Saturday, 23 February 2008

A weekend of fun and pain...mid-Feb '08

1st ever Halley sponsored Ski-to-the-Pole
Fundraiser for the RNLI
Sunday 17th February 2008
Please donate to our cause

It was proposed back in the beginning of February that the staff at Halley should pool their efforts and attempt to ski the equivalent distance to the pole in 12 hours. 1600km in 12 hours by 110 or so people. It was no easy feat but Sunday from 1000 to 2200 saw plenty of people either skiing, walking, running, kiting or man-hauling around the 5km perimeter. It was a bold proposal, but it gave us a goal to focus on. In the end we completed a total of 214 laps (106 short of the 320 needed), but we did pass the 1000km mark. To date (22nd Feb) we have raised £3500 and it is still going up. If you wish to donate, there is still time.

You still have until 17th April 2008 to donate

Sat 16th Feb ’08
Folk Night

It was proposed by Kirk early in the season that Halley should host a Folk Night.
A chance for people, if they so chose, to put on an act, sing, play music, tell jokes, read poems, etc. for the entertainment of everybody else.

The day had finally come.

And with some careful planning by Dave Evans (and others), a venue was organised. Using the temporary skidoo repair tent (more than large enough to accommodate all), a stage was installed, as were lighting, projector, sound system, heating and decorative signs.
The stage was set for a evening of the best entertainment in town.

The venue kicked off at 1930hrs (local) with the first act on at 2000hrs.

Acts included:

- a rewritten version of Monty Pythons “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” with comical references to summer life at Halley,

- a rewritten version of The Eagles “Hotel California” from the Halley VI site prep crew with lyrics about life in the cabooses 20km away,

- poetry, so moving that the whole tent became quiet,

- the girls performing a brilliant parody of “Grease Lightning” complete with BAS issue overalls and tight t-shirts (much to the whoops of delight from us lads) and riding into the tent adorning a snow-adapted Honda quadbike,

- Kirk projecting a fantastic “mockumetary” video of him as an ex-fid presenting life at Halley complete with footage using the bloopers from his footage.

- and, of course...myself.

"Pray tell what this performance of yours was Dave"

I performed a mini-play written by myself, starring myself, all about myself. (I titled it “Ego”).
It was a short piece with me on stage talking to an on-screen pre-recorded projection of myself.

I spent 7 minutes talking to me about how funny I was, and how great an actor I was.
The latter was confirmed with the me on the screen prompting the me on the stage to portray a series of emotions, which I did so with passion.
I told myself a joke or two particularly about the time I met a beautiful woman on a narrow bridge and debating whether I should have blocked her passage or tossed myself off!
And then I accidently let slip that I loved me. After an awkward moment between us, I concluded by confessing my undying love to me.
The performance concluded by me singing a duet with myself to Elton John and Kiki Dee's “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.

I think there were several bewildered faces in the audience at first, but then it soon dawned on people what I was doing and soon they got into the swing of it.

Z or Dead, recovering from the loss of bass player Alex, had a replacement...
...scientist and unstoppable running machine* Andy Rankin.

To herald the new line-up, they renamed themselves as Toucan Rool, (no prizes for guessing the inspiration for that name) borrowing the Toucan from the Guiness advertising slogan as inspiration.

The band played a couple of acts and rocked the joint with their versions of classic rock tunes. By the end of the night everyone was singing and dancing and generally having a bloody good time.

It was a good release after a hard long summer. And my appreciation goes out to all those who helped organise the evening and put on acts for the entertainment of the rest of the base complement.

* so called for his contribution to the sponsored ski-to-pole

17th Feb ’08
RNLI charity Ski-to-the-Pole

Ouch ouch ouch!
My feet were in pain.

Three laps in some brand new plastic ski-boots and my feet were already shredded halfway through the 1st lap.

But it was in aid of charity and so I persevered.

By the end of the 3rd lap I was in agony. I knew I should have opted for the older leather boots, but I was being greedy and wanted the newer ones. Oh, how I paid for that decision.
I had to stop and don my tracksuit bottoms and running shoes and jog the final lap.

And I am glad I did jog the last lap. It is somewhat really refreshing jogging in -15C. As I went round the base perimeter the sun dipped below the cloud layer which had been hanging over the station all day and gave a breathtaking view bathing the entire white surface of Halley in a pink hue augmented by an orange glow under the cloud.

How ironic it was that I was carrying my camera with me all day until I started jogging. So, no piccies of said view.
However, as I finished the jog, I fetched my camera and managed to get a shot of a sun pillar that had suddenly appeared at the time. Yet another meteorological phenomena captured on “film”. Fantastic.

