University of Southern California

Being a Brit in the Antarctic


Robert Ellis, January 23, early morning — Traveling over 18,000 kilometers (as the crow flies, according to a Scott base sign; obviously I didn’t fly on a crow, so it was probably much further!), stopovers in New Zealand with unexpected delays, flying on military aircraft and landing on sea ice. That’s just getting here.

Then there is driving on snowmobiles, flying in helicopters, and seeing penguins, whales, seals and a backdrop that just blows your mind.

It’s the Antarctic what I expected, of course, and far more besides. But I suppose it’s the same for every first-timer on the ice, each of us experiencing this fantastic opportunity offered by the polar biology course and each feeling the same sheer excitement of just being at the bottom of the world.

Something I didn’t expect to feel while on this course, however, was such a sense of national pride. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of being from the U.K.; I’m just not usually overly vocal about it. But sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

scotthutinterior.JPGThis feeling was brought about by Friday’s festivities, which had us traveling to the outpost of Cape Evans, the location of Robert Scott’s hut during the ill-fated 1910-1913 expedition, and the start of the race for the South Pole. The photo at left shows the shadowy interior, where science equipment rests as if frozen in time. While walking through the hut, I felt the achievements and ordeals these brave souls endured brought to bear, and recalled how this group of pioneers led the way for future Antarctic exploration. What’s more, they were British!

Captain Scott and his men may not have returned from this icy wilderness to tell their tales, but this trip has ensured that one Englishman shall never underestimate the significance of their arduous journey.

Robert Ellis is a Ph.D. student at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

3 Comments

Ah Rob. What a lovely blog. Glad you're having an amazing time. x
What a fantastic and moving experience. Hear you met the famous Mr. Attenborough. That must have been something as well!
Rob, So pleased you're having such a wonderful time. Can't wait to hear everything you've seen and done. Regards to Mr. A. Everything okay this end. XX