It was the most exciting week of my four months at Antarctica without question. We stayed in the camp of the Jonny Cash depot on the Foundation ice-stream, as far from stations as far it goes. We visited GPS sites to be maintained, which was finally an opportunity for me to show that all that time and money spent on this journey of mine by BAS was not in vain. All this in the humbling company of veteran pilots, guides and scientists and the humbling presence of the nature so strong there is no proportion to describe.
Being on the Antarctic field was my most remote experience ever: hundreds of miles away from the closest station, living in tents on man-food and visiting instruments that are revealing some of the many secrets of this mysterious continent. The flight from Rothera through Sky Blu to the Berkner island was the first of these three weeks.
As a member of the 2017 wintering team of the Halley station I was completely shocked by the news that the British Antarctic Survey BAS has decided not to winter at Halley VI Research Station for safety reasons. Being at the Brunt ice-shelf at the moment I have a view on the personal, scientific, prestige and financial loss that this decision means, and I can feel the same disappointment that the rest of our team of 16 does. So when I say ‘This is still the Antarctica.‘ it is not a sarcastic comment on a terrible news, rather a token of my appreciation to the power of this place.
This week’s highlight was definitely the opportunity to join two instrument installation day-trips to the Larsen ice-shelf. My first time to fly the mighty Twin Otter, to feel the shaky landing on a snow-field and work in the field with three experienced Antarctic ladies surrounded by hundreds of kilometers of rock, ice and snow were all memorable moments that I will always remember, but also wanted to conserve somehow outside of my mind too. Thus I’ve not only written it down to my weekly diary, but also cut a short movie of the videos I made during the trip and also created a TaleMap about it.
This moment I feel like living at Rothera. I am part of this Antarctic station’s everyday life and I’m very glad for this experience, even if it lasts only for a moment. In a few days I will say good-bye to this little village surrounded by the frozen sea and fly to Berkner island, which will be a completely different experience. I try to preserve this valuable moment by writing down what I learned about this amazing place in the last two weeks, knowing that this was just a fracture of what Rothera is.
Well, here I am, and here is everything they promised: the frozen sea, the ice-bergs, the sun shining all day, the freezing wind and the snow covered landscape, the self-sufficient buildings, the ruggedized airplanes, just as they told, just as it was on the photos, but this time I am on the picture too, between the flapping flags, between the rocks raising over the the sea-ice, under the blazing sun in the chilly wind. It wouldn’t be much different if I would just be dreaming it all.
It’s been four months since I know that I’m going to spend one and a half year at Antarctica, and for the past two months I’ve been participating in the intensive training of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) for this wintering mission. Now I’m ready. Both in my mind and heart I feel ready and eager to be there, to leave this unfrozen part of the World behind and dive into that strange universe.
When was the last time you looked up the sky and wondered at the clouds? Not only at their shapes that can resemble many things and inspire children and future tellers, but at their height and size and thickness, structure and movement. You can discover a whole new world in the clouds, which are the actors in the theater of weather. You don’t need a degree to enjoy watching clouds, you just have to look up any time during the day or night. I discovered this world during my meteorology training at the British Antarctic Survey, and since that there is no day, when I wouldn’t watch the sky and I don’t understand how did I miss it until now. I’m just an amateur, but I might be able to infect you with my enthusiasm towards clouds. Don’t miss it.
As part of our preparation for the 18 month Antarctic mission, the wintering teams of Bird Island, Halley, King Edward Point and Rothera stations of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) had a week long outdoor training in Derbyshire, UK. However the sessions focused on more or less the same outdoor skills that are used by mountaineers, these were all placed in the very special context of the Antarctic environment, which made the whole training different from those I had before, and so assumed it might be interesting for you too. Please consider that this post is a story and not an advice, the descriptions are neither detailed nor accurate enough to be used as a training material.
The adventures of two foresters in an imaginary near future where science and mysticism work together to create harmony between men and nature by cooperating with a mysterious intelligent creature under their forest called woodsweaver.