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Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the crevasse tag

Ice Climbing

Posted by Conservators Jul 16, 2012

Author: Susanne

Date: 4 July 2012

Temperature: -38C

Wind Speed: 10 Knots

Temp with wind chill: -83C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A



You would think in the middle of winter with consistently cold temperatures that we wouldn’t go outside unless it was necessary, but everyday we venture out to either perform work duties or for recreation. With the right equipment and safety precautions we can easily spend a few hours outside in -38°C. This week my fellow Scott Base residents and I decided to venture out to try ice climbing in the crevasse simulator that the Search and Rescue team uses for training.


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Crevasse Simulator on the Ice Shelf © Simon


A crew of eight took a Hagglund on to the Ross Ice Shelf for about a 20 minute drive away from Scott Base. Several members of the Search and Rescue team accompanied us and set about rigging up the ropes and anchors. We were all rigged up and fitted with harnesses and then lowered down over the edge for some fun abseiling. Then the time came to climb back up! This was my first time climbing a wall of ice! Using two ice picks and crampons, I slowly eased my way up the wall, really getting a feel for the teeth of my feet and arms gripping in the ice.


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Scott Base crew climbing the Ice wall © AHT/Susanne


While our trip was recreational, I could not help but think of the early explorers and how this experience could have been a part of survival for them. There are a few pairs of crampons in the historic bases and I now have a true appreciation for how they were used!


The previous crevasse training held at Scott Base became very helpful.


Crevasse Training

Posted by Conservators Jun 7, 2012

Author:  Susanne Grieve

Date: 29/05/12

Temperature: -16c

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Temp with wind chill: -43c

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A  


Last week, I finished reading the journals of Dr. Edward Wilson and Lt. Birdie Bowers (members of Captain Scott's 1911 expedition). These primary resources can be important for conservators as they describe how certain objects were used and the importance they had to the men. One of the most striking descriptions is when the men fell down crevasses. In one example during the Worst Journey in the World sledging trip, Birdie fell through the ice into a crevasse below and Wilson calmly threw down a rope.


Nowadays, we use numerous safety precautions to ensure that when we are travelling across icy terrain or exploring the landscape that we don’t fall or get injured. Part of training for this environment is to learn how to abseil and climb safely in or out of a crevasse. Among our Scott Base team are several members of the Search and Rescue team, one of which, Jeff, taught us the basics of abseiling.


The Hilary Field Center at Scott Base is the main building that houses field support services and provides a great platform in which to train. After getting safely rigged up, I was ready to make an attempt.


Image 1.JPG

   Jeff rigging me up safely. © AHT/Susanne


After gently stepping up to the edge (and making sure that Jeff had a good grip on the belay), I turned and leaned back. This is a very strange experience if you have never tried it! Eventually I was able to find a rhythm and the confidence to lower myself down into the open space below.


Image 2.JPG

Making my way into the void below! © AHT/Susanne


With no where to place my feet, my heart beat was racing! Once I reached the bottom I was thankful that I didn’t have to have my first abseiling experience in a real crevasse like Birdie!