August - Second Round of Winter Trips
Rothera Diary, August 2005
As August began to rise above the horizon and into view people were beginning to stir, the threat of heading out into the field and away from base was all but nigh. Unfortunately, as we will see, the weather had other plans for the majority.
Above: Rothera and a view of sea ice from the station. Click images to enlarge them.
Although the weather began decent enough with the sun sighted for the first time as clouds parted and bathed those eager to blossom from its rays, he upstairs was not to take pity upon our sun starved bodies. All too soon winter trips began to follow a set pattern. Big plans didn't materialise and at best the odd good day out became possible. For many the only real option was to stay local and this is no bad thing as it is a playground in it's own right, it just doesn't make for that epic trip we all strive for. Most had at least one good day and made it beyond the green line to places distant for some climbing or skiing/boarding. And to be honest, it is still winter and we ain't complaining, happy to take whatever comes our way.
Fun isn't only for those out on trips, with sea ice and good snow on our doorstep we ain't gonna suffer. With the Base getting the OK from Cambridge, sea ice became the new toy. It gives a new perspective to our home as seen from a different angle, and standing on what in summer is water. All precautions are taken for that dangerous scenario, falling in through the ice. This means a good dose of common sense and more equipment than usual. We try to keep it simple.
Above: Snowboarding and walking on sea ice off Rothera. Click images to enlarge them.
As more snow falls it opens up more skiing/boarding opportunities around base, making jumps on newly opened slopes. Icebergs aren't missed as everything falls under the scrutiny of the "wrecking crew." With more time available now the sun is with us many are trying new sports. Skiers testing their skills at boarding, and to be honest, as one who has done it, it ain't a difficult crossover. However, for the boarder crossing over to skiing, this is a "different kettle of fish." They just haven't developed any skills that are of any use. Yes it's fun but, can be done in yer sleep!
Sea ice travel is fun and is best done on Nordic skis for any distance, once you have got your head round the fact that it is the closest to walking on water. The ice is drilled frequently by the GA's, tested for depth. It is also tested by the frequently high winds. If it stays it's ok, if it ain't there in the morning after then, we congratulate ourselves for good judgment and not going out the previous days.
Above: On sea ice off Rothera. Click images to enlarge them.
Team work is the name of the game on the ice needing at least two for a trip out. More people, more fun. Photo ops are never far away and needs someone else to press the shutter as you settle into the pose of the strident Antarctic Explorer. We all have the means to pose at any rate!
The night skies are generally wondrous when clear providing many a shutter releasing moment. Full moons are best providing fantastic light and that all important orangey/yellowy glow. Night watch is an ideal time for this as the said person sleeps during the day and maintains a motherly watch over the base and those tucked up fast asleep for a week.
Above: Rothera by night. Click images to enlarge them.
So, there you have it , a brief insight into one of the winter months and, as you can see we haven't suffered terribly. August has now slipped astern and September is upon us with generally better weather. I guess this month may be best described as not the worst month for bad weather but, certainly one that dashed many an explorers dreams.
A big hello to all on the high seas and Argentina. Those family and friends that are saving up for the "Big Night Out" upon my return to Blighty. And anyone else who dreams.
Cheers big ears,
Mike Spanna a some time Plumber