...and his girl left behind. Justin Chambers is going to Antarctica as a chef, and leaving behind all that is normal, for a whole year. Together, but apart, we will document our experiences (well, he'll give me the info verbally and I will turn that in to a blog post!!) as we live in two quite different worlds for those 12 months.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year's Eve

It was a normal start to the day… Wake up with the phone (alarm) two rings........roll over, lift the receiver an inch then drop it down  like the head of a mallet. Yawn... swig any remaining water from the bottle beside the bed.  Open eyes. Stare at the ceiling for what appears to be an hour or so (but in reality only 2-3 minutes). Grunt.........I love this place, Antarctica.......but I love sleep possibly even more, so it’s just a small grunt each day..............ahhhhhh sleep!!!!
Get up, leave the room walk around some stairs, take a left at the t-junction and first door on the right. Return to the room feeling a little lighter.

Dress for the day… t-shirt/jacket, trousers, socks, kitchen crocs... grab an apron off the hook and leave the room again for work. Do a hard right once out of the room, proceed through the Link and down into the foyer, turn right and voila, we’re here!!  Oh yeah... turn 180° and head back through the foyer and into the Wallow, straight to the coffee machine.  Ahhhhhhhh now we can start the day.  Time check 0548.

It was decided a few weeks ago that on New Years the chefs would have the day off.  Cool.  So Tony and I made plans to go out to one of the surrounding huts and spend NY eve there. We put out an APB for those who may wish to join us. As Brookes hut only contains 4 beds and a mattress we soon found our three lucky companions.

Lunch was put up. Reheating instructions for dinner were left with the slushies. 

And the next thing you know I’m sweating and panting 5 clicks from station heading in an easterly direction with a near gale force frontal assault of pretty snowflakes and not so pretty bits of ancient landscape (dirty, dusty, sand).  It was a nice feeling leaving the station behind... and responsibility. The walk to Brookes hut took around four hours in which we passed 3 lakes, 7 penguins, 2 thousand year old seal carcasses, hundreds of magnificent dykes (the black rock that form ribbons upon the landscape), and millions of fascinating rock formations.  The land that I was walking through was It!! True blue, untouched, undisturbed ancient earth. What a feeling............breathing in the cleanest air in the world and staring at god’s very own creations in their weathered and unique forms.
On arrival at the hut the generator was started, bags were emptied, food laid out and drinks poured. 5 hours later glasses were chinked, messages were swapped via radio and the chitter chatter continued. Another 3 hours later the snoring started and lasted well into the next morning.

Finishing off the crackers and cheese from the previous evening and adding only coffee made for an undisciplined (I’m on holiday) breakfast.  I spent the next ½ hour preparing for lunch fresh sushi using tinned crab and asparagus.  It was very tasty........and here we go again........... surreal - sitting in a little red hut eating sushi and pickled ginger using chopsticks, listening to Simon and Garfunkles greatest hits through my ipod and portable JBL speakers and all the time staring out through the cracked and wind beaten window into the great expanse known as the Antarctic.........blue skies, ice bergs, rolling hills and seals... it was all there only inches from where I sat.

Doing your business down here in ‘the freezer’ is all about management.....on one hand..... of your body (hold on until you get back to base), or .........of the available resources and space. Basically #1s are sent straight into the sea or carried back home in a supplied bottle. #2s are carried by you all the way back to station. I recommend double bagging then bagging again and stuffing into an appropriate receptacle to minimise perforation. Sorry about the topic but I guessed people wonder how these things were done down here. I did!!

I had organised a helicopter to come and pick us up.  Well, the hut did need stocking up of essentials so I arranged these back at Davis and coordinated a time that would coincide with our need to vacate the hut. Cunning?  Hey!!  Anyway on our return we were lucky enough to make a special flight to the plateau in order to assess the amount of snow built up around a lone hagg used to transport a couple of guys who maintain the skiway known as Woop Woop.  I grabbed a couple of snaps of  Platcha hut on our way ( the hut in which I did field training) as well as the surrounding hills etc...... 

The summer melt is well and truly here.

Just to add…  I’m writing this blog from the Doctor’s office.  A Chinese Doctor became ill at one of their stations (Dome (A) Argus - the highest area situated on the east Antarctic Ice sheet at 4093m).  A call was put out to the AAD for assistance and a medivac was set up. The belief is that the patient suffered from altitude sickness.  I am doing a 2 hour patient monitoring shift before work this morning (3:45am wakeup).  The Chinese resupply vessel that I took aerial photos of a couple of weeks ago should be entering our waters later this morning to pick their comrade up and maybe pop on over for a cup of tea or something... who knows.


  1. Very nice story with very nice pictures! :)

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