Sea Ice

June 27th, 2006

In the fortnight or so since I last posted pictures of Rothera Point the weather’s been cold enough and calm enough for the sea ice to form. Just before midwinter our intrepid GAs drilled the ice around the point and proved it to be more than thick enough to walk on, so on the Friday of Midwinter’s week we all had sea ice training. Most of it is common sense – you face two risks, one of falling through a gap in the ice and getting wet (unlikely) and the other of the whole lot breaking up and blowing out to sea with you on it(also fairly unlikely). The latter is a particularly nasty way to die slowly, so the travel regulations say that you don’t go on the ice in windspeeds of over 10 knots unless the ice has survived a strong blow. The former happens sometimes, so you wear synthetic clothing instead of cotton (cotton is more breathable, so we wear it for travel on land, but it doesn’t keep you warm if it gets wet) and a harness belt around your waist. You carry an ice axe, some piton-like things called “warthogs” and a throwline, and share a bag of emergency dry clothing with your partner – as you don’t go on the ice alone.
Having done all this, and having reported on the radio that you’re going on the ice, you just walk calmly off the beach, taking care around the tide-crack that forms where the ice meets the land, and go and stroll around. Walking up to icebergs is quite a novel experience, although you have to watch as they tend to have big cracks close to them.

Me and a big iceberg

A large iceberg with an arch in it, and me. Tom Spreyer took the picture

There are lots more photos here

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