Half the team is at Halley

Romain Tartese 6th Decimeter 2019

After a bit more than a week there, Geoff and I left Rothera yesterday after lunch to start making our journey down to the meteorite search area. We boarded the AZ Twin Otter aircraft with field guide Rob and mechanic Tom (who is going to Halley where he’ll spend the next year or so!), and pilots Dutch and Mark (always better with pilots!). Between Rothera and Halley, we made several stops on the way, notably needed to refuel the Twin Otter.

The views leaving Rothera and Adelaide Island behind were fantastic. A couple of hours after leaving Rothera we first stopped at Fossil Bluff for a quick refill. Landing at Fossil Bluff was truly fantastic as you follow spectacular cliffs all the way down – see photo below.

Spectacular layered cliffs on the way down to Fossil Bluff [Credit: R. Tartese].

We then stopped at Sky Blu, where the Twin Otter lands on a blue ice runway. It was actually my first steps on the Antarctic continent, since both Rothera and Fossil Bluff are on islands off the coast.

Happy chaps having just landed at Sky Blu [Credit: G. Evatt].

After landing, we were met by three BAS colleagues that are stationed at Sky Blu for a few days/weeks. Readers who followed the blog last season will probably remember that Sky Blu is where Geoff spent some time last summer trying to break the metal detector assembly we will be towing on the ice, and perfecting his ice coring skills. We had a great dinner (thanks guys!) and a good night of sleep in our cosy (and very orange) pyramid tent.

Midnight sun at Sky Blu – the Twin Otter can be seen on the far left [Credit: R. Tartese].

After breakfast this morning, weather forecast over the Ronne Ice Shelf and onto Halley was promising, so we set off at around 0830 to finish our journey to Halley station. And we were once again greeted by fantastic views all the way. After just under 3 hours, we stopped at the Three Ronne Depot (TRD) on the edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf to top up the Twin tanks with about 800 litres of fuel! It involved a very limited amount of digging to access the barrels – and as suggested by the photo below it was very balmy!

Refuelling at the Three Ronne Depot [Credit: R. Tartese].

The final leg of our journey took us from the Ronne Ice Shelf to Halley VI station that sits on the Brunt Ice Shelf , flying over spectacular patches of open sea and broken sea-ice, and as a bonus over a large colony of emperor penguins!

The edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf, viewed from 3000 m high [Credit: R. Tartese].

After a long day flying we arrived in Halley where we have enjoyed a great fish and chips for dinner. Plans for the coming days are fluid, but it seems one of us will head off to the mountains tomorrow if the weather is good to start shifting some fuel around. In the meantime, Wouter might hopefully make his way down to Halley with the first half of the kit, then followed by Katie with the rest of the kit. Stay tuned!

Main module at Halley VI station [Credit: R. Tartese].

Life at Rothera research station

Romain Tartese | 02 Dec 2019

The Bransfield House, where we have our office set up [Credit: R. Tartese]

We’ve now been at Rothera for almost a week, so I thought I’d update readers on what life at an Antarctica research station is like. Most people on base work from 0830 until 1800, and so do we. At the moment there are more than 100 people living on base, doing all sorts of jobs such as electricians, carpenters, electrical engineers, weather forecast, mechanics, divers, field guides, pilots, scientists, doctors, etc.

Geoff, Wouter and myself are sharing four people bedrooms that contain two bunk beds, whilst Katie has been provided with a luxury 2 people bedroom with en-suite bathroom. Life here revolves around aircraft taking off and landing, and meal times. It’s been cloudy for the past few days, so aircraft activity has been reduced dramatically — on the other hand, eating is going well! We tend to go for breakfast 1 at around 0730. I wrote breakfast 1 because at 1030, it’s smoko time, which consists of a second breakfast / early lunch with bacon, sausages, soup, etc. Lunch is at 1300, there is another tea break at 1630, and dinner is at 1900. The food is awesome, big thanks to the chefs for keeping everybody well fed and happy.

In between the various bits of training we’ve had to do (see Wouter upcoming post on this), we have also started putting together the whole metal detection systems that we will be dragging on the blue ice fields in the coming weeks.

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During free time, people enjoy doing all sorts of activities, from reading, watching movies or playing board games, to going out for a walk around the point or skiing down the ramp above the base.

The Ramp, above Rothera, which acts as the local ski slope [Credit: R. Tartese]



Made it to Punta Arenas

25 Nov 2019

Hi there, it’s Romain! We made it to Punta Arenas, at the southern tip of Chile, last night after a few flights that took us across the Atlantic to Sao Paulo and then Santiago in Chile.

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We were welcomed by a very Manchester-like weather of 7-8 degres accompanied by drizzle! This morning after breakfast we’ll be updated on whether the weather is good enough  for our Dash flight to take us to Antarctica! As a newbie whom has never been to Antarctica, I am very excited!!