Some people pledged 4 laps (such as me) other pledged 10 (Rich). Those kite-boarding clocked 15+ laps. But Andy Rankin (the new bass player), often seen jogging round the perimeter during the summer, just kept running and running.

And running.

By the end of the day he completed 19 laps purely from jogging. 90km or so in total. Mad...but also very noble.

Note...I may add piccies to this entry at a later date when I get hold of some from other people.
But for now, all you have is the poorly shot ones I have here.

Summer hits its peak

The summer science programme draws to a close, Halley VI construction winds down, the sun starts dipping lower and lower in the evening skies and temperatures begin to drop. The summer season has peaked and is now nearing it's end.

Regardless of having an extremely sweltering afternoon at +3.4C on 15th Jan, a sudden noticeable drop in the daily temperatures mid-Jan gave us newbies an insight into what it’s really like to feel cold. Evening temperatures dipped to -15C to -20C as the sun got lower on the horizon in evenings.

Towards the end of January we started to see an average daily daytime temperature of around -15C. But it’s amazing how quickly one adapts to these conditions...and also how quickly one learns not to put things like metal fittings and bolts between ones lips when working outside.

Needless to say, it is my pleasure to report as the Halley meteorologist that we experienced the coldest January at Halley on record (since 1956). Average temp -6.5C.

22nd Jan 08 – Snowblock samples

“I have to do what?” I exclaimed, “Dig a couple of blocks of snow, pack them up and send them back to Cambridge?”

I was sitting in a meeting in an office in BAS HQ, Cambridge, UK in late-September 2007 when I was requested to dig blocks of snow for analysis in Cambridge. As part of my training I was meeting with many scientists and taking notes of the tasks and jobs I would be doing for them once I was at Halley.

The job of digging uncontaminated blocks of snow seemed like a simple, relatively painless and somewhat fun task to add to the list. And now here I was, at Halley, performing said task, dressed head to toe in a clean suit and other paraphernalia to protect the precious snow from contamination.

And it was not simple, nor was it painless but at least I was having a little fun though.

The preparation and physical nature of the job meant it took a solid 4 hours to complete. Assisted by our winter field GA Rich, and summer admin and general station lynch-pin Nicola, we cleaned all tools and items which would be used in the dig and donned our beautiful outfit.

The only boxes available for the samples were very large metal Zarges boxes. Large boxes meant large samples. And large sample meant large weights. As the samples were to be dug in the Clean Air Sector, these large, heavy boxes had to be manually hauled the 1.5km to the freezer store.

The curses streaming out of my mouth as we man-hauled a pulk with 170kg of carefully dug snow over the 1.5km were not ones to be repeated to man or beast. I was knackered.
But the satisfaction that yet another task completed in the Antarctic for the sake of global science made up for all the hardship.

Apologies for the quality of the pics. It got quite overcast and the contrast dropped making photography difficult.

23rd Jan ’08 – (more) Field Training

The 2008 wintering team were given the day off normal base duties to head to the coast and revise the skills we learnt on the field training in Derbyshire, UK (all those months ago in September ’07). It was good R&R and a chance to escape the base for the day. It was also the first time that the ’08 winter team had been together as a group like this since the field training.

It was also the first time that the ’08 winter team had been together as a group like this since the field training. Although we all live and work on the same small base, it is a very rare thing to have all of us together in one place at a time. The chance to work together and enjoy one another’s company was just excellent, and enabled us to bond together again and refocus ourselves as to why we are doing what we are doing.

Ags: winter base commander (BC),
Lance: vehicle operator/mechanic
Scott: vehicle mechanic
Joe: electrician (sparky)
Bryan: generator mechanic (genny mech)
Rich: field assistant
Hannah: doc
Paddy: chef
Les: plumber
Dean: comms manager
And myself: the beaker

We couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was sunny, it was warm, it was calm, and it was fun. It was in all essence, generally a beautiful day at the seaside.

We practiced skills such as roping up, walking over steep inclines, climbing up and abseiling down ice cliffs, performing crevasse rescue, among other things. Such as stomping up and down a cliff in single-file.

We were told we were going to learn to walk on snow
(photo courtesy of Agnieszka Fryckowska)

(photo courtesy of Agnieszka Fryckowska)

...finishing big.
(photo courtesy of Agnieszka Fryckowska)

We stopped for lunch on the cliffs and watched the calm Southern Ocean below silently glistening in the afternoon sun. In the second half od the day we roped ourselves up and done some linked glacier travel before chucking weighted bags over the cliffs and practicing crevasse rescue.

