Kia Ora, my name is Elana, and I have been fortunate enough to be awarded as the 2013 Sir Peter Blake Trust’s Antarctic Youth Ambassador. I am so excited to share with you my adventures ahead.
Visiting Antarctica has always been a lifelong dream of mine. Six years ago I sat in on my first Antarctic studies lecture at Canterbury University, and from that moment I knew I would try to make it to ‘Terra Nullius’ any way possible. It is a truly an amazing feeling to think that I am going to realise this dream and tick off number 1 on my bucket list. As Sir Peter Blake said, “dare to dream”.
I am actually writing this blog post already sitting in a C-130 Hercules aircraft winging my way down to the continent! I was original meant to be flying down on the 17thJanuary, however, a last minute change of plan happened and we were advised that our departure had moved and was now day earlier. Thus, the week turned out to be slightly more chaotic than planned, with me trying to complete medicals on time, pick up assigned gear, and tidy up any last ends.
The week started with me heading into Antarctica New Zealand headquarters in Christchurch. Here I was introduced with environment team and my supervisor for my time on the ice, Ceisha Poirot. Ceisha is one of the Environmental Advisors for Antarctica New Zealand and is a now seasonal veteran going to Antarctica (this will be her 7th time). It’s nice to know that I am in extremely capable hands. Together we went over my induction, planned out our programme for our 2 weeks at Scott Base, and started working on several of our projects.
On Tuesday I popped into see the wonderful Chris Gilbert, who is in charge of clothing, and was issued all my gear. I am sure that he had great amusement in seeing me fumble with all my layers, struggle lacing up the massive boots, and trying to figure out all the pockets and zips. My jacket alone has about 20 pockets and I am certain that things will be lost in them. The thing that astounded me was the 7 pairs of gloves I was given – I never knew you could have so many different types of gloves.
Wednesday was a day for running errands and today Thursday, is departure day. Hooray! The day started out with us checking in at 7am at the USA Antarctic departures terminal. Here we checked in all our gear, listened to safety briefings, and watched several introduction videos (these were possibly filmed in the 80’s). After check in, we boarded a bus and were driven out to the tarmac to hop on the Hercules. If you haven’t been on a Hercules before, then it’s a true experience. Forget any notions of luxurious airliners and think more loud vibrating cargo plane. It was a tad bit concerning at the start, but pretty atmospheric to say the least.
Anyway, in a few short hours I will jump off the aircraft and taking my first steps on Antarctica. I am sure I will have the biggest goofiest smile plastered on my face for the rest of the day. Right now I am going to head up to the cockpit and check out the view across the Southern Ocean. Stay tuned to see what I am getting up to.
BLAKE Antarctic Ambassador 2013