31 December, 2004 Rothera
A busy month at Rothera! One of the main ‘events’ was the JCR battling through miles of sea ice to try to get to Rothera for relief. In the end the Antarctic environment beat them despite all the efforts of the ship’s crew and the air unit flying ice survey flights to pick out leads in the ice, and they had to turn around just a few, but significant, miles from Rothera. The situation was made all the more frustrating because the base itself was surrounded by clear water with no sea ice in view. Once the decision had been made to return north plans had to be made to get all the essential personnel and cargo to Rothera. The JCR called in to Marsh, a Chilean base north of Rothera, and dropped off the 2005 winterers, the Sky news team and MAGIC where they rendezvoused with the Dash 7 and completed their journey south. Everyone on base meanwhile prioritised their cargo and the most essential items were picked out of the huge load the JCR carries soon after the ship docked in Stanley, and flown in on subsequent flights of the Dash 7, the most urgent being science kit for field parties.
The field season really kicked off this month with the 3 big sledge parties getting all their personnel out. Sledge India at Pine Island performing aerial surveys in collaboration with the Americans. Sledge Quebec at Berkner ice core drilling, and Sledge Juliet on the Rutford ice stream hot water drilling. Also Craig Storey and Rob Jarvis got out to Alexander Island to collect rocks (Sledge Echo), Toddy, Donny Hutton and Bill Owen joined Ed Dodd, the outgoing Halley winter GA to explore the Therons (Sledge golf) and Kat Snell and Andy Lole headed out to Mars Oasis (Sledge Charlie). Dougal Ranford and Rob Arthurn (Sledge Bravo) began their project, but as the first of their sites was only a skidoo ride from base they could come back each night for bed and board, albeit exhausted from a day of drilling.
A couple of fantastic guests that were on base for a week or so were Ollie and Michelle from Sky News. As well as completing their packed schedule of filming to make 6 news reports and a half hour program for sky, they managed to fit in filming a music video for one of the Rothera bands – Flyzeyze.
Other visitors included the Russian ice breaker, the Khlebnikov bringing some tourists to visit us.
Of course towards the end of the month attention was focused on Christmas and New Year. The chefs Issy and Cyril went a long way to cheering people up who were missing family and friends at home on Christmas day, by providing us with an incredible meal as they always do on special occasions. On New Years Eve we had a BBQ out on the sunny veranda of Bransfield house, then a fantastic party in the Garage with live music, and the first official showing of the music video.
Here are some pictures of Fossil Bluff. The refuelling station about 200 miles south of Rothera, that all the planes heading out to the field parties must use, so a pretty busy time for the station staff posted out there this month.