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Cape Ada­re

”It is a remar­kab­le pro­jec­tion of high, dark, pro­ba­b­ly vol­ca­nic, cliffs, and forms a strong con­trast to the rest of the snow-cover­ed coast. … It was a beau­tiful­ly clear evening, and we had a most enchan­ting view of the two magni­fi­cent ran­ges of moun­ta­ins, who­se lof­ty peaks, per­fect­ly cover­ed with eter­nal snow, rose to ele­va­tions vary­ing from seven to ten thousand feet abo­ve the level of the oce­an. The gla­ciers that fil­led their inter­vening val­leys, and which des­cen­ded from near the moun­tain sum­mits, pro­jec­ted in many places seve­ral miles into the sea, and ter­mi­na­ted in lof­ty per­pen­di­cu­lar cliffs. In a few places the rocks bro­ke through their icy cove­ring, by which alo­ne we could be assu­red that land for­med the nucleus of this, to appearance, enorm­ous ice­berg.”

This is how Cap­tain James Clark Ross descri­bed Cape Ada­re, which he dis­co­ver­ed in 1841.

Cape Ada­re: inter­ac­ti­ve Pano­Tour


Tech­ni­cal Info

Once you have star­ted the vir­tu­al tour, you can eit­her use the map in the lower left cor­ner to navi­ga­te insi­de the hut, or the bar at the bot­tom, or click on sym­bols within the panos to enter the next one (only while the next loca­ti­on is visi­ble, not always available). Or you can just let it play and it will auto­ma­ti­cal­ly switch to the next pano after one tur­n­around. You can switch the sound off (upper right cor­ner) if you wish, same with the expl­ana­to­ry text.

You can also view this vir­tu­al tour on iPads and other tablets if they are powerful enough and have an up-to-date sys­tems soft­ware. On desk­top sys­tems, you can use both HTML5 or Flash.


  1. Cape Ada­re
  2. Cape Ada­re: Adé­lie pen­gu­ins
  3. Cape Ada­re: the first win­tering
  4. Cape Ada­re huts
  5. Cape Ada­re sto­rage hut
  6. Cape Ada­re main hut
  7. The Nor­t­hern Par­ty of Scott’s Ter­ra Nova Expe­di­ti­on

Some addi­tio­nal infor­ma­ti­on about the indi­vi­du­al places:

Cap Ada­re

Cape Ada­re is an impres­si­ve, dark pen­in­su­la, towe­ring as a pro­mi­nent land­mark abo­ve the ent­rance to the Ross Sea. The cliffs of vol­ca­nic rocks – the rest of the vol­ca­no has been ero­ded long time ago – are at the nor­t­hern­most end of the Trans­ant­ar­c­tic Moun­ta­ins, offe­ring sple­ndid views over ama­zing gla­cier and moun­tain sce­n­ery on rare days with good wea­ther. Cape Ada­re was dis­co­ver­ed and named by Cap­tain James Clark Ross in 1841, who was, howe­ver, unable to land due to strong winds and high surf.

Cape Ada­re is famous for seve­ral ant­ar­c­tic expe­di­ti­ons after Ross, all of which spent some time at Rid­ley Beach, a flat, small gra­vel pen­in­su­la on the west side of the Cape. The Nor­we­gi­an Cars­ten Borchgre­vink clai­med to have set foot on the con­ti­nent Ant­ar­c­ti­ca the­re as the first per­son ever, a con­tro­ver­si­al cla­im as others may have been ear­lier.

Cape Ada­re: Adé­lie pen­gu­ins

Cape Ada­re is inte­res­t­ing not only for his­to­ri­cal reasons, but also becau­se it is home to one of the lar­gest Adé­lie pen­gu­in colo­nies of the Ant­ar­c­tic, if not the big­gest one. Hundred thou­sands of pen­gu­ins are bree­ding both on the flat pen­in­su­la of Rid­ley Beach and on the ama­zin­gly steep adja­cent slo­pes up to seve­ral hundred met­res high. Some of the win­te­rers of 1900 were not too fond of them: they cal­led Cape Ada­re a smel­ly colo­ny and com­men­ted that one might as well die imme­dia­te­ly rather than live with the dan­gers and hard­ships of an ant­ar­c­tic win­ter first.

