Cape Royds – Penguin Rookery and Shackelton’s Hut

A while back I had the opportunity to visit Cape Royds.  This is where Shackleton’s Hut is located.  It was built for the 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition led by Shackleton who sailed down on the Nimrod.  Robert Falcon Scott lost a little respect for Shackleton during their Discovery Expedition partly because Shackleton became very ill with scurvy.  Shackleton had asked Scott if he could use the Discovery Hut for his expedition and Scott said no as he was planning on using it for another expedition of his own.  This forced Shackleton to build his own hut at Cape Royds.  During this expedition, Shackleton and his men were the first to make it to the South Magnetic Pole and they were a mere 97 miles from making it to the South Geographic Pole!  They were also the first to climb Mt. Erebus, the Southernmost active volcano in the world.  Erebus rises right out of the Ross Sea to an altitude of 12,448 feet and is covered in dangerous glaciers and deep crevasses.  In addition to Shackleton’s hut, there is an Adelie Penguin rookery at this spot.  During the time I visited, the Adelies had young chicks.  Cape Royds has a lot of volcanic features such as a black sand beach, and ventifacts which are rocks that have been sculpted into cool shapes by thousands of years of wind.

A selfie of me at Cape Royds, Antarctica.  This pic was taken overlooking the Adelie Penguin rookery.  There were up to 4000 penguins here nesting and hatching their young chicks.  In the background is the Ross Sea with the ice breaking up.  The penguins like to hang out on the ice floes and are amazing swimmers.  They are like little torpedos shooting through the water and leaping into the air and landing back on the ice.

A selfie of me at Cape Royds, Antarctica. This pic was taken overlooking the Adelie Penguin rookery. There were up to 4000 penguins here nesting and hatching their young chicks. In the background is the Ross Sea with the ice breaking up. The penguins like to hang out on the ice floes and are amazing swimmers. They are like little torpedos shooting through the water and leaping into the air and landing back on the ice.

This was my ride out to Cape Evans... A Bell 212 helicopter!!  It was so fun!!!  It makes me want to be a pilot.  : )

This was my ride out to Cape Evans… A Bell 212 helicopter!! It was so fun!!! It makes me want to be a pilot. : )

Me inside Shackleton's Cape Royds hut pretending to warm myself over the stove.  The great men that occupied this hut were truly amazing and to experience and feel the history of this place cannot be put into words.  I have read of many of the hardships and have experienced Antarctica personally, but to actually do it they way they did, without modern technology and communications, is mind boggling.  These men were hearty souls who experienced great hardships for little or no glory.  Any of the stories of these men, such as "Shackleton's Forgotten Men" or "Endurance" or the story of RF Scott are well worth the read.

Me inside Shackleton’s Cape Royds hut pretending to warm myself over the stove. The great men that occupied this hut were truly amazing and to experience and feel the history of this place cannot be put into words. I have read of many of the hardships and have experienced Antarctica personally, but to actually do it they way they did, without modern technology and communications, is mind boggling. These men were hearty souls who experienced great hardships for little or no glory. Any of the stories of these men, such as “Shackleton’s Forgotten Men” or “Endurance” or the story of RF Scott are well worth the read.

The inside of Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds, Antarctica.  This was Shackleton's base during his British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909.  Of the three huts I have been to (Scott's Discovery, Scott's Cape Evans, and Shackleton's Cape Royds) this one was the nicest by far.  It' is also the least visited.  I was very lucky and fortunate to be a hut guide and have access to these amazing historical places.  I enjoyed sharing them with others.  This was also the hut where they found Shackleton's lost whiskey which has been duplicated by a modern distiller.  I had some of his whiskey poured atop a chunk of iceberg that was broken off a glacier.  The ice was pure and actually hissed in the glass due to the ice being compressed over thousands of years.

The inside of Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds, Antarctica. This was Shackleton’s base during his British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909. Of the three huts I have been to (Scott’s Discovery, Scott’s Cape Evans, and Shackleton’s Cape Royds) this one was the nicest by far. It’ is also the least visited. I was very lucky and fortunate to be a hut guide and have access to these amazing historical places. I enjoyed sharing them with others. This was also the hut where they found Shackleton’s lost whiskey which has been duplicated by a modern distiller. I had some of his whiskey poured atop a chunk of iceberg that was broken off a glacier. The ice was pure and actually hissed in the glass due to the ice being compressed over thousands of years.

An Adelie penguin walking towards me at Cape Royds, Antarctica.  There is an Adelie penguin rookery at this spot, and they lay their eggs here.  During the time I was there, the Adelies had young chicks.  They are so cute and curious.

An Adelie penguin walking towards me at Cape Royds, Antarctica. There is an Adelie penguin rookery at this spot, and they lay their eggs here. During the time I was there, the Adelies had young chicks. They are so cute and curious.

I took this picture from a beautiful black sand beach at Cape Royds, Antarctica.  I love the little Adelie penguins and especially this one because of it's movements and the contrast between its black color and the surrounding ice.

I took this picture from a beautiful black sand beach at Cape Royds, Antarctica. I love the little Adelie penguins and especially this one because of it’s movements and the contrast between its black color and the surrounding ice.

The Barne glacier flowing down to the Ross Sea from the side of Mt. Erebus.  The picture is deceiving but believe it or not, this glacier is huge!  The face of it is 100-200 ft high and is massive!  This picture was taken out the window of the helicopter I rode in to Cape Royds.

The Barne glacier flowing down to the Ross Sea from the side of Mt. Erebus. The picture is deceiving but believe it or not, this glacier is huge! The face of it is 100-200 ft high and is massive! This picture was taken out the window of the helicopter I rode in to Cape Royds.

The Ross Sea ice breaking up with the Royal Society range in the background.  The Royal Society mountains are part of the Trans-Antarctic mountain range.  I have painted them more than a few times this season.  I never get sick of looking at them especially as the light and shadows change.  The best was during the mornings of "Winfly" where the alpenglow made them pink and purple.

The Ross Sea ice breaking up with the Royal Society range in the background. The Royal Society mountains are part of the Trans-Antarctic mountain range. I have painted them more than a few times this season. I never get sick of looking at them especially as the light and shadows change. The best was during the mornings of “Winfly” where the alpenglow made them pink and purple.

 

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3 thoughts on “Cape Royds – Penguin Rookery and Shackelton’s Hut

  1. Hi Greg,

    That is a pretty big cabin. How many people would have been able to sleep inside? The stove is rather larger too. How warm do you suppose the inside temperature of the cabin could have been when the stove was running? I really enjoy seeing your paintings and the real picture. Any chance we might see some more of your artwork?

    • Howdy!
      The hut is pretty big, but quite small when you consider there might have been a dozen or more people sharing it for long periods of time… especially in harsh weather. Since there are no trees or plants down here they would have burned up any scrap wood they had and then they burned seal blubber. Some of the earlier pics I posted on Cape Evans or Scott’s Discovery hut showed the seal blubber. It’s been stacked for over 100 years and is still blubbery and squishy. It doesn’t seem to deteriorate. Some of the men staying in the huts did so for several years at a time. The weather could be -50 F or colder at times but I bet the hut warmed to comfortable temps. This is one of the better insulated huts compared to the others.

    • I also wanted to say thanks for the comments about my paintings! : ) I have been doing more painting, but it’s mainly emperor penguins that I sold to people during our craft fair. I have some nice paintings of the mountains, Scott’s Hut, and hut point. I will be doing a lot more paintings of Antarctica when I get home. I have thousands of pictures and a lot of inspiration from this place. I will be painting Antarctica paintings for a while!
      Thanks
      Greg

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