Whoo-eey! Been a busy week here. Let's do this chronologically - assuming I can remember it all in the correct order.
Rich, my field comrade, was diverted to start doing pleasure trips to the Hinge Zone for the winterers, which temporarily stranded me on base. And Toddy went with him, dammit. This left Kirk and Pete, who were also both trained for field support. Pete started getting together the usual supplies, and we planned to leave for site D10, a troublemaker, at lunch.
However, I apparently had other travel plans. Mark, the pilot, stopped me and said "Be at the plane at 1pm." I responded with a blank stare. He followed up, "You're copiloting today's flight."
Copilot. Every flight needs one. In normal places, this would be a second pilot, or an air mech. At Halley, it is a privilege granted to wintering staff (and the occasional summerer who's been there for four months). Although, the job title would more appropriately be "human ballast". Your job is to occupy the seat, and not to touch anything; and in the event of a horrible crash, you are to make tea and presumably provide body heat to the pilot until help arrives. Fortunately, Mark required neither of these services during the duration of the flight.
We flew around the ice shelf; I got a few pics. [...]
Upon landing, I managed to get out to D10 and fix it, with Pete. So, a busy day.
My new field mate Pete and I went out to E00, a site I have not brought online yet. After fiddling with antennas for a bit, we stopped by the nearby Halley VI site.
I thought Neil had a lonely spot out at the CAS lab. The Halley VI site is 12 km away and occupied by four guys. They've got a few trailers out there, a stack of movies to watch, food, and tea. We were offered the latter two - they don't get many visitors. But we declined, and left them to their mast erecting and snow grooming.
On Wednesday, I began an effort to reduce my gargantuan calorie intake. I certainly couldn't sustain it back in the UK. That's it for me on Wednesday.
However, on Wednesday night at 10:04PM local, something happened that I'd been awaiting for months. The sun set. Hooray! We partied all night. All four minutes of it.
Back to the Rumples - this time, with Kirk, the last of the four field folk. Kirk, as well as being a field guy, is shooting a documentary about this season at Halley; so, he came along with his camera. We fiddled with more antennas, downloaded some data, and then he shot a little bit of footage of me talking about the Rumples and my project. It'll show up in his documentary, which will probably be an internal British Antarctic Survey product only. But still, it was fun to do, and I'll see the end result in a week.
On Friday, I wrote code to consolidate the GPS raw data into a format that could be posted on an internal BAS website. Interesting for me, perhaps, but probably not for you.
We got word that bad weather is coming in, so we went back out to the Rumples to do some more surveying. This mostly meant strapping a GPS to my skidoo and driving around the rolling "hills" in the ice. I'd been dreading it for awhile - after 1600km of skidoo riding this season (we counted), riding several hours at 10km/h was a bit dry. But it got done, and that's my last major trip for the season. Now I can sit in the 40 knot winds this week and not feel guilty that I should be out in the field.
Saturday night was a improv/skit night, with our house band headlining. Previously named "Z or Dead", as Z is the code for Halley (all our jobs are coded too, like ZChef, ZElec, etc; my code is ZLife), they changed their name to "Toucan Rool and the Ticksheets". That'd be a reference to the "two-can rule" for alcohol, which was suspended for the evening. A bit of a messy night, as a result. Fortunately, I refrained from the mess, planning ahead for Sunday (see below). But when I got up for my usual 4am Marmite sandwich - another habit I'd like to break before returning to the UK - they were still partying hard. Most impressive.
Finally, today there was a fundraising event where we were to transport ourselves around the perimeter to make a total of 300 circuits among us all. At 5km a circuit, that's the distance to get to the South Pole. Some ran, some walked, some skied, some kited. I chose to ski, of course, as I brought my nordic skis with me. I did four laps, 20km, which was roughly on par. I felt pleasantly tired. Then I watched some movies, and wrote a blog entry, conveniently organized into daily entries.
And then I apologized to my readers, as I was too tired to go to the Simpson and get my camera to download the pictures. I went to bed, instead.