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Halley Diary — October 2009

As the last month of solitude for the wintering Halley eleven starts, the base gears up for the first of the new intruders to arrive by air. Everyone is busy preparing the base inside and out, with all the empty pit rooms to be cleaned and have new bedding prepared. Every one joins in a day of cleaning the LAWS, which involved a lot of elbow grease and dusting.

There is a lot to be done outside this month too, with me and curly (Nick) de-winterizing the machinery and give them full check overs so that we are prepared for the first plane. I also have to start to groom the ski way and the Halley 6 build site with the John Deeres and the groomer now we have warmer weather, for the summer season. The weather is also keeping me busy with lots of blows which bring in lots of snow and create wind tails behind everything which then need to be levelled out and made safe for people moving round the base on the skidoos.

Warming up and dozing out D4 bulldozer (Photo by R Johnson)
Warming up and dozing out D4 bulldozer (Photo by R Johnson)
Warming up and dozing out D4 bulldozer (Photo by R Johnson)
Warming up and dozing out D4 bulldozer (Photo by R Johnson)

I have also had to move the containers on to the surface this month with the help of the Ags and Ben. To move the containers I have to make a ramp the day before and leave them over night to harden off, then winch the container forward up on to the surface and tow them in to a straight line the next day. Robby also filmed the container move and made another short film to add to his winter film collection.

Container move (Photo by Rob Johnson)
Container move (Photo by Rob Johnson)

Niv, Robby and myself headed to Windy Bay to visit the emperor penguin colony to start the last winter trip. We arrived at the caboose on the skidoos and settled in with a cup of tea. We then put our harnesses on and went to the top of the sea ice ramp and put in an anchor to walk down the ramp safely. We were greeted by the penguins who were at the bottom of the ramp and they waddled up to us straight away. After a while we left the ramp and walked round the coast to see the rest of the colony, and to try and see some chicks.

Emperor Penguin and chick (Photo by Colin Reston)
Emperor Penguin and chick (Photo by Colin Reston)
Colin with the Emperors (Photo by Colin Reston)
Colin with the Emperors (Photo by Colin Reston)

After a night in the caboose and over the next two days we went exploring along the cliffs and found a suitable place to go ice climbing. So we set up a anchor an abseiled down the cliff and climbed out using our ice axes, which took a while and a lot of energy because there was lots of soft snow on the cliff at the top.

For the last few days of the trip we packed up camp at the caboose and travelled to the Rumples via the base for a good lunch. When we got to the Rumples we set up camp with a pyramid tent.

Camp at the Rumples (Photo by Colin Reston)
Camp at the Rumples (Photo by Colin Reston)

Whilst at the rumples for a few days we went exploring along the cliffs roped up in case we walked over any crevasses and opened them up, luckily we didn’t. We found a safe place to go down on to the creeks and on to the sea ice. When we got on the sea ice we started to explore all the frozen in ice bergs trying to avoid the cracks in the ice and the hidden holes covered in by the blown snow. The next day we went back down on to the sea ice and carried on exploring all day.

Panoramic view of the Rumples (Photo by Colin Reston)
Panoramic view of the Rumples (Photo by Colin Reston)

On the last day of our trip we went to N9 which was a 3hr drive away from where we were camped. When we got to N9 the weather started to turn so we didn’t have long on the sea ice. There were a few emperor penguins on the ice with us. Then we saw a few of them coming out of a hole in the newly formed ice and up on to the thicker ice. After an hour or so on the ice we decided to head back to camp.

The picnic tables were de-wintered for last winter BBQ this month by our resident BBQ’er Robby J which was good as always, but still quite cold (−25°C) with some frozen drinks.

Last winter BBQ (Photo by Susanna Gaynor)
Last winter BBQ (Photo by Susanna Gaynor)

As we come to the end of the month we are all expecting to get our first sight of new people on base for the summer season, who were due to arrive by air on a Basler but unfortunately they were delayed by a few days…

Diary compiled by
Shifty
(AKA Colin Reston Plant OPP/Mech)