Tag Archives: Skiing Antarctica

Winter

Antarctica doesn’t really have an Autumn perhaps because there’s no trees.  Or maybe its just a British Antarctic Survey thing where you go straight from the Summer season to the winter one just to simplify things.  With twenty one of us left on base and the last ship gone a few weeks ago we are very much into our winter at Rothera.  This means shorter working hours (theres now only 1.5hours between meals instead of 2) rapidly decreasing daylight and of course winter trips.  All staff who winter get two weeks off base away on a winter trip.  These trips are a combination of a chance to get a break from life on base (and for others to get a break from you!), learn new skills and get the “real” Antarctic experience.  With four field assistant at Rothera two of us head out roughly every two weeks with another person in tow somewhere on Adelaide island.IMG_0609

 Octavian on the summit of Trident peak on the first day our winter trip.  Options for winter trips include Mountaineering, Climbing, Skiing and Snowboarding, Crevasse exploring, Skidoo sightseeing trips and drinking tea (or whisky) in the tent.IMG_0686

Enjoying a cup of tea in his hammock.  Rothera is almost visible over the left edge of the Hammock.  You don’t have to get far away from base to feel pretty remote.  IMG_0695

Skidoos leaving camp.  Skidooing outside of the Rothera flagline involves being linked up just in case one goes into a crevasse.  You can just make out the rope coming from the back skidoo.  The sledge between the skidoos carries the emergency gear and pretty much goes everywhere with you.  Basically enough food, fuel and kit to spend three weeks fixing your skidoos.

IMG_0645

Stunning views North after some easy mountaineering in the Stokes peaks.

IMG_0652

As there is always two trips out at the same time its great to camp together and go visit the other tent in the evening.  Or in this case follow in the other parties footsteps all day and not have to break trail.  Octavian and Ben looking happy with their day in the Stokes.

IMG_0709My second trip was with Saz.  Despite being stuck in the tent for a couple of days we got quite a bit of climbing and mountaineering done.  Saz below “Spiritual Harmony” on Trident peak (the curving gully on the left)

IMG_0724

Milky way over the tent at night.  There some amazing photography opportunities if you and your camera can face the cold.  This took me a while to get right as it was pretty cold and I had had a couple of glasses of Port. IMG_0743The tents are really comfortable especially with both the stove and tilley lamp going.  Saz making Chocolate fondu as dessert after a cheese fondue for our main course.  Saz and I had decided when we wrote the proposal for her trip that photography and food were going to be a priority, we ended up with a huge amount of cheese and chocolate, pizza, pancakes, full brunch with homemade tattie scones and a fair bit of booze

IMG_0756

Skidoos under the edge of N26 Nunatak.  Saz and I headed here to snowboard in the big bowl in the middle of the photo.  Our skidoos had struggled to get this far so at least we knew there was lots of deep powder to fall into.IMG_0767

Feeling pretty happy to have survived one of my few snowboard runs in the last few years

IMG_0782Crevasse exploring is always pretty popular.  Stunning and beautiful for the winter tripper and a bit stressful for the Field Assistant.  Saz abseiling into the second chamber of a crevasse we found.  I was standing on a very hollow sounding floor at this point so we didn’t stay long.

IMG_0803

Drying clothes inside the tent at the end of the day.  All that stuff hanging in the roof is hopefully going to be dry by the morning!  You can also make out the speaker (small red thing in the centre) for the music, the jar of Marmite (standard BAS issue) and a bottle of Dalwhinnie 15yr old.

IMG_1642

Winterers can also choose to go “Man-Hauling” – basically skiing and pulling pulks rather than using ski-doos.  I went to pick up Al and Lewis from a manhauling trip last week and took my big lens to get some shots of them steaming to the end.

IMG_0960When not on winter trips theres still plenty of fun to be had near to Rothera.  The Ski-in, Ski-out accommodation helps.  Al loading a skidoo for another quick mission outside the accommodation building.

IMG_0971

Scoping out another ski line

IMG_1090

The sea ice was also forming last week so we did a couple of training sessions on how to assess it for safe travel.  Dave showing the dive team what to do on the first day that the sea ice was thick enough.  Personally I think the idea of travelling any distance on sea ice is pretty crazy but it is a necessity for the dive team who still have sciencey stuff to do throughout the winter (and who have to dive under the ice!)

