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 Antarctica was the last major unknown land of our planet. As wild and inaccessible as the most fearsome mountain peaks with double the size of Australia, Antarctica was the subject of the last heroic age of exploration just a few decades before the mankind turned its head towards the stars. The Antarctica was also the subject of an unprecedented world-wide collaboration dedicating the whole continent to scientific investigations and banning both military and mineral exploration activities. But what kind of scientific investigation needs a 14 million sq km laboratory in one of the harshest places of the Earth? Becoming one of the wintering electronic engineers of the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI station is not only the greatest adventure of my life, but also an opportunity to watch and assist some of the major scientific explorations of our age. (Check my weekly diary for more.)
I wanted to write you the story of an amazing cycling tour in the Swiss Alps that I made not long ago, but I really couldn’t focus on it after I received that mail from the British Antarctic Survey: “We would like to offer you the position of Electronics Engineer for a Halley Winter.” Okay, but who cares about me spending 18 months on that frozen continent apart from my family and girlfriend? Well, since I consider it the second best thing after going to space, it might be interesting for some others too, but I wouldn’t really write about myself, not even about Antarctica yet, there will be plenty of time. I would rather write about what lead to this. How the impossible might happen.