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Antarctic conservation blog archive

Getting away from it all

Sarah, Wednesday 2 August 2006

You’d think it would be hard to get more ‘away from it all’ than we already are out at Scott Base, in the middle of Antarctica. But there are times when we need a break from our quarters.

The A frame © Sarah Clayton

We are very lucky to have the A Frame as a retreat. It’s an old hut that was originally at McMurdo. In the sixties it was towed out on to the sea ice, to wait for the break up of the ice to send it to the button of the ocean. This is how most of the rubbish from McMurdo was treated at the time. (You’ll be glad to know that these days McMurdo and Scott Base are very rubbish and pollution savvy. All waste is separated and then send back via ship to New Zealand for recycling or disposal.)

Thankfully the A Frame didn’t sink to the bottom of McMurdo Sound. It was rescued by the ever-resourceful Kiwis for use as a get-away cabin. It’s about 20 minutes from Scott Base at the side of the Hut Point Peninsular, with Mount Erebus in the background and expansive views of the Ross Ice Shelf, White and Black Islands. The cabin has no power or running water, but it does have a good diesel-powered heater and once the kerosene lanterns are lit, it’s quite cosy.

Last weekend Jacinda, Victoria and I headed out for a night at the A Frame on Saturday. Being at the A Frame is was a great way to relax and recharge one’s batteries. We had a lovely evening with the best aurora I have seen, and then the brightest stars.

Inside the A frame © Sarah Clayton

We all got to bed reasonably early and managed to sleep in till late which was very nice indeed. Sleeping in is easy at the A Frame, because all the windows have been covered with Styrofoam for the winter to keep the heat in, which makes it very dark when the lanterns are turned off.

Jacinda was first up, cooking a magnificent breakfast of pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and tinned mandarins. By 11am the light outside was wonderful, so we spent quite a bit of time taking photos of pink skies, Mount Erebus and a crescent moon.

I was using a camera with slide film, so I don’t have any shots for the blog. I also discovered that my cable release doesn’t like the cold, which made it start to make the camera take photos even when I hadn’t pressed the shutter release. There may be some interesting results.

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