What an exciting week! I am not even sure where to begin. From completing milestones with the huts progress to who had the best moustache in Scott Base, there was never a dull moment.
The week started off strong as we lowered the hut onto the new foundations. The hut was jacked up 200mm while we made repairs underneath and placed the new foundations. This might not seem much but when the whole building was sitting on four sterically placed jacks, the whole building was creaking as we slowly let the pressure off and the building lower. Once on the foundations and standing back from the building, the visual progress made all the hard work from last week grovelling around in the snow totally worth it! Very happy with ourselves I was promoted to work inside the hut (which is really nice and warm), working on the insulation and lining.
Al and Martin have been working inside working on putting everything back together again inside after the asbestos men had finished their work. The insulation is made up of black foam which was aerated rubberwhich was a contemporary insulation that isn’t used anymore. It had become very brittle and most of the panels had fallen out and were in pieces. This created a giant jigsaw puzzle to piece together all the panels. The black insulation and no artefacts inside made the hut look like it had gone through a serious fire. Once all the insulation was fitted, painted particle board lined the walls.
Everything has to be built in the exact way it was in 1957, meaning all the work we are doing, to how the building was built, carpenters methods of construction, even down to what nails were used to attach the panels is considered. Over the week I managed to hammer in 312 nails into the ceiling and we completed the interior lining of the main dining room.
Doug and Geoff have started the cold porch which was originally used to connect all the separate huts together with a link way. Instead the team of architects and designers have made up drawings for the cold porch which directly links the building to the start of what use to be the walk ways. I managed to help them paint some of the prefabricated walls before assembling them in the Hillary Field Centre (HFC).
The conservators have also been working away on the big kitchen appliances removing any paint that had been applied over previous years. It’s quite amazing to scrape away on an object revealing 6 different paint jobs. This hut has gone through many alterations and has been constantly used for various roles within Scott Base. From the original purpose of a kitchen and radio room, there spaces have become a mess hall, library, storage, a small museum and there was even a short period when Sir Edmond Hillary used his office as his bedroom. There are numerous historic photos and it looks like the interior of the hut is repainted every 5 years.
With Christmas drawing closer a lot of the scientists are heading home including Jacob, the Programme Manager at the Sir Peter Blake Trust. He has been working on drill core samples from Miocene sedimentary sequences in the Friis Hills in the Dry Valleys.
Wednesday night the whole of Scott Base came together to celebrate Movember. Tim McPhee the Water Engineer had done a fantastic job in organising this event and the bar was decorated with a podium with a line of judges against the far wall. Simon Trotter (Trotts) the General Manager of Antarctic Operations, was our host for the evening including a fake moustache, green furry top and tight leather paints. He did a fantastic job our keeping everyone entertained and light hearted. It was quite a sight to see all the running contestants in full consumes to complement their moustaches. Trotts introduced each participant with a couple of questions and the full measurement of total width, length and density before final judging. There were some great moustaches and there was awards for – Best Mo, Peoples Choice, Most Seediest Mo, Best Look-alike and the Overall Winner. Sean one of the engineers with his Chopper-Read and Drunken Mexican re-enactment that took our first place. Over $1200 was raised through donations and fundraising for health issues faced by Men.
After work on Friday I cycled around the Castle Rock track on a fat bike for 3 hours. The weather was superb with no clouds, wind and tropical temperature of -1 degree. I only needed a thermal top and salopettes (waterproof pants). The views were majestic out toward Mount Erebus and over the McMurdo Sound across to the Dry Valleys. Along the track there are lightweight emergency shelters, encase the weather decides to turn. They remind me of little lady bugs popping out through the snow.
Finally the weekend! Saturday night involved a Masquerade party at MacTown were a bunch of us headed over after dinner to continue the night to listen to some music and hit the dance floor. The next morning Scott Base had organised the annual Manhauling event starting at MacTown, across the sea ice along the Cape Armitage Loop and finishing at Scott Base. Each team consisted of 4 people towing a modified dog sled designed to be towed behind a skidoo with one person on it. There was a representing females team from both parties with four male teams. Lining up along the start of the sea ice, there was a sprint start to our sleds, quickly clipping on and we were off! I joined the Scott Base females’ team along with Ash, Leigh and Rose and Kate from the Scott Base leadership team (SBLT). With the beats playing, we took turns rotating around and dancing. Although we didn’t win I think we definitely had the most fun and finished the race strong. The week wasn’t over just yet as we had the SAR team on dessert as well as an experience. Going one step above the rest of the teams, the SAR team organised dessert to be held in the bar at 9pm. Waiting anxiously, the team of boys dressed in blue suits walked in and handed out ice creams and cameral popcorn while we listened to Richie Hunter one of the Field trainers talk about his recent trip to Nepal to climb Mount Everest!
What I love is that every person on base here has their own story and you never know who you might sit next to at dinner time and what stories you might hear about their adventures before they came to Antarctica.
BLAKE Antarctic Ambassador 2016