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Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the flagged_route tag

Under Pressure

Posted by Conservators Sep 20, 2013

Author: Nicola

Date: 18 September 2013

Temperature: -21C

Wind Speed: 15 knots

Sunrise: 7.10

Sunset: 18.30



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Heading for a walk amoung the pressure ridges © Josiah


The pond in the village where I grew up would occasionally freeze over in winter and, with my head filled with images of polar explorers, I always wanted to walk onto its thin, enticing shell of ice.  So, this evening it was a great thrill to be able to step from the land in front of Scott Base and onto the 2m thick sea ice.

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The moon rising above the jagged silhouttes of the broken ice © Nicola


I was heading out to explore the extraordinarily beautiful features known as the pressure ridges.  Formed as the ice is squashed up against the land during winter these jagged walls of ice are slowly forced up into strange, distorted, awe-inspiring shapes. As the tide rises puddles of sea water appear around their base then freeze into ponds of blue ice. The shapes are never static, and over the coming months they will gradually change; fracturing, splitting and sagging under their own weight.

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A jumble of fractured sea ice and frozen ponds with Mount Erebus behind © Nicola


I carefully followed the safe flagged route, probing the snow in front of me with a pole, checking for new cracks in the ice. In the gloom as the sun went down I was confronted with two massive dark shapes – seals. During the summer hundreds will make their way through the cracks around the pressure ridges and come up for air. I left them peacefully relaxing on the ice and headed back to the base.

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Seals lying on the ice amoung the pressure ridge walk © Nicola


Author: Marie

Date: 9 July 2013

Temperature: -42

Wind speed: 10 knots

Temp with wind chill: -52

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A



Health and safety are a priority down here, and it's for very good reason. As we are isolated from the rest of the word, we need to evaluate every situation and control any risk. Rescuing a party is a dangerous expedition in itself, and the Search And Rescue (SAR) team is constantly training.

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Nice weather for a day out


Hence, when a friend and I went skiing the Castle Rock Loop last Sunday, we had two radios with extra batteries, two head torches with spare batteries, a shovel, a medical kit, a GPS, extreme weather clothes, hand-warmers, food, pee bottles … when it was a three-hour journey on a flagged route, and a warm -25 degrees with wind chill.


But then it got windy when we were half way, and the forecast became uncertain. The situation was re-assessed and it was decided that we had better not pursue our journey. Happily we were just having tea in one of the shelters on the road and we just had to stay there and wait for a ride back. We spent time eating frozen candy and trying to play soccer (yes, in an artificial igloo!) to stay warm. Scott Base's Mike and Molly played the 'orange boys' and arrived with crisps and drinks in a Hagglund 40 minutes later… and so we just went back to base.

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The USAP emergency shelter 'Apple 2'


But at least, we can now start a story with "I was stuck in this igloo by blowing winds, when all of a sudden …" which can look very nice on Facebook … until one's mum sees it (and then the real trouble starts).