Shackleton and Scott Antarctic Huts Saved From Ruin

Three small huts used by Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott as part of their Antarctic expeditions have been saved from destruction thanks to a major conservation effort that began nearly ten years ago. A team of 62 experts from 11 countries have worked hard to preserve these 100+ year old relics that are described as time capsule from a bygone era of exploration.

Now, those efforts have payed off, and the huts have been restored to a point that they are accurate representations of the structures that were used as shelters for some of the most important expeditions in history.

The huts were used to launch both Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition as well as a for Shackleton’s  famous Nimrod Expedition. They had been mostly abandoned and left alone for nearly a century until efforts to preserve them began in 2005. Two of the huts belonged to Scott – one at Cape Evans and the other at Hut Point – while the third was used by Shackleton at Cape Royds.

Without these conservation efforts it is likely that the three huts would have deteriorated so much that they would have been lost altogether. That is not surprising considering the conditions in which they have persisted for more than 100 years. It took a decade of work, and more than $6 million, to restore the huts, with the project being spearheaded by the Antarctic Heritage Trust – New Zealand.

Inside the shelters researchers found more than 18,000 artifacts including scientific instruments, notebooks, canned foods, and clothing. All of those items gave the team a glimpse into the past, and what explorers of that era had to endure in the Antarctic. That was something the restoration team got a taste of as well as they faced sub-zero temperatures while working on the exteriors of the three huts.

That work included replacing the roofs, removing large chunks of ice, and waterproofing the walls against future damage. They also worked tirelessly to preserve most of the items found inside the buildings too, and placed them back in their original places to better restore the structures to their former glory.

While obviously none of the huts will see that many visitors, the conservationists felt that it was still worth all of the effort to preserve these historic places. These huts were a part of an important time in human history, and they will now continue to stand as monuments to the need for humans to explore our planet, and beyond.

Kraig Becker