British professor discovers Captain Scott's lost campsite eerily unchanged since doomed Antarctic expedition 100 years ago
University of Cambridge Professor Clive Oppenheimer traced campsite using old mapsThe volcanologist wanted to mark the centenary of the ill-fated Antarctic mission It was last used by members of Scott's surviving base camp team
16:49 GMT, 18 December 2012
A century after it was last used a lost campsite from Captain Scott's doomed Antarctic expedition has been rediscovered.
Professor Clive Oppenheimer, a volcancologist at the University of Cambridge, pinpointed the remote site using original maps and photographs.
It was last used 100 years ago by surviving members of the team that travelled to the Antarctic with Captain Scott.
Discovered: Professor Clive Oppenheimer at Captain Scott's lost campsite that has not been used for 100 years
As it was: The original campsite photographed 100 years ago which was set up by the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13
Doomed: (l-r) Captain Laurence Oates, Captain Robert Scott, Petty Officer Edgar Evans; sitting (l-r) Lt Henry Bowers, Dr Edward Wilson
Scott and four companions set out to try and become the first to reach the South Pole.
Although the team reached their goal on January 17, 1912, they arrived to discover they had
been beaten there by another team led by Roald Amundsen.
The entire team of Captain Robert Scott, Captain Laurence Oates, Edgar Evans, Henry Bowers and Edward Wilson, died in March, 1912, during the 1,500km journey back to base.
Base camp members were able to recover the bodies eight months later.
Despite the tragedy, the surviving team continued to work and scaled the continent's second highest volcano Mount Erebus to complete a geographical study.
The trip is historically significant as geologist Professor Frank Debenham had the idea of creating a polar research institute while on the trek.
Now the camp the surviving team made on the peak's upper slopes has been re-discovered.
All that is left of the original camp, right, is a stone circle left by Scott and his men
A document from Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition which has been used to re-discover his lost campsite
Professor Oppenheimer also used this original map to trace the camp
Prof Oppenheimer, who re-enacted the Scott expedition ascent, was working in Antarctica at the time and wanted to mark the centenary of the ill-fated mission.
He painstakingly sorted through written accounts and pictures and managed to locate the camp within 24 hours of setting off from his base.
He said he thought he was looking for a 'needle in a haystack' before noticing a gateway to a hidden area not spotted during his travels. He said it then took him just two minutes to find it.
All that was left was rings of stones that the team built around their tents to keep the pegs firmly in the ground.
The rest of the camp had disappeared completely.
Prof Oppenheimer said: 'I was tremendously excited to discover the campsite. In my mind's eye, I saw the four men fussing around their tent.
'Transposing again the historic photographs on the snowy stretch in front of me, I couldn't help smiling and saying “hello boys”.'
UK and New Zealand authorities are now working to get official protection for the site.
Philippa Foster Back, granddaughter of Prof Debenham and chair of The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust said the discovery was “wonderful”.
She said: “It is a reminder of both the dangers and thrills of Antarctic science and a fitting tribute to the great legacies of exploration and discovery left to us by all the brave men of that party.”
Wilderness: A photo of the Erebus crater from Clive Oppenheimer's mission to re-discover the lost campsite from his famous Antarctic expedition
Incredible: The Erebus Lava Lake taken during Clive Oppenheimer's mission