November has seen the return with the sun in earnest, with 24 hour sunlight now everyone on base was getting geared up for the arrival of the first aircraft from Rothera with new faces, the mail and maybe even some fresh fruit, we were not disappointed we got some freshies and mail, much appreciated by everyone on base to hear something from people who do not necessarily have easy access to e-mail which is our main means of keeping in touch with home. Two German Dornier aircraft dropped in to say hello (and to refuel) on their way to Neumayer almost an hour before the Twin Otters arrived making the base double in terms of personnel in less than 90 minutes, the Dorniers did not stop for long as the weather towards Neumayer was looking iffy so they had to get underway in a race against the weather, they won so we did not have to get up at 0200 to meet them at the skiway.
We now have 25 people on base with more due in from Rothera once more Twin Otters head over, the base feels crowded now after the "cosy" living of 16 people, new faces and newer conversation are a welcome break though. Summer is here and our home is about to become a hub of activity after the invasion.
With the arrival of our guests we had to make ourselves look more presentable and with a few base members making an appointment with Lyndsey "The Razor" Bishop at "Salon de Surgery" for a much needed style as the looks were sooooo last season.
I was off for a few days early in the month to the Hinge Zone with Elaine, Mickey and Duncan. The trip was looking like spending a few days in tents when we arrived to set up camp the wind was picking up - things were looking bleak. On the second day however the weather changed for the better and we got out into second chasm and eventually around to Aladdin's cave, it looks imporessive on pictures and was absolutely breathtaking when we climbed up the first section. The view was amazing we could see for several kilometres with hardly a cloud in the sky, there are some awesome ice formations throughout the cave and many a photograph was taken by us (apart from Duncan who had seen it all a few times before on previous field trips).
|Monday 4th November - Friday 8th September|
|India should have departed on the 19th Oct. but poor, unsettled conditions delayed. However during their 10-day slot they did venture down to Windy cabooses for a night, using sno-cat transport, visiting the colony for a few hours.
As the three had never seen the Hinge Zone area, it agreed that a short outing to 2nd Chasm would take place when the weather improved.
Monday: Wx. -13°C, 7kts. 090°, 997mb. Contrast still poor but good horizons made travelling the drumline feasible. Driving the flagline to 2nd Chasm campsite demanded more concentration, but now having local knowledge flags were picked up and led us to campsite. By the time tents were up wind had increased to 20+ kts and visibility very poor.
Tuesday: Wx. -12°C, 15kts. 090°, 993mb. Wind of last night decreased and conditions improved throughout the day, by 1030 dingle.
Wednesday: Wx. -13°C. 19kts. 090°. 993mb. Contrast & horizons poor.
Thursday: Wx. -12°C. 15kts. 090°. 990mb. Bright and sunny.
Friday: Wx. -15°C. 6kts. ENE. 987mb. Planned to travel back to base today but initially visibility too poor for negotiating flagline. Sit out AM in tents. Start striking camp 1500, by 1800 clearing to a marvellous evening, and an enjoyable drive home arriving back on base 2100hrs.
Summary: Made the best of changeable conditions through the week. Satisfying being able to have now given all on base an experience of the Hinge Zone and linked travel.
|00D 4 nights
92B 4 nights (no blows)
Z 1 Full Unit |
Z 4 Full Unit 86 km
N55 Half Unit
N71 Half Unit 138 km
|Skidoos:||Field spec. winter trip Alpine IIs|
Lyndsey and Mark Stewart were also off on their manhauling trip to the coast, this involves dragging a pulk sledge around behind you. They both had a great time and went over 50km in six days, look out South Pole! Dragging a pulk sledge behind you was something alot of us had to do in the winter when it was too cold to start up skidoos or when we really fancied the exercise, but they really took it to an extreme - I certainly doubt if I could manhaul the 18km each way to Windy and back (or even half way there!)
Format of weather information is wind speed at direction, temperature, pressure. Weather variables are the averages for that day. The contrast description covers travel time only.Estimated travel times based on 3K per hour
This month is also the time of year for the dreaded scrubout, this is a spring cleaning operation involving everyone on base mucking in and clearing up the various debris that accumulates around the place. Every day there is a gash person on a rota system who has cleaning duties in the communal areas to do which keeps the place tidy and organised as well as a scrubout every two weeks where appointed rooms get cleaned out, this months scrubout was more than most of them as alot of effort went in from all involved to get the place spick and span. The Piggott and Simpson platforms had their own scrubouts by the personnel that work in each of the areas, all in all it was a week spent cleaning, making us glad that it does not happen all that often!
Ben has been kept busy throughout the month making repairs to skidoos used for the winter trips as well as getting all the vehicles defrosted and serviced ready for the Summer season in which they will all be getting alot of use for base relief and the various work that has to be carried out on base to get it ready for another winter.
Life on base is an ongoing process of raising and moving containers, scientific equipment and anything on the snow surface has to be dug up and raised every year, often a few times in a year depending on how much snow has been falling at the base, after a blow often the first thing that needs to be done is digging out the skidoos ready for use. We also have to dig up fuel drums and other depots that have been there all winter, the handlines in between buildings need raised regularly as the posts get buried.
With a good day's weather here people have been taking the opportunity to get out to Windy for day trips to the penguins, the chicks are all getting fatter now and when Duncan, Steve and I were there they seemed a bit nervous around us, usually they watch you curiously or try to ignore you until you get too close. We did see an adélie penguin though which was a pleasant change and really put into contrast the differences in height between the emperors and the rest of the penguin species.
Hello to everyone back one and good luck to Joey in her exams.Good luck to Mum as the dog is getting a bath soon