A change

I thought it was about time I restored this blog as I’ll be using some of the content to help write my book.

A lot has happened since I left the Antarctic.  I visited Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Canada[again], The Sudan, Chad, Kenya, Lebanon, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Norway + Svalbard, Jordan, Iceland and Iraq.

This site is a reminder of my time down south, and my new adventures, photos and stories will be hosted at www.deanevans.org

Thanks for visiting.

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Normality?

I’ve finally returned to the UK, and I’ve done the unthinkable – I got a job.

The last 6 months has been interesting to say the least. I travelled through South America, went boarding in Finland (and broke my coccyx), caught up with friends and family, travelled through Thailand and Japan and I’m now sat in a Hotel in Gloucester looking for a new place to live. My job, which isnt too dissimilar to my job at Halley starts next week, and it’ll take to me far flung corners of the globe in search of dodgy comms equipment. I’ll be working for a land-mine clearing company, and it’s taking me to places like The Sudan, Chad, Afghanistan, Iraq and other such exciting[dangerous] places.

Seeing as my photography has taken a back seat lately, I decided to splash out on a new camera. The trusty 20D has been replaced with a new spinkee 5D Mark2, which I plan to use a lot in Africa for low light/night shots (using a lovely 50mm prime 1.4 L lens!). The updates might not be as often, but I’ll still use this site to show off a few photos now and again, and I might have time to post a few words when I have the time.

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End of the adventure?

My time at Halley is coming to an end. One more night at my home for over two years, then I’ll be leaving on the same ship that brought me here in 2006.

No more gash.
No more aurora.
No more static shocks.
No more tick sheets.
No more melt tank.
No more squeaky snow.
No more 20 second showers.
No more mid winters.
No more sun downs.
No more sun ups.
No more frost nip.
No more winter trips.
No more centenary raises.
No more balloon launches.
No more awe and amazement at the view from my window every morning.

I’ll probably never find a more ‘me’ place ever again.

I now move on to another part of my so called life, travelling around the Americas. I don’t know where I’m going, what I’ll be doing or how long it’ll take me. I have ambitions of climbing mountains, flying planes and being happy – and I managed all three at Halley. I hope I can keep up the momentum once I leave.

Thanks for reading.

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Pillow Knob

Teehee!

Ahem, grow up. I went for a little trip last week.

We flew to Berkner South and raised the fuel depot (and spent the night). Then onto Touchdown to pickup more fuel and back to Berkner South. From there we flew to Pillow Knob in the Pensacola mountains, stopped off at a US GPS to see if we could fix one of their failing instruments (and my first time on rock in over two years!!) and back to Berkner South (and spent the night). From there we flew to the ozone monitoring sites ingeniously named Ozone India and Ozone Juliet (and spent the night). The final leg of our journey took us to the Theron Mountains, where we spent two nights before finally returning back to Halley.

I don’t think I can truly explain just how fantastic this trip really was. I got to fly the plane for over 9 hours, which are all genuine flying hours and will definitely go in my logbook. The views of non-flat things for the first time in over two year took my breath away. Mountains and glaciers amongst the Pensacola and Theron Mountains were spectacular, and I got a massive buzz from making my first true ascent in the Antarctic when we stopped off at WO4A, a GPS site belonging to the Americans that lived on a small mountain poking it’s pretty head out of the snow.

Enough words, here are some photos…

Our camp at Bernker South just after the plane’s taken off for a run to Touchdown

There used to be 40 full fuel drums in that hole. We dug them out and dragged em behind the skidoo to raise the depot.

Dave refuels the plane for another run

A photo for Sune. Marmite, surely the food of Gods?

Airline food isn’t what it used to be

Mark ‘Bomber’ Beasley doesnt like the idea of an Immelman turn followed by a s-turn

Pillow Knob. Yes, that’s it’s actual name. No I didn’t think of it, it’s been like that for years. Yes, it is amazing.

We stop at WO4A to fix a GPS site. IT’S A MOUNTAIN OMG I GET TO TOUCH LAND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER TWO YEARS £&Y@£*@£(@$(@$

HUZZAH! It feels… hard

Aaaaaand we’re off again over the Pensacola mountains. You can see the glacier slowly spilling into the valley like a massive, er tongue?

Our campsite at the Theron mountains. Tip: DO NOT park your tent in front of a plane if your pilot likes practical jokes. The big git

Rich pops out to use the toilet, also known as Mark’s Palace

My view from inside our tent. It doesn’t get better than this

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

My resolutions for 2009

Get a pilots license
Climb a proper mountain
Grow up a little bit. But only a tiny bit

Have a good year.
-Dean

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Let it snow

I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To my friends, family and loved ones – I hope to see you soon.

Here’s the view from my window on Christmas Eve.

-Dean

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A slog in the snow.

