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.
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.
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.
I really enjoy experimenting with the daily distance I am capable of maintaining on a multi-day tour no matter if its walking, cycling or running. It is partly the usual curiosity of my limits, but also a preparation for a real, weeks or months long tour that I might have opportunity in the future to do. I’ve done several long distance weekend hikes, and last year I crossed both the Swiss Alps and Jura by bike, but the multi-day running was an itch that I couldn’t scratch so far. So given my first weekend alone in Cambridge I decided to do a careful test on the Norfolk Coastal Path.
Oberaar is a mountain area in the Obergoms region, Vallais canton of Switzerland. Surrounded by 4000ers, spotted by ponds, crossed by glaciers and rivers, covered by grass, ice and stones, it is everything that is considered Alpine. Our team of four – the mother-of-four programmer Zsuzsi, the agricultural scientist Bori, my dear biologist girlfriend Kata and myself – decided to enter this area to make an attempt on the Finsteraarhorn (2478 m). Our base was the affordable and super welcoming Sporthotel of Obergoms in the heart of the Swiss Alps within an hour of the Grimselpass, Furkapass and half of the high-mountain ranges of Switzerland. Although the peak left unclimbed this time, the two days we spent in the wilderness of Obergoms was spectacular, tiring and dangerous, especially the 17 hours walk of the first day that gave the idea for this ballad.
It is the season of the road cycling Grand Tours. Hundreds of the world’s best cyclists compare their strength and endurance day after day making huge distances and climbing great mountains. Their inspiring performance should not only pin you in front of the TV but also make you follow their example and make your own Grand Cycling Tour. Here is the story of my Grand Tour in Switzerland. The first part was about the Alps, followed by the Jura and the Lake Geneva, and now the final episode comes with the crossing of the 2005 m (6578 ft) high Simplon pass to Italy.