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King Edward Point Diary — January 2007

January newsletter

The New Year started for some of us (Miriam Iorwerth, Andrew Chase, Anjali Pande & Andy Barker) waking up near Maiviken Hut in bivvy bags with the sun beating down and them feel like a jacket potato stuck inside an oven. On the way back 3 of us diverted and decided to make a New Years Day ascent of Mt Duse.

Photo of Andrew, Miriam and Andy bivvying near Maiviken Hut.

Photo of Andrew, Miriam and Andy bivvying near Maiviken Hut.
Photo by Anjali Pande

Walking up Mt Duse gulley.
Walking up Mt Duse gulley.

Maybe Hurley would recognise this photo
Photo by Anjali Pande

Maybe Hurley would recognise this photo. Frank Hurley was an Australian photographer who set out wit Ernest Shackleton on the 1914 Trans-Antarctic expedition. On the way to the white continent their vessel Endurance called into South Georgia and he took now famous photo from Duse Fell.

Others on station left the party in the boatshed and walked up to Hope Point to see the sunrise, by all accounts a spectacular sight.

Sunrise over South Georgia.
Photo by Anslie Wilson - Sunrise over South Georgia.

On the 30th December the base gained two new members Ricky Borthwick and Helen Taylor. Ricky who is the facilities engineer came across from Signy. Helen, having spent two years at Bird Island as a scientist was quite keen to stretch her legs and explore the local travel area. I didn’t need any encouragement so on the 3rd Jan we set off at 15:00 to explore the local Peaks. Over the next 5 and half hours we managed to ascend the following peaks Orca, Mt Hodges, Petrel 1, Petrel 2 and Mt Duse. We both returned to base for a well deserved supper. A few hours later I dragged my weary legs down to the jetty to tie up a tourist ship coming in at midnight.

Photo of Helen on the summit of Mt Hodges
Photo of Helen on the summit of Mt Hodges

6th January saw Miriam, Melanie and Serita and myself make an attempt on Camp Peak. After a couple of hours of walking it was clear the summit eluded us due to time constraints. We arrived back in time at the church to take down the Christmas decorations and tuck into homemade cakes by Miriam, Serita and Niall.

7th January saw HMS Edinburgh arrive into Cumberland East Bay. Charles, Gareth, Jenn, Andrew and myself spent the next few hours ferrying personnel from ship to shore and then vice versa. This allowed the navy staff to stretch their legs and visit Grytviken Whaling station / museum.. Martony and Charlie had a nice relaxing day camping on the Barff Peninsula.

9th January after work saw a quick visit to the repeater with Miriam. Breathtaking views from Repeater Ridge which drop away into the sea.

Photo of Andy on ridge line next to repeater
Photo by Miriam Iorwerth - Andy on ridge line next to repeater

12th January saw 2 fantastic ships come into the bay. The World luxury cruise liner with apartments came in and spent the day. Tim and Pauline Carr also from The World gave guided tours of the local area. For those of you who don’t know, Tim and Pauline are local legends of South Georgia, they arrived here 14 years ago on their yacht Curlew and spent many years building up the museum from scratch. It is their hard work and determination which has resulted in the high standard of displays in the museum today. A few went onboard to get hair cuts and got blown away by the running track, golf driving range and swimming pool. One base member even sampled 5 different types of pudding!. In the evening most base folk went onboard Explorer 2 for a wonderful buffet style dinner tucking into all sorts of goodies. Martony successfully secured some more non alcoholic beer to add to his dwindling stock pile.

The World in Cumberland East Bay
The World in Cumberland East Bay

13th January. Helen and myself attempted the 7 Peak challenge. Brown Mountain, Narval, Orca, Hodges, Petrel 1, Petrel 2 and Mt Duse in one day. We set out with low cloud hanging over Brown Mountain and with Paget appearing in and out of the cloud, the weather could go either way. By the time we arrived at Narval the scene was pretty much set for the day and the cloud had come in. Next we summited on Orca then Mt Hodges and finally onto Petrel 1. By this time the weather had really clagged in and being presented with horizontal snow and increasing winds we made a retreat back to Bore Valley via Hodges Lakes. A good test for navigation skills throughout the day.

Helen on summit of Petrel 1
Helen on summit of Petrel 1.

14th January. Helen and myself set out in poor visibility to ascend Camp Peak. After 3 hours of walking we arrived at the summit with very limited visibility. Route finding on the way there was interesting in places and once again a test for navigational skills.  A nice walk back as the cloud slightly lifted. It was great that we now had some local knowledge of this peak as at the time none of the island residents had been on this peak before.

Helen on the summit of Camp Peak
Helen on the summit of Camp Peak

15th January. Melanie (doctor), Helen and myself go for a bimble up Brown Mountain after work to stretch the legs.

Helen and Melanie on the top of Brown Mountain
Helen and Melanie on the top of Brown Mountain

16th January. Melanie, Helen, Miriam, Serita, Andrew, Anjali, Niall and myself head out to Harpon. It is a tough walk over there especially when everyone is carrying bivvy bags, spare clothing, water, waterproofs. Then with the fuel, alcohol, cooking equipment, stoves split amongst the group it all added up. Everyone was surprised and amazed how Niall managed to cope with a medium sized rucksack while everyone else had expedition size packs!. Upon arrival at the hut, rucksacks were emptied and put aside. After a quick cup of tea exploration of the local area commenced. There were some fantastic views of local area and we stumbled across some nesting Giant Petrels with chicks.

