Category Archives: mountainstothesea

Boats and Climbing

This spring has had some great weather for adventures in Scotland.  Over the last couple of months I have been trying to get to places that have formerly escaped me, its so easy to go back to places I love.  As the winds dropped and sun came out at the start of the month Adam and I headed to Skye for a couple of days.  I have spent a lot of time on Skye though had never got the boat from Elgol to access the Cuillin.  We had a very leisurely start with the aim of a two day traverse of the Cuillin with the Dubhs Slabs start thrown in for good measure.931A3023

Getting the boat in was great – cups of tea and shortbread with the skipper and stunning view of the full Cuillin ridge.931A3024

The last time I was in Loch Coruisk was about ten years ago on a sea kayaking trip.  We almost got stuck at the head of the loch in a force 6.931A3028

Adam trying to work out which one is the Dubhs Slabs.  In recent years there has been some hard climbs put up in this glen – theres a life time of climbing in just this one area if you get the weather and the time!931A3059

Still snow in the bivy cave below Sgurr Alisdair.931A3068

Our aim on the first day was to get past the Inaccessible Pinnacle and find a bivy spot.  With both of us happy to solo most of the ridge it was pretty easy going with the odd stop to realise how lucky we are and admire the views.  Above – Adam on Collies/Harts ledge.
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Adam soloing the East Ridge of Inaccessible Pinnacle as two other traversers gear up at the bottom.  After watching both of us they both decided to solo it as well – interesting decision making!931A3089

Bivy spot on Banachdich931A3095-Pano

Sunset views from the bivy spot back south along the ridge.931A3102

What its all about!931A3223

After a couple of days of work I managed to rustle up some friends for a trip I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Getting 5 people, 5 vehicles, 3 canoes and lots of climbing gear to the correct layby on Loch Maree was probably the hardest bit!  Above – Cecile, Tim and Chucky bringing the last boat down to the Loch.931A3229

We had opted for an evening paddle across Loch Maree followed by a 10km hike into Carnmore Crag in the Fisherfield Wilderness.  Above – Ceciles first time in a canoe!931A3237

Dark and broody getting over the hill and down towards the Bothy.931A3238

I had been into the Fisherfield area from the other side a couple of times but had forgotten how spectacular it is.  Tim on the approach to the bottom of the routes.931A3253

Cecile about to start the unprotected traverse on the main pitch of “Dragon”931A3284

Tim the red power ranger relieved to be across the traverse.931A3297

 

Cecile working out where the route goes.931A3314

On our second route of the day (Gob) we crossed paths with Al and Chucky.  Above – Al (with Chucky somewhere above) on “St George”931A3322

The landowner at Carnmore kindly leaves a barn open below the crag – Cecile and Tim chilling by the front door.931A3326

The bothy is not the nicest but it does have beds!931A3328

Sunset over the bothy931A3330

931A3362We had two brilliant days at Carnmore and then headed back to the boats in the evening.  I love how much you can pack into a couple of days in Scotland.  If you’re ever heading to carnmore I recommend the canoe approach over the 20km walk (you just need a friend with lots of boats!)

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, bothy, canoe, Climbing, Cuillin, Fisherfield Wilderness, Jetboil, mountains to the sea, Scotland climbing, Skye, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Adventures in Benidorm

