January 1911 main content.

January 1911

Part of the Race to the End of the Earth exhibition.


The British Break Through The Pack Ice And Reach Antarctic Shores

Scott Chooses Cape Evans on Ross Island for His Base Camp

It took almost three weeks to get through the pack ice barricading the way into the Ross Sea. The ship burned through coal rapidly in order to ram through ice floes, raising Scott's concern whether the dwindling supply of coal would be adequate for their winter needs.

They finally punched through to open water on December 30, 1910, and on January 2, 1911, they spotted Mount Erebus, the huge volcano that dominates Ross Island -- their intended destination. Scott's original plan was to try to set up their hut on the beach below Cape Crozier, on the island's east end. However, the swell off the cape was dangerously high, and the ice cliffs looming next to it excessively dangerous.

Deciding to go west instead and enter McMurdo Sound, Scott chose Cape Evans as the best place for base camp. Lumber and prefabricated sections for the base hut were moved onto the building site.

Navy Rules: Hut Divided Into Mess Deck And Ward Room By A Wall of Packing Cases, Dividing Officers and Scientists From Crew

On January 18, 1911, the new hut was ready to be inhabited. Scott divided it as though they were still aboard ship: The sixteen officers and scientists were given two-thirds for their quarters and labs, while the nine seamen and support personnel occupied the rest. Officers and men ate separately, although the food served was the same. Observance of class and social divisions 'tween decks was still automatic and unquestioned in the Royal Navy, and so it would be in Scott's Antarctic.