Hi everyone! My name is Annika Andresen, and I am incredibly honoured and excited to introduce myself as the 2016 Sir Peter Blake Trust Antarctic Youth Ambassador! What a whirlwind journey it has been to this point, and an absolute dream come true.
I cannot wait to dive into this life-changing and eye-opening adventure ahead, and take on all the amazing opportunities and challenges over the next month. A massive thank-you to the continual overwhelming generosity and support of Sir Peter Blake Trust, Antarctica New Zealand and The Antarctic Heritage Trust for making this incredible opportunity possible.
I’ll start off by telling you a little about myself and how I’ve found myself about to embark on an adventure so incredible, and one I’ve dreamed of for so long; I’m still working on wrapping my head around the reality of it all! I am a 22-year-old architecture student in my final year of my masters. A couple of months ago, after sending my application in and serval interviews; including my favourite question from Al Fastier (Programme Manager of the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project, at the Antarctic Heritage Trust), who asked what my five worst habits would be (he will have to live with me for a month on the ice after all!), I received a call from the Sir Peter Blake Trust saying ‘Congratulations! We would like you to be our ambassador for 2016… and you’re going to Antarctica!!’
Fast forward to now and I find myself on a C-17 ready to fly down to the icy continent. We were originally meant to be flying yesterday but were advised that due to weather our departure had been moved to the today at 6am. We had a couple of special guests on our flight including the US Secretary of State John Kerry, so security was high and slightly more chaotic than normal.
Flying down to Christchurch a couple of days earlier, I was introduced to Nigel Watson, the Executive Director for the Antarctic Heritage Trust and Jeanine Foster from Antarctica New Zealand. Together we went through my induction and introductions to the team I will be working with. Staying at Scott Base, I will be joining the heritage team, working on the restoration of the Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut.
Once I finished I went over the meet Antarctica New Zealand’s logistics manager Woody – a 25 year veteran with the New Zealand Antarctic Programme – before being kitted up with all of my clothing. After putting on my thermal underwear, 5 jackets, 2 pairs of trousers, and boots, I felt like an oversized oompaloompa waddling from side to side. I was also issued an extra 7 pairs of gloves, 2 pairs of woollen socks, ski googles, sun glasses and a selection of fleecy hats and head warmers. I think I might actually be ready to face the cold!
This morning started with a 3:30 am check-in at the USA Antarctic departures terminal, followed by a series of safety briefings and some quality entertainment videos. After checking in, we jumped onto a bus and were taken out to the tarmac where our ride awaited us. We were met by the United States Army who helped us aboard and showed us to our seats; lining the sides of the aircraft. We were issued ear plugs and breakfast. I tucked my jacket behind me and strapped in. It was like something you would see in a James Bond movie and I was just waiting for the back of the aircraft to fold down for everyone to jump out from!
We’re flying south as I write this, and by lunch time we will have landed and I will be taking my first steps on Antarctica. I can’t even describe how excited I am and I cannot wait to share my experiences throughout the next month. I hope you enjoy following along. There is so much more to come!
BLAKE Antarctic Ambassador 2016