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Storms

Posted by Cricket and Diana Jan 31, 2011

 

Posted by Cricket

 

Date: 15 January 2011
Temperature: -2
Wind Speed: 7 knots
Temp with wind chill:

 

 

Weather is one thing you can never rely on down here.  In December, at Sir Ernest Shackleton's base at Cape Royds in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica, we had a 5-day storm of biting winds, cold temperatures and snow.  It was exciting at first, but then the daily buildup of snow in my tent and constant winds just lost their magic.  For some reason, I believed that that storm was our first and last.  I guess I thought that we’re in summer now and the weather should be sunny and even balmy during our last couple weeks here.  And, for the most part it has been, but just this week the winds shifted to the south, the temperature rose and we all realized we were in for another one.  This storm was a small one, mostly of blowy snow, and lasted just 2 days. Now that it’s over, it’s amazing to think how such a thing like a small storm affects your psyche.


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Tentsite in the storm © AHT /Cricket


It’s only after a storm that you realize how tiring living through one is.  Working outside is a bother and even the short commute between your tent, the kitchen wannigan, the conservation lab and the hut takes its toll.  It’s a quiet struggle, with your back hunched over and face scrunched up against the wind.  Your clothes get wet from all the snow, you wear your big issue boots, which weigh over 3kg, and everything seems a wee bit more of an effort.  And, when the storm finally leaves, there is a big relief.  The first sight of blue sky and sunlight seems like a marvelous gift that makes you smile.  It’s like seeing things for the first time, and suddenly everyone is just that much happier.  It’s been interesting living and working outside for just that reason – your life is not about news and events but more about what is going on in your immediate world and how vulnerable you are to it all.

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Barne Glacier just after the storm © AHT /Cricket
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Celebrating Christmas

Posted by Cricket and Diana Jan 25, 2011
Posted by Cricket
Date: 2 January 2011
Temperature: 1 C
Wind Speed: 10 knots

 

In taking a contract like working for the Antarctic Heritage Trust in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, I felt so lucky being chosen that I didn’t really think what it’d be like being away from home for 6 months.  Feeling a bit homesick, this Christmas I jumped at the chance to take a mini holiday and join six others from Scott Base on an overnight to Black Island.  Our goal was to climb 1000+m to the top of Mt. Aurora.  In two Hagglunds, it was a slow 5 hours ride, bumping around over the melting ice shelf, and navigating our way around large melt pools.  We arrived at Black Island in the evening, pitched camp, had a great meal of Christmas Eve leftovers and quickly went to bed.  We awoke at 4am to get ready and started climbing just after 5.

 

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Hagglund negotiating the melt pools © AHT / Cricket


The whole daylong was gorgeous and sunny with mild winds.  This was a treat since the weather here can change so quickly.  The climb up took just over 5 hours, and we climbed most of the way with crampons and pick axes towards a peak that remained elusive until the very end.  Minna Bluffs was our view from behind with Mt. Discovery on our left – it was fantastic seeing a different part of Antarctica and our home on Ross Island from a new perspective.  The windy summit forced a quick lunch and a few cameo photos, and then we quickly made our way down in just under 3 hours.  A quick base clean up and slow return home in the Hagglunds got us back to Scott Base in the evening.   For me, this trip was a recharge, and reminded me how lucky I am for being here.

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Climbing up Mt. Aurora © AHT / Cricket

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Blubber Pile

Posted by Cricket and Diana Jan 20, 2011

Author:          Diana

 

Date:             January 13, 2011
Temperature: -1 to -2 degrees celcius
Wind Speed: 15 knots (20-30 knott gusts)
Temp with wind chill: -roughly -8c
Sunrise: Sun is up all the time

 

There are no naturally occurring sources of fuel for heating or cooking available in Antarctica. It has therefore always been necessary to bring some source of fuel. Today we use LPG (propane) and furnace oil for heating and cooking. They come to Antarctica with the container ship in February every year.


During the Heroic Era of Antarctic discovery, coal and coal Bricketts as well as paraffin were brought down, but they also used something more local – seal blubber (fat). It was not as effective a heat source and left a sooty layer from its smoke but worked just the same.  See this image of Meares and Oates at the blubber stove, cooking food for the dogs, May 26th 1911.

