On This Day – June 27th 1911

The Winter Journey Begins

The Terra Nova Expedition

 

 

Edward A. Wilson

Edward A. Wilson


The Terra Nova Expedition (1910-1913) to Antarctica had more objectives than that of reaching the geographical South Pole. Also on the itinerary was the continuation of scientific work that Robert Falcon Scott had pioneered on his Discovery Expedition (1901-1904), and the Terra Nova could boast a scientific staff of 12 men, who were led by the zoologist Edward Wilson.

And it was Wilson who had conceived the idea of the Winter Journey, to obtain Emperor Penguin eggs in an early embryo stage, in furtherance of his previous studies on the matter. The only location to find such eggs was at the rookery at Cape Crozier, which lay about 60 miles from Hut Point, but the optimal time to acquire them at the desired embryonic stage coincided with the fearsome Antarctic Winter.

Antarctica really only has two season – Summer and Winter, and for most of the winter months the continent is shrouded in a perpetual darkness, and temperatures touching -90º C have been recorded. Whilst Scott had reservations about the undertaking of such a perilous effort, it seems he did not want to disappoint Wilson and eventually dispensed permission for the journey to be undertaken. Wilson would take just one other member of the scientific team with him, the 25 year old Apsley Cherry-Garrard, and Scott assigned the indomitable Henry “Birdie” Bowers to lead them.

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