Exploring the Pressure Ridges: Antarctica

Today we are invited by the Kiwi’s to visit the incredibly beautiful and absolutely amazing Pressure Ridge Field right next to New Zealand’s Scott  Base. Scott Base was named after Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Royal Navy. Captan Scott lead two expeditions to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica.

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Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base is located at Pram Point on the Ross Island near the most active volcano in Antarctica, and the location of the 1979 Air New Zealand disaster where Flight 901, a DC-10 crashed instantly killing all 257 people on board.

As we walk towards Scott base we get our first view of the pressure ridge field. From our high vantage point I am unaware of the size of these ice formations but I can see that they extend in a wave like form from where the sea ice of the Ross Ice Shelf in McMurdo Sound meets the shore line. We meet at the Kiwi base recreation office and receive instructions to follow our Field Training Officers (FTO) every step. We are briefed on the dangers of the field and what to expect to see. Stay between the flags, do not stray from the marked paths, keep away from the black flags and do not approach the seals. So with our ice picks and cameras in hand we wander into the extraordinary Pressure Ridge Field.

The first thing I notice is that it is much colder out here. This quickly makes sense, we are standing on frozen sea water, there are no hills around us to stop the wind and we are in Antarctica! I quickly cover up any exposed skin and start taking heaps of photos and video. I soon realise that my camera gear is really struggling with the cold and my batteries are going flat very quickly.

Tattered Passport Antarctica

Scott Base Pressure Ridge Field.

The Pressure Ridges develop here because the McMurdo Ice Shelf is pushing and squeezing the sea ice against the Hut Point Peninsula. The ice cracks, forcing these jagged pieces of ice to push up and forming these very interesting formations.

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Scott Base Pressure Ridge Field.

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Ice Blues

We approach our first giant piece of jagged ice towering out of the sea ice, it has all these shades of deep blues through it. The sun reflex the ice crystals it is just magnificent to see. I never new there were so many different shades of blue. I continue being completely overwhelmed that I am not only here in Antarctica, but that I am getting to see all these incredible places and having all these incredible experiences. I look up at this point and I can see Mt Erebus, with some smoke coming from the crater, I can see the Wind Turbines spinning, I can see the mountain ridge on the other side of McMurdo Sound, I can see Scott Base and I can see this vast expanse of sea ice, extending right to the horizon.

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Vast Expanse of Ross Ice Shelf

Soon we reach the seals, We had been informed that there were a few Weddel Seals hanging out and that one just had a pup. We couldn’t get to close to these incredible creatures, but it was pretty amazing to see these massive animals this close in the wildest of wild places. They lay still, almost just chilling out, catching the antarctic sun, only moving to have a scratch or to see what all the fuss is about. They choose to hang out here as they are safe to pup, away from Predators such as Killer Whales and Leopard Seals.

As we exit the field and are about to walk back onto land I see my very first crevasse, be it only a very little one. It was pretty cool to look down a crack in the ice and not really see the bottom. These can be huge and are very dangerous. They can easily be covered by a snow bridge, completely covering the fact that they are there. I eye opener to what I will need to be aware of whilst I am in this wild continent.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane,

Hiking Observation Hill: Antarctica.

Its early morning and we learn that we will be stuck in McMurdo for another day, so we decide to hike up to the top of Observation Hill. Ob Hill as the Americans call it is a 45min hike, up a slippery slope from McMurdo Station. I chuck all my camera gear in my bag, chuck