Rothera Diary — August 2012

20 August, 2012 Rothera

…Sledge echo sledge echo, this is Rothera do you copy…

August kicked off with a week of night watch duties, well welcomed after a hectic month on the jazz drumming side of things. Water maker went down, boilers playing up, frozen sewage pipes, ‘Another day in paradise’ me and the sparky sing, the irony is there is nowhere else we would choose to be. Cleaning duties aside night watch really made me realise how fortunate we all are to be living in such a place. On the rounds of the base it really hit home when my eyes were treated to an endless sky of stars and what seemed like a painted backdrop of mountain wilderness for effect. Still feels surreal to this day, the views never tire. A night watch perk I became to love was having several fridges and isles of food to indulge in. ‘Make sure there’s summat left for tomorrow’ Justin our chef would say, it’d have to be some mission to clear the fridges in this place I’ll say. You’d be surprised how much life revolves around food down here, every job you plan for the day always scheduled around meal times. ‘Never be too far away from your dinner’ a wise man once told me, I don’t think any of us are failing him!

The time had finally arrived for the Antarctic film festival. So every base from all over the continent receives a list of the same five props that they have to include into a five-minute film and all has to be completed in just 48 hours. The guys got straight to it deciding on ‘18 The rise of the Snowmen’ in the style of the film ‘300’. Within minutes there were armies of snowmen all over base and warriors dressed in tablecloths. Scenes were being shot non-stop for the first twelve hours, and then it was down to our team of editors to work their magic. When all the films were in we all gathered as film critics for the night where we voted for our favourites for each category. The French at ‘Kurguelen base’ stole the show with an impressive remake of the Super Mario Brothers winning best film and so on. We at Rothera weren’t going home empty handed winning “Best Actors”, this resulting in discussions of career changes. I’m sure these ideas could change when we all return to the real world.

Winter trips were still on going and I was amongst the lucky ones to be heading for the hills this month. Sledges packed, ski-doo’s prepped and away the two of us went looking back on base as it slowly disappeared from sight. Trident mountain range was where we called home and became our playground for the next week. With no real plan of attack we climbed or ski-ed wherever the weather led us. One morning the thermometer read 20 below inside the tent, needless to say we were both a little reluctant to leave the comfort of the sleeping bags. But it was well worth the look outside when we were greeted by the most stunning nacreous clouds. It was the perfect day to head for “Gwendalin” a peak we had both fancied ski touring since we arrived. The views were spectacular all the way although I wish the same could be said for the downhill part of the ski, left a lot to be desired.

There’s just something really satisfying being inside the pyramid tent, listening to the primus stove forever melting snow and the Tilley lamp burning away giving the space a peaceful glow. The whole experience made me tune into my surroundings more and found myself constantly analysing the weather, something which can be taken for granted back on base as we have the comfort of each building to return to. “Happy days” as Steve our field assistant quite often says, they certainly were my friend.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip-a-dee-ay

My o my what wonderful days

Plenty of sunshine heading our way

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip-a-dee-ay!

…Rothera out…

Dale Sewell

Rothera Plumber