Saturday, December 16, 2006

Out and about!

Although we'd been warned during numerous briefings about the unpredictability of weather in the Antarctic, the mercury didn't drop much below zero Celsius during the first few days of my stay. And looking out from the heated buildings at the beautiful landscape only tempted me to venture outdoors and explore.

Observation Hill looks over McMurdo and rises to a little over 300 meters offering an all round view of the area around town.

Observation Hill seen from the Crary Lab.

Its a short hike to the top of Ob Hill, and a good one to take on after a sumptuous meal at the Galley. So, Kevin, another researcher I'd met on the Ice and I soon made our way up for a bird's eye view of our corner of Ross Island. To the West and below us McMurdo station sprawled over the little patch of exposed rock.

McMurdo station sits on the southern edge of Ross Island.

Behind Ob Hill, a couple of miles to the East lies the much smaller New Zealand operated Scott Base with its distinctive green coloured buildings.

Scott Base marks the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf where it buckles up as it approaches the sea ice forming extensive cracks in the ice clearly visible from Ob Hill.

On a clear day like this in Antarctica, one can easily identify features in the landscape fifty miles away.

Scott Base, NZ appears in the distance couple of miles East of McMurdo.

The view around Ob Hill is beautiful indeed but, the most spectacular sight is that of Mt. Erebus.

Erebus, the giant active volcano that dominates the landscape at Ross Island with its ever steaming summit rising 3974 meters above sea level is a majestic sight! Also, knowing that the summit lies 25 miles North of McMurdo and yet is so clearly visible, leaves no sense of scale to judge this wonderful landscape.

The majestic Mt. Erebus steams on Ross Island.

James Clark Ross, the British explorer was the first to sight Mt. Erebus and the neighbouring Mt. Terror during his 1841 expedition and these volcanoes on Ross Island are named after his two ships Erebus and Terror. Lt. Archibald McMurdo was an officer onboard the Terror, and Ross named McMurdo Sound in his honour.

I take a breath of fresh Antarctic air on top of Ob Hill while Mt. Erebus smokes 25 miles away.

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