I’m now back in the UK, with drizzle outside my office
window rather than sparkling snow and comical penguins. Having been away for a
month there is plenty to keep me busy back in the Geography Department at
Durham University, but the memories of Antarctica will take a long time to
fade. Here are a few things that I will particularly miss…
1. Getting my hands dirty
For most of my working life my toolkit has
consisted of a pen, paper, and lots of computers. As I headed into the field
with essentially a 300kg meccano kit and lots of tools that I didn’t even know
the name of, memories of playing with technic lego and building 3D models came
flooding back from my childhood. It was great to get back to basics, and feel
the satisfaction of building something where my tools were drills, spanners and
a voltmeter rather than pen and paper. I think my proudest achievement of the
trip was learning to solder.
|not my usual set of tools|
|Even a mathematician can spot that this rock should not be here|
Flying will never be the same after sitting
in the cockpit of a Twin Otter and having the pilot explain what all the dials
and switches are for; watching clouds silently weave around inaccessible peaks;
enjoying the ride as we bounce our way home through bad weather; and trying to
recall the physics that explains how we are somehow able to magically float
across the sky in a lump of metal.
|yes, we should probably turn left soon...|
|coming into land|
|How much kit can you fit in a Twin Otter?|
Penguins are very cool. I am not cool when
watching penguins. I still get excited at even a couple of Adelie penguins
dozing by the runway. One evening I spent so long standing watching the
penguins round the back of the point that I didn’t notice a pincer movement being set in motion: The cries of the penguins on land attracted a group who had been hanging out on
an iceberg. Suddenly a gaggle of penguins shot out of the water and onto the
snow next to me. I was surrounded!
|Penguin pow-wow - spotted from the bar at Rothera|
4. The view from my office
One sunny afternoon in my office in Old
Bransfield House, I was gazing up at the rocky buttress at the top of the
snow ramp, looking for inspiration on my latest paper, when a Basler
suddenly purred its way down the
runway not 100m from where I sat. You don’t get that in Durham. I may have let
out a whoop of excitement.
|evening clouds over Jenny Island|
|end of the day |
|Rothera sunset |
5. Fuchs House
Even in the most miserable weather, as you
climb up the steep steps and push open the door of Fuchs House a warm glow
envelops you as you enter a world of sledges, skis, climbing equipment, tents, stoves,
sleeping bags, and lots of books. It was here that we practiced crevasse rescue
on ropes hanging from the loft whilst trying not to land on the Chief
Scientific Adviser to the Government or the Director of BAS; I learnt how to
adjust ski bindings; and it was the starting point for all forays into the
|Mushroom Buttress: we climbed the inviting crack centre of shot|
6. Outside the flagline
Inside the flagline is good. A peaceful few
hours spent gliding round the plateau on cross country skis is a good way to
unwind from a day of work. But a better way is to find a Field Guide and head
outside the flagline and into Stork Bowl to sample some powder! Or skidoo up to
Mushroom Buttress to sneak in a two-pitch rock route before dinner. Surely this
much fun shouldn’t be allowed on a school night?
|Stork bowl powder |
|sunset as I skied around the flagline|
Now I'm back in the UK it is strange not to have to think about which recycling bin to throw my rubbish in, or question whether I should even be throwing the item away - could it be used for something else? Do I really need the light on? Do I really need a shower today?! People are very careful about energy use in Rothera, hopefully Britain will catch up one day!
|I don't have any photos of rubbish (although I have many rubbish photos), so here is some cool crevassing |
At the opposite end of the 'rubbish' spectrum is music! Whilst I was in Antarctica the musical skills
of the residents of Rothera were on display at ‘Acoustic Night’ and during the
Burns’ night ceilidh (a chaotic affair, at least on the dancing side…). For a
small community (~80 people) the array of talent was impressive, and as people
performed cool covers of old favourites and songs they’d written themselves I
resolved to step outside my comfort zone of classical music in the future.
Although, I don’t think I will ever master the skill of performing the Indiana
Jones theme tune just by blowing into my hands…
|I also don't have photos of music, so here is some more scenery: looking along Reptile Ridge back towards Rothera - can you spot the skidoo? |
Although we were a little slow to get in on
the act (women roughly came in as the dogs went out in the mid-90’s) there is
now a good mix of men and women at Rothera, and there is no pigeon-holing of
what task you should be taking on based on your gender. While I was south there
were women working in the communications tower, taking charge of science cargo,
running the marine lab, running the diving program, providing the weather forecasts,
and flying planes, as well as carrying out research into anything from
oceanography to atmospheric physics. Indeed, the current director
of the British Antarctic Survey is a woman. However, my own bid for equality was not
completely successful, and it quickly became apparent that pulling a heavy
sledge uphill through soft snow is best left to the boys if you want to make it
back to the plane any time soon.
|Stunning ridge lines |
|Mysterious mountains in the mist|
|Clouds cascading off the Antarctic Peninsula plateau|
|Weather in the mountains|
|Untouched (?) rock|
The thing I will miss most about Antarctica
is the people, their attitude towards life, and their attitude towards each
other. Rothera is almost self-sufficient (completely so in winter), and this is
reflected in the way people look out for each other, and in the roles that they
adopt. With a small community you don’t hear people saying ‘oh, that’s someone
else’s job’; everyone mucks in, and they develop a keen sense of spotting a
problem and doing something about it. I am hoping that some of this will have
rubbed off on me and that my time at Rothera has made me a slightly better person.
|Cape Disappointment team: (L-R) Chucky, Erin, me, Ted, Chris|
A final thank you
As well as sending a huge thank you to all the folk down at Rothera and back
at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, I am also grateful to: Matt King for
getting this project off the ground and then suggesting I should be the person that heads to the other end
of the world for a month; Anya Reading and the UNAVCO boys for training me
to install GPS receivers and seismometers; Mike Bentley for advice and
enthusiasm on all things Antarctic; and Duncan for all his support (and for
feeding the cat while I was away).
|time to head home...|
My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of S$250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of S$250,000.00 SG. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius,via email:(email@example.com) Thank you.
BORROWERS APPLICATION DETAILS
1. Name Of Applicant in Full:……..
2. Telephone Numbers:……….
3. Address and Location:…….
4. Amount in request………..
5. Repayment Period:………..
6. Purpose Of Loan………….
Email Kindly Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attention and patience are important. We will discuss if you are profitable, take a break as you reach your goals and withdraw your funds. Continue to make money that will allow us to control our funds.ReplyDelete