With 1050 km², Hall Island ranks among the major islands along the south side of Franz-Josef-Land. Most of the area is covered by the extensive Moscow Icecap, the highest part of which reaches about 420 m above sea level. Towards north and west, the ice cap descends relatively smoothly down to sea level, where it forms over long stretches of the coast line glacier fronts into the water. In the northwest, icefree low Cape Wiggins reaches out into the Markham Sound unspectacularly. From here, the north coast is formed by a continuous 40 km glacier ice front all the way to the high rock walls of Cape Frankfurt as the northeastern corner stone (see pictures). More impressive is the west coast in the narrow Negri Channel as the division line to neighbouring McClintock Island, as well as the southeast coast down from Cape Frankfurt. But the scenery of Hall Island clearly culminates in the dramatic rock structures of Cape Tegetthoff. Where the horizontal top magmatic rock layer ends here, a ridge descends down to the sea with a series of magmatic funnels from long-ago vulcanism, having eroded out of the surrounding colourful weaker sediment layers, looking like the spikes along the spine of a gigantic saurus.
This chain of spectacular rock towers, terminating in two pointed rock needles just off the coast, is one of the most phantastic sceneries of the whole archipelago - often enhanced by white coastal ice contrasting with the dark rocks, or later in the season the colourful tundra on a narrow stretch of flat tundra with ponds between the sandy beaches and the steep slopes, fertilized by minor bird colonies up in the rock faces.
North of Cape Tegetthoff, there is Cape Lake, also with a low coastal plane, from which the mountains rise steeply. Most likely, this area between Rough Bay and Hydrographers Bay is, in fact, an own island, connected to Hall Island only by glacier ice - the discoverers from the TEGETTHOFF considered it as an island of its own, calling it Littrow Island, seemingly misunderstanding the low glacier connection as sea ice.
Right: Coasts of Hall Island -
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The dramatic rock scenery of Cape Tegetthoff was the first land to be seen from a long distance by the austrian-hungarian expedition on the TEGETTHOFF on August 30th 1873, trapped in a drifting ice field since more than a year. However, approaching this newly discovered land was possible only months later, deep in the polar night, when the drift ice had frozen solidly together all the way to the land and the TEGETTHOFF came to a rest south of Wilczek Island. In spring 1874, most of the coasts of Hall Island were mapped during the sledge tours of the TEGETTHOFF Expedition and also Cape Frankfurt was scaled to get an overview over the surroundings and also the ice situation at that time.
Today, only the relics of the octogonal wintering hut with annexes of the Wellman expedition of 1898/99 can still be seen here which had dismantled much of its constructions from the Jackson-Harmsworth wintering base on Cape Flora. The plan to reach the North Pole from here in spring 1899 failed already within the archipelago. And though the expedition did some mapping of the southeast of Franz Josef Land, it is mainly known for the dramatic wintering story in its outpost on Kap Heller.
The main base on Cape Tegetthoff is still fairly well discernable, though destroyed by more than 100 years of arctic natural forces and in addition some vandalising - not only by tourists.
Names: The TEGETTHOFF expedition named the island after Charles Francis Hall - US-American polar explorer), and also Cape Tegetthoff and Cape Frankfurt. Also most other names on the island date back to the Weyprecht-Payer expedition: Cape Wiggins (Josef Wiggins, 1832-1905, british navy officer, who was engaged in making Siberia accessible from its northern shores), Sonklar Glacier (Carl Albrecht Sonklar von Innstädten, 1816-1885, austrian military cartographer and alpine researcher), Littrow-Island/Peninsula (Heinrich von Littrow, 1820-1895, austrian navy officer and geographer, friend of Weyprecht), Negri Channel (Cristoforo Negri, 1809-1896, italian politician and diplomat, founder of the Italian Geographic Society, involved in polar questions), Nordenskiöld Fjord (today: Rough Bay). See also: Berghaus Island.
The names Cape Lake, Hydrographers Bay and Moscow Icecap are of newer origin.
See also: travel
Cape Tegetthoff with its spectacular scenery and the remains of the pioneer base is a popular landing site and often accessible by boat already fairly early, though erratic fields of drifting ice may become an obstacle sometimes, nevertheless.
Prior to a landing, the area should be checked carefully by a reconnaissance team for polar bears, which we have met here on several occasions - around the ridge, lots of huge debries make the terrain difficult to overview.
Like in all historic sites of the archipelago, high attention should be paid to not stepping on even the most inconspicious small historic artefacts. To avoid such damages, the interior of the station buildings should not be entered at all. Please do not climb the low earthen walls (fromer extra insulation) around them, either, and do not touch, relocate or remove any objects.
Be careful when approaching the outermost pinnacles: the snowbridge possibly leading there rests already on the sea bottom - including the risk of suddenly breaking through snow into the icy water!
On Cape Tegetthoff, also a number of more recent memorials can be found. Though most visitors are informed about the history of the site, these plates commemorate nevertheless some of these events - and proudly tell about those visitors who put up the respective plate: basically nothing else than a more exclusive way of tagging or leaving graffitti. Certainly, one can be of differing opinions, whether such markings of one´s visit really are necessary in such a special location. What if every visitor group would feel a similar need to leave its mark ?
Impressions of CapeTegetthoff (Click on a picture leads to bigger version):