Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Shack is back

Yes, everyone's favourite Antarctic vessel is back, moored up in its usual spot at Creek 4 on Thursday. And it will stay here for the rest of the season, leaving in about a month. However, it doesn't look like I'll get to see it this time - the second relief is short. I think it may actually already be over. But it was a bit nostalgic yesterday to hear the Captain's Scottish voice on the radio methodically announcing and confirming cargo..."Yes, that's acknowledged, three empty Germans coming ship side..."

Meanwhile, I'm putting finishing touches on this and that, helping occasionally with packing, and little things here and there. Melt-tank duty, for instance. It occurs to me, I've never posted a picture of melt-tank duty. Here's one:

I've split all my current possessions into three groups: a) stuff that can stay here until next season; b) stuff that I can send back on the Shack; and c) stuff that comes with me to Africa. That last group is meant to be as small and non-valuable as possible.

Rich and I have done a few more trips - one of them is to the Rumples, where we drive and walk around with a GPS strapped to us so we can map the undulations in the ice. Here are the Rumples, and Rich with the GPS pack (we swapped it around a bit, so we both had pack duty).

In general, one can feel that things here are wrapping up. The services people - carpenters, plumbers, etc. - are starting to run low on things to do. The Halley VI site is starting to cocoon for the winter, tenting up some of the modules. And people are starting to plan their trips home in earnest. And the sun is actually starting to think about setting. Here it is, waffling about 10 degrees from the horizon.

In the end, it decided to wait a little longer. There's still a bit more to do around here.


Dariusz Rejowski Poland said...

Hi Ryan

you said about trips around. How far it is dangerous - cracks in ice and risk fall down into deep. I was said by my friend about that unexpected risk and neccessity to use ladders as protection. Do you face the same problem in Antarctic.
What about your personal or your friends feeling due to lack of correct amount of sun for so long time. depression effect?

Ryan said...

When we travel out from base, our skidoos are roped together, and we're roped to the skidoos, so that if one goes in, we can pull each other out. We also have winching gear, and go in full climbing gear at all times, including ice axes. The risk is pretty high - just yesterday I skidoo'd over a 2 foot wide crevasse. But the equipment and procedures are pretty good.

Don't think anyone is particularly depressed by the lack of sun in the Antarctic winter - compared to the radical lifestyle difference, it's probably not a large factor. And winterers get a psychological profile check, first. I know that I don't like the 24 hour sun, but not because of the emotional part - it just hurts my eyes! Snow blindness is a constant danger.