It seems Benidorm is most commonly associated with retired British people living in a sort of little Britain on the beach but there is another side to the area.  Hidden from the Benidorm beach by the endless flats is the amazing adventure playground of the Costa Blanca.  For British climbers seeking a bit of sun the Costa Blanca has long been a popular choice for a quick sport climbing holiday but Linda, Miles, Scott and I headed out for some of the more adventurous routes the area has to offer.
931A2451 The beautiful town of Finestrat from our campsite with Puig Campana behind.  One of the routes we climbed was “Epsolon Central” which climbs the skyline ridge in 14 pitches.931A2474On our first day we decided to head off on and adventure route called “Magical Mystery Tour”.  Even the abseil approach felt pretty adventurous descending next to some terrifying looking ladders.931A2471Miles checking out the ladders.  I have since heard that people do lead up the ladders to get out of this area.  Having seen what they’re attached to at the top i’m not sure its wise!931A2477-2Finding the route – abseiling into sea cliffs is always pretty exciting but this felt even more so with this being the only route in our guidebook on this section of cliff.  You can just make out Scott and Linda in the bottom left of the shot.  I spent a little while on this route proving where it didnt go (up a loose pillar).  Brilliant adventure climbing.
931A2550Linda on the top of “Parle” a brilliant (and intimidating) route that climbs up through an archway in the cliff.
931A2563 Linda (belaying) and Miles (Posing or struggling I’m not sure which) on “Parle”931A2656 We did of course go Sport Climbing too.  Linda on the nearest crag to our campsite climbing “Edwards Edge”931A2686 Hard life back at the campsite/villa.  It was amazing to hang out in Finestrat with lovely little bars and restaurants but drop down to Benidorm in the morning to buy food.  The two places seem a world apart.931A2843 Scott on the Guidebook cover route “Tai Chi” with the city in the background (Calpe rather than Benidorm)IMG_8861 High on Epsolon Central on Puig Campana away from the bustle of the city.  This was probably one of my favourite routes of the week though I got no good photos of it.  Endless fun climbing up a big ridge in the sun.IMG_8888Scott cruising up another brilliant sea cliff route.  While most of these routes do have bolts and are therefore “sport” climbing they still feel pretty adventurous.
IMG_8900 Back to the real adventure!  I also spent a few days in N Wales this month with Adam.IMG_8930 Adam on the crux middle pitch of Atlantis/True Moments/Freebird.IMG_8960 Its not all fun in the sun.  The heinous (and dangerous!) approach to the pinnacle area on Cloggy.  I’ve since been told that most people abseil in from above!IMG_8970Adam setting off up the last route of the trip “Octo”

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Climbing, Climbing fall, mountains to the sea, Spanish Climbing

Roadside Scotland

As the seasons change from winter to spring its traditionally my time of year to do a lot of driving.  While winter hangs on in the mountains but the sun starts to shine a bit more work spreads itself all over Scotland and there are a lot more options for outdoor activities to be had.  The best thing about going away from your home country is the appreciation of it when you get home so with the beautiful weather I have been making an extra effort to stop and check out some of the roadside views.931A2351The drive from Fort William to Glasgow is always amazing whether its blue skies of torrential rain.  I’ve stopped here (Loch Ba on Rannoch Moor) many times in the past to take photos but never in so much as a rush this morning.  Luckily there was lots of light and not too many photographers so I could get a couple of handheld shots.
931A2262The change to spring is also the change to rock climbing – Chucky high “volcane” on Meall an Fhir Eoin Beag at Ardnamuchan.  931A2284Caspar and Chucky shelter from a brief rain squall.  Ardnamuchan has lots of amazing Gabro that dries really quickly.931A2286Matt after his introduction to Ardnamurchan cracks!931A2290Before the clocks change!  Packing up after a great days cragging.931A2317Some locals coming to visit our campsite.
931A2323What Scotland should look like!  The view down to Ballachullish from School house ridge.931A2347As ever a photo doesnt tell the full story this was actually a very windy day!  Vertical spindrift on the ridge of Sgurr Dearg.931A2396The three bridges of the Forth from North Queensferry train station.  You can just see the new bridge on the right hand side.931A2399Looking back towards Dalwhinnie distillery.  I cant drive past this without hearing my dad say “highest distillery in the world”931A2406Loch Laggan at Sunset.  931A2421As well as all the driving I have still been doing some things closer to home.  Connor up high in Glen Nevis climbing Bewsey crack (in a t-shirt!)931A2430One final winter hit.  I took Jago and Sarah on the classic “ledge route” on Ben Nevis.  Sarah even convinced me to go to the summit so we headed down Coire Leis for a full tour of the mountain.  You could have ice climbed, rock climbed, skied and mountain biked all in one day on Ben Nevis this day.
931A2443The view down Loch Lomond.  I am always amazed how the scottish roads cut through some of the most impressive scenery.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Ardnamurchan, Ardnamurchan climbing, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Climbing, Creag Meagidh, gabbro, Meall an Fhir Eion, mountains to the sea, scotland, Scotland climbing Tagged , , , , , , , |

