Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

I miss you and I hope you have a great night.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Boxing Day Outing
In the run up to Chritsmas and even on Christmas day itself it was all hands on deck to unload all the cargo (food, fuel and supplies) to keep the base running for the next year. When the rush finally subsided I sneaked away to the coast to visit the big red Santa ship which had also served as my taxi south the previuos year.
Here she is, moored up against the sea ice about a kilometre from the ice cliffs that mark the edge of the ice shelf I live on. Although the sea ice is 3m thick and thought to be capable of supporting weights of at least 6 tonnes the scramble nets hang down the sides incase the ice starts to break out with people working on it.
In the morning just before I arrived ship side they nearly had to make a swift departure as a large ice floe loomed ominously near to the hull. This one is nothing in comparison but still pretty: above you can see it floating towards the bow and below you can see that most of it lurks beneath the waves.
Looking at it from a distance it looks almost as if there are oil slicks all around. In face the calm, shiny patches are not pollution but areas of 'grease ice' where the sea surface is just beginning to freeze. It goes through several stagges as ice crystals starts to cover the surface on swirling patches which grow eventually into 'pancake ice'. The changes are visible from minute to minute.
Here I am about to head out for a boxing day stroll along the foot of the ice cliffs.

By the way, some parts of Christmas are just the same down here. For instance the ship arrived bearing bucket loads of maltesers so I have been stuffing my face with chocolate just like I would do back home at this time of year.
Also, we had a very white Christmas with beautiful giant flakes of snow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ship's here at last...more photos soon

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Up up and away!!!

In spite of the recent invasions of outsiders it only felt like winter had truly come to an end at Halley when the first member of the winter team, field assistant Sune, set off for pastures new at the end of November.

I was overjoyed when I was asked to go with him, as co-pilot for the return flight. Not only did it mean I would be flying in a ski plane, exciting enough in itself, but the journey included visits to other Antarctic stations and, best of all, my first views of mountains and rocks and generally large amounts of colours other than white in a long long while.

Here's a fleeting glimpse, soon to be updated with a bit more explanation and some more pretty pics (sorry about the shocking lack of posting of late, the 12 hour shifts of summer eat into time for doing things other than work!)

First stop Neumayer, Halley's neighbouring German research station. The whole base is underground. Below you can see the very kind base commander giving me a guided tour, more photos to follow.

Below, our first landing in the mountains. First you trail the skis to check for crevasses and take off again. Then you land exactly on the tracks. Looking back, the tracks come from nowhere and then disappear again. Landing here gave me one of the most wonderful feelings of true isolation I've ever experienced.

Ok, so I got a bit excited about the mountains...

We landed here and slept overnight in the plane. Above you can see a depot of food and fuel to resupply Sune and the geologist he'll be guiding early in the new year.


South African Sanae Station from the air. We could see you waving but I' m not sure whether you could see us waving back!

Many thanks to staff at Neumayer and Troll stations for your wonderful hospitality.