Tuesday 20 November 2018

End of winter.

First contact with the outside world after the winter. A Chilean twin otter calls into Rothera as part of a medivac. 
As I type this my time in Rothera is nearly over. I am due to fly out of here in a few days time. 
Admirals house where I lived over the winter. 
This year winter came to an end a bit sooner than expected. Unfortunate when I was on my field guides winter trip (discussed in the previous post) one of the winterer's became ill. It was decided to evacuate him as a precautionary measure, and we returned from out trip to help out. Fortunately a fair bit of work had already gone into snow clearing from the runway. At this time the BAS planes had just started their journey South from Canada where they were being prepared for the coming season, and would not be at Rothera for another two weeks or so. The Chileans offered their services. A Chilean twin otter flew down from King George Island, picked the patient up and evacuate him to Punta Arenas, and then on via commercial flights back to the UK. Our first contact with the outside world after the winter was a brief chat with the Chilean twin otter pilots. 
One of the best things about the arrival of airplanes at Rothera is fresh fruit. 
It was not long after that the the BAS planes began arriving. To me the arrival of the planes is a significant moment in the Rothera calendar. On the one hand it marks the end of winter, and to some of the freedoms which winter allows. On the other hand the arrival of new people with their excitement and enthusiasm for Antarctica is infectious and a good reminder of what a unique place Antarctica is. Another thing that the planes bring in is a delivery of fresh fruit which, being five months or so since the previous delivery, was very much appreciated.

Rock climbing in Antarctica. Another advantage of the arrival of spring is warmer temperatures allow a bit or rock climbing. The rock tends to be a bit shattered, but there are a few decent routes about. Mark Scales on an E2 on the Dark Side crag. 
Like last year, this year I was given the task of opening up Fossil Bluff. Fossil bluff is essentially as aircraft refueling center on Alexander island, about 200 miles South of Rothera. I spent about 10 pleasant days there. The weather was generally a bit mixed so I didn't get as much recreation as I did last year, but it will still a nice change. After that I was hoping to get the opportunity to travel a bit further South to Sky Blu or beyond. However, a combination of weather an other factors prevented that from happening. However, the extra time that gave me the opportunity to get out to do some rock climbing. The rock itself is a bit shattered, but the views are good! 

Bluebell Cottage at Fossil Bluff, a nice spot to hang out for a few days. Unfortunately the weather was pretty mixed when I was there this year. This photo was taken on the only really sunny day.
Working hard! Some days we would get various visitors passing through. On this day conditions were poor at Rothera, and we had various pilots and passengers stuck at the bluff for a few hours. They didn't seem to mind too much 
Life in Bluebell cottage. On poor weather days a fair bit of reading and knitting went on in the cottage. At the time I had a rather substantial Antarctic moustache, which was later chopped off in preparation of returning to the real world