Out and About

Katie Joy | 06 Jan 2019

We had a tent day yesterday sitting inside our tent waiting for the weather to improve. Everything looks a bit custard coloured in here after a while with the light coming through the orange canvas, so in the evening as the skies were clearing I walked around camp to see a stunning Sun halo made by the light reflecting through high altitude ice crystals with sun dogs glistening alongside.

We have been debating where the closest people are to us — Halley research station is about 687 km to the north, the South Pole research station is about 945 km to the south, and our ice drilling BAS colleagues are about 1060 km to the west. See photo of our little tent world in the middle of the ice, hopefully gives you a sense of the remoteness of our workplace.

2019-01-07 little tent world
Little tent world — no-one else for 687 km in any direction [Credit: K H Joy]

By morning the snow has blown through and sunny skies and light winds arrived this morning. Pilot Vicky, by now an honorary team member, came in with the red Twin Otter around lunchtime with the final skidoo and sledge load, and some bonus tasty fresh food treats from the chefs for our lunch (thanks guys!). Thanks to everyone back at Halley for all the field support — from skiway loading and transport, to copilots and skidoo wranglers, to comms and weather — it is all much appreciated.

Unloading a skidoo from the Twin Otter [Credit: K H Joy]

We managed to get out this afternoon to do some initial scouting around some of the ice fields close to us to see what the snow cover and ground is like on route. To get to new
areas we travel by linked travel — using a sledge and tow ropes linked up between the two skidoos. Tomorrow we will head out and do some searching further a field if the skies stay clear and see what the blue ice has to offer.

Linked travel: en-route to new areas [Credit: K H Joy]

PS to the other team members (now including Tom) who are in Punta: Hope you are enjoying yourselves in the sunshine and are preparing for the cold!

Taking the temperature of the ice [Credit: K H Joy]

Arrived!

Katie Joy | 02 Jan 2019

We made it to our first field site this afternoon. One flight out of three complete and Julie and I have set up camp. We are cosy in our tent and have had dinner (‘man food’ — rehydrated food which is actually much taster than anticipated). The rest of our gear will hopefully join us tomorrow including the skidoo and science equipment when Vicky and the twin otter plane return. We had a cloudy first part of the flight after a snowy night at Halley but the clouds cleared over the Shackleton mountains and, after a refuel stop, we did a fly-over of our potential next site to check out the blue ice and a possible traverse route.

We are camped on snow close to blue ice (where we hope the meteorites will be) and the ground is covered with amazing ice crystals like hoar frost that blow around in the 12 knot winds. They are sparkling in the sunshine like glitter. There is not a lot of topography on the horizon with no nunatuks (mountain tops protruding through the ice sheet) to be seen from our field site so it is somewhat stark not to have any scale reference.

Hopefully we will be out to work in the next couple of days.