Rothera Diary – August 2014

24 August, 2014

August has been another busy month on and off the base, with the second round of winter trips starting at the beginning of the month. Mine and Andy’s winter trip was planned for the second week of August. Four of us spent a week in the south of Adelaide Island. I was looking forward to seeing an old BAS base, now known as Carvajal and owned by the Chilean Antarctic Science Program. We managed to cross McCallum’s pass, which is a heavily crevassed area and requires good weather conditions for crossing, on our first day. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of only two good weather days we had that week.

So after setting up camp on Sunday, and spending two days playing ‘Backpackers’ and other equally exciting tent games, we got some good weather and went to visit Carvajal. Carvajal was established in the 60’s and was transferred to the Chilean Antarctic Science Program in the early 80’s. The base isn’t in use anymore although it still gets visited on a regular basis. It is also an interesting place to visit during our winter trips. The old base is normally teeming with wildlife but at this time of year all of the seals were gone because of extensive sea ice.

We set off early in the morning, explored the base for a couple of hours and were back at the camp by 2pm. Since we still had plenty of time and it was a beautiful day, we decided to do a bit of hiking and go up the Myth.

The beautiful weather from Wednesday decided not to hang around for the rest of the week, so we got the chance to play lots more exciting card games. Luckily, the weather cleared up on Saturday and we managed to get back through McCallum’s pass in plenty of time for Saturday night dinner.

The weekends are usually filled with activities if the weather allows and regular theme nights. This month, it was Sabrina’s birthday, so she decided on a ‘childhood hero’ theme fancy dress party, which we unfortunately missed as we couldn’t return from the winter trip on time.

Bank holiday weekend was a festival weekend with highlights from various festivals screened in the big TV room and a music night, with the talented few showing their skills and entertaining the rest of us.

August was also a great month for the marine team as they finally got thick enough ice for diving. Everyone on the base was also trained how to travel on ice, part of which involved jumping into one of the holes in a dry suit and practising how to get out.

We had a week of beautiful weather at the end of August, which was great for the group being on winter trips as well as divers who managed to do lots of work. I was on night shift during that week and although I missed out on the sun it was a great opportunity for some night photography.

The winter is slowly coming to an end with the days getting longer and plenty of sunshine. The first aircraft of the season are due in little over a month, so it’s going to be all hands on deck getting everything ready for the busy Antarctic summer!

Petra Mildeova