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Antarctic conservation

70 Posts tagged with the conservators tag
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Mans Best Friend

Posted by Conservators May 15, 2012

Author: Stefan
Date: 10/05/12
Temperature: -7C
Wind Speed: 10 kts
Temp with wind chill: -20C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A

 

Huskies, or any breed of dog, were officially removed from Antarctica after concerns were raised about distemper possibly being transferred to Weddel seals. The Antarctic Treaty stated that “dogs shall not be introduced onto land or ice shelves and dogs currently in those areas shall be removed by April 1994.”


It’s fascinating to learn the history of dogs at Scott Base/Antarctica, The majority of the 61 that set paw down on ice in 1956 were said to have descended from an original bloodline of Admiral Richard Byrd’s 1928-30 expedition to Antarctica. From this point the dogs travelled around numerous bases on the continent, mixing the stocks base-to-base.

 

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Photo © Frank Hurley 1911

 

It’s amazing to hear of how fondly all of the expeditioners talked of these often brutal tempered animals. My belief is many people who end up visiting Antarctica have a natural affinity with the attributes of these dogs i.e. needing little to survive, loyal, hardworking, and dependable.

 

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Dog collar and leash chain © AHT/ Stef

 

In preparing to conserve a dog collar from Scott’s Cape Evans hut, I can’t help but feel a certain sadness, that the efforts and achievements of these beasts haven’t as yet been properly commemorated or recognised.

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Hibernation Hinterland

Posted by Conservators Apr 29, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 24/04/12
Temperature: -20c
Wind Speed: 5 kts
Temp with wind chill: -30c
Sunrise: 12:31 pm
Sunset 1:10pm


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The sun says ‘goodbye’ for the next 4 months (photo by S. Shelton, ANTNZ)

 

Yesterday, some lucky members of Scott Base went to an area called Castle Rock to toast the final rising and setting of the sun, with only 39 minutes in-between dawn and twilight. Over the past month or so, the days have been getting progressively shorter, but now the sun will not return above the horizon until late August. It is a big moment for all those living and working here, as it heralds the start of the long dark night of the Antarctic winter.

We drove to the spot in a hagglund, (a Swedish snow-tank) found a good picnic place and put up our deckchairs to admire the scenery and take photos. On the drive back, we made a brief stop to ‘Igloo City’ which is comprised of 5 igloos which were built over the summer and are now largely collapsing. A couple of them still had roofs, so we excavated the doorways and climbed in! It was a welcome break from work, and a good reminder of the amazing environment we live in.

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Igloo City! (photo by G. Evans, AHT)

 

As the light closes in, our base crew of 14 will be drawn ever more together. 24 hour darkness can produce interesting effects in people, and as the winter progresses, some may expect disturbed sleep patterns, forgetfulness, tiredness, general annoyance, and an increased tendency to put on weight; it’s an experience that none of us would miss for the world!

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Author: Gretel
Date: 18 April 2012
Temperature: Minus 17 deg C
Wind Speed: 4 knots
Temp with wind chill: Minus 21 deg C
Sunrise: 10.34am
Sunset 3.09pm

 

 

In my last blog I posted the Scott Base winter crew recreation of Captain Scott’s last birthday dinner. Apparently some people thought that we did a great job with Photoshop. In fact the entire affair was created from scratch and took many late evenings of hard work by some very talented people. Here I shall give away some of our secrets…

 

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Captain Scott’s last birthday dinner recreated © Steve Williamson

 

The setting for the photo is not the original base hut at Cape Evans but the warm and comfortable lounge of Scott Base. The interior of the hut was recreated by our base carpenter Jodie, using tongue and groove for the wall, and modern pine for the antiquated shelving. Our artistic director, George, stained wallpaper to mimic the ceiling and painstakingly painted the sledging flags with a helping hand from Susanne and myself. Old bed linen was utilised for these and the Union flag, which Naomi very accurately recreated (for an Australian), while overseeing the whole project. Shane utilised the photocopier to reproduce the backdrop from the original image on a large scale from many sheets of A4 paper and a lot of sticky tape. Stef was a master of illusion magicking jugs from blotting paper and aluminum foil, salt cellars out of laboratory glassware and bent aluminium wire, and bone-handled knives from sponge and masking tape; but his pièce de résistance were the soda siphons fashioned from thermos flasks, papier mâché and copper gauze. In fact the only ‘real’ items in the photo, apart from the people were the food and chocolates made especially for the occasion by our chef Bobby. The whole team pulled together to set-up and recreate the scene and get into character for the final photo, captured on camera by Steve the sparky. So much effort went into the mock-up that for now we’ve decided to keep that corner of the lounge as it is.
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Stef and George lounge about © Gretel

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Crazy Golf

Posted by Conservators Apr 16, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 11/04/12
Temperature: -26c
Wind Speed: 25 kts
Temp with wind chill: -42c
Sunrise: 9:25am
Sunset 4:21pm


At Scott Base we work 6 days a week over the winter, but once a month we get a full weekend off. For the ‘long’ Easter weekend, we decided to get creative and build and play a 7-hole crazy golf course all around the station.  Our crew of 14 was divided into pairs to make one of the holes. My construction abilities don’t extend far beyond cardboard and duct tape, so I was lucky to find myself paired with Tom who is an engineer.  On Saturday we were able to throw together a truly glorious hole called ‘Escape from Rat Lab’ in which the golf ball rolls around through a succession of pipes.

 

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‘Escape from Rat Lab’: Tom revels in the glory of his creation (photo by G. Whiteley, AHT)

 

Amongst the others was ‘Polynesian Putt Putt’ in which you have to hit the ball through a model volcano setting off a musical dancing hula girl. The ‘Turbinator’ was an electric turbine with enormous rotating blades, erected in the computer lab. One of the favourites was ‘The C17’ which involved hitting the ball by the Administration block into a model of the C17 airplane, which then flew down the hallway on a zip-line, before landing on the runway in ‘Christchurch’ (somewhere in the vicinity of Engineering).

 

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Susanne; considering her shot from Christchurch Airport (photo by A. Williamson, ANTNZ)

 

On Sunday we all got dressed up to play in our golfing gear; with plus-fours, tweed caps and rain-macs. Despite a couple of disqualifications for dubious golfing practice, a good game was played by all; a truly memorable Easter!

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Of What Lies Within

Posted by Conservators Apr 13, 2012

Author: Stefan
Date: 10th April 2012
Temperature: -22C
Wind Speed: 15kts
Temp with wind chill: -41C
Sunrise: 9.17am
Sunset: 4.30pm

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Stefan delving into a tin of 100 year old custard. AHT Stefan

“The constant draw of the fume cabinet whirred steadily like the idling  of a contented bees nest. Nitrile gloves had enveloped my hands without a snag or curse, and the rare sense of ease filled me with anything but. The air was dense with a dull smell, which only rumoured to the true overwhelming nature of what stench could lie within the heart of the looming rusty monolith before me.  Armed only with a spoon, I approached the vessel in a familiar routine of dining, but dear lord this mass could not be stomached. With the lid tentatively removed, the greenish yellow contents emerged like a bad moon rising…custard.”

 

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Tin samples (left to right) custard, salt, anchovy paste, polishing compound. AHT Stefan

 

Emptying  tins is a daily occurrence working with AHT. Depending upon how badly the object is corroded/stained, you get a varying clarity of what you may have to empty and dispose of. The contents are only removed when objects are found to be leaking, and could place other parts of the collection at risk. The majority of the contents are placed in biohazard bags and flown back to New Zealand to be incinerated, yet we always take a small sample to be placed in science freezers, in order that we can research or investigate this material whenever we choose. Anchovy paste (suspected) has been the smelliest sample I’ve taken so far, but my team mates assure me that, chocolate and butter are far worse.

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A Game of Chess

Posted by Conservators Mar 28, 2012

Author: Stefan
Date: 28  March 2012
Temperature: -13C
Wind Speed: 5kts
Temp with wind chill: -15C
Sunrise: 8:39am
Sunset 7;15pm

 

The White Knight is talking backwards, and the Red Queen is off her head

 

The night watchmen, having a game of chess. Frank Hurley and Leonard Hussey (Shackleton Expedition) 1915
http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/library/pictures/catalogue/article/p66.18.28/


With such a diverse set of personalities here on base people have very particular ways of relaxing and trying to form a distinction between work and private time.


Chess is a massive passion of mine, and its ability to open up an ever changing arrangement of problems is something I hold to be special as the winter draws on. Indeed, this desire to create mental scenarios which are not based on reality, is of great importance when sustaining what is rather an abstract existence down here. I often find that people who have the ability to take you on a journey in your mind, is of great relief, as the possibility of that physical voyage is often impossible off base.

