Sunday, November 1, 2009

Scotch on the Rocks, a treasure found

Are you tired of looking for precious metals and getting rich? Do you long for an adventure that will take you to places rarely explored but offer a challenge and a reward?

Well pack your bags and a heavy coat and head off to Antarctica. In 1907 an explorer named Sir Ernest Shackleton made an expedition into the frozen wasteland in an attempt to make it to the South Pole. Being that they didn’t have things like “hot hands” and other chemical heaters to take along back then they took the next best thing, alcohol! That’s right, hooch. Besides using the occasional shot to warm the insides they also apparently used it as a way of combating the long artic nights. Sir Shackleton’s drink of choice was Mackinley’s scotch and he took a whopping 25 cases of the stuff on his expedition to keep himself and his men warm.

I couldn’t find any information that indicated how much of the 25 cases were consumed during the expedition but there were several crates left behind. Two of those cases were found in 2006 but they haven’t been able to recover them yet.

Cape Royds is located along the coast of Antarctica. The temperatures there can get to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit and as you can image, is not inhabited by anyone. On this miserable little chunk of volcanic rock sit’s a shack that has been there for over a century. I don’t know who the person was or what possessed them to crawl into the small space under the floor of this shack but when they did they discovered two cases of Shackleton’s scotch. It was frozen solid to the ground and could not be taken out.

It has taken three years but they now think they have a plan and the technology to thaw the ground around the hooch so that it can be recovered. I would think a couple of good heaters or a plasma cutter would do the trick but I guess that is too simple for the big brains to figure out. The recovery expedition is set for January which is the summertime in the Antarctic.
Now for the bad news. You knew there had to be a catch didn’t you? According to an international treaty, once the scotch is recovered it can’t be taken out of Antarctica because of “conservation“ reasons. The ignorance of the bureaucracy never ceases to amaze me.

So if you go looking for the rest of the scotch left behind by Sir Ernest Shackleton and you are lucky enough to find it, I guess you’ll just have to drink it there. You could call it recycling couldn’t you?

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