We have many scientific devices and instruments all around the Antarctic. Ozone detectors, air samplers, weather stations, GPS loggers etc, all of which need regular servicing and raising due to the accumulation of snow each year. Sometimes we have to install new instruments in areas that have sparked the curiosity of Mr Science, and last week the Mcdonald Ice Rumples had Mr Science all excited…

The Rumples is a fascinating feature of the Brunt Ice Shelf. The closest thing we have to a mountain lives at the Rumples, unfortunately it’s under the sea. Being under the sea isn’t a problem for this mountain though as it’s tall enough to dictate the shape and behaviour of the Brunt for hundreds of miles. As Mr Ice Shelf approaches Mr Undersea-Mountain, it gets pushed up and broken up and clogged up and all kinds of other ups, resulting in a massive bottleneck slowing the pace of the shelf towards open sea. Normally, ice shelves would happily float on the sea and break away every now and again, but stick a great big lump of rock in the way and you get all kinds of ice features forming such as massive crevasses, icebergs, cracks, holes, caves, tunnels, hills and small mountain-looking-bumps.

Halley is very fortunate that we have Mr Undersea-Mountain where it is, as it slows the eventual slip of the shelf into the sea. I don’t know how much quicker the shelf would move, but it would be much higher than the current 2 metres a day. The constant break up of shelf and iceberg creates a system of creeks which gradually move downstream as it were – these provide us with perfect areas for a large ship to park and resupply the base every summer.

Why the interest for science though? The Rumples is an incredible crevassed range of mini-mountains and valleys. It’s utter chaos and very difficult to navigate, which incidentally is impossible by vehicle due to the dangers of falling into one of these crevasses. As such, any instruments at the Rumples have to be delivered by person, typically with teams of two or three ‘manhauling’ the instruments on small sledges. Last week was such a delivery …

We drove to edge of the Rumples, clinked our crampons, tied our ropes and dragged a GPS logger plus VHF radio modem + mast 3km to a flat basin right in the middle of the Rumples. It was the flatness that sparked the initial curiosity – why would a relatively large area stay flat and stable when so much around is in utter shambles?

We manage two trips back and forth that day through heavy undulating snow. Who knows how many bridged crevasses we walked over, but I loved every second of it. It was hard work (especially with me being at the back as the last anchor if the other two fell into a crevasse … cough) but we managed it. It’s difficult to capture the state of the place with a camera, but here’s my attempt at least.

A typical apline-3 arrangement. You can see the solar panels of the main logger on the sledge. The footprints in front are from the days before.

The trip back to pick up the batteries. Urgh, who’s idea was this? Make the snow not-so-deep-or-soft. I WANT MY SKIDOO

I shout at the lads for the 8th time to stop for a quick photo …

Nearly there, only 1km over up and down on CRAP SNOW ARGH I WANT MY SKIS

I made a really dull video too, please excuse the commentary. It sounds like I’m dying, but I’m not – that’s just my enthusiasm.

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A few photos…

A picture paints a thousand words. So here’s 21,000…

Winter trip at the Rumples

Rich keeps an eye out

We head towards the penguin colony

We find a crevasse and crawl inside – it really was that blue

We had to crawl through this tunnel to get inside

We then moved to Creek4, and we were lucky enough to get a slight aurora

A seal comes up for air

Big nostrils…

…and disappears under the ice

The drive home

Ozone destroying nacreous clouds in the upper atmosphere

The North-South HF array first thing in the morning

The mast at night

Ags’ birthday treat – an office filled with balloons

Pat ‘Lightning’ Power at the pool table

Joe ‘Not Lightning’ Corner on a snowboard behind a doo

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Ahoy update!

Yes I realise I’ve been really slack with not updating, I have no excuse … apart from being totally rubbish. I’ve visited the penguins, went ice climbing, went on my last ever winter trip, got my camera out a few times A PLANE BROUGHT FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES OMG etc so I’ll get something written this weekend.

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My kingdom for a decent shovel

It’s easy to forget sometimes that I’m living an a giant iceberg. Sure the iceberg is 50 miles long and the ice is over 100 metres thick, but it’s still floating on sea. I’m reminded of this stupid iceberg when ever I’m thirsty…

You see, we have a slight problem with fresh water. You could argue that we’re surrounded by it, but unfortunately it’s all frozen. We do have liquid sea water below us, but that’s a good 130 metres down, and as we’re moving 2 metres a day towards the west we cant really drill into it and tap that ohh so lovely liquid water that we all take for granted.

One bright spark many moons ago suggested a tank, which snow is shovelled into and then melted, providing ample millilitres of water for everyone to drink, wash and spill over the kitchen floor with. I bet this bright spark has never had to dig a ‘melt tank’ as we call it, and any one that’s a semi-regular on here will have heard those dreaded words before…

A simple rota is made up each month by Rich, and three people take it in turns to ‘dig the sodding melt tank’ each week. It’s not that bad really, a dozer pushes snow and makes a funnel shape above the melt tank shaft entrance (around 40cm wide) and we then stand on this mound and shovel snow into the tank (which lives 30m under the surface) until a certain level is reached. This usually takes 20 minutes with three eager diggers, and less with more volunteers. The melt tank is dug everyday in winter, and twice in the summer – it provides all the water on base so it’s mucho important. Even in terrible blowy or cold weather, the unlucky suckers still get to go out and throw snow down the melt tank until the glorious Red Light illuminates our stupid frozen faces … ahhhh.

We had such a day in July, and even though we’ve had countless horrible melt tanks’ throughout the winter, I’ve only managed to film one. Here it is…

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