January 31, 1912: Filchner’s Farthest South at Vahsel Bay

[Vahsel Bay is at the Southern extremity of the Weddell Sea, on the opposite side of the Antarctic continent from the Ross Sea and Cape Evans]

–from an abbreviated report by Wilhelm Filchner, on the results of his Antarctic expedition–

“Landing on the ice wall, which was twenty to thirty meters high, seemed difficult if not impossible.  So the ship steamed along to find a good place to land. . . .

“On Jan. 31 we reached a small bay in 77 degrees 48′ S. and 34 degrees 39′ W.  It was named Vahsel Bay.  Here a low mass of ice (barrier ice) , about eight to thirty meters (26 to 98 feet) high, meets the edge of the inland ice.  Between this lower ice and the inland ice lies the bay.  The lower ice was divided by numerious leads frozen over. . . . The barrier ice mass to the west of Vahsel Bay continues beyond the reach of vision to the southwest and west, evidently maintaining its level character.

“The Director landed two parties in Vahsel Bay to seek a suitable place for a winter station.  They reported that the ascent of the inland ice and the barrier ice was possible. . . . To determine positively that the phenomenon was an ice barrier the Director proposed to continue to take the ship along the barrier to the west, surveying its course.  If a more favorable location for wintering should be found, Vahsel Bay was to be given up; if not, the expediton was to return to the bay.”

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