Cape Ada­re: the first win­tering

After his landing at Cape Ada­re on Janu­ary 24th, 1895, Cars­ten Borchgre­vink deci­ded to return with a lar­ger expe­di­ti­on under his own com­mand. He retur­ned to the same place on Febru­ary 17, 1899, to win­ter with 9 men, some­thing that had not been done befo­re on land in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca (Borchgre­vink did not know any­thing of de Gerlache’s win­tering on the drif­ting ship Bel­gi­ca when he depar­ted).

Cape Ada­re huts

Borchgre­vink and his men built 2 solid woo­den huts, Nor­we­gi­an style. The main hut is still stan­ding. It is not only the oldest of the famous 4 his­to­ri­cal huts in the Ross Sea, but the very oldest in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca. This is the only con­ti­nent that still has the very first buil­ding ever built the­re.

Cape Ada­re sto­rage hut

The sto­rage hut was con­nec­ted to the main buil­ding with a short walk­way with a roof to make sure the pro­vi­si­ons were acces­si­ble in any kind of wea­ther. After the win­tering, Borchgre­vink wan­ted to dis­mant­le the hut and take it back on board, but he chan­ged his mind when work had alre­a­dy begun. Ever­y­thing was left behind and the sto­rage hut is now only a ruin wit­hout a roof.

Cape Ada­re main hut

The main hut is still in good con­di­ti­on, 116 years after it had been built. With 5.5 x 6.5 m, it seems small for a group of 10 win­te­rers. And it was small inde­ed. Lack of space was one of seve­ral fac­tors that made life very hard for the men. The atmo­sphe­re was bad from the begin­ning, and the men soon star­ted to hate each other, with few excep­ti­ons only. Lack of good lea­der­ship and occu­pa­ti­on con­tri­bu­ted to make things worse. But at least, the hut was solid and pro­tec­ted them from the strong storms and the win­ter cold.

Zoo­lo­gist Nico­lai Han­son died on Octo­ber 14, 1899, from dise­a­se, pro­ba­b­ly as the first human ever on the ant­ar­c­tic con­ti­nent. He was buried 300 met­res high on Cape Ada­re, and when he was the very first to die in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, then his gra­ve is the very oldest on the con­ti­nent.

The Nor­t­hern Par­ty of Scott’s Ter­ra Nova Expe­di­ti­on

A group of Scott’s final expe­di­ti­on with Ter­ra Nova was left at Cape Ada­re to spend the win­ter 1911 the­re with sci­ence and explo­ra­ti­on. Obser­va­tions made by their bio­lo­gist Geor­ge Mur­ray Levick got con­sidera­ble public atten­ti­on a good 100 years later when some of them were published in 2012. After the expe­di­ti­on, the ori­gi­nal paper cal­led “Sexu­al habits of the Adé­lie pen­gu­in” was dee­med unsui­ta­ble for publi­ca­ti­on, and the details are inde­ed able to des­troy the rather roman­tic idea that many have of wild ani­mals in gene­ral and of pen­gu­ins in par­ti­cu­lar. Scott’s Nor­t­hern Par­ty built their own litt­le house, but almost not­hing is left of it, in con­trast to Borchgrevink’s hut in the imme­dia­te vici­ni­ty.


One Comment to Cape Ada­re

  1. Barbara Adair roach says:

    Very inte­res­t­ing! My mai­den name is Adair which in Ire­land is spel­led Ada­re.
    Why was it named Ada­re? How are the Adelie’s doing?? I have heard that they are strugg­ling now in the Ant­ar­c­tic due to cli­ma­te chan­ge.

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last modification: 2015-04-07 · copyright: Rolf Stange