We finished the day with a BBQ at the caboose. Splendid.

25th Jan ’08 – Burns’ Night

Another excuse to celebrate was upon us, and it was proposed that we shall celebrate Burns Night.

Considering the short notice of 2-days to prepare and the fact that everyone were still on long days, it was amazing how quickly things were organised, providing a true example of how people pitch together to make an evening out of the basic materials we have to hand.

Jimbo spent the spare time in his day creating a “Toss the Caber” / welly-throwing range.
It was a Friday after all, and gospel that we have our fish and chips (as resident Kiwi Scott would put it) shark and tatties, but the chefs bravely forfeited our usual battered fish and chips dinner and fed us a hearty Scottish dinner complete with Haggis. Rich, wearing kilt, gave a recital of a Burn’s poem during the dinner while we all enjoyed a shot of whiskey each, setting the evening off.

And then the games begun.
It was cold and it was crap visibility, but we still came out in our droves to have a good ol’ toss together!

Wellies and cabers were flying left, right and centre.

Someone’s mukluk boot was liberated from the boot room and used as a substitute welly. The wind was cutting perpendicular across the range and made accurate throwing difficult. Nonetheless, people learnt to throw into the wind to correct for wind shear. However, some people over corrected. Ant (’07 chef) unfortunately miscalculated somewhat and sent a mukluk “bomb” careering from the heavens into the crowd standing behind him. Calls of “incoming” and “run away” rang out and the crowd dispersed in blind panic to avoid mukluk induced coma. Oh how we laughed.

Maniy, one of the South African labourers on Halley VI, snapped the caber in half. With no replacement caber, he caber tossing was abruptly stopped as a result. He’s a big chap is Maniy.

And finally the evening was finished with a good ol’ fashioned tug together!
A tug-of-war contest was fought (best of three making the winner). After playing in one I gave up. I was too knackered and my hands were frozen. Besides, my skills as referee were required.

And that was the end of the evening entertainment.

29th Jan ‘08 – Major Incident Plan

“All station, all stations. We have a major incident between the garage and the Drewery. A doctor is required.”
Was the call on the radio, Tuesday 29th Jan at 1630.

But don’t worry. We were expecting it.

It was just a simulated exercise, the purpose of which was to test the operation of the base staff in response to a big incident.
Read on, and comfort yourselves in the knowledge that if things were to go awry here at Halley, we have the properly trained people on station to deal with it...

The scenario:
a crash involving a sno-cat, a nodwell crane and a skidoo pulling a happy sledge, resulting in a series of broken people. One with a head wound, another with a broken arm, someone with a serious compound fracture of the leg and finally...a dead person with missing legs!

Of course, a scenario completely unlikely to occur, but all the same, it was a good idea to plan for the worst case. The big test was of course to see how the new doctor would cope in such a situation. And I have to give it to Hannah, she performed admirably.

Hannah attends to an "injured" Shaggy
(photo courtesy of Pete Milner)

As soon as the call went out on the radio, we all leapt into action. The plan for a major incident is to muster at the signpost outside the Laws, unless you are on scene or (of course) part of the incident itself.

Hannah kitted herself out and headed straight to the incident site while the rest of us calmly proceeded to the signpost outside. Being one of the first to arrive I was given the roll call list to account for everyone and to determine who may be involved in the accident/incident. Imagine my horror when I had accounted for all, even those who were injured, and found out over the radio that there was also involved the incident an “unidentified” female.

Oh, the questions running through my mind at the time.
We all know each other here and there aren’t that many females on station, how come you can’t identify her? Are you sure it’s female? Has her face being completely mangled by the crash? Have we got a stowaway on station smuggled in by some randy chap who gets his sexual needs tended to? Had the Basler flight which stopped off earlier in the day left one of its party behind? I was in a bit of a panic. Who was she?

It turned out to be Annie.
Resuscitation Annie.
The standard basic life-support dummy had been dressed up in a boiler suit and thrown under the tracks of the sno-cat to act as one of the casualties.

I was insulted. I had previously approached Rich C (the 2007 doc) offering my acting prowess to help in the incident exercise. He turned me down. And instead opted for the lifeless, limbless plastic dummy? Had it come to this? Was my career as an actor to be overshadowed by an inanimate object?

Truth be told, I actually wasn’t allowed to be a “casualty” as I am a winterer and I need to participate in the exercise proper.

