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Second Western Party at the Cape Geology Christmas Party

Date: 1911
105 x 175 mm
Medium: Cardboard, silver gelatin photographic print.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Stereoscope card
Object No: 00039590

User Terms

    This stereoscopic card shows four members of the Scott's British Antarctic Expedition at the Second Western Party's Cape Geology Christmas Party in December 1911. Cape Geology is situated in the south-western corner of Granite Harbour, southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. This card is part of a collection of 35 stereoscopic views taken on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913 also known as the TERRA NOVA Expedition. Stereoscope cards were produced in sets as a popular memento. They allowed the viewer to see a photograph as a three-dimensional image.

    The four men are (standing) Petty officer Robert Forde and Norwegian ski expert Trygge Gran; (seated) geologists Frank Debenham and T Griffith Taylor. Debenham can be seen pulling the string which operated the camera.
    SignificanceCape Geology marks the western limit of Botany Bay, in the south part of Granite Harbour, Victoria Land, Antarctica. It was charted and named by the Western Geological Party of Scott's British Antarctic Expedition, 1910–13, who established their base there. This photograph is a tangible link to the heroic era of Antarctic expedition on the threshold of Australia's interest in, and claim to an Antarctic territory - an interest which continues to the present day.
    HistoryRobert Falcon Scott secured funding for the second British Antarctic Expedition - the TERRA NOVA expedition of 1910-1913. Its aims were primarily scientific in nature combined with charting and surveying and to be first to the South Pole - for King, country and Empire. The expedition made a number of scientific journeys including two Western Geological Parties - surveying and collecting specimens to the west of Cape Evans. T Griffith Taylor and Frank Debenham - both Australian geologists - were on both western expeditions.

    With Trygge Gran and Robert Forde, Debenham and Griffith Taylor set out on 14 November 1911over sea ice to Granite Harbour, north of Butter Point, which was reached on 26 November. Headquarters was established at a site christened Geology Point, and a stone hut was built. During the following weeks, exploration and surveying work took place on the Mackay Glacier, and a range of features to the north of the glacier were identified and named. The party was due to be picked up by TERRA NOVA on 15 January 1912, but the ship could not reach them. The party waited until 5 February before trekking southward, and were rescued from the ice when they were finally spotted from the ship on 18 February - still 200 km from Cape Evans. Geological specimens from both Western Mountains expeditions were retrieved by TERRA NOVA in January 1913.

    The British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1914 is best known for the failure of its leader Captain Robert Scott to reach the South Pole before the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Scott and his party reached the Pole but died on the return journey to their base camp.

    The tragedy was a great blow to British pride and Scott was generally portrayed as an heroic figure by his contemporaries. Later depictions have been less generous, however there is no doubt that the expedition was a momentous event in Antarctic exploration.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Second Western Party at the Cape Geology Christmas Party

    Primary title: Second Western Party Cape Geology Xmas 1911

    Assigned title: Antarctic view

    Related People
    Photographer: Frank Debenham

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