[ I N D E X ]

January


Written by Cathy Moore (meteorologist)

January has been yet another busy month for us all at Halley. The RRS Ernest Shackleton has still not been able to reach the base. They were the closest about a week ago but a large area of heavy sea-ice is still preventing their arrival at N9, the nearest suitable place (60Km away) for unloading cargo. The Twin Otters have been able to fly out to the ship to help guide her through any leads but there was no suitable route. They have returned to an area further north to a place called Drescher where there is some suitable seaice for the Twin Otter aircraft to land near to the ship and unload people and cargo. The Twin Otter aircraft landed on the 
sea-ice infront of the RRS Ernest Shackleton
Meanwhile there has been furious activity during the last month as, even without the extra hands from the ship, the summer work has had to continue. There is a constant battle against snow burial of everything on base. Many people have been helping to dig out ‘depots’. These were once large mounds of snow with a platform on top made of fuel drums with wood across them. All sorts of spare cargo was stored over winter on the depots but now the snow is almost burying them and new depots have been built.
Raising the SHARE towers
The SHARE (Southern Hemisphere Aroural Radar Experiment) towers all had to be raised by 3m. Each section came flat packed and had to be assembled - with no instructions! So it was just a matter of matching them to the old towers like a giant mecano set. The antenna beam had to be lifted from each tower then a new section added to the top and the beam replaced. It took a team of 4 or 5 people about 4 days to complete.

There have been several fuel raises to supply the generators on the Laws and Piggott Platforms and the three Twin Otter aircraft. The Aerosurvey team headed out to the SANAE (South African National Antarctic Expedition) station this month. SANAE is built on a Nunatak to the North of Dronning Maud Land about 150Km inland. The station is built on stilts similar to Halley, but is about three times the size including a garage big enough for two helicopters. Nine people usually winter at the base and they also have the same SHARE experiment mentioned above. Their array is built on rock and doesn't need raising each year. Mark, Munki, Karl and Alan flew out and had a tour of the base and even brought back some goodies including pineapple! The South African National Antarctic Expedition base

There have been a lot of arrivals on base via plane recently. Three of the new winterers arrived via Rothera after the ship dropped them off in the Falklands. Jon Seddon (AIS engineer), Ben Norrish (vehicle mech) and Steve Hinde (field GA) all arrived at around midnight on the 25th. At exactly the same time a Basler plane arrived from Patriot Hills and Duncan Camron and Rod Arnold returned on skidoos from flagging a route to N9 so the skiway became quite a busy place. The Polar Logistics team from Patriot Hills stayed for a night and then flew the next morning to the Russian base Novolazarlyskaya. From there they will be working for various national Antarctic operators to help uplift their staff at the end of the Antarctic summer.

Here's the arrival at Halley from Jon Seddon's point of view.


I was originally travelling to Halley on the Ernest Shackleton, however when we returned to the Falklands to refuel after being stopped in ice, it was decided that three of us should be flown into Halley because the people that we were replacing were leaving early to do work elsewhere. We moved into the Upland Goose Hotel, in Stanley, and waited by the phone at 8 every morning to find out if the weather was good enough for the Dash-7 to fly to Rothera that day. On one day the Dash did fly, but when we were only an hour from Rothera the weather become worse and we had to turn back to the Falklands.

Because we only found out if we were due to fly in the morning, it was difficult to arrange things to do. We did manage to drive out to Port San Carlos and to go on a Land Rover tour to Volunteer Point to see the colonies of King, Magellanic and Gentoo penguins. We arrived at Rothera on January 21st. Before we could fly on one of the Twin Otters to Halley we had to learn how to use the BAS camping equipment and spend a night in a tent. With a thermarest, sheepskin rug and a thick down sleeping-bag we were really warm and slept really well. Whilst we were waiting for good weather Steve Hinde, our wintering field GA who was one of the three of us flying, took us ice climbing and also abseiling into a crevasse that had opened up behind the base.

The weather became good enough for flying at 4 on the Friday afternoon. I was lucky enough to sit in the co-pilot's seat for the first leg to Fossil Bluff. When we arrived there, two of the meteorologists from Rothera were waiting to refuel us and provide current weather details. I had worked with one of them over the summer and it was quite strange meeting someone again in such an isolated spot. We also stopped to refuel at the West Ronne fuel depot. A field GA and a glaciologist on a summer survey project were waiting there for better weather and so had laid out a skyway for us and dug up some fuel. I'd met the glaciologist at a first aid course in Cambridge over the summer. Since mid-November he'd only had the field GA to talk to and so he was pleased to see us. It was strange seeing someone else I knew in an even more remote place.

After two and a half months since leaving the UK we arrived at Halley shortly after midnight. We were tired after the flight and were quite amazed and relieved to have finally made it to Halley. People that we'd spoken to via email and HF radio, and read about in this diary greeted us. We stayed up for a couple of hours chatting.

Since then we've been working hard to get our handovers completed and the summer maintenance tasks finished. I've helped raise the AIS receivers and catenary posts. I was also lucky enough to get on the trip out to N9, setting up the drum line. Now that I've got used to being here I'm looking forward to spending the next two years here.

Jon Seddon




Putting in a drum line to N9
Once the N9 route had been flagged out by the Field GAs a drum line was put in. It was a great day out for Tom, Jon, Munki, Mark and I, placing empty fuel drums to mark the route all the way. We even had a little picnic sitting in the snocats overlooking the creek at N9.

Dave our winter Base Commander and SHARE engineer had the trip of a lifetime this month when he flew to the South Pole with Lez Kitson one of our pilots. They met up with Mike Rose and then installed 4 LPMs (low powered magnetometers). This brings them to a total of 7 LPMs along line of geomagnetic longitude. Next year the LPM sites will be revisited and the data can then be downloaded. They happened to arrive at the Pole on the 90th anniversary of Scot's arrival and so they were guests of honour at a special dinner.
Dave at the South pole

In the last few days all the new winterers have arrived on base and have begun to settle in, a difficult task when there is so much cargo work going on. It's been great to finally meet my fellow winterers for the coming year. Their enthusiasm is overwhelming and I'm sure were all going to have a fantastic winter.

Me
Love to everyone at home,

Cathy Moore


www.antarctica.ac.uk