Return to the Norm

My first month back in Scotland in 16months.  I got back to Scotland and the usual round of people endlessly discussing conditions and weather, a fair amount of rain and some less than wintery hills.  This has not been too much of a burden really as there have been loads of friends and family to catch up with amongst remembering how to deal with banks etc.  It is awesome to be back.  I have spent a large amount of my adult years in different places in the world and the one thing that really makes you do is appreciate home.  As I mentioned in my last post, a lot has happened since I left and it has been great to catch up with friends old and new and of course revisit some places that I love.IMG_8757One of the first things I did on return home was go up to the place where my good friend Joe passed away a year ago.  This might seem morbid to some but I wanted to go up the path and try and put myself in Joe and Simons minds as they headed off that day.  I have walked that path many times with many people but I will always now think of those two headed of on another adventure as I wander into the high coire of Stob Coire nam Beith.  Above – a very damp Stob Coire nam Beith.  The hills had no snow on when I first got back.931A2171Spending time in the hills with friends is always the best way to catch up.  Ruaridh came over for the weekend and we headed out in the hills in some very wintery (and windy weather).  We headed west both days to try and avoid the worst of the wind but I still got picked off my feet at one point.  Above – Ruaridh heading up the long ridge of Garbh Bheinn (Ardgour).  931A2182Ruaridh giving his “its so windy” face.931A2184View from Garbh Bheinn back towards Fort William.  Winter has returned!

931A2193On the Sunday we were joined by Jago, Sarah and Gemma and headed off towards Streap.  Streap is only 15 mins drive from my house but I had never been up it.  We didnt really expect to be able to go all the way to the summit but actually the wind was not too bad on the top or the final grade 1 ridge and we were treated to spectacular views out to the Cuillin and back towards Ben Nevis.931A2205Looking South West.931A2218Final summit ridge as the weather changes.

IMG_8793I have been doing a few days of work as well.  Someone said to me recently that as a Freelancer you basically do the jobs the someone else doesn’t want.  If thats the case I’m fine with it.  I spent valentines day with a lovely couple climbing a grade two ridge in the sun as they planned their honeymoon on Skye.  IMG_8805There has been a fair bit of bad weather days this month.  Some days you just have to find a bothy, make hot chocolate and eat loads of brownies.  Linda and Miles chilling!931A2227In between bouts of work and play I have also been sorting out a new van.  Wee Katie Tayler looks on as I start to drill holes!IMG_8762 I have managed to get a little bit of climbing done – Caspar leading up behind the flake of “Flake Route Right Hand” on Church door buttress.IMG_8775 Caspar leading the pitch above the arch just before he did a bit of a slither back down the way he’d came!IMG_8809 Stu and I headed up the Ben with various plans.  We should have known the day wouldn’t go well when we had to dig numerous vehicles out of the snow, were late setting off and had to wade through thigh deep snow to get to the base of the routes.  Above – a happy Stu trying to work out where we are.IMG_8821 Turns out that we didnt know were we were (not bad for two MIC’s!) but climbed something about the right grade.  Stu coming up the initial pitch somewhere on the middle tier of Trident Buttress.IMG_8827 My friends Jago and Sarah are living with me just now seeing what the highlands have to offer for a winter season.  I insisted they join me for some mountaineering  a couple of days ago and we got one of those special days climbing in the sun with amazing views and finished it off in the Nevis range cafe!IMG_8836Jago and Sarah on one of the last sections of “Golden Oldy”  on Aonach Mor.
IMG_8839I can see my house from here!  Its tough living in Fort William but someones got to do it.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Ben Nevis ice climbing, bothy, Climbing, Creag Meagidh, Cuillin, mountains to the sea, scotland, Scotland climbing Tagged , , , , , , , |

The Depot That Wasn’t There – Part 1

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.
Antarctica.001931A0539Life at Sky Blu is a lot more comfortable than last year complete with couchs and a decent kitchen.
931A0583Twin Otter landing on the ice at Sky Blu to take us further into the continent.

