When people think of Antarctica, they likely think of one giant sheet of ice, with Penguins running around and dancing. But Antarctica holds a long history of explorations, adventuring, and death. Hundreds have lost their lives attempting to explore the frozen continent. It seems that many of their spirits have decided to linger there long after their passing; now inhabiting the abandoned shacks and research outposts that speckle the icy terrain. Today we shall look into Ghost Stories of Antarctica.
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Throughout the episode, we are going to be discussing Ghost Stories of Antarctica. Reports and legends from our planet’s icy continent, and there are a lot. Surprisingly enough, Antarctica is one of those places that holds the title of Most Haunted Place in the world. Although honestly, a lot of places seem to do that.
The frozen Continent does have some good reasons for this title, based on its number of ghosts per capita. The population of Antarctica fluctuates throughout the year, between around 1,100 people during the winter to 4,400 during the summer. With that, there is roughly one spirit for every nine people that inhabit the continent. This gives us between the numbers of 122 to 488 potential spirits. However, the best estimates have a number around 300.
These spirits include explorers, scientists, and tourists. Mainly believed to wander the icy wasteland and the abandoned buildings they once inhabited during their lifetimes. As I’m sure you’re aware and as we’ll learn throughout this episode; Antarctica is an unforgiving location and there are several ways to, rather easily, meet your end.
We’re going to start off nice and strong with a seafaring legend, being that of the English schooner, Jenny. As the story goes, The Jenny left port from the Isle of Wight in England, in 1822, and was never seen again. Apparently, The Jenny had become trapped in an ice-barrier within the Drake Passage, during 1823.
This Passage is actually the body of water between the southern tip of South America, being the Cape Horn of Chile, and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. Here, somewhere within the Drake Passage, the entirety of the Jenny was frozen. The ship was discovered frozen in ice in the Drake Passage by Captain Brighton of the whaler ship called the Hope, in September of 1840.
The crew from the Hope, along with Captain Brighton, noticed what looked like people on the deck of the Jenny, but when they boarded, they realized the people had been frozen solid and perfectly preserved. According to the legend, they discovered a journal entry written by Jenny’s captain. His last entry is nothing short of chilling: “May 4, 1823. No food for 71 days. I am the only one left alive“. The log from the Jenny had also been discovered, had been entered up until January 17, 1823.
The last port of call was Callao, near Lima, Peru. Brighton took the logbook with him in order to return it to the shipowners. Though as the story goes, Jenny remains sailing the seas as a ghost ship.
Sir Edmund Hillary was a New Zealand mountaineer and explorer who had climbed Mount Everest with Sherpa Norgay Tenzing. In May 1953, they became the first known people to reach the summit. Seeking an even more extreme exploration, Hillary reached Antarctica five years later and found himself at explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s abandoned hut. Sir Ernest Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer who led three expeditions to the frozen continent.
He was one of the principal figures of the period of time, known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. That said, Shackleton passes away in 1922; three decades prior to Sir Edmund Hillary’s arrival to Antarctica. While in the hut, Hillary believed he saw Shackleton’s ghost: I’m not a person who really sees things very much but when I opened the door I distinctly saw Shackleton walking towards me and welcoming me.
In fact, Shackleton tends to be a key figure within Antarctica, and its paranormal happenings, long after his death. Actually, even before his death, as he had his own experience while on one of his expeditions. Within South: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition, a collection of his own accounts during his 1914-1917 explorations. Shackleton describes the intense feeling of an extra member in his party while crossing the snow-capped mountains of South Georgia.
He says the following, “I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seems to me often that we are four, not three”. Again, referring to the number of people within the group.
This invisible companion however was actually a positive and helping add to the group. Interestingly, this fourth man was not exclusive to Shackleton, but also to other Antarctic explorers, extreme athletes, and adventurers in general. In fact, there were so many accounts that the term ‘The Third Man Factor’; Coined after T.S Eliot’s poetic retelling of Shackleton’s experience.
But with this, it seems that the helpful companion’s positive energy didn’t necessarily rub off on the crew of explorers. As of now, we shall be discussing the Wordie Hut, which is named after James Wordie, chief scientist on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Endurance expedition. The hut itself was built in 1947 after a previous building on the location was destroyed.
