Life’s always better in the Sun

August 5th, 2006

Well, the day after I wrote that last post (about standing in the snow failing to see the sunrise), we woke to a beautiful dingle (i.e. clear, bright and calm) day, and we saw the Sun for the first time in about 7 weeks. It was very strange seeing the base lit up in glorious Technicolor again, after over a month of considering grey twilight to be “daylight”. Everyone’s mood improved dramatically, and there was a mass exodus to the hills to go and play in the snow!
Since then we’ve seen our day length come on by leaps and bounds, and the general mood of people on base is much better. The sea ice has come back (although it’s by no means here to stay for the rest of the winter) and we’ve been out on it, walking and Nordic skiing. Helen’s even managed to do a CTD cast through a hole in the ice, so the science programme’s getting back on track. The wind that blew out our previous load of sea ice also brought us some new icebergs to look at, including the five-arched monster berg just off East Beach.
big iceberg
Now that’s what I call a big iceberg – with Tom and Dickie

Every now and then you have to rediscover some old crafts down here – mostly because if the base doesn’t have it, you have to life without it. My socks have taken quite a punishing, particularly where they rub on the inside of my rigger boots, and so I’ve had to engage in a spot of darning in order to keep some of them in active service. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I found that you can use an ordinary lightbulb to hold your sock in shape whilst you darn, and here are the results:

darned socks
The top sock has gone threadbare – the bottom one has been repaired. Note the lightbulb and large needle!

Today I have “skinned up” to the caboose – that is, skied with furry skins on my skis to make them go uphill – which always feels like a bit of an epic when you do it on your own – and done a little bit of downhill skiing. I’m now pretty tired, and looking forward to the big Chinese meal that Ags and Kirk are cooking for Saturday dinner.

Rothera from the traverse

Rothera from the Traverse – look at the sea ice!


Self-portrait, whilst skinning up

Next week I’ll be off base on my second winter trip – Tom Marshall and will hopefully be off to Bond Nunatak and Mount Reeves on the north of Adelaide Island, but if the weather’s not good we’ll stay closer to the base and climb some of the mountains on the Wright Peninsula.

9 Responses to “Life’s always better in the Sun”

  1. Mandy Says:

    wow, these pics are alot more meaningful with the stories to go along. I may become a regular visitor here. :)
    …now where’s that pony…

  2. Michael P-J Says:

    Pony’s here –

    Thanks for dropping by – go and look at the photos and videos!

  3. Matthew Says:

    Well done, you made it through the lightless time without going mad and killing everyone at the station, hacking them appart and neatly catalogueing their entrails into the various meat lockers.

    But what’s this about skinning up? You never mentioned your Pot allowance. Or are you growing your own as part of some fiendishly advanced hydroponics experiment?


  4. Steve Jolly Says:

    Explorer’s Beard not work out? :-)

  5. Michael P-J Says:

    Matthew – no comment!
    Steve – no, not really. I shaved it off after the ship left, as I found that it was getting long enough to get stuff stuck in it. Beards are a disadvantage on winter trips, too, as you get snow and ice frozen into them whilst skidooing, which is quite unpleasant. Mine might make a resurgence when I return from my second trip next week.

  6. Cy Says:

    Sounds like there’s been an outbreak of listening to Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer – munchy hell. How many rizlas does a ski take?

    There’s a good series on BBC 2 at the moment looking at Scott and Amundsen’s race to the pole – trying to solve why Scott/Oates died, why his kit failed, was Scott useless and unsuited etc. Filmed in Greenland as apparently sled dog licences are impossible to get in Antarctica (Hardly seems to represent the British spirit of exploration, sorry lads, council says no dog licences – it’s off)

  7. Michael P-J Says:

    Cy: the last Antarctic sled dogs left the continent in 1993, as the Antarctic Treaty was revised to prevent non-native species (other than Homo sapiens) being brought to Antarctica. There was concern at the time that the dogs were introducing canine distemper to the seal population.

  8. Cy Says:

    The British seem to be losing to Norway in the race to the pole. They spent their last night of freedom in a pub, overslept and by the time they woke up the Norwegians were over the horizon.

  9. Kate Says:

    Hi MPJ,

    Just found your blog – which I’ve enjoyed reading very much!

    See you in a couple of months!


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