The forecast for Friday was perfect. The weather on Friday morning was perfect. We finally had the two ingredients for a trip to the Hinge Zone.
The Hinge Zone is where the Brunt Ice Shelf is connected - "hinged" - to the Antarctic mainland. My final three rosette measurements are out there, and it's a long trip; a couple hours each way. Roped up. Ugh.
So, Rich and I went on our way. It was a bumpy ride. We stopped at the Halley VI site en route - it was just a bunch of flags. And then, another hour snowmobiling and we were at the first rosette site - Site 4. Weather was still perfect. We agreed to go deeper first and work our way back.
So, Another 45 minutes of roped skidooing and we hit Site 5. Ah, but now it started to cloud up. We conferred, and agreed to go onto the furthest site, site 6, before it got too bad.
Site 6 was in an iffy area - crevasses, hills, and so on. And that was when the weather really started to turn on us. Contrast just disappeared - pfft. Suddenly, we were back skidooing in the void - except this void had invisible holes and cliffs in it. Brr. We found site 6, reflagged it (but didn't measure it - that took too long), and slowly followed our tracks back to site 5, in a safer area, pledging to go back to Site 6 if contrast improved.
So, we started surveying Site 5. About half an hour into it, it started to snow. Not good. Rich called me over and said "We have a choice. Leave now, or keep going and risk getting stuck out here for a couple days." I thought about it, and was inclined to take the risk and stay. He looked at me for a second. "No. We cut and run." And so we did. And I was pissed. Hours of roped riding for nothing.
However, we drove back to Site 4, and measured it. And then it improved slightly. So, we skidoo'd back to Site 5 and did that one. But it never got clear enough to go back to Site 6. But still, a relatively productive day. We got back to base at 9pm - 12 hours of bumpy snowmobiliing, and fish and chips waiting for me when I got back.
I slept well that night.