 

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Cape Evans chess board (Inspected by Stefan & George) AHT Stef

With this in mind I was overjoyed to realise Cape Evans Hut’s chess board was in this years collection to be conserved, (and my team mates were good enough to let me be the one to work on it). It’s not often you get to conserve an object which has had not only physical interaction but also such thought and mental tension soaked into each black and white square of its fabric.


Depending on which way you look at it, I’m very lucky this season in having George with me, who was somewhat of a chess child protégé in the 1980s. Rumours suggest chess became quite heated upon the old (now empty) Russian base, let’s hope George and I can keep our castles cool.

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Author: Susanne
Date: March 21, 2012
Temperature: -28.3°C
Wind Speed: 15 knots
Temp with wind chill: -62°C
Sunrise: 7:56AM
Sunset 8:00PM

When I am asked about my Antarctic experience, people are always curious about my favorite part. My answer: the people I meet!


The Antarctic Heritage Trust is logistically supported by Antarctica New Zealand, a government entity responsible for maintaining the base operations at Scott Base and supporting science events. The first time we meet the ten Scott Base crew that we are wintering with, is when we arrive on the ice. It’s always an exciting time since the summer season team is leaving and we are new faces to get to know. Over the past few months, we have spent more time with this spectacular crew and I also wanted to share the rest of their stories with you.


Shane is the Science Technician this year and originally hails from Queenstown, NZ. While his background is in electronics product design, he spends his time on the ice doing weather observations, maintaining the science experiments, and repairing electronics. After talking with Shane, I learned that his favorite part of being here is the winter family and that you can be yourself and find support in each other. He was attracted here by hearing about others good experiences and enjoys meeting and working with the types of people that come to Antarctica.

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Shane at Discovery Point. Credit: Shane.


Naomi is the winter team First Aider and Domestic from Brisbane, Australia. In addition to living in New Zealand for 7 years, she has been attracted to living in different environments and has spent time in Africa and Canada.  Coming to Antarctica is something she has always wanted to do and her favorite part has been the people! With a diverse background as an ambulance volunteer and world traveller, she enjoys the work schedule and hopes to be able to get career experience.
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Naomi at Lake Vanda. Credit: Naomi.


Our winter chef this season is Bobbie from North Canterbury, NZ. Coming to Antarctica was a childhood dream and this is her second season with Antarctica New Zealand. Bobbie has a background in cafes and catering and produces some of the most incredible vegetarian dishes I have tasted. It helps that Bobbie herself is a vegan! She was attracted here by the mystery and magic that the continent holds and appreciates the fact that not a lot of people get to enjoy this opportunity. Her favorite part of the experience so far has been the view from the kitchen window! Not many chefs can wake up to a sunrise over the Antarctic continent!

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Bobbie at Cape Bird. Credit: Naomi.

 

Hayden is the Telecom technician for the season and is responsible for linking us with the outside world! Originally from Palmerston North, NZ, he studied telecommunications and specialised in wireless engineering. Also a world traveller, Hayden wanted to experience the remote ruggedness of Antarctica that few get to experience. During the summer he assisted with several science events and was able to see truly untouched areas such as the Dry Valleys and Darwin Glacier. His favorite part of being here is the entire experience and as he perfectly puts it, “to look out over the ice shelf and see an untouched place of beauty”. Hayden is also on the Search and Rescue team for Scott Base and I know that we are in good hands with his years of experience and his appreciation for the environment.

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Hayden at the Darwin Glacier. Credit: Hayden.


Simon, our fearless winter base manager, is originally from Invercargill, NZ. In addition to leading the base through the winter, Simon serves as field support and coordinates outdoor activities and gear maintenance. With a background in the building trade, he has travelled extensively and worked on sites in NZ and Australia. Wanting to do something he was more passionate about, he pursued ski patrolling and guiding while getting a diploma in ambulance practice. With this experience he heads the Search and Rescue team at Scott Base. His favorite part of the experience here has been the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the beautiful and powerful place that Antarctica is.
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Simon at the South Pole. Credit: Trudie


I have really been enjoying my time here and having the opportunity to spend the winter with such great people. It really is the team that makes this experience so special!


 

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Fire in the Hole

Posted by Conservators Mar 15, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 14/03/12
Temperature: -8.7c
Wind Speed: 7 kts
Temp with wind chill: -16c
Sunrise: 6:58am
Sunset 9:02pm


The last few weeks have seen a great many changes as Scott Base has made the transition from summer to winter mode.  The summer is a hectic period of 24-hour daylight when there can be  as many as 90 people on base at any time, made up of science teams and project groups as well as support staff.  Now however, we are down to our full winter complement of 14; a skeleton base crew of 10, plus our 4 AHT conservators.  Officially this change was marked by the flag ceremony, a tradition dating back to 1957, when the youngest person on base is tasked with lowering the old summer flag and hoisting up the winter version; a small pennant-type standard that can better withstand the inclement weather to come.