Turns out that the dummy was wrongly regarded as a fatality. In the debrief afterwards, it was explained by Rich that the idea was for “Annie” to be treatable too, but everyone just assumed it was a fatality and zipped it up in a body-bag and stuffed it in the freezer! Heh...I hope that wont happen in a real life crisis. It wouldn’t be easy to explain oneself out of that situation.

The makeshift hospital in the Drewery
(photo courtesy of Pete Milner)

All in all, the exercise was a complete success. Everyone played their respective roles very well indeed. In a scenario such as that, the first people on the scene take the coordinating roles. And Ags (our winter base commander) and Paddy (our wintering chef) did an outstanding job running the resources and the makeshift hospital respectively. And of course Hannah fixed everyone in time for dinner.

3rd Feb ’08 – Tractors and fun

The 3rd of Feb was a Sunday and for a change I had a completely relaxing day. I had a lie in and got up the latest I have done all summer. I then watched a movie or two which were being played in the lounge. And then I drove some of the big vehicles we have on site: The John Deere and the Challenger.

As a bit of afternoon recreation, Martin, our summer chief plant mech / logistics manager type guy offered people the chance to learn to drive the big machinery. I jumped at the opportunity, purely as a chance to relive those moments of playing with the little John Deere tractor in my grandparents garden as a toddler, and put closure to the sadness endured all my life when it was thrown out.

Within minutes I was churning huge troughs in the snow by whipping the Challenger into tights donuts going round and round in circles. You can do amazing donuts in those things as they can turn on the spot. And, yes, I was feeling like a great big kid...all over again. Whoopee!

7th Feb ’08 – Tunnel Rescue Scenario

Another week and another day of training for the doc and for the ‘08 winter team. This time we were stage a tunnel resuce.

The scenario:
to tend to and rescue someone who was seriously injured in the service tunnels 30m below the snow surface.

You see, when Halley V was constructed, service tunnels providing power, comms, plumbing, fuel tanks, etc between the Laws, Simpson and Piggott buildings and the and melt-tank were built. These tunnels were designed to bury over the years as the snow accumulated. They are now approx 30m below the surface with tons of pressure pressing down on them from the ice above. Space within them is tight and they are gradually collapsing under the pressure. And there is always the risk that fumes within them could overpower someone.

So...they have a significant level of risk and we, as a wintering team, need to be prepared to handle a rescue situation if ever the need was to occur.

Hannah had prepared a beautiful dummy as our victim, and he/she/it was a good weight. This was essentially lobbed down the access shaft to the tunnel systems (ensuring that any medical attention was a necessity) and we set to work.

Preparing to place the victim in the tunnels
(photo courtesy of Pete Milner)

Soon we were all kitted out with whatever rescue gear we needed. Rich was coordinating the rescue operation up the shaft, Hannah was coordinating the medical side of things down below and Ags was coordinating the crew up top (winching, belaying, etc).

And then the operation commenced. I’ll spare you the boring details of the step by step process. What is important to tell you is that we managed to successfully rescue the victim (whom only had mild concussion and a broken leg) out of the tunnels. Unfortunately, his head got snagged on a rung of the ladder up the shaft as we hauled him up and thus his neck snapped.

Hannah’s urgent screams to stop went unnoticed by us up top and so we just kept on winding the winch.

Although we did manage to get him out of the tunnels, he was quite dead.

Oh dear. The irony.

However, the theory worked and in the wash up afterwards it was concluded that many lessons were learnt. As I said to the group, I was glad things went wrong because we learnt from it. If it all went perfectly, then we would never know of the extra risks like ladder rungs and unsecured lolling heads.

Heroes -Paddy, Hannah, Me and Dean (on floor)
(photo courtesy of Pete Milner)

9th Feb '08 - GEF data collection

Flying to A80 and A77 yet again.

This time I was joining Joan in collecting the recent data logged on the new GEF (Geo-Electric Field) monitoring stations he and Jules installed in January. I was to observe the process in servicing and checking the system on the premise that I might be requested to do it next season.

And, damn, those sites truly are getting bloody cold.

Joan and Jules were living in a field camp for almost 2 weeks setting up the two systems, and so there was some evidence of their time at the sites.

Igloo, built by the GEF team, complete with armchair.
It was successfully tried and tested by Jules one night too

The GEF measures the electric field of the earth through some magical whizzy science.
One of the detectors is a big shiny globe suspended in the air.

Joan checking the GEF globe

And then we returned to base landing approx 2300hrs.

14th Feb ’08 – Valentines Day

Another year, another valentines, and another day lacking in romance.
Once again I did not receive any cards. But this is probably a good thing when it comes to an Antarctic research station comprising of 95% males. However, I am always hoping that several cards will be arriving with the post when the ship returns in November. *subtle hint ladies* :o)

The 14th also brought the very first setting of the sun of 2008. All 2 hours of it.
It was predicted by the helpful computer programmes at my disposal that sunset would occur at 0103GMT on 14th Feb. As we are currently on GMT-3, it wasn’t too late to stay up and witness it.

Quite a few people were out that evening to witness it. I myself was on the Simpson platform preparing my masterpiece for the Folk Night on Saturday. But, I stopped and stood on the balcony all alone with thoughts of romance and love, watching that sun dip below the horizon. The weather was kind to us, and gave us a perfectly clear evening sky in which to see the spectacle unfold.

We've also been experiencing some low mist on some evenings, which freezes on the cold surfaces outside and forms crystals. It's called rime. It can give some amazing effects, and will no doubt get better as temperatures drop even more.

After the sun set, I returned to the office and continued compiling the extravagant performance I was piecing together for my moment on stage for Folk Night the following weekend!
More on this to come

How to Deploy an AWS on the Continent

Dave’s Mini-Antarctic Adventure (16th/17th January 2008)

A quick sidestep:..."where in the world is Halley?"

Some of you I believe may be a little confused as to where I am stationed in Antarctica. No doubt you have heard me talk about the “ice-shelf” and “the coast” and “sea-ice” and such like. Well, Halley is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf. A moving floating platform of ice which is flowing off the Antarctic mainland like a glacier.

The ice-shelf itself is moving westwards at a rate of approx 1m per day (I know so because I take a GPS reading every day), and as it is essentially a cantilever off the Antarctic mainland, it is affected by the tide and can oscillate 10m in height from week to week.

Snow accumulates on the ice-shelf at approx 1.2m per year.

These facts combined, the current Halley V station is on legs and has to be jacked up every year. It is the fifth base on the Brunt Ice shelf but the first to be on legs (as the previous bases have been designed to be buried over time but the weight of the snow and ice has eventually crushed them). Halley station has to be rebuilt several kilometres up the ice-shelf every decade or so because it gets too close to the shelf edge and risks breaking off when the shelf edge carves off.

Why not build on the continent? Mainly because the logistics of supporting a station so far “in-land” is too costly and too great a risk. And also because of science. Halley is stationed on a magnetic line of the earth’s natural magnetic field. This opens up the possibility of lots of geeky science which I do not understand or know about. But, being on the magnetic line means that Halley allows its wintering residents to see some kick-arse aurora.

Halley VI is the new generation Halley station, designed to follow the successful design of building a base to stand above the accumulation of snow. The novelty with Halley VI is that each module is built on skis which allows it to be towed every few years to keep it away from the shelf edge.

The Adventure...

I finished my last entry with the mystical and enticing cliff-hanger about my adventure on the continent. Expecting comments to start appearing on my blog about how much people were looking forward to reading about it and how I was the proverbial teaser, I was instead outstanded to find an argument had developed between my solid fan base and Mr. Schollar about who performed the best butler of Boundary Players. (we all know the truth that it is me)

Actually, just looking at my blog, I see I hadn’t left it on a cliff-hanger at all. Meh! never mind. The intention was there.


As the meteorological engineer, one of the projects I had for the summer was to deploy an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) out in the field. The AWS is designed to log the local weather conditions through a suite of sensors. The measurements it takes are temperature, pressure, humidity, wind-speed, wind direction and snow accumulation. The idea is to have it deployed at a remote site on the Antarctic continent and it will log the weather every few minutes and transmit this over a satellite link to a meteorological information pool and is then added to the World Met Organisation for inclusion into their climate models.

“Quite a nifty little project” I can imagine you are thinking to yourselves. “And one not without its risks and dangers too” you conclude your thoughts with.

For a week or so previous I had been gradually building up the AWS as a test setup to verify that all the components were operating correctly.

I then constructed the whole thing fully next to the existing AWS which is temporarily being used at Halley during the Halley VI construction to augment my meteorological observations. The idea was to compare the data sets from both systems to verify that the new one was recording the weather conditions correctly.
It took a good whole day to erect.

With the test successful, the flight to deploy it was given the go ahead. I was informed on Tuesday 15th that it was to go. So, I spent the afternoon dismantling it and prepping it for a flight out to its new home on the continent at M83.

M83 is so called because it is the location of an LPM (magnetometer) station at the 83rd degree south of the equator.

This was a science flight with a difference. Not only was I to deploy the AWS, but the plane was scheduled to stop at A80 to refuel and I was service another LPM and remove a wind generator from a defunct science station. Next stop was to M83 to deploy the AWS. And then onto M84 to service a broken wind generator with the one liberated from M80. This was to be a long day.

So, to recap, the flight was to be as follows:

Halley to A80
A80 to M83
M83 to M84
M84 to A80
A80 to Halley

Now then.
Halley is in fact approximately 1600km from the geological South Pole.

Which is a bloody long way away.

To put it into perspective...the continent of Antarctica is in fact similar in size as the whole of Europe. And a journey from Halley to the pole is approximately the same distance as London to Istanbul, Turkey.

So, once again the plane was loaded with boxes of equipment and other sciency stuff for our epic pan-Antarctica journey. Personnel were Mark the pilot, Simon the science coordinator, and myself.

1st stop was A80 to refuel and service the LPM. And after 45mins we were airborne again heading to M83 to deploy the AWS.

Being so deep on the continent the M83 site is at a height of 6000ft above sea level, and pressure was at the time 760mbar. The air is was easy to get was blowing 15kts...and it was bloody cold!! -23C to be precise.

The AWS cargo was unloaded from the plane, and the next 3 hours was spent erecting the station. Now, it isn’t particularly fun working in such conditions when you have to handle a lot of metal and screw nuts and bolts in -23C. Just the slightest touch sucks the heat from your hands and every 5 minutes you have to stop to try and warm them up again. The worst bit is having to take off the gloves to do the fiddly bits. But we persisted.

And at the end of it, there was the most magnificent looking AWS I had ever seen. I had built this erection, and I was proud. Once the battery box and solar panels were connected up, I hooked up the laptop to test if it was logging data from the sensors. The poor little laptop struggled in the chill, but after 10mins it booted up the software and confirmed my little baby was healthy and logging away.

The completed AWS
(photos courtesy of Simon Coggins)

After an emotional goodbye to the AWS, and we were off again heading to M84 to service the broken wind generator on the LPM.

We landed, Mark and Simon refuelled the plane, and I walked the 500m to the LPM. I swapped the wind generator, tied it down and turned around...and beheld a most amazing scene. It was a simple scene, but the feeling associated with it filled me with a huge sense of awe. Here I shall try to describe it as my camera battery had failed in the cold at M83 and I had forgot my spares.

I was looking at the plane in the distance 500m away. The wind was causing a moderate drift of snow up to 1ft off the ground. The sun was shining brightly with not a cloud in the sky. All around me was a pure white landscape full of sastrugi. The drifting snow snaked over the undulations of the sastrugi like a fluid. My view of the plane in the distance was obscured slightly by the drift...with it’s landing gear hidden it seemed to just float on the drift. And the sun was reflecting off its tail fin. Suddenly I realised I was standing on my own, a mere 500km from the South Pole looking at this sight. The plane was my only link to society...a lifeline to other people. I was overwhelmed with the feelings of remoteness and insignificance mixed with awe and splendour. Magnificent stuff.

I headed back and joined the others. We were soon airborne and heading back to Halley.
You can follow the link below to see a Google Maps view of the sites I visited. If you have it, follow the link to open up Google Earth. It gives a better perspecive of the sites in relation to the continent

Google Maps view of AWS trip

By the time we were flying near A80 again, weather reports from Halley were not ideal. (Ags was covering met in my absence, having been a metbabe herself at Rothera). Mark decided not to risk going back to base and landing in low visibility conditions, and so we turned back to M80 to camp the evening there instead.

Camping out in the middle of Antarctica with the Shackleton Mountains as a backdrop! Cool.

By the time we landed it was 0100hrs and we were hungry. After a bite to eat out of the man-food box, we bedded down in the plane cargo hold. Luckily the sleeping systems we have in the Antarctic are cosy, cosy, cosy. Even in -20C inside the metaphorical metal box of the Twin Otter aircraft.

In the morning we refuelled and headed back to Halley. But not without first buzzing the trailer park 20km away which is the Halley VI prep site.

Thus completing my mini-Antarctic adventure.

And since then I have been checking the data being produce by my little AWSbaby at M83 each day. The data it transmits now goes into the World Meteorological Organisation databanks and helps feed the global weather models. Forgive me if I have a little pride in helping towards that.