Ceaseless Winds

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Saying Goodbye
Sailing South
Summer 07
Winter 07
  Alone Again
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  Sky Show
  Rocky Halley
  Rumples Trip
  Stuck Inside
  Back Outside
  Z or Dead
  Snow Pit
  Ice Radar


Well, first of all, dinner went well. Thirty three people were fed and even the yorkshire puddings rose at the right time, even if one or two rose to an unseemly size and tried to escape to a different shelf of the oven. I was certainly glad to get it over with, and a little disappointed to find that I wasn't even vaguely hungry at dinner time. If nothing else I now know I can fall back to cooking pub lunches.

After the stress of the cooking, came some relaxation. Soft snow lay on the ground and filled in the gaps between the bumps and ridges. Skidoos were started, ropes attached, skis secured and helmets hoisted onto heads. Skijoering is back for the summer and the gradient-starved residents of Halley get a chance to carve tight turns in fresh powder, and feel the speed of the skis on the snow. We get it a bit with the kites, and I think I've pushed faster with a kite than I like to go behind skidoo, but the different direction of the force lets me ski more like skiing. It does quickly drain the strength from my legs and arms, and after a couple of turns around I need to stop for a rest, if I've not flipped over and skidded into a pile of arms and legs and snow first. When we're not getting towed we can instead enjoy the thrilling experience of photographing the action one handed while trying not to be thrown from the weaving bucking back of the machine.

Tamsin Skijoers like a deamon
Tamsin Skijoers like a deamon

More and more people pile into the station. They're here to work, but Z or Dead, the band I've been pretending to play in all winter, is here to entertain them. As we expect the pace of work to pick up next week (from the 12 hours shifts were working now...) we thought we'd throw a party and took over the garage for our final farewell concert. After three albums (Frosty Reception, The Road to Rehab, AEP: All of the Paperwork none of the Pension) which were popular with the critics (Q: Without a doubt the second loudest band in Antarctica) and loved by the public (...better than the band at Rothera) we decided that setting the controls for the middle of the road had run its course and will each set off on a solo journey to rediscover the true African roots that underlie the subtle tones of sleazy 80s big-hair power ballards. The garage worked well as a venue as it let everyone who wasn't into noise get some sleep, and added an interesting industrial ambience to the procedings. DJ Tom played us in with a bout of German Techno and literally one person danced like nobody was watching as we launched into the touching and tender Canadian folk classic "Run to You". Yes, we rocked. Oh! Boy! Did we rock.

Tom opens
Tom opens

Z or Dead play the Garage
Z or Dead play the Garage

ZStock Flyer
ZStock Flyer

(Art by Dave and Joe.)

We've around sixty people here now, so we've got a whole lot done, except that now the wind has risen and left sixty people kicking their heels waiting for a chance to use a crane or knock over some snow with a bulldozer. In some ways the winds we're having are helpful as they'll be breaking up the coastal ice near Halley, making it less likely that the Shackleton will get stuck in a lump of the stuff like it did last year. Beyond getting in the way of work, it's main bad side is that it might blow away too much of the sea ice. Ideally there'll be a fringe a couple of kilometers thick left clinging to the ice cliffs, as none of the usual ice harbours are large enough to fit the Anderma, which will be offloading Halley VI once it arrives. Everyone here is waiting nervously for the weather to settle and hoping that the plan we had last week might still work next week.

Skidoos parked in Ceaseless Winds
Skidoos parked in Ceaseless Winds

Endless Snow blows over sledges
Endless Snow blows over sledges


We're not just worried about the ice near the station though, there's quite a lot of it still bobbing around in the sea around the continent and, compared with previous years, quite a lot of the stuff that might have melted or broken up by now is still there. The Shackleton has left Cape Town and will hit the ice edge in a day or two. Although we have fairly good satelite products showing the ice concentration, until the ship first noses into the pack we'll have no idea of quite what she faces or how long it might take for her to get here. Ladies and gentlemen, place bets now.

Sea Ice around Antarctica
Sea Ice around Antarctica

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