 

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Flag ceremony at Scott Base © AHT/Susanne


Now, postcards and letters home have been hastily written to make the last mailbag, and last-minute orders of supplies and fresh vegetables have been received.  Finally, last Tuesday our crew gathered outside to toast the departure of the final flight from Pegasus Air Strip. Now there will be no movement on or off the continent until August.  An exciting time for all.

 

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The McMurdo ice pier used during summer for off-loading ship cargo; no longer needed and destroyed at the start of winter with high explosives

© AHT/Georgina

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Antarctic Field Training

Posted by Conservators Mar 7, 2012

Author: Gretel
Date: 14 February 2012
Temperature: -10.8 °C
Wind Speed: 23 knots
Temp with wind chill: -22.1°C
Sunrise: n/a
Sunset: n/a


Now that we are in Antarctica there is a lot to learn about our new ‘home’. Antarctic Field Training teaches us how to camp out in the field as well as what to do in emergency situations where we might have to survive outdoors under unexpected circumstances.


We learn about how to make the best of our extreme weather clothing - layering up thermal underlayers, fleece pants and tops, salopettes, 3 different types of jackets, and a variety of neck gaiters, hats and gloves. Antarctic weather is explained:  the wind can be deadly in conjunction with cold climates: wind speed of 20 knots at minus 10 degrees Celsius results in wind chill temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius! We are taught about survival bags; these include items such as tents, sleeping bags, primus stoves, dehydrated food and chocolate, enabling survival in extreme conditions for at least 3 days.

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Polar Tents © AHT/Gretel


Finally we spend a night camping in the field. We use polar tents – based on a design used by Captain Scott during his Antarctic expeditions. They are quick and easy to assemble and very stable in strong winds due to their pyramidal shape; snow is shoveled over the tent flaps to secure them, and the tent accessed via a fabric tunnel which can be securely tied up in bad weather.

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Ice Kitchen © AHT/Gretel

 

We had the luxury of an ice kitchen within which to cook and shelter from the wind. Formed from blocks of compact snow and sunk into the ground the kitchen provided a haven within which to eat and relax in the shadow of Mount Erebus.

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News Team! Assemble!

Posted by Conservators Mar 4, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 21/02/12
Temperature: -3c
Wind Speed: 2 kts
Temp with wind chill: -5c
Sunrise: 3.26am
Sunset 12.50am

 


Whoever thought that being at the bottom of the world would open a door into the glittery world of TV glam!  On Saturday, TVNZ presenter Heather du Plessis-Allan and camera-man Byron Radford visited us at Scott Base to shoot some material about life in Antarctica as a feature for New Zealand’s Television One News.  As part of the shoot, our team was asked to talk about the conservation project and some of the conservation work we will be doing over the season.  This proved an excellent opportunity for us to showcase the work of the Trust, and also to pull out some of the more iconic artefacts, many of which we had yet to see.

 

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In the AHT lab: a break during filming. © AHT/Susanne

 

After sprucing up the lab and combing our hair into some semblance of tidy, we each overcame our nerves to be interviewed in front of the camera.

 

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‘Alright, TVNZ, I’m ready for my close-up!’ Gretel works the shoot like a pro. © AHT/Susanne

Here at Scott Base we get one hour of news beamed in each day via satellite, which we can watch during dinner in the communal area. We are yet to learn whether our footage will make it onto national TV, but certainly our eyes will be glued to the box over the next few days.    
 

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Author: Stefan
Date: 22- Feb- 2012
Temperature: -10.6
Wind Speed: 10kts
Temp with wind chill: -22
Sunrise: 3:26am
Sunset 12:50am


The handover and transition between summer and winter conservation teams allows us a brilliant opportunity to have a bit of banter, share interesting and humorous stories and occasionally something fascinating about the huts. All these little signs of human activity left by the explorers leads to some lingering conundrums of what exactly happened 100 years ago.

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Snow meter at Cape Royds © AHT/Stefan

 

Although he worked relentlessly, Gordon (Lead Timber Conservator) shared with me that he had a little time with the summer team to investigate the suspicious holes in the snow meter outside Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds. After some high tech stick insertions (eat your heart out CSI) through entry and exit points, Gordon was set on the conclusion that someone had been shooting at the meter from the hut door, and also from the shoreline. Dear readers in the distant world, any thoughts on why?

