December 16, 2007
We have now been stranded in Antarctica for a week due to the weather. It’s hard to think of too many other places in the world where it is impossible to get any form of transport in to rescue you within seven days. It’s a little bit like being in Big Brother. We are confined to a pretty small place with the same people and each day we have tasks to do to try and keep people entertained. We even have video diaries to video how we are doing. I guess it is all part of the ‘polar experience’. At least we have comfortable tents, a warm mess tent to go to and delicious food to eat (thanks to ALE!). There could be worse places to be stranded. At least I don’t have to eat any more Chilli con Carne.
Our latest travel news is that there is a possible weather window on Tuesday when they could get a plane in if they manage to clear the runway of more than 6000 tonnes of snow in time. If that doesn’t work out we will most likely be here another week on top of that. That means that for the first time the possibility of Christmas in Antarctica is looming. At least we would get a white Christmas. It will be very difficult to be away from friends and family at Christmas though. We are feeling a little depressed about the prospect so any jokes or stories to cheer us up will be gratefully received!
Today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the background support that is needed to carry out science research in Antarctica. Whilst we have been here at Patriot Hills we have been helping out the staff here a little and it gives me a better idea of all the effort that is needed to run a basecamp. The tents have been drifted in with up to six feet of snow and we have spent a lot of the day shovelling snow. We’ve had the help of a Sno-Cat – a big snow tractor that Chris, the driver, is amazing at manipulating so he can move the plough at the front in and out of tent guy ropes. There has been such a thick layer of snow on top of the tents which has started to melt. This means that it has been raining inside the tents for most of the day and there has been lots of mopping and buckets out to catch drips.
There are so many different jobs that need to be done here, cooking, mechanics, communications, guides, builders… The staff need to be able to be really inventive about all that they do. Using minimal equipment it is amazing what they are able to achieve. You certainly need to have lots of creative enterprise skills if you want to work in Antarctica. It would be virtually impossible to carry out a long term science project in Antarctica without all of this support. I’d like to say a big thank you to all the staff at Patriot Hills for all their hard work in supporting our expedition.