Saturday, 17 January 2009

Sleeping out in Antarctica 12/01/2009

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Day 16 January 12th 2009

Last night we slept out in the Antarctic

Leif Island

Peninsula on an island in Leith Cove whose latitude and longitude are: South and West (approximately 100 miles north of the Antarctic Circle).

Zodiacs coming from Ioffe

We got there by zodiac from the Ioffe and with only one seal, a number of penguins and a few other intrepid travellers for company,

Briefing in how to build a snow hole

the first thing was a briefing on how to construct a snow hole.

Snow shoes for tamping down

Having donned snow shoes, dig a grave shaped hole (we dug a two person grave) pointed in roughly the direction from which you expect the wind/ snow / rain to come .

Hole dug and tamped

Put the excavated snow across the head of the hole so that the strong katabatic winds (which can arise at any time) are deflected over the top of the hole. Tamp the snow down whilst wearing the snow shoes so it is firm and flat.

Bivvy bags in snow hole

Place the floor mat inside a bivvy bag and the sleeping bag on top of the floor mat (also inside the bivvy bag.

Are youi sure this is a sensible idea

"Is this really a good idea?" wonders Pat.

Take as many clothes off as you want to, stuff them inside the bivvy bag with your

Pat in bed

sleeping bag so that they do not get wet and get inside.

We got some (but not a lot of) sleep during the night and it was not too cold - hovering just below zero. Throughout the night there was the sound of avalanches nearby and glaciers calving although we did not have to worry about the resultant tsunami because we were way above the water line.

 Paul in Bed

Mrs Yum-Yum got some use during the night. Although an outside loo with very bare facilities

Mrs Yum-Yum

the view when you looked out of the window was magnificent.

The view from the loo (Mrs Yum-Yum)

The view at dawn was quite something, and certainly very few people have seen dawn from where we were. Dawn however is a slightly incorrect concept here because although it got slightly less bright during the night, it was light enough to read by the whole night.

Dawn View

We were rescued around 6 am and after breakfast and a hot shower, spent the morning in bed.

Overall, we thought this was a very special and amazing thing to do, but not something for every night!

We are both given a certificate to commemorate our courage

Camping Certificate

This says: "This certificate is awarded to Paul (Patricia) Harvey in order to honour the adventurous spirit that inspired you to spend the night on the ice in Leith Cove off the Antarctic Peninsula".

This afternoon we are going to Port Lockroy which lies on the western side of Wiencke Island in the Palmer Archipelago and is comprised of Jougla Point and Goudier Island. Goudier Island is home to a restored British Antarctic Survey (BAS) hut, Bransfield House. The hut was occupied between 1944 and 1962 and research carried out at this site focused on surveying the region and its geology, meteorology and botany. After 1950 this switched to ionospheric research. At Jougla Point there is a large gentoo penguin colony and a colony of shags. A reassembled baleen whale skeleton can also be found close to the landing site.

We are now leaving the region of large bergs and looking outside of the window we can see one of our last large bergs.

Our last iceberg

From now on it will be bergy bits and brash and in a few hundred miles, just cold sea.

The approach to Port Lockroy (64 49s 63 30w) is through the Neumeyer Channel which is very spectacular -

Moody Mountains (1)

Moody Mountains (2)

lots of moody mountains with a heavy sky. The base has been restored as a museum to

Port Lockroy Kitchen (kitchen)

Port Lockroy Larder (1) (larder)

Port Lockroy Larder (2)

Port Lockroy Larder (3)

Port Lockroy Living Quarters (living quarters)

Port Lockroy Office (office)

the work of early Antarctic scientists and showing how they lived. It is open to any passing public for around four months a year. It is also the southern most public British Post

THe Union Jack flies over Port Lockroy

Office in the world - passing ships such as the Ioffe pick up mail and take it to Stanley in the Falkland Islands for onward transmission.

Nearby Jugla Point has yet more Gentoo penguins, here showing how they seem to spend most of their life collecting stones (Love Rocks)

Love Rock (1)

Love Rock (2)

Love Rock (3)

both small and large to put on the nest of their loved one. They also steal stones from nearby nests. The chicks here are much

Yet another Gentoo and Chick

further on than those we have seen further south.

On the beach is an assembled skeleton of a

Whale Bones

whale, created to show us how big one is.






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