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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!
931A0704So 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.
931A0679Unsuccessful!  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.931A0707Vicky leading Al and I in some yoga before bed.  I think Al (far left) might be inventing his own yoga poses.931A0718The next morning we packed up and headed for Rothera.  Above – Jo contemplating 10hours in a small aircraft.931A0729Flying back to Rothera.

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Fossil Bluff again….

I have spent most of November at Fossil Bluff originally going out for “a week or so” and eventually staying for eighteen days. I was last at Fossil Bluff in November last year so it was great to go back.  Life at Fossil bluff is extremely relaxed while also being tied to hourly Met observations that get passed back to Rothera for the forecasters and pilots to work out what is going on.  The first 24hrs this year was very social.  Myself and Tom had gone in to relieve Al and Saz on a plane with two pilots and two other Field assistants.  We ended up staying at the hut together for a night before the plane could fly on to Sky Blu.  This was perfect for Tom and I as it gave time for Al and Saz to give us a good handover.
931a0105 Tom, Julie, Steve, Saz and Al chilling on the Balcony when we first arrived.931a0116 A heated game of Uno on the first night.931a0127Tom heading up the ridge from the hut.  Tom was with me for the first week and as there were no planes we got out and about in the local travel area quite a bit.  Tom works as a Base General Assistant (probably one of the most applied for jobs with BAS) who run fossil bluff after its been opened up.  These guys get to spend about a third of their summer in the hut but I think this more than paid for by the work they do sorting all the rubbish and recycling on base!img_8672Tom and I’s Saturday night – Pizza and Whisky!  The hut has a couple of primus stoves as well as a “Reflex Stove” which means you can make some pretty amazing food.0029Sun setting over the hut.  931a0131As many will know I go thought phases of sleep walking quite a bit.  I found myself on the balcony at 4am one morning but it was worth it for this sunrise.931a0144931a0153Olly the new pilot coming in from the North End of the Runway.931a0173With a name like Fossil Bluff its no surprise that there is Fossils everywhere.  Last year there was too much snow around to find much but this year Tom and I found quite a few on a wonder to Bellamite Valley931a0182The hut from North with one of the weather stations out the front.931a0199Tom staring out across King George Sound.  The skiway is below this outcrop (the Sphinx) by about 1500 ft.931a0209 One of our many wanders in the hills behind the hut.931a0219-panoLooking out (North) from the highest peak in the area “Pearce Dome”931a0268After Tom left I was joined by another Base GA Joe who brought some colder weather with him.  Above – me very happy (and possibly slightly caffeinated) in my down bag watching a movie (probably Harry Potter!) img_4668Joe and I didnt have a huge amount to do so spent a lot of time messing around and doing some filming.  Above – Joe and I sat in the old Muskeg tractor in the Garage behind the hut.img_4672The old Muskeg – its truly amazing that they ever got anywhere in these.  Maybe in 60 years Piston Bullies will look as dated.931a0283Olly came to take me home.  Fossil Bluff to Rothera is definitely one of my favourite flights and this one was great as Olly coached me all the way into the final approach to Rothera.931a0315Just after Olly took back over – The Rothera runway straight ahead.

I have a fair bit of film and timelapse from Fossil Bluff which will no doubt appear at some point though for now I am packing for my field season.  Back to West Antarctica and Marie Byrd Land for some rock collecting – cant wait!

