Saturday, 5 January 2019

Reflections

North Cove on a calm day.
It is just after New Year and I have been back from Antarctica for just over a month now. I am doing a few days avalanche forecasting and seem to have settled back into life in Fort William.
When I initially returned I had headed out to Spain for some sports climbing. From a grade point of view this was not a particularly successful trip. However, from the point to view of enjoying some warmth and remembering the feeling of moving over rock it was great success. It made me realise how much I had missed rock climbing during the past few years of living constant winter.

Since returning I have been thinking about the two winters I did in Antarctica, and whether I would do another one. At the moment I have no fixed plans to return to Rothera, BAS have a full selection of field guides employed for next Antarctic winter. However, who knows what opportunities might arise in the future.

At the moment I am content to be back in Scotland despite the current lack of winter conditions. I now have access to many of the things I missed at Rothera; the freedom to go out when and where I want, fresh fruit and veg, a climbing wall. If I get bored of Scotland, then there is plenty of things I would like to do around Europe from ski touring trips to more sports climbing. However, over time the appreciation of those things will fade as they become part of normal life and I suspect I will start thinking of Antarctic.

I found life in Rothera over the winter is quite easy. The work was not too stressful, the working day not too long,you didn't have to worry about shopping and there was a professional chef to prepare meals. These things made life at Rothera pleasant, but  they are not the things I will dream about. What I think I will miss about Antarctica is a bit more subtle, something I find harder to describe; the crisp clarity of the air during an Antarctic dawn, the empty silence of a frozen sea, the sense of smallness in a very large and very empty content. Perhaps it could be best described as a sense of awe of the place. Whether or not I go back, I have selected some photos which to me show this sense, I hope that you like them.
Mountaineering on Orca.
Skiing on Bond Nunatak 
A winter trip camp by moonlight
Mountaineering in the Stokes Peaks.
Nacreous Clouds
Rhyder Bay by moon light. 
A lonely figure drags a sledge across the sea ice. 

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