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Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the blizzard tag
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All Change

Posted by Conservators Oct 14, 2013

Author: Nicola

Date: 11 October 2013

Temperature: -25C

Wind speed: 10 knots

Temp with wind chill: -37C

Sunrise: 5am

Sunset: 10.20pm

 

 

When we arrived at Scott Base, Josiah and I joined a small team of 10 people who had just spent the winter on the ice. Whilst it was busy, it was also relaxed and quiet, but suddenly it’s all change. The summer season has begun and the base population has swollen to over 50 excited people, many of whom have not been to the ice before.

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Preparing dinner in the outsoor kitchen © Issac

 

Last weekend we got to know some of the new crew as we joined them to learn Antarctic Field Skills from the specialist trainers – how to survive in the Antarctic environment, while working, having fun or in an emergency. 

 

We put together sleep kits of layers of thick sleeping bags, collected food supplies, learnt how to light camp stoves in sub-zero temperatures and discussed how to protect ourselves from frost bite. We then headed out to spend the night camping in tents similar to those used by the early Antarctic explorers.

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Breakfast time in a blizzard - warming tea, Milo and porridge © Nicola

 

That evening, after digging a kitchen area protected by snow blocks, we heated water and dined on packets of dehydrated food. When we turned in at 11pm it was still light and the weather perfectly calm. But this is Antarctica! Overnight the winds increased and in the morning we emerged from our flapping tents into near blizzard conditions. Although I’ve done field training on my two previous trips to the Ice it was always in fine conditions, so I really enjoyed experiencing some ‘real Antarctic weather’.

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Preparing to de-camp

    

Thanks to the training Josiah and I now feel confident as we make plans to head out to spend three months camping at the historic hut sites.  We are definitely looking forward to the experience. 

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Author: Sue

Temperature: -14 degrees

Wind Speed: 0

Temp with wind chill: -14 degrees

Sunrise: 05:50

Sunset: 20:12

 

 

Last Friday was a day like any other for us in the lab at Scott Base. A crate of frozen objects from Scott's Terra Nova hut had just thawed and I selected one for treatment. In this case, it was a wooden-backed bristle brush for grooming the expedition's ponies – ponies Scott intended to use in his 1912 dash to the South Pole. Hailing from Vladivostok, they were all white or dappled grey and numbered nineteen, but didn't fare well and were soon down to ten—Bones, Chinaman, Christopher, James Pigg, Jehu, Michael, Nobby, Snatcher, Snippets and Victor.

 

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Lawrence Oates with ponies at Terra Nova hut May 26th 1911 © H. Ponting SPRI ref: P2005/5/0459

 

Not only was the grooming brush well-worn from much use, it held a tangle of pale hairs and released a surprisingly pungent and pervasive odour of horse and manure, as if it had just been used. I commented on this to my Irish colleague, Stefanie, before our conversation turned back to our plans for St Patrick's Day celebration ... 17 March.

 

But my thoughts soon wandered to the expert horseman who was in charge of the Terra Nova expedition's ponies, a certain Captain Lawrence Oates. For Oates, 17 March, St Patrick's Day, was his birthday. And, tragically, it was also almost certainly the day he died, on his thirty-second, in Antarctica, 101 years ago. Oates is famous as the member of Scott's Polar Party who, ravaged by frostbite, scurvy, malnutrition and the effects of a war wound, self-sacrificed by walking out of the party's tent in a blizzard with the words "I'm just going outside and may be some time" in the hope it would enable the other team members—Scott, Bowers and Wilson—to survive the return journey from the Pole. Sadly it didn't … they all perished some twelve or so days later and Oates’ body was never found.

 

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Pony grooming brush from Scott's Terra Nova expedition

 

And so this 17 March, as Scott Base celebrates St Patrick's Day 2013, we also salute a true gentleman of the heroic era and a man of remarkable bravery, loyalty and gallantry … Captain Lawrence Edward Grace ('Titus') Oates (17 March 1880 – 17 March 1912).