Also posted in Antarctica, BAS, British Antarctic Survey, Climbing Antarctica, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Fossil Bluff, mountains to the sea, Rothera, Rothera Research Station, Uncategorized

Snow Clearing and the End of Winter Trips

The last couple of weeks have seen endless low pressure systems hit the Antarctic Peninsular bringing stormy weather and lots of snow.  Winter trips have continued with life as a field assistant meaning alternate weeks on base or out in the field.  This weekend marks the last weekend of winter with the first planes due through Rothera next Saturday.img_0440Adam posing on the ridge between “Max” and “Mouse” in the Stokes peaks.  All the Stokes peaks are named after dogs and are a popular destination for winter trips.  Two days after this Adam and I experienced gusts of wind up to 70 knots (force 12 is described as 64+) which destroyed our toilet tent resulting in some adventurous toilet experiences.img_0238Kate approaching the summit of “Morgan” in the Stokes on her winter trip.  I realised at the end of Kates trip that I will have spent about 12% of my time in Antarctica camped at Trident East.  While not far from base the options for skiing and mountaineering from this camp are amazing.img_8331With planes now due in a week snow clearing has started in earnest with both machines and people power.  Above – Window in the accommodation building surrounded by icicles and buried in snow.
img_8324Snow clearing the runway.  Snow clearing can only happen on good weather days meaning long hours for the Matt the mechanic and the other drivers.img_8323People power on the Hangar doors.  This took ten of us a day of digging and chipping before we could get them open.  Turns out they’re snowed in again now!img_8314Hector watching as Matt clears in front of the Hangar with the JCB 436.img_8378 The last of the winter trips was myself and Al last week.  Above – Al looking up at the next pitch of one of the routes we did on the second day of our trip.  Al and I headed to the other side of the island (back to the Myth campsite) with the hope of climbing one of the bigger peaks.img_0953Al on the summit of Mt Liotard just after 11am.  Mt Liotard was named for a french observer who surveyed the peak in 1909 and is visible from Base across Ryder Bay.  The tenth photo down in this blog post  We heard of a brief weather window on our second night in the tent so left camp early to get up and down before the high winds came in.  You can see the edge of the weather front coming in from the right of the shot.  img_1037Al skiing back to the Ski-doos with the summit (on the right) already in the clouds.  We were pretty lucky with conditions with great snow from col (directly above Al’s head) all the way back down.  Probably about 4km and 1000m of descent on perfect powder!img_1050The other reality of winter trips – Al with a cup of tea and snow melting on the stove.  About 25-30% of the time on a winter trip you are stuck in the tent as the weather is so bad.  The first day of lie-up is usually nice and relaxing and a great chance to do lots of reading.  Books, games and lots of cups of tea are the order of the day.img_8416More normal winter weather.  Al and I spent the last day of our winter trip determined to get out climbing finding some very Scottish conditions.  I’m not even sure if this photo is of me or Al as we were both wearing the same BAS issue clothing.img_8498Even after six months stuck with each other its amazing the efforts people still go to.  Bradders (Polar Bear), Emily (Zebra), Tom (Lion) and Jesus (Girrafe) dressing up for one last saturday night before we get invaded.

Also posted in ali rose, Antarctica, BAS, British Antarctic Survey, Climbing Antarctica, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Midwinter, mountains to the sea, Rothera, Rothera Research Station, Rothera Winter Team, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , |

The Myth and Carvajal

I was going to wait another week before doing a blog post but realised it was the end of the month.  August has flown past – I don’t remember it starting and only noticed it was here when my payslip arrived the other day.  We have had lots of sun over the last few weeks with settled weather and winter trips running every week.  I am really realising the value of the winter trips this time round – having four people head off on adventures every week gives us something to talk about other than who hasn’t done the washing up and makes for a much more lively community as people are coming and going.  My first two trips of this round have both been to the same place, the Myth.  The Myth campsite is on the other side of Adelaide Island from Rothera and is at the base of some really impressive mountains (the Myth is a smaller subsidiary peak of “The Legend”).  Camping on the far side of the island feels incredibly remote and even getting there is a bit of an adventure with a lot of time on the skidoos through some crevassed terrain. IMG_8203Self Portrait on the way to the Myth.  Ben and I stopped to savour the first sun we had seen for a couple of months.  It was still -25degC and we discovered our sandwiches had frozen solid.IMG_8202Trying to defrost my sandwich on the skidoo exhaust.  The sandwich stayed frozen but I did have the lovely smell of toast coming out of the engine for the next couple of kilometres.IMG_6882First night at the Myth campsite with the milky way overhead.  Bradders and Octavian were out on a trip as well so it was great to camp as a party of four.IMG_6912On our second day the four of us decided to drive to Carvajal Base.  It was probably -30degC this day and we had to keep stopping as I kept loosing feeling in my throttle hand.  The skidoos are not too bad to drive most days if you wear enough clothing as they have boot warmers and heated hand grips but I think -25 is probably the limit!IMG_7163-HDROriginally a British base and called Adelaide Station it was abandoned in 1977 when Rothera was established and given to the Chilean’s in 1984 who renamed it Carvajal
IMG_7180The base is in a stunning location though pretty run down and its amazing to wander around an Antarctic ghost town.  IMG_8222Above the base is an abandoned plane which is great for random photos.  Bradders and Ben trying to fly the plane.
IMG_8232Another game of scrabble.  Ben and Octavian where both very keen to visit Carvajal so were thankfully not too put out when we got stuck in the tents for three days after we had visited.  “Lie up” days can be great fun with a bit of food and some games.  IMG_7198Emily and I visited Carvajal two weeks later in much warmer temperatures (-15)IMG_7118Emily had asked to build and igloo on her trip so when we woke up in a cloud on the second day it seemed an ideal opportunity.  Emily looking worried about having to build the roof over her own head.IMG_7516Tent and Igloo at night.  We managed to get the roof to stay on the igloo on our second attempt.  The peak above the igloo is “The legend” with the Myth the triangular subsidiary peak to the left.IMG_7545Bradders and Matt had waited a couple of days but came and found us at the Myth campsite.  We did offer for them to stay in the igloo but they declined.  The four of us enjoying the sun.IMG_7553Emily and I also had a day exploring some other areas.  We managed to climb to a coll between two mountains (Mt Mangin and Mt Barre) to get some views back towards Rothera.  Above – Amazing spindrift coming off the Mt Mangin ridge.
IMG_7564The view back towards Rothera in the bottom right of the photo.  As you can tell this was pretty late in the day by the time we got up to the coll (lots of false summits) but it meant for an amazing drive back in the sunset.IMG_7575Emily pleased to have finally made it.
IMG_7578The end is in sight.  My skidoo and sledge in McCallums pass.  Getting through the pass with a good amount of visibility is crucial so its always a relief to get there and find it looking like this.  The photo doesnt show some of the danger in the pass – the severely crevassed shambles glacier is heading down to the sea on the left and the pass goes up to the right of the mountain the skidoo is heading for (and through some more crevassing).IMG_8205Cant wait to get rid of the beard.  I am now trying to hang on until I’ve had it for a full year but it is pretty frustrating when your beard freezes to your moustache and you cant open your mouth!

The high pressure has broken at Rothera with a fairly stormy weekend but I’m currently waiting to see what the weather does tomorrow for my next winter trip – this time with the dive officer Kate.

Also posted in British Antarctic Survey, Climbing Antarctica, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Long Exposure, mountains to the sea, Myth campsite, Rothera, Rothera Research Station, Rothera Winter Team, Uncategorized Tagged , , , |

First Impressions

A week ago we stepped of the plane in Rothera greeted by blue skies, no wind and wondering what all the fuss was about.  Today I am sat staring out at some good Scottish “dreich” weather – horizontal sleet after a few inches of fresh snow this morning.  In the last seven days we have seen an amazing range of weather – skiing in t-shirts one day to driving skidoos in high altitude down suits the next but always with the constant of trying to wear as much sun cream as humanly possible.  The last week has been a rollercoaster of meeting people, learning new skills, remembering old skills, good weather, bad weather and a constant rotation of amazing meals.  The hardest things to get used to appear to be the smallest things, not locking doors, not using money and changing your footwear every time you go in or out of a building.

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First views of Antarctica out of the planes window. I am not a big fan of flying so its going to be an interesting few months as taking off and landing on ice runways seems even more crazy to me.

