At the beginning of Winter we have the chance to go on a weeks camping trip out in the field.
The start of trip didn't get off to a good start, after accidentally over sleeping I rushed to get ready to leave on time and after all the rush was glad to be on the skidoo and leaving station. Not two minutes after I set off I managed to drive into a bank of snow and roll the skidoo, the contrast being so poor I only saw it at the last minute.
Thankfully this was the only incident on our journey to camp and we arrived in good time and set up camp ready for an early dinner, a few card games, and then turned in early to bed in our plush down sleeping bags on top of sheepskin mats.
On Wednesday we explored the local area near our camp. This area is called Aladdin's Cave, and while not an actual cave it's very impressive. Aladdin's cave is a large wind scoop set into one of the large chasms on the Brunt Ice Shelf.
The main attraction being the melt pool which was frozen solid in to a flat and slippy surface; perfect for playing rucksack curling.
While exploring we also came across several crevasses, two of which we abseiled down into. As you descent deeper in to the ice shelf the colour is filtered down to various shades of blue and the ice crystals formed in the still air can reach the size of your hand.
Returning to camp in the glorious sunshine we started the long process of boiling water for the night and enjoyed the last of the warm sun outside the tent relaxing, drinking very cold wine, just on the brink of freezing.
Thursday brought even better weather, with strong contrast, no clouds, and little wind. The temperature however dropped significantly without the wind, a chilly -30°C. We set out to explore further afield and see how far we reach towards the continent. The first half of the journey was uneventful and the ground was relatively featureless, however we soon hit a large feature that stretched for miles about 4km from the continent with steep slopes down to the plateau before the Hinge Zone.
The Hinge Zone is the point at which the Brunt Ice Shelf meets the continent, the ice shelf pivots at this point as the tide rises and falls, and as a result is full of interesting shapes and features which make it almost impassable. The most impressive feature being an ice slide that flowed all the way down the to plateau.
This was as far was we could go, but the views across the toward the continent more than made up for it.
Friday morning was a lazy one, cozy in our sleeping bags we brewed up several cups of tea and had bacon sandwiches, this really was glamping... in Antarctica. The weather was fair but cloud meant low contrast and so only known ground could be travelled safely. We look at trip toStoney Berg, an iceberg which carved off the continent and is encased in the ice shelf. This iceberg is special though, as when it carved off it brought rocks with it.
The steep cliffs of the iceberg also serve as good ice climbing pitches, the ice was hard and great to climb.
Our last day out in the field was a great end to the week, we retired to our tent with cheese and crackers, pâté, and wine for dinner; on on Ice Shelf, in Antarctica. A truly amazing week.