Summers as a field assistant at Rothera are all about being flexible to changes. When working on base its possible to wake up in the morning and be told you are flying somewhere for the day, or a couple of days or even a couple of weeks. With that in mind it should not be a surprise how different my summer ended up looking from the one planned. Myself and Jo left Rothera at the start of December thinking we were going to the Kohler mountains for her Geology work. We estimated that we were going to be out there roughly 50 days not knowing that we would be back at Rothera in a week. We left rothera and headed to Sky Blu – a common place to get stuck as you wait for the weather to improve further south and a plane to become available. As most of our stuff was in a depot at Mt Murphy we only need one plane and managed to get through Sky Blu having only spent 4 days there. We flew on to the Depot at Mt Murphy picking up another field assistant (Al) on the way as he also needed stuff from the Depot at Murphy. On flying in I was sat in the co-pilots seat and it was obvious something was not quite right. We passed overhead in the plane a couple of times with myself and the pilot (Vicky) both looking for any sign of the flags and kit that was left there 10 months ago. We landed and Al and I wandered out to the GPS point of where the depot had been. As the depot was on a glacier we were not expecting it to be in exactly the same place but we did expect to see something of the 3m bamboo flags that mark it.
Life at Sky Blu is a lot more comfortable than last year complete with couchs and a decent kitchen.
Twin Otter landing on the ice at Sky Blu to take us further into the continent.
Steve with his first cup of tea of the day. We stopped to swap Steve for Al at one of the depots. Steve decided to share a tent with me to experience my sleepwalking – little did he know that he would have to put up with a month of it later in the season!
So we started digging. We hoped to pick up the top of one of the 3m bamboo flags – probably as close to a needle in a haystack as you can get. We dug multiple pits to about 1.5m before deciding on a spot of highest probability and digging a trench across the direction of flow of the Glacier. Al, Jo and Vicky in the trench late in the evening.
Unsuccessful! After a day of digging and searching we were told to return to Rothera. Al, Jo and Vicky walking back to the plane at about 10pm.Vicky leading Al and I in some yoga before bed. I think Al (far left) might be inventing his own yoga poses.The next morning we packed up and headed for Rothera. Above – Jo contemplating 10hours in a small aircraft.Flying back to Rothera.