Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Antarctica prt 2

We were hosted in the New Zealand 'Scott Base', which sat on the shore looking out over the frozen sea. With pressure ridges throwing up spectacular ice formations.
The base consisted of about 70 people during the summer and during the 7 months of continual darkness it dropped to 14.
It was surprisingly well equipped. the food was excellent, coffee marvelous, there was a gym, bar and fancy dress room ( with a fine line in dresses).
Before we could do anything we had to go through our Antarctic field training. So we headed out in the articulated Haglans about 5 miles from base out into the white.
Here we learnt to fill and use stoves, layer up our clothing, avoid frost bite, how to pee in a bottle and keep it in your sleeping bag to stop it freezing and other dark arts of the seventh continent.
We built a snow shelter - great fun. sadly ran out of time before we could construct doric columns and graceful arches!
We erected our Scott tents, basicaly unchanged since.....Scott.
We were then left to have our first night in the snow. We had a little snifter and then it hit us.. We knew the sun wasnt going to set, but nobody really believed it! its true it doesnt! very strange and it took a good week to get used to .
I managed to sleep though with the help of pills and eye pads.
Awoke to furious wind (climatic) it was an interesting morning, derigging tents and practicing search techniques.
A debrief later and an emptying of pee bottles and we were fully qualified arctic explorers.
We now prepared to head off to the wild white yonder.
We met the 'conservators ' we were to be living with and filming. ' lizzy, cricket, diana, john and nigel', all lovely people who couldnt have been kinder or more accomadating.

We filmed the loading of 2000 artifacts into crates and suppervisied the loading of a similar quantity of survignan blanc into our luggage.
Then we set off. It was a few hrs away by hagland and it was wonderful to shoot the low light over the glacier and ice bergs as the wind whipped snow around our feet and our norwegian transport trundled through the epic landscape.

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