Antarctic Scenery
The scenery around McMurdo station is quite spectacular. Ross Island is sort of a mini Antartica in terms of what you can see here. There are volcanos, glaciers, rocky beaches, snow, penguins, ice, and of course people. More about the people in future pages.

Everywhere you turn there is something incredible to take a picture of. I'm not saying "incredible" as it is used in the common vernacular to mean spectacular. I mean incredible is the literal sense - the views just can't be credibly described.

Principle among the amazing natural sights is Mt. Erebus, an active volcano recently re-measured at 794 meters (12448 feet). On any given day it can be seen steaming away, spawning toxic clouds and light smoke. Other days it helps clouds to form with orographic lifting, all the while providing an otherworldly backdrop to the rest of the island.

Icebreakers POLAR STAR (left) and POLAR SEA

Mt. Erebus and lenticular clouds - ice channel in foreground
A notable addition to the landscape are the icebreakers. They lend a reality and depth to the scenery that would otherwise be lacking. Since the earth is an oblong spheroid, it is flat on the pole ends. Your instinctive feel for the curvature of the earth makes you perceive everything as much closer that it really is.

The predominant colors here are black, white, blue and grey. It took me about a week to realize that I was missing the color green. There is no natural green here, so anything painted green really stands out. The New Zealand huts are all of a medical scrubs shade of green. American structures can be anything from brown to red to the predominent safety orange.

The POLAR SEA breaking the ice channel south towards Hut Point.

Hut Point on Ross Island seen from the south. McMurdo is nestled in the area under the clouds. New Zealand's Scott Base is on the slope to the right.

Scott Base's distinctive green huts really stand out.

The top of Observation Hill that flanks McMurdo. The cross was erected to mark the death of Scott on his return trip from the pole.

The Barne Glacier near Cape Evans on Ross Island.
The lack of color also has an effect on your perception. Normally you take color for granted in judging such things as speed and distance, but here the shadows and shades are all you have to go on. So you are forced to discount everything you have ever learned through experience and bridge the gap between raw perception and reality with innocent and unbiased observation.

I learned many years ago that if I needed to chose between my compass or my perception, I should trust my compass. But it still isn't easy.

Constellation that crashed near Pegasus Field in the 1950's.

Castle Rock is a distinctive formation along the Peninsula.

Scott's Cape Evans Hut. He would have returned here but didn't make it back from the pole.

Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds. Even their trash pit is well preserved.

Inside the Taylor Valley, part of the Dry Valley Range.

A Coastie patrols the coast of Cape Evans.

[Quicktime VR Panorama of McMurdo]
440kb MOV file
Quicktime must be installed on your computer to view this file.

[Still Panorama]
132kb JPG file
Some browsers will not show the whole width. Right click the link and select the option to download or save. Then open the image from your hard drive in your photo editing application.

McMurdo Station on Ross Island in Antarctica.

Send email to Ed
Back to the Index
Page posted 01/20/2002