IMG_1098

Skiing out on the sea ice surrounded by icebergs.  The ice has to be 20cm thick to travel on.  The bindings on the skis are just bendy plastic that strap onto insulated work boots.

IMG_2516

John testing the waters. You might be able to spot how we cut the hole in the ice.

IMG_1115

Theres been some clear nights in the last couple of weeks so its been great to be outside with a camera.  The full moon has been spoiling it somewhat though I spent a great evening with John, Tom and Adam at the cross taking surreal photos.  Above – John (meteorologist), Tom (Doctor) and Myself admiring the view.
IMG_2489The weather doesnt always play ball!  Above – Hector topping out of a mixed route in the spindrift having experienced hotaches for the first time on a day when we thought there would be no wind.

Posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Antarctica, British Antarctic Survey, Climbing, Climbing Antarctica, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Long Exposure, skiing, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , |

R is for Rothera?

I usually try for one blog post a month with around twelve photos.  Although I have managed this so far I can feel the photos building up and theres nothing worse than just hiding them away on a harddrive.  I also realised that I had not yet posted anything about Rothera where I am ultimately based for a year and half.  As a field assistant Rothera is the home we return to from the field complete with amazing food, internet access, phones, a bar etc etc.  It is also where all the equipment gets shipped into the field from but for most field assistants the R is really for Recreation.  While there is a decent area for people to ski and snowboard in (within a flagged area) all the staff at Rothera need a field assistant with them if they want to go outside this area.  Though this does mean that there is a slight tinge of work to your days off it does also mean you get to all the best places.  Included in this post is a few photos from the last four months when I have been briefly back at Rothera.IMG_5822Icebergs against the shore at the point.  This was taken on one of my first evenings on base in October.IMG_5837Cross at sunset at the Southern end of Base.  Mat Etheridge and Al Docherty trying not to shiver in the wind.
IMG_5838New Bransfield House (looking Northish)  New Bransfield holds the Dining room, Library, Bar, TV rooms and computer room.IMG_5899Admirals building at the start of season.  My window is the second alongIMG_5900Standard en suite room in Admirals.IMG_8046Rothera from the North.  The big building on the left is New Bransfield, the Yellow tower is the Comms tower and the building to the right is Admirals.IMG_5914Twin Otter being loaded with a skidoo (its a tight fit!) Rothera has the furthest south hard runway of any of the Antarctic bases so is also a busy airport.  IMG_2290Malcy leading the top pitch of “Blue Sky White Berg” (HVS) with the edge of the runway just visible at the bottom of the photo.  There are over 100 rock, ice and mixed routes within a quick skidoo of base.IMG_2325Me leading the top pitch of “Final Countdown” (E1)
IMG_6032The edge of Stork Bowl.  There is two ski slopes within the base flag line and then numerous other skiing oppurtunities on the surrounding peaks.  Stork Bowl is as much of a powder trap as there seems to be nearby.
IMG_6042 First line in Stork Bowl.IMG_6104 Thought I better include a picture of someone snowboarding (Tom Griffin)IMG_6119 Fran cruising.IMG_6139 Sam getting low on his telemark turnsIMG_7919 More climbing.  Al Docherty pulling through the steep section of “Release the Bats”(VS (though potentially a bit of a sandbag))IMG_7973In the show crevasse.  The show crevasse is used for training and recreation.  A quick lower or abseil into a crazy world of ice chandeliers.  Usually as a mountaineer you avoid going anywhere near crevasses but I have to admit it is pretty amazing to wander around the bottom of one for a while.
IMG_7978 The climb back out of the show crevasse.IMG_8008Rothera also has plenty of wildlife.  Elephant on the beach at Mackay point to the North of Rothera.  During the summer these are everywhere at Rothera burping and farting constantly and trying to sleep on the runway.IMG_8037 Sleepy Adelie.  Seeing as there have been complaints that I havent put any penguin pictures up yet I thought I better get one in.  Being in the Field all summer means that I have missed most of the penguins being around but I’m sure this wont be the last penguin you see on the blog!IMG_8131We very occasionally get tourist ships visit.  Today we had the “Fram” and they were kind enough to let us use their hottub!

Posted in Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , |