Sunday, October 14, 2007

My First Penguin

Today, I finally got to see my first penguin, but it wasn't what I expected.

After waking up entirely too early on my only day off to go for a run, I found out about a trip headed out to Cape Evans where Emperor penguins sometimes hang out. Cape Evans is where Robert Falcon Scott erected his hut (Scott's Hut) in 1911 on his fatal expedition to reach the South Pole. He did reach the South Pole but perished miles from a supply point on the way home.

A plaque on the wall of the first ‘room’ in the hut.

These trips are pretty hard to get on. This one was actually reserved for Polies (people headed to the pole) and waste people. I don't fall into either category, but I begged the leader to let me in if people didn't show. Two people didn't show. I am guessing it was because the night before was the first live music of the season and people were out causing a ruckus. We loaded up in the Delphi (?) trucks. No heat, cramped with 18 people each, sleeping bags for everyone, food, water, and waste bags. I don't mean garbage waste. I mean human waste. I don't think anyone used it, but I was very curious as to how long it would take human urine to freeze in the conditions we encountered.

Our Delphi Truck.

We left at 12:30 for the 2 hour ride out there. We had hoped to visit another glacier on the way, but the visibility was terrible due to the increasing wind. When we finally reached Scott's Hut, the visibility improved and the wind kicked up.

The flags are what the drivers use to get around in low visibility conditions we encountered.

We waited a few minutes while they took shovels over to the hut to clear a way and make sure it was safe. While we waited, I got to experience my first Antarctic weather. It was rumored to about 0 F, but the wind was gusting at a level I'm not sure I have felt before. I was wearing my giant bunny boots, three layers on my bottom and top, and accessories to make sure no skin was showing on my extremities. I might need to add a second layer to my hands. My body was warm, but within a few minutes my fingers were going numb.

Bundled up Brody

Eventually, they determined the way was safe and we headed over to hut and its over looking vista. Only twelve people were allowed in the hut and a line was forming, so I headed towards the hill first. The wind continued to pick up. It was ridiculous. On a flat section before the hill started, I stood on the ice and the wind blew about five feet. The top of the hill provided a lot more wind, my first dead battery due to cold of the season, and some perspective on where we were. Amazing. I'm not sure the pictures really do it justice.

Some of Scott’s supply crates on the way up the hill.

View from the hill.

I spent a lot of time taking out the battery from my camera and replacing it with another one from a warm part of my body. Since the battery dies due to the cold, I just have to warm it up. I have spares, but to get them where they really need to be, I have to unzip a ton of my clothes. It wasn't good. This is where I really learned I need another layer on my hands. I couldn't do anything with the gloves I had on.

After I left the hill, I finally got to go in the hut and get my first experience with a penguin. It probably isn't what you are expecting, but here you go:

Perfectly preserved penguin after 100 years o n Scott's desk for your viewing pleasure.


  1. Wow, Brody, this is some incredible stuff! And you've only been there a few days! Keep it coming!

  2. Pretty sweet breadman. Sounds cold :)

  3. It's very spooky to look at those pictures of all of Scott's junk lying around. I guess no one comes to clean up the mess if you screw up.

  4. a 100 year old dead penguin? really? who does that?