Our Kiwi Heritage on the Ice
ANTARCTIC YOUTH AMBASSADOR 2016/17 | Blake Ambassador 2016/17 Blogs
December 15, 2016

My last couple of days in Antarctica and Scott Base really feels like home. Everyone down here has become like family and I really wish I could stay here longer! I made sure I packed as much as I could into my last days here down on the ice.

Monday was spent finishing painting Hillary’s room. Walls to ceiling the room is painted Apple Green. Martin has finished the interior wall and we are positioning all the artefacts into the original positions using photographs as a reference. Geoff and Doug have finished the outside porch. There obviously weren’t many tall people when they designed the link-ways between the huts, as all entrances are just above my height (which is only about 173cm). The painters have been busy working away on the roof, sanding and prepping to apply the first coat of primer. Sue and Ciaran have been working overtime removing paint from the kitchen appliances and returning the artefacts to their original state. Because this process involves paint stripper and emits toxic fumes, personal protect equipment (PPE) must be worn so they have been waiting for us to finish our work inside the hut before they start.

Hillary’s Hut is the only original building remaining from the first Kiwi expedition and is an important part of our Kiwi heritage. Being able to be part of the team responsible for the conservation is a huge privilege and I am incredibly honoured to be able to be a part of this experience. Hopefully one day I will get to come back and see the hut completely restored, shining bright with its new orange and yellow paint job. Make sure you check out the photos on the Antarctic Heritage Trust Facebook and for live visual updates visit Antarctica New Zealand’s website – photos of the hut updates every 15 minutes.

There are now over forty Weddell Seals in front of Scott Base along the pressure ridges. There are now melt pools beginning to form in the front transition, so the track is closed out onto the ice. The AFT team has been busy working to kept the track open from the back of Scott Base near the American Transition where there is the more permanent stable sea ice. The Weddell Seals are returning from winter after being out in the ocean and are coming back on shore to breed, give birth and moult. McMurdo Sound has a resident population of over 1000 seals, with most of these individuals tagged by the Americans for research purposes. Over the last six weeks I have been amazed at how quickly the seal pups have grown since I first saw them.

Monday evening I joined the Search and Rescue team (SAR) climbing Castle Rock. The SAR team include Molly, Andy and Mark (aka “Cellphone”) who are wintering over and have volunteered for the position. Gearing up under the instruction of Tubs, we put on our harnesses, crampons and helmets, and jumped into the back of H2. Tubs has been training the team over summer, running through drills and getting everyone familiar with all the equipment. Although the temperature was warmish (-8 degrees) the wind chill was high making its feel like -19 degrees. Climbing up the steep slope, my breath kept freezing on my sunglasses and I would have to stop and scrape it off. In our buddy pairs, we each took turns climbing up the already laid line until we reached the top. The view was incredible; I could see everywhere I’ve been on my trip. Looking over to the Barne Glacier where I camped in my first week, across the sea ice where I had so many adventures, over to the ski field and walking tracks and finally down to Scott Base and the TAE hut. I stood for an hour or so at the top just taking it all in.

Tuesday evening I had invited my two American friends, Lacy and Justin over for a Kiwi dinner. They work in the kitchen at McMudro Station and don’t have the opportunity to come over for American Night on Thursday. I will never forget their excitement when they found out we had real ice-cream for dessert. The Americans don’t have the same luxury as the Kiwis – they only get frosty boys for dessert. Dan Dan had organised a massive game of hide-and-go-seek where Jonny had the mission of finding the rest of the base hidden in every corner and crevice in Scott Base. Top marks go to Tim for somehow fitting inside one of the rubbish bins and thanks to Kurt who found me in seconds in what I thought was an awesome hiding spot behind the rock climbing wall.

My roommates, Laurine and Joanna have returned from the field after joining the K001C team. This year Victoria University of Wellington commissioned a Hot Water Drill (HWD) to drill through the Ross Ice Shelf. This summer at Windless Bight was a testing season for the drill and various bits of scientific equipment. The scientific equipment being used in the borehole includes oceanographic equipment, sedimentary corers, and ice physics equipment. If the HWD works, the team plans to sample near the centre of the Ross Ice Shelf next summer. The team hopes to gain a better understanding of the oceanic movements under the ice shelf, a paleoclimate record from the sedimentary corer, and ice processes and deformational histories from the seismometers and side wall corers.

Once we finished up on Wednesday evening, I joined my AHT boys for one last ride out to Williams Airfield. Al led the way, followed closely by Doug, while Geoff, Martin and I enjoyed the scenery. Having a quick pit stop at the American airbase for a nice cool drink of apple juice we were back on ice along State Highway 1, just in time for Al’s bedtime. Leaving the boys at the crossroads, I waved them goodbye before joining some friends out at the Ski Field. Putting my new skills into practice, I got in five great runs without falling over and even got a complement from El Presidente saying that I looked somewhat in control. Packing as much as I can in my last night, I finished off with a bouldering session almost completing the circuit I had been working on for the last couple of weeks.

Annika Andresen

Annika Andresen

BLAKE Antarctic Ambassador 2016