 

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Historic image of Shackletons Hut with snow meter visible Circa 1908 Photographer unknown © Alexander Turnbull Library

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Night At Cape Royds

Posted by Conservators Feb 23, 2012

Author: Susanne
Date: February 15, 2012
Temperature: -8 °C
Wind Speed: 32 km/h
Temp with wind chill: -17°C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


One of the most adventurous things we get to do in Antarctica is to take a helicopter ride to visit the historic expedition bases at Cape Evans and Cape Royds. After several safety briefings, we suit up in our Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear and head to the helicopter pad. This can be an intense experience with a loud, heart thumping rotor beating overhead, but the flight crew and Scott Base staff move us safely on board and on our way, enjoying the fantastic scenery that Antarctica has to offer.


After unloading our gear and survival bags at Cape Royds, the helicopter was quickly off to see to another science team. We had a few hours to enjoy the base and appreciate the daily life that Shackleton and his men endured before packing up to meet the helicopter at our scheduled time.  In the meantime the weather had changed.

 

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Setting up camp near the survival wannigan in a Condition 2 storm © AHT/Georgina


After several hours of waiting and regular radio contact with Scott Base, the weather was continuing to worsen to a Condition 2 category with low visibility and high winds. We quickly realised we would be staying the night at Cape Royds. All eight of us snuggly fit into a survival wannigan nearby which provided some sense of relief and a respite from the cold. The survival bags had enough food for three days and tents to provide shelter for the night. Our time was spent as I imagined in a similar to the early explorers by telling stories and playing games with the limited items in the survival wannigan. The following day, the weather continued to change dramatically between beautiful open skies and reduced visibility. Our only chance was to find a window of opportunity for the helicopter to safely travel between Scott Base and Cape Royds. That window came just as we were breaking into lunch and that feeling of hearing the chopper blades in the distance was indescribable.

 

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Relaxing in the living room area © AHT/Georgina

 

This experience was a true testament to how unpredictable the weather can be. Safety precautions, serious training, and regular scenarios are a reminder that we do live in an extreme environment. We were thankful to have the necessary items we needed such as a primus stove, food, and shelter, and I was that much more humbled by the experiences that the men from Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition men endured for several years in the spirit of exploration and science.

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Author: Stefan Strittmatter
Date: 06/02/2012
Temperature: -11C
Wind Speed: 9kn
Temp with wind chill: -19C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


Life in Antarctica is a very human endeavor. For Captain Scott and the men of the 1910-13 expedition, and (to a much more flimsy degree) we four conservators, food (and its preparation) becomes of upmost importance very quickly.


Scott and his team were well placed at both Cape Evans and Discovery Hut to take advantage of the abundance of Weddell seals and their blubbery bounty. Al Fastier and his summer team of conservators have done a wonderful job of conserving an epic slab of this oozing mass of fat, (still present in the Cape Evans hut stables). Indeed a slight lean of the trough means there’s a filtered cup of oil slumped to the edge, making it effortless to visualize a frost bitten face swinging round the corner to scoop up and replenish a gasping stove.

 

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Seal blubber trough outside Cape Evans Stables © AHT/Stefan


Nowhere near as hardy, Susanne, Gretel, George and I were happy to ditch the heroic approach, and cook with soot free faces on the nifty ‘Primus’ stoves,  Scott Base has kindly supplied us with for AFT (Antarctic Field Training). A bit of a fiddle at first, but once the white gas starts to roar and the first brew is at the boil, you can’t help but feel a certain bond and romance, about the hardship and fun this wonderful place can offer.

 

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Cooking during winter AFT (Antarctic Field Training) © AHT/Stefan

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Arrival

Posted by Conservators Feb 13, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 26/02/12
Temperature: -4.8c
Wind Speed: 8 kn
Temp with wind chill: -13c
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A

 

So here we are in Antarctica at last!


Gretel, Stefan and I have come from the UK, while Susanne our lead conservator hails from the USA.  We shall be here at New Zealand’s Scott Base in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica for the next 7 months during the Austral winter, and shall be conserving artefacts that have been temporarily transported here for the season from Captain Scott’s hut at Cape Evans.  It has been a long road getting here for all of us, with the last few months being taken up with medical exams, psychometric testing, packing and general preparations, as well as saying goodbye to friends and family back home.

