Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Room with a view.




Fiona, Emily and I survived our Antarctic field training as we had fantastic weather with no wind, virtually unheard of. After rather sobering lectures about frostbite, hypothermia and getting lost in whiteout conditions we were rather pale and apprehensive about actually leaving the buildings - and I though falling in Cook Strait was a frightening thought.

We loaded up the hagglund and three skidoo’s with an enormous amount of essential stuff as the exercises is to try out all the equipment - polar tents, stoves, GPS’s, shovels, survival gear and way too much food.

I had a lesson on the skidoo – throttle, break, that’s all you need and we were off, I got to ride it to our destination “Room with a view”. I could not believe I was racing across snow-covered hills in Antarctica in a staggered formation trying to keep up with Glenn and in front of Ian. Bounce, bump bounce...they feel like a horse bucking you off at times as they hit uneven snow and your airborne off the seat - great fun. "Room with a view" at the base of Mt Erebus is amazing, 360-degree views that are beyond words and photographs.

We erected our polar tents, dug out shelters for our stoves and somewhere to sit and helped/ watched Ian and Don build an ice cave. Bed time according to our watches as it was still sunny and we wriggled into three layers of sleeping bags with mittens and thick socks on. No sleep but that’s OK. The tent glowed too brightly through my eyelids. In the morning we de-camped back to base via the A-Frame. A small building away from the base that is treated like a Bach and is great for weekends away. Sir Edmond Hillary visited a few weeks earlier.



Adding the finishing touches to our ice cave - I made the chimney. The ice is deceptively heavy as it carves and cuts like polystyrene but weighs a ton if you cut your blocks too big.
I resisted the temptation to write my name in the snow.
It was a amazing experience and again we were blessed with the weather as it just started snowing on our return to base, in time for dinner.

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