Hiking around McMurdo

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Lauren Michel

We have been delayed getting out to the field for a week now because of weather. When the clouds are
low or air pressure is bad, helicopters can’t take off, which is what has happened this week. A big part
of getting ready for the field in Antarctica is hurry up and wait. We landed and were thrown into
classes, field safety, getting food and sleep kits, and gear organized. We had to retrofit the rock boxes
so they wouldn’t fall apart. You have to get all of this done in the few days before you are trying to
leave for field work. If you are delayed, there is a lot of sitting around reading papers and trying not to
get to antsy for the field. One of the nice things about McMurdo is the great hiking you can do to keep
you busy and see the area a bit. This is what we have been doing this week.

Adjacent to McMurdo is the hut Robert Falcon Scott built in 1902 for his 1901-1904 polar expedition.
It’s just a short hike to visit the hut.

Anne-Laure and Ignacio (Nacho) on our walk out to Scott’s Discovery Hut.  Photo by Lauren Michel.

Scott’s Discovery Hut in the forground with McMurdo in the background. Photo by Lauren Michel.


The Discovery Hut is located right on the Ross Sea and there are usually seals nearby so there are some
good opportunities for some wildlife viewings. Photo by Lauren Michel.


Also right next to Scott’s hut is the start to the ridgeline hike. Photo by Lauren Michel. 


Another outdoor adventure is going to the observation tube, which is out in the middle of the Ross Sea.
You can crawl down and see jellyfish and ocean wildlife. Here's Erik heading into the observation tube.  Photo by Lauren Michel.


McMurdo Station and the New Zealand, Scott Base are situated on a volcanic island in the middle of the Ross Sea. The two stations are close together, separated by a road with a hill, so you can walk along the road to Scott Base if you want.  The hike to Scott Base with Observation Hill in the background. Photo by Lauren Michel.


Nacho and me with Scott Base in the background. Photo by Anne-Laure Decombeix.


When we got to Scott Base we were greeted with the Ross Sea ice coming up on Ross Island. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Photo by Lauren Michel


On your way to Scott Base is the last of the hikes I’ve done, it’s called Observation Hill, or Ob Hill for short. This hill overlooks all of McMurdo and has a gigantic cross on top, that was erected in 1913 to commemorate Robert Falcon Scott’s party who died trying to reach the South Pole. The view from the top of Ob Hill looking down into McMurdo. Photo by Lauren Michel


Here I am next to the cross at the top of Ob Hill with the Ross Sea and Black Island in the background. Photo by Anne-Laure Decombeix