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Group of people stands in front of a cross.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Haeussler

In memory

McMurdo winter-overs observe 100th anniversary of Scott's death

One hundred years ago, Robert Falcon Scott lay dying — his journal secured beneath his shoulder — in his tent with two companions as severe weather prevented them from traversing the 11 miles to a resupply depot. Scott had already lost the Race to the South Pole to Norwegian rival Roald Amundsen, with two of the Briton’s men perishing earlier during the return journey.

It would be almost a year later before a rescue party would discover the tent and piece together the tragedy from Scott’s detailed journal entries. His final entry ends with the now famous words, “For God’s sake look after our people.” Members of the rescue party erected a memorial cross on the top of Observation Hill that now looks over McMurdo Station External U.S. government site.

On March 29, exactly 100 years after Scott died, a small group of McMurdo winter-overs hiked to the top of Observation Hill, above, and at the foot of the cross paid their respects. We were blessed with beautiful weather and a gorgeous sunset. It was hard to imagine the misery of Scott’s final hours in such ideal Antarctic conditions, as Gracie Cole read aloud his last journal entry.

Afterward we shared a moment of silence, each of us thinking about the drama that unfolded a century ago, not far from where we stood. It was a solemn moment that reminded us of the proud Antarctic heritage we all share by our participation in the U.S. Antarctic Program External U.S. government site.