Thursday, 29 October 2009

Rothera Point: The outside

Okay! 'Tis Thursday evening at sunny(ish) Rothera. I've been slogging away at things and stuff here since arriving on Saturday; but, as usual, we shall look back upon earlier events - my flight and first sunny day at Rothera.

Usually, pilots have to dicker for a long time on whether or not to fly out to Rothera from Punta Arenas - it's a PNR flight, a "point-of-no-return" flight. This means that after a given point, usually about an hour away from Rothera, there are no other viable locations to land, in the event that the weather craps out at Rothera. This time, however, there didn't appear to be a cloud within 100 km, and so the pilots said "go" in about 10 minutes. (Not sure what they were doing for the other 9.)

Within an hour, we were at the Punta airport, loading up the Dash.

And then we were gone. There was plenty of cloud on the way down. When it cleared up, we saw some of this:

That's sea ice, breaking up. It looked like this all the way to the horizon, which was a bit surreal. I saw lots of it on the Shackleton last year, but it's weirder from the air - more artistic, like a pseudo-random pattern. What is the sea ice trying to tell me?

However, once we got close to Rothera, the sea ice disappeared and we went in low. This was cool. Hard to convey the coolness in this picture I took out the window...

...but imagine having this blast past you at >200km/h, or whatever we were doing. Most impressive.

And then...

There we were. Back at Rothera. Here's Rothera.

Roughly describing the buildings: in the foreground is my accommodations - four to a room. Just behind that, is the work building for the scientists and operations people - that yellow thing is the control tower for airport operations. Up and to the left, in the distance, is the airport hangar, on the far side of the runway. To the right is the chippy (carpenter) shed, and in the distance is the Bransfield house, the social center of the base (and where we eat). Next blog, I'll take you in some of these buildings. In the meantime, I'll just show you my office...

...where I'm currently perched on that blue chair.

After a brief orientation - and repeated reminders that we are, actually, living at an airport and please don't cavort on the runway - we had dinner and then took a walk around the point. Here are some pics.

Just a few notes on this last one, which didn't turn out as well. This is Jenny Island, south of Rothera. Nothing beyond it but open water for quite a while. I find myself fascinated with Jenny Island, for some reason. It looks like an evil supervillain should set up a base there. Of course, they'd have to rename it. Unless their name was Jenny.


Tricia said...

For my birthday Bill gave me an iPhone. I thought it would be fun to load into the world clock feature times for the places where our friends live. Rothera apparently doesn't exist either in the world clock or on the Weather Channel. Is there a bigger settlement in the same time zone down there? You do have time and weather down there, right?

Ryan said...

We can pick the time zone arbitrarily - we're currently GMT+3, to be the same as the Falkland Islands. You can set it to that!

Karen said...

Hi Ryan - your wonderful sister Nicole sent me a link to your blog. Love it! I am going to read through from the beginning but wanted to let you know you have a new reader (and fan).
I am off to Inuvik on Monday for my first visit to the real Canadian north, so I was fascinated to learn you are at the other end of the world.
And ... even though Nic and I met in Edmonton via Aimee - I am also from Ontario. From Harriston originally and went to Laurier.