 

The Ross Sea Party, stranded from their ship the Aurora when she broke free of her anchors in 1914-15, used primarily blubber for heating and cooking. There remains a pile of seal blubber at Cape Evans from this group. With the restoration work going on it was best to cover the pile but this week the table-like cover was removed. The surface was cleaned by picking the bits of scoria gravel, feathers and dust off.  A retaining dam was constructed around the pile of blubber to keep it intact. It is an amazing site and the aroma is quite distinctive.

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Posted by Diana

 

Date: 28 December 2010

Temperature: .9 degrees Celsius

Wind Speed: 8 knots

Temp with wind chill: negligible

Sunrise: The sun is up

 

We have had a few days at Scott Base to catch up on some work and enjoy Christmas with the Scott Base staff. We head out to the field tomorrow and since the frozen sea ice roads are closed we will be flying out by helicopter.

 

Antarctica New Zealand has one helicopter which the New Zealand Government supports, however there are three others at McMurdo Station, the American base. All four helicopters are base at McMurdo and are rotated according to event needs. The New Zealand helicopter is the newest and nicest looking – I think. It is an EC 130 Eurocopter built in France in 2007. This helicopter will carry six people, the pilot and freight. We will be flying out to Captain Scott’s 1910-13 expedition base at Cape Evans to join the carpentry team in this helicopter.

 

The other helicopters are two French built AS 350 – which are also known as “Squirrels” or in North America “A Star’s”. They carry 5 passengers, a pilot and suppliers. The other helicopter is a Bell 212 built in the USA which looks the biggest but actually has a similar capacity to the EC130. We have weighed  all our supplies in preparation for our flight tomorrow. It will be very exciting to see Antarctica from the air, as up till now we have only seen it from the ground.

 

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The New Zealand EC 130 helicopter © Antarctic Heritage Trust 2010 - Diana

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Cladding the roof

Posted by Cricket and Diana Jan 6, 2011

Posted by: Al Fastier

 

Date: 28 December 2010

 

 

The Carpentry team has spent the last two weeks cladding the roof of Captain Scott’s 1910 expedition base at Cape Evans. The product we are using has been chosen for its durability (an important factor in the harsh Antarctic environment) as well as its historical correctness in appearance. It’s a large job which requires attention to detail, such as welding the rubber seams of the cladding sheets to achieve the correct finish on the edging as used by the heroic explorers.


Fortunately the weather has favoured us, with the wind not interfering with the work and warm sunshine for the most part. A couple of times we have even managed to wear just socks on our feet for the work on the roof which heats up in the sun.

 

Yesterday we completed the cladding on the main body of the roof and it looks fantastic, fitting in well with the rest of the hut’s character.  It will really be something by the time the stables and western annexe are complete!


It is great to be a part of such an important and aesthetically pleasing project for the huts appearance as we approach the centenary of Captain Scott’s 1910-13 expedition.

 

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Cladding the roof at Captain Scott's 1910-13 expedition base, Cape Evans © AHT 2010

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White Christmas

Posted by Cricket and Diana Jan 5, 2011

Date: 25 December 2010

Posted by: Jamie Clarke

 

 

Out in the field at Captain Scott’s 1910 expedition base, Cape Evans with five colleagues from Antarctic Heritage Trust, I am celebrating my first white Christmas. The day seemed to sneak up on us without the usual barrage of advertising or carols that you would expect in regular life.


Our morning celebrations started with a leisurely breakfast of fried eggs on toast (a special treat considering that we are in the field).   After lunch we divided into two teams for Christmas games – Northern Hemisphere (Randy, Jam and Martin) and Southern Hemisphere (Al, J.T and myself).   J.T organized the games which included the “stick”, “dunnage” toss, (basically caber toss using spare pieces of workshop timber) and the “rope” game, the final result being the Southerners coming out victors!


In the late afternoon we walked up to the top ridge beside the Barne Glacier to enjoy the sunny, still day and awe inspiring panoramic views.


To top the day off, we exchanged gifts through a previously arranged secret Santa.


All in all a Christmas I will never forget!

 

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  Looking at the view from the top ridge beside the Barne Glacier © AHT 2010