It is no longer in use, but it is now a historic site and sort of monument. That being said, to make things even creepier, the hut was still set up with furniture and canned food, as if the explorers from the early 20th century, had just up and left it, or are still inhabiting it. Those who do stop and visit the hut nowadays, tend to have some poor experiences. Reporting strange sensations, uneasiness, and unexplained noises and movement from the hut.
After hearing these reports of a potential haunting, the group from Destination Truth actually ended up spending a night exploring the area. Members of the team heard the frantic flipping of a light switch and the slamming of doors while staying in the hut. Items like jar lids fell off of shelves on their own. One member of the crew noted he felt a presence, and the rest of the team all agreed that they did as well.
I do remember watching this episode and it inspiring the making of this recording. It was a creepy one, the light switch flicking off and on, and the door slamming, definitely spooked me a bit. The hut isn’t that big, and you’re utterly helpful while staying there because again, it’s Antarctica, you can’t just bail when it gets intense.
Probably the largest culprit to Antarctica’s spirit population would be the incident involving a New Zealand sightseeing flight. Antarctica had become a frequent tourist destination in the 1970s. Not necessarily to visit, but tourists booked day-trip flights from New Zealand and would enjoy a leisurely, aerial view of the harsh, icy landscape, from a nice safe distance, normally. One such trip turned fatal, however, due to low visibility in addition to pilot error.
The plane crashed into the side of Mount Erebus at 300 mph, and the impact instantly killed all 257 passengers and crew. Apparently, the corpses recovered from the crash were stored at McMurdo Station, an American base situated on Antarctica’s Ross Island. Many visitors to the island now believe the ghosts of the plane crash victims are still hanging around.
Visitors claim to hear voices, see short trails of unexplained footprints in the snow. Feeling strange presences as if they are not alone. One McMurdo Station worker is quoted as remembering the following: As soon as I entered, something was weird… I took a couple of steps in (and) the hair, on the top of my head, stood on end – footsteps upstairs; undeniably footsteps. A slow cadence of footsteps. I froze. It went from the back of the building to the front.
Although, do take this account with some notice. I can not verify where or when this took place. Despite it being in Antarctica, McMurdo Station is rather large. They have an average population of a little over 1,200 people during the summer months and 250 during the winter. Housing several buildings and structures, even clubs and shops. So it’s not like it’s a shack in the middle of nowhere with only one crew member moving about.
In the early 1900s, the race was on to be the first to reach the geographic South Pole. In 1911, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his team set out on the Terra Nova Expedition and set up camp at the edge of the Great Ice Barrier. While some men stayed behind with supplies and shelter, the rest of the team ventured onwards.
The expedition did not go completely as planned; a rival reached the pole about a month before his team. In 1912, Scott and four other men he had selected to join him on the expedition perished on their way back to the hut. Frostbite, gangrene, and starvation plucked them off one by one.
On March 29, 1912, Scott recorded his final journal entry; Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more. R. Scott. Last entry. For God’s sake look after our people.
Scott’s hut still stands, and people who have visited said they felt uneasy and uncomfortable. Voices and footsteps have been heard, and some people felt like they were being watched. There is also a cross, close to the hut in memory of a member of the Scott expedition who passed.
Deception Island once housed an old whaler’s station. The bones from their slaughters are still on the nearby beach. The station was abandoned during the Great Depression when oil prices fell. However, it found a new purpose as a British base during WWII. The station still stands, along with the containers used to boil whale fat, which is now simply rust. Some visitors to the island have claimed to see apparitions and light orbs, and a few have heard voices.
Paranormal researchers from Destination Truth once investigated Ghost Stories of Antarctica. Visiting the site and heard a few very unusual loud bangs and saw a shadowy figure. They caught a thermal signature in a window and hearing what sounds like an SOS code tapping inside a shack.
In 2009, scientists passing through the area discovered a random monument with a bust of Vladimir Lenin on top. Upon further inspection and some digging, they discovered an old Soviet Union military base covered by years of snow. A group, Scientific Traverse, claims the monument is plastic and left on top of the chimney of a small cabin used briefly by Soviets in 1958. The bust faces Moscow and because of the flat landscape, it is visible from far away. Perhaps Lenin’s ghost is also hanging out with the ghosts of Antarctic explorers.
EP 49 – Ghost Stories of Antarctica. Produced by Shane Cummings; Audio Editing & Research by Shane Cummings.
Intro & Outro music “Creepy Regrets” by AnMo.