Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Shelf ice - Snow - Skijouring - Sex

So another week has started and its still all go down here on the Brunt ice shelf. I should remind people who email me to see if I have made landfall, that in fact Halley is on an Ice shelf. This means that there is actually sea below the ice (approx 200m thick). The whole ice shelf is sliding off the continent and the base is moving at about 500m a year northwards and is predicted to break off in the next 5-10 years. The snow is also accumulating which means that the buildings are build on legs that have to be jacked up every year. The accumulation of snow is slightly more complicated in that if you put a great big building on the surface you get a wind tail. That is just behind the building you dump snow which results in the formation of a small hill.

Underneath the building you get less snow and you get a wind scoop (misnomer). This results in the legs of a building being forced in as the snow builds up on either side. So not only do the building get jacked, but occassionally they have to cut the leg of at snow level and straighten it out and weld it back. This all takes time and can't be done if the wind is too high.

After the last entry (friday) it started to snow and the wind increased. This has been both good and bad. It is bad because vital work can't be done. Oh yeah we work our 11 hour day on saturdays as well (have I said that before?). So saturday wasn't amazingly productive for most people and for me it was just slightly trickier to walk to the Piggot platform and the AIS radar.

All the snow was good however for skijouring. This involves getting some normal skis as opposed to x-country skis and a very fast skidoo. You then get a bit of rope and get the someone to drive the skidoo around very fast. So on sunday (our only day off) I went skijouring. This was after a samba practice where we started to learn some new tunes. The skijouring is pretty amazing and really good fun. I used some ski-mountaineering skis and we (Andy, Kirsty and I) got hold of the vehicle mechanics skidoo. This was a polaris which I think is capable of about 65 mph but I couldn't tell because the speedo was broken. Anyway the mechanics also made a jump and it was so much fun Kirsty and I decided to stay out and miss dinner because of this. I got pretty good by the end and could ski alongside the skidoo and take the jump without falling over. When you did fall over, and I did a few times you just land in wonderful powder. I will definetly do this whenever the weather is better.

Apart from that there has not been too much excitement. This week I am on melt-tank duty in the mornings. The melt-tank does what it says. It melts the snow (clean snow from a clean snow area) which we then eat and wash in etc... This has to be filled up in the morning and evening. I am on the morning team which consists of Brian, Bob, Jeff and me and it took us about 20 mins this morning to dig enough snow. If you look at the last entry you can see the photo I took from the melt tank looking up. The melt tank originally was built on the surface but was allowed to bury under the accumulated snow. Now the tank is about 30m below the surface. So snow has to be shovelled down a chute into the tank. This chute can get blocked easily so when you have dunk snow in you have to listen very carefully to make sure that it isn't blocked. There is a distinctive double bounce (there's a kink in the chute) and splash. When the tank is full a red light comes on to tell the shovellers to stop.


Anonymous said...

Hi Juliarse

It's been a while since I checked your site, but I see you've been busy! It all looks amazing: the ice shelf, the skijouring, that cool little bi-plane... I have now moved to London, all is well. I will email with news soon.

Wrap up warm,

PS Why is there no mention of sex in your most recent blog, despite the title? You sly old dog!
PPS I love your site big guy

Abaculus said...

Hey Julius, long time no see. But then you're in the Antarctic so I have an excuse. Good stuff though, if anywhere's worthy of a blog it's the South Pole.


Anonymous said...

The only reference to sex in this piece is the word 'kink' which is, quite frankly, not enough. I, like many internet users today, am used to an elevated degree of filth, and find your journal frustrating in this respect.