The beginning of the 19th century is known as the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration, a time when humans first stepped their foot on the polar regions and heroes were born. The race to the South Pole was fought between two explorers – the British Robert Falcon Scott and the Norwegian Roald Amundsen. As the superpower of that age, the United Kingdom envisioned itself as the natural leader in this race. However, even the best British minds had never seen Antarctica before… and designed a base for Scott’s Discovery expedition (his first attempt to reach the South Pole) that is even today unbearably cold and draughty, so much that the expedition members preferred to sleep on their ship. Useless verandas on three sides, insufficient insulation and an entrance on the windward side make Scott’s “Disco Hut” a monument for the UK’s least successful endeavor.
The hut was erected during the Discovery Expedition (1901 – 1904) by Captain Scott – who later lost the race to the South Pole (and with it his life) against the Roald Amundsen on the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition (1910 – 1913). Here are some of the student’s thoughts when they entered Discovery Hut:
- “I got an eerie feeling inside”, says Bjorn
- “The mummified seal is pretty cool”, says Anna, “and pretty groass”, says Ashley
- “The hut looks very uncomfortable and gives me a tingly feeling”, says Tayele
- “Walking through the hut is like stepping back in time”, says Olivia
- “The early explorers were real people”, says Simon
- “Tough !”, says Tasman
- “The smell is just very unique, something I’ve never smelled before”, says Rob, “they were twice the men that we are – and smell three times as bad”
Today was a sunny day outside, but we were freezing just after a couple of minutes inside the hut. It is hard to imagine how the early explorers must have suffered back in the day. Especially without all the fancy gear that we are equipped with !