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I could tell it was a good day to fly in by the fact that even the staff who had been down many times before were out of their seats to stare out the windows

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Looking out the front. One of the many jobs with BAS is to fly as a co-pilot so I’ll hopefully get a couple more like this. (for the photography geeks this is an HDR shot which I had to shoot about 2 stops lighter than normal as it was so bright outside)

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Just a couple of bags for 11 people

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Rothera base. The left of the image is South and the right is North.

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The tough life of a field assistant. Heading back to base as the sun sets after an evenings skiing as part of our staff training

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Bradley loading his skidoo for our camping trip. The building behind is “fuchs house” where all the field kit and recreation kit is stored.

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Blair trying to fit some snacks into a busy day. You can just make out a Nansen sled behind him loaded up with fuel, food and kit for our training expedition

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Not that different from Scotland. The weather changes pretty fast and having been driving in blue skies we were suddenly in a huge spindrift cloud. The black dot is the skidoo I meant to be following (only 30m away).

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Camping Antarctic style. Sun setting over Al, Blair and Mat’s tent with the skidoos parked either side

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Chucky showing Brad and I how everything works inside the pyramid tent. Travelling by skidoo means that you are pretty comfortable once the camp is up.

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Wheres Wally? looking back at camp (left of the black buttress in the middle of the photo)

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Dressed for success. L-R Bradley, Al, Mat and Chucky trying to stay warm as we were dealing with poor visibility and a broken down skidoo

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Mountaineering training and familiarisation on Reptile ridge. Chucky and Blair heading off on easy ground on the ridge behind base. The mountain is Mt Barre.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Antarctica, BAS, British Antarctic Survey, Field Assistant, Uncategorized Tagged , , , |

The trouble with Sea Kayaking

The trouble with sea kayaking is there’s an awful lot of faff involved.  It also involves large amounts of driving (even though I live 100m from the sea) and it can be quite hard work.  I hate faff, do a lot of driving already and usually try and find a way around hard work.  This might explain why I havent managed to do much sea kayaking this year despite a looming assessment.  At the start of the month Matt and Oliver agreed to join me for some faffing as I got myself ready for my “5 star leader assessment” (a grand and somewhat confusing title).  The final problem with sea kayaking is that it is pretty hard to get decent pictures of the actual sea kayaking.  I am therefore starting with the ubiquitous shot of the boat on a beautiful scottish beach.IMG_2199 The three of us headed out to Arisaig to prove how inept we were at rescuing each other and ourselves – it was however a great warm up for the next 8 days of paddling for Matt and I.IMG_2203 Matt paddling away from the Cuillin in the sound of Raasay.  Strong winds stopped us getting anywhere so we were forced into a couple of nights stay at Raasay House.IMG_2208Ferry coming in.  We headed out into some fairly big swell (again no photos as I was trying to stay upright) on a particularly wild day
IMG_2214 IMG_2226 After some kit sorting and drying we headed down the sound of Luing, through the corryvrechan whirlpool to the west coast of Jura.  The bothy finally in sight after a great days paddlingIMG_5417Jellyfish on the beachIMG_5426A couple of shots of Glen Garrisdale bothy.  I’ve wanted to go here for years and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.  IMG_5434Glen Garrisdale

The next day we headed back across the whirlpool to Scarba and across to the Garbhellachs.  IMG_2228 Coffee and and super noodles on Eileach a NaoimhIMG_5448 Looking south over our campsite on the southern end of GarvellachIMG_5454 Sunset looking south.IMG_5481The next morning we had planned to leave early to catch the flooding tide.  We were met at 630 by clouds of midgies forcing us to procrastinate in the tent for 45mins.  Above – Matt contemplating getting out, you can see the smear of midgies on the mesh panel on the right.

Despite all the faff, driving and hard working I love the places you can get to by sea kayak and how simple it can be to pack up a boat and head off for a few days.  Oh and I passed the assessment.

Also posted in ali rose, Arisaig, Back of Keppoch, bothy, midgies, mountains to the sea, scotland, Scottish Kayaking, Skye Tagged , |