 

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Waiting to depart at Christchurch Airport. L-R: Jeff (winter mechanic), Susanne, Gretel, Stefan, George

 

Both Susanne and I are returnees, having worked on the programme before, but for Stefan and Gretel it is their first time in the big white South!


I  was last here in 2010 and am very much looking forward to experiencing a second winter.  Every season is unique according to group dynamics and personalities on base, not to mention the artefacts themselves posing new conservation challenges.


I had initially felt a little nervous about meeting my immediate AHT colleagues and wider Scot base family (a small team of 14 people in total), given that we will be living and working together so closely for so long… but things are looking good so far, so watch this space.

 

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AHT winter team arrive on the ice! C 17

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Author:      John
Date:        January 2012

 

My time spent working with the Antarctic Heritage Trust team at Ross Island Antarctica on the conservation of Shackleton’s Hut and Scott’s Hut at Cape Royds and Cape Evans respectively is drawing to an end.  I am 21 and from New Zealand on a programme called the Sir Peter Blake Trust Youth Antarctic Ambassador. We were at Cape Royds for 3 weeks in November and spent the remainder of the Antarctic summer at Cape Evans. We are the New Zealand Antarctic Programme’s  longest running field camp, spanning from the beginning of November to the end of January.


Antarctica is well known as being the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth. Each of these factors makes living in Antarctica challenging and demanding but when the correct procedures and equipment are used it is generally a pleasant and workable environment.


Keeping warm is obviously key. Antarctica New Zealand provides all the clothing which is similar to what would be worn on a ski field.  Thermal under layers, microfleece and wool then a wind stopper outer. At the beginning of the season it was down to minus 20 degrees Celsius. At that temperature, all exposed skin must be covered. A balaclava and goggles are worn.


Wind is the Antarctic killer as this creates additional cold or wind-chill which draws substantially more heat from the body. In mid December, the temperature rarely got to -10 degrees Celsius  and was often above zero. With no wind, it seems as though it is much warmer than it actually is. Activity level has a great deal to do with warmth and hence keeping cool is an issue when many clothes are worn during high activity levels and are shed – sweat becomes very cold when activity level reduces. So managing clothing is a learning curve.

 

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At work © AHT

 

We sleep in traditional Scott Polar tents. They are a proven design and can survive winds over 120 km/h when sufficiently guy roped. The sleeping bags are very warm, a down sleeping bag within another and a cotton sheet inner and outer. Normally this is too warm so one bag acts as a duvet. Liquid human waste is excreted in a tide crack (sea ice cracks due to the tide next to the land). When in the tent, we pee in a plastic “pee” bottle. Solid human waste is collected in a bucket and transported to be incinerated in New Zealand. The 24 hour day light takes a bit to get used to. The only time cue is the position of the sun or watch. The tent is always bright orange.

 

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Home on the Ice  © AHT

 

The environment is not dirty although there can be dust. We have no shower in the field but typically once a week I would have a flannel wash. This is more effective than you might think and uses minimal water.  Luckily we were able to go back to Scott Base for a shower mid trip.  A week per clothing set is standard during normal work. Socks are hung to air for a couple of days before being reused. Every few weeks, clothing is washed in a bucket. This level of cleanliness would be generally unacceptable elsewhere but we maintain a healthy level of cleanliness.  It is an almost sterile environment and very dry. We have no animal contact, dirt/mud or warmth so the dirtiness and bacteria encountered with camping or tramping at home is not an issue here.


Due to the creativeness of the team, we eat well. The food is dehydrated and frozen with an occasional supply of fresh food called “freshies”. We are near a penguin colony so we do not eat poultry as this could introduce disease. Because of the cold and high energy requirements, we eat substantial amounts of salami, cheese and chocolate. Fresh bread is cooked daily and the occasional cake.


Social interaction is key to healthy wellbeing. We have a lot of fun together with varied intellectual and humored conversation. Being busy working means our minds are always occupied. Sunday afternoons are a rest time which is stimulating and we would generally sit and watch a movie together. We have little opportunity to interact with family and friends at home. Calls can be made on the satellite phone although this is very expensive and difficult to fully engage in conversation with such short calls. We have daily radio communication with Scott Base Com’s to catch up on the news and pass on any messages.  I always remind myself that no news is good news. It is harder for the members of the team who have close family and are not used to this level of isolation. Personally I have enjoyed  the opportunity to be isolated from the high levels of social stimulus in my normal life. We concentrate and thrive on the fundamentals; personal social interaction, good food, shelter and warmth.

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