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December 2011 Archives

Friday, 9 December 2011

Hello from Mount Menzies, the tallest peak (at just under 3300 m) in the Prince Charles Mountains. We have been here for two weeks now, and what an eventful two weeks it has been! We are around 700 km South of Davis, and our camp is at an altitude of 1600 m. We are the first people to visit Menzies since 1998, and probably the only humans in a 600 km radius. Camp put-in went very smoothly, with all three loads arriving on consecutive days, thanks in no small part to the hugely experienced Twin Otter pilot Bob. 

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Hey guys!

I have samples from the third sample area, West stonethrow ridge (subsite E). It was fun! First of all, it is a good hour and a half hike, past the Argentinian base and then mostly uphill (~300 m climb). A storm blew in just as I started sampling. The other guys were looking for another part of the site and we couldn't see each other for a while. There was sleet blowing almost horizontal, it hurt like hell on the face. Every time I went to scoop some soil, the wind blew it away. I eventually collected the sample, but had to abort before I could get a photo of the second sample site in the area. It was cold, it was stressful, I got the sample and the measurements so I guess one missed photo will be OK. And this on a bright sunny day!
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As of now, I have not gotten out to go sampling. The weather kicked in and blew a bunch of floating freshwater pack ice over to our coast which has done two things: #1) The zodiac boats can't get out to take us anywhere. and 2) the fog has come in which means that we can't go sampling (since we can't see where we are going. Not the safest situation.).

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Davis has already welcomed the first Elephant seal of the summer, a large lump of grumpy blubber we affectionately know as ‘Basil’. He’s a huge animal, but nowhere near the size of the fully grown breeding males that congregate on South Georgia Island; these are generally 3-4 tonne, with the largest recorded being 5! Basil lies on the beach all day, often with his face in a puddle, waiting for the rest of his mates who may be up to a month away. 

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Resupply was an incredibly busy time, with all the supplies for the next 12 months being brought ashore across the sea ice. One interesting cargo item was a 30 tonne rock crusher, used in the quarry for producing gravel for station roads. Our team was involved in the refueling of the station; over 800,000 L of fuel was pumped through around 3 km of 3 inch hose. This took around two days throughout which the line was constantly patrolled in case of leaks. More about Josh.

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Friday, 25 November 2011

Apologies for the lack of updates, it has been a busy few weeks…
We had a visit from King Neptune (the chief bosun, Rog, dressed up and attended by several crew members), and were made to swear allegiance to him and his Southern Ocean. This was a ceremony for all those crossing the 60th latitude for the first time. Fish were kissed, mystery liquids consumed, and all manner of foul gunk poured over us as a reminder of pollution.
 
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