A fantastic evening spent at Harpon tucking into gourmet dinner prepared by Serita & Miriam.

Photo of team walking across to Harpon Bay
Photo by A.Pande - Photo of team walking across to Harpon Bay.


Photo taken from beach near Harpon hut, Lyell glacier in the background.
Photo by A. Pande - Photo taken from beach near Harpon hut, Lyell glacier in the background.

17th January returned from Harpon, Andrew, Andy, Serita and Miriam returned through Echo Pass route. Helen, Melanie, Niall and Anjali returned via Narwal  pass.

18th January. Les Whittamore the logistics coordinator for King Edward Point arrives on station. Les has been involved with KEP from the start of the new build of base back in 2000 and has been a driving force beyond many improvements to KEP infrastructure.

20th January. Les, Helen and myself head out to Osmic Hill. Miriam and Serita head out to Orca. A cold lunch on top of a peak for everyone out in the hills that day as the wind changed and came from a southerly direction.

Helen and Les on the top of Osmic Hill.
Helen and Les on the top of Osmic Hill.


Photo Helen Taylor - Comet McNaught

The much talked about comet finally arrives to KEP. People frantically standing outside borrowing tripods to try and capture the ultimate photo. The comet was visible for approximately 1 week.

21st January. Charlie Keating and Al Powley from Morrison’s join Ainslie Wilson, Melanie D’Souza, Andy Barker, Helen Taylor and Miriam Iorwerth and head out for a Sunday afternoon walk up Orca, Hodges and Petrel1. Morrisons didn’t disappoint and their initiative of taking us up the roadway to Gull Lake in the 4x4 meant the tedious section of the walk was cut out.


Photo Miriam Iorweth - Helen, Mel, Andy, Charlie and Al on the summit of Orca.

That day Anjali, Ricky and Les walk from Narval across to Petrel 2 and then onto Petrel 1. The route from Narval to Petrel 2 required some interesting route finding techniques.


Photo by Anjali Pande - Ricky and Les on summit of Narval.

22nd January - The Ernest Shackleton arrives with Catrin Thomas and Phil Trathan onboard. Catrin one of the BAS Field Assistants will be going into Hound Bay with Helen and Phil (senior scientist) to assist with science and keep the team safe.

23rd January - Jenn, Charlie and Anjali go on a team building exercise to Maiviken. Base folk host BBQ for Ernest Shackleton, folk heading into Halley really enjoy the event.

24th January - Ernest Shackleton departs with Helen Taylor, Phil Trathan and Catrin Thomas on board. The Shackleton leaves Cumberland East Bay and skirts around the northern tip of Barff Peninsula and inputs a team into Hound Bay. This is the last time KEP will see the Ernest Shackleton for several years as she will be based out of Cape Town and assisting with the build of Halley 6.


Photo of Ernest Shackleton departing KEP

26th January - Anjali, Charles, Ricky, Jenn, Melanie and Andrew go on a trip to Barff Peninsula. They walk from Sorling across to Hound Bay and spend the night at Hound Bay with Helen, Catrin and Phil. Making full use of their hospitality.

27th January - The team (Anjali, Charles, Ricky, Jenn, Melanie and Andrew) walked from Hound Bay to St Andrews. Creative route finding meant that the 2.5 hour walk turned into an epic 6 hours.


Photo by Anjali Pande - Photo of reindeer on the Barff Peninsula

Les, Miriam, Serita and Andy went walking and this time arrived to Camp Peak in perfect sunshine. Great view over Maiviken cove.


Les, Serita and Miriam on top Camp Peak.

28th January - The team spent the day chilling out (quite literally) at St Andrews. If the truth be told they were so exhausted from the previous day that they spent the day recovering.


Photo by Anjali Pande - Andrew, Charles, Jenn, Ricky, Mel at St Andrews.


Photo by Anjali Pande - St Andrews bay contains several hundred thousand King penguins.

29th January - The team returned from St Andrew to Sorling for a pickup by boat. They arrive back on station mid afternoon. Gareth, Miriam, Serita and Andy head across to Greene Peninsula for two day trip.


Tent at Dartmouth Point on Greene Peninsula, Osmic Hill in the background.

30th January - Les Whittamore departs on the Pharos SG, a very quick visit but Les left reassured that the new team are settling in.

The Greene Peninsula team (Gareth, Miriam, Serita and Andy) circumnavigate the peninsula in glorious sunshine. Fantastic views onto the surrounding glaciers.


Harker Glacier on the left and Hamberg Glacier to right of photo.

31st January - The Greene Peninsula team are uplifted by Martony and Charlie and return to station.

So there we have it, the January Newsletter as seen through the eyes (well contact lenses) of Andy Barker, KEP Base Commander. I could have written about all of the work, science and Government support but who wants to read about that! All photos taken by myself unless stated otherwise, the exception to this is the Shackleton photo and I don’t know who to credit for this.