Halley 6 : On The Ice

After the difficulties of pushing through the sea ice, we finally made it to the Antarctic continent on Christmas Day. Before this though we had our celebrations on the Shackleton on Christmas Eve with a 6 course dinner which was preceded by a game of football on the sea ice. The penalty area got a bit slushy by the end which was a bit worrying as the ocean here was 3500m deep!

Christmas football on the ice

The ship finally moored up at an area where there is sea ice still attached to the shelf. About 30 penguins were there to greet us and we were soon on a snowcat on our way 14 kms “inland” to the site of Halley V. It is here that Halley 6 is being built, but it will be towed a further 15kms inland when near completion. Halley V will then be dismantled and removed. Of course, its not really inland as both bases are on the Brunt Ice shelf which although about a mile thick here, is still floating.

The Shakleton docked by the sea ice
The ice shelf
Penguin welcoming committee
Haley 6 modules

My first task on the build was to fireproof the insides of the bottom of the modules. It was scheduled for 7 days, but I managed it in 3 ½ so have been helping to remake some of the scaffolding steps as everything here is either sinking with the sun or buried with the wind. There is always digging to do if nothing else!!

Fixing the scaffolding steps

Now the ship has offloaded its cargo the work can really speed up, but we do get the evenings and Sunday for leisure: running or skiing around the base perimeter (5km), watching films or reading.

Evening run

More to come…… but I’ll end with some good festive news……. I won the Christmas raffle ………….

Nearly there!!

The last week has been a slow journey of winding our way through the sea ice of the Weddell Sea, occasionally getting stuck for between 15 minutes and 8 hours at a time.

The crew have a number of ways of freeing the ship when this happens: moving ballast and fuel to cause the ship to lurch, or swinging the crane around. As a last resort a container is hung from the crane. This has so far worked and we have only 30 miles of fairly easy ice to negotiate before 40 miles of open water to number 4 creek at Halley where we “dock”.

Freeing the ship from ice

There’s been plenty to see this week; more penguins, seals and birds. I also had a good look around the engine room and spent some time up the conning tower which is where they drive the ship from in heavy ice as there is a better view of any water aound.

Adelie Penguin
Emperor Penguin
Antarctic Petrel
Snow Petrel
Women drivers!!!
In the control room
The engine room

Today (24th) was Christmas Day, as we are due to get there tomorrow and be really busy. We had football on the ice (won 4-0) which is a bit worrying above 3.5km of water, carols on the focsul and a 6 course dinner. By the time we get there none of us will be fit to work!!!

Xmas football on the ice!

Castle Rock and BBQ

Anna and I met Pete And Tish at Castle Rock, where after weeks off climbing due to various injuries, we bimbled at the easy end of the crag to get some “rock time”.

Anna on Slab Climb

After climbing we headed back to Aspatria for the pre World Cup BBQ. Not all of the following animals were eaten!!!

Oliver meets a tortoise.... perfect in a large Bap!!! Yum!!
Baby ducks on the pond..... cook well to get crispy!!!!!!
Tish considers her dinner is not quite cooked

Pete brought his croquet kit, but as the lawn was prepard by me, I won! And then Anna beat Pete aswell!! (and she admitted afterwards that she didn’t have a clue what she was doing). You can get your revenge next time Pete…..


Black Sunday

A six am start, traffic free roads saw me arrive at Fisherground campsite 3 hrs later to find the AMC team with no plan of action. Good weather and Eskdale usually points towards Scafell or Esk Buttress so not being real fit these days I suggested Esk. The premier objective being to lead Red Edge having lost the toss to a former climbing partner way back in the eighties. Alas it was not to be as a team of 3 were already in situ, the leader moving slowly. A quick look at the guide and Jago suggested Black Sunday, a crack line to the right of Red Edge which turned out to be well worth its ** rating. After the climb a long slog back to classic camping fare (pasta & sauce) and a poor England performance. Should have done another route!

Esk Buttress

English Popular Culture?

A first for me, I was actually in a pub on Thursday evening when the England versus Trinidad & Tobago world cup game kicked off… It seems that having a lager in your hand and proudly displaying the size your belly gets to (after many years of lager consumption) whilst watching football is a favourite pass time. Better than actually taking part in any sports yourself I guess!? 🙂