which was built in 1902 by Robert Falcon Scott.

A once-snow-covered Discovery hut has since thawed thanks to the austral summer sun.
A once-snow-covered Discovery hut has since thawed thanks to the austral summer sun.

Discovery Hut got it’s name from the Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904 which was the first scientific expedition to Antarctica since the James Clark Ross voyage that took place sixty years earlier.

Map showing the Discovery Expedition's general field of work, 1902–04. Main journeys: RED line; Southern journey to Farthest South, November 1902 to February 1903. BLACK line; Western journey through Western Mountains to Polar Plateau, October–December 1903. BLUE line; Journeys to message point and Emperor Penguin colony at Cape Crozier, October 1902, September and October 1903.  (Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Expedition)
Map showing the Discovery Expedition’s general field of work, 1902–04. Main journeys: RED line; Southern journey to Farthest South, November 1902 to February 1903. BLACK line; Western journey through Western Mountains to Polar Plateau, October–December 1903. BLUE line; Journeys to message point and Emperor Penguin colony at Cape Crozier, October 1902, September and October 1903. (Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Expedition)

The hut is currently closed for restoration by the Antarctic Heritage Trust, but it is still amazing to be so close to such a historically important building.

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The point has thawed quite a bit since these photos were taken, but ever since my arrival to McMurdo, Hut Point has been my favorite place to go when I feel pressed for time but want to be reminded of where I am and why I’m here.

Memorial cross at Hut Point.
Memorial cross at Hut Point.

As the ice thaws, penguins are becoming a more common site at Hut Point.  Rumor has it that Stan the penguin has been hanging out around there since early December.  I have yet to meet him, but I will keep trying!

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Seals sunbathing on the thawing ice.

 

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