Monthly Archives: March 2016

Work and Play

I’ve taken a vast amount of photos in the last few weeks since getting out of the field and haven’t really had the time to sort them into any semblance of order.  Hannah and a few others have commented on seeing photos of the “behind the scenes” stuff as well the pretty landscapes so I’ve been trying to get a bit better at taking these.  There is a couple of shots in here from earlier in the season as well.IMG_7317Serious science under the wing of a twin otter.  We are constantly surrounded by beautiful things but sometimes the pictures dont tell the full story.  This was in mid December with Mark and Hugh – this was taken just after midnight as I waited for Hugh to fit some ground penetrating radar into the hole Mark and I had just dug.  Always beautiful places but there is a lot of waiting around.
IMG_9428 The glamorous life of a field assistant.  Bradley trying to find some beefburgers in one of the many freezers.  In the end we unpacked about a third of the this freezer and still failed to find them.IMG_0485The HMS Protector in Ryder bay.  We have had a couple of ships in the last week, the protector and the final call of the Ernest Shackleton.
IMG_9445A very British BBQ.  We provided an a couple of days skiing for the crew of the Protector and then had a joint BBQ down at the wharf.  Not a massively glamorous location but the containers did make a good wind break.
IMG_8818 Octavian and Saz dismantling the sea ice camera.  Single day science stuff happens at very short notice whenever the weather plays ball – luckily most people need a field assistant to help get them to the site.  This camera was meant to take a photo a day for a year – unfortunately it was taking a photo a minute and only lasted a couple of weeks!IMG_8796 The glamorous life of a field assistant part 2.  Al sewing pockets in his tent.  You can just make out the climbing wall behind the tent – we definitely have the best office on base.IMG_8795 Three field assistants and the Comms manager, Danny hauling new batteries up to the radio repeater.  Each pulk had two batteries in each weighing 50kilos.  The guys looked pretty tired when they got back from dinner.IMG_8781 Rob walking out from an afternoons skiing in Stork Bowl – ski trips out of the flag line cross the boundary of work and play.IMG_8772 Al having a hard day at work.IMG_8104 Another science day trip.  Otty picking up “Algae samples” – judging by the huge elephant seal next to it I have no doubt what it was she was really collecting.  This was a pretty easy day for me as I was only there in case we got left out overnight.IMG_8089If I wasnt a Field Assistant I’d want to be a boatman – Adam coming to pick us up from some Algae sampling at Mackay point.IMG_9410We decided to head over to this extremely blue berg when out on the boat one day to check it out – unbelievable colours under a dark sky.
IMG_8466Otty also needed some samples from the nearby peaks.  Emma joined us (even though she is a marine biologist) and we decided to do a traverse of the three Stork peaks.  There were obviously no penguins or seals up there so it wasnt a surprise to me that there was also no “Algae”IMG_8455Otty and Emma enjoying the view from North Stork.IMG_7961More Science – I headed out with Ali (and two pilots, Al and Andy) so that she could fix the an automatic weather station.  Once I’d got us all across the non existant bergschrund I got to watch Ali do lots of things I didnt really understand.IMG_7966Andy and I amusing ourselves while we wait for Ali to finish (the swords are old geological markers)IMG_8121Another day another sciency thing.  Sam about to start working on a station that measures glacial rebound (how quickly the ground is coming back up after the ice has been removed) at Cape Marsh.IMG_8124Sam and Pippa checking out the extremely small Chilean hut at Cape Marsh.IMG_2349A happy elephant seal.

The last ship left this morning leaving only 21 people on base for the next six months.  Snow and strong winds made a fitting first day of winter.  Now its on to winter recreational trips for all the wintering staff.

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Sky Blu

Still getting through the backlog of photos so heres another post with some shots of Sky Blu where I was based for a couple of weeks in November last year and a few days off and on in the last couple of months.  Sky Blu is a blue ice runway and field camp roughly 600km south of Rothera which is permanently staffed by at least three staff for the summer season.  When I first flew into Sky blu after my week at Fossil Bluff ( I could not believe how cold it was.  As Sky blu is at 4500ft above sea level it gets pretty cold and gets some incredibly high winds.  On the day I arrived it was -25degC and about +25deg inside the hut!  The runway at Sky Blu is essential to BAS operating deeper into the Antarctic Continent as the runway is made of blue ice allowing the larger airplane (Dash 7) to land on wheels allowing more cargo and fuel to be flown in.  The camp is staffed by two “mechs” and a field assistant with the mechs keeping the various machines working and clearing snow and the field assistant covers met observations, communications and various day to day chores around the camp.IMG_6266The pilots accommodation at the far end of camp.  All of the huts and tents are very spread out due to high winds.
IMG_6273The living melon hut and the various other tents strung out in a line.IMG_6263Inside the pilots melon hut
IMG_6330Inside the living melon hut.  Blair (far left) Brian (middle in orange) and Stu (far right) spent most of their summer at Sky blue going back to Rothera for a break about every three weeks.IMG_6332The comms desk and food storage.  IMG_6335Sky blue from one of the nearby peaks.  The two dots on the right are the melon huts and the other dots in line are (in order) the toilet tent, weatherhaven (sleeping) and the Garage.  The smaller dots are stores of various things.IMG_6309 There are a couple of peaks around Sky Blu which are great for a quick outing.  Brian, Blair and Bruno on “Mende”IMG_6340 Blair strolling up “Lanzerotte”IMG_6360 High winds outside the living Melon HutIMG_6426 There is also lots of ice.  While there were a few of us waiting around we managed a pretty good game of curling using large food tins and various brushes.  Cheese, Al and Sam discussing the rules.IMG_6448 Cheese in actionIMG_6552 Stu in giving a tin of beans some speed.IMG_6620 Facilities at Sky Blu are pretty limited.  After we had been there a couple of weeks Stu rigged up a shower.  I think this is Sam showering but I didnt want to zoom in.IMG_6655 Inside the sleeping tent.IMG_6658The sleeping tent.IMG_6657One of the coolest things I learnt while at Sky blue is that when its cold your washing freezes and then becomes dry without every becoming wet again.  This was a complete revelation to me (called sublimation) but probably not to most people who paid attention in school.IMG_6668Probably my favourite thing at Sky Blu was the ice crystals in the underground garages.  IMG_6678Midnight on Doppler Nunatak.

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