2 February, 1999

2 February 1999

Climbing Observation Hill proved to be a challenge at 11 PM

last night. The loose, volcanic rock got a bit tedious to move

over on tired legs. Absorbing the spectacular views of Mt. Erebus, Scott Base, Mc Murdo Station and ice shelf (facing South toward the Pole)overcame any desire to pack it in for the evening.

"Ob Hill" is a volcanic cone that reaches a height of 760 ft. The 12 ft. cross at the top was placed there in memory of Henry Bowers,

Edgar Evans, Laurence Oates, Robert Scott, and Edward Wilson all of whom perished on the return from the South Pole in 1912. Eight men occupying the Discovery hut January 20-1, 1913 erected the cross

whose inscription, from the final line of the poem Ulysses (Tennyson), reads-'To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'

Mt. Erebus has an underwater foundation and a steaming crown.

An active volcano, Erebus climbs to to over 12,500 ft. No attempt was made to tackle this one last evening. The volcano was first climbed by members of Shackleton's Nimrod expedition in 1908.

The Crary Lab, named for geophysicist and glaciologist Albert P. Crary, first to visit both poles, houses studies in biology, earth science and meteorology. It also stores ice core samples, has a library, and a seismic laboratory. There is an aquarium room there, and another among the outlying buildings at the edge of the fast ice. All the creatures that had been kept there had been released (one had been consumed) by the time that I made the tour. There are some very detailed maps based on satellite data of Antarctica in the earth science phase of the building which really helped to put size and direction into perspective for visitors to the area.

The United States Coast Guard ship Polar Sea was at the ice pier

in Winter Quarters Bay by Hut Point. One could sign up for a 4 hr. tour of the area from 8 AM - 12 PM by ship and many took advantage of the opportunity. My transport to Pegasus Field was scheduled to leave at noon; not enough of a margin to take the ship.

We saw an emperor penguin all alone on the ice between Williams and Pegasus Fields. A beauty it was, and large, easily 4 ft. tall. I couldn't reach the camera fast enough as we zipped by on the shuttle. He he did raise a wing in greeting or perhaps to wish us well as we headed away.

The C 141 flight seemed cramped with over one hundred of us aboard, but seated next to friends, the 5 hr. flight went quickly. We arrived

in New Zealand to experience our first sunset in a month.


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The terrain around Observation Hill is otherworldly. Mostly volcanic, the rock is pocked, dark and brittle to walk on.

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