Thursday 1st November
Today our training for deep field began in earnest. We were given a more extended tour, taught how to safely drive skidoos, how to avoid being eaten by aeroplane propellers (Rothera is a busy airport with one of the few gravel strip runways in the area), how to use the items in the field medical boxes, and how to light and prime a tilly lamp and primus stove.
Friday 2nd November
Today we continued our training, climbing into the Snow Cat for a drive up the Ramp, across the Traverse and to Vals, all of which form the local travel area, of which we’ll have free reign once we’ve passed our training.
The purpose of tonight’s training exercise was to spend the evening in a pyramid tent. Mike, Ian Hey and I dug a square pit and put our 3-man tent up in it, packed snow on the valance outside, set up the pots box, tent box and inside food box inside, and melted some snow to boil up some water to make tea and to add to our Pack n’Go field dehydrated ration pack. Chilli con carne – lovely. After that, the three of us strapped on a set of cross country skis to practise for their use in the field.
Saturday 3rd November
Today we continued our training, climbing Reptile Ridge with Ian Hey. This was a technical walk requiring crampons, ice axes, and a full mountaineering rack. We needed to scramble up some rocky sections and climb carefully down some snowy sections, using our ice axes and crampons to steady ourselves. I indulged in my special skill – falling in things – and fell into a bergschrund (a crack at the top of the glacier between the ice and the rocky wall), but I managed to climb out unaided.
The views were spectacular, and it really was one of the most enjoyable days out I can remember. Thanks to Ian Hey for a lovely day.
Sunday 4th November
A day of preparation – which of course included an afternoon’s skiing! Gently, of course. I gave a short ski lesson to a few beginners, as I didn’t want to risk skiing myself and getting sent home with an injury before the season had even begun. We also prepared all our science kit, made sure we were packed, and let Andy Barker (Operations Manager) know that we were ready. Now we just have to wait for a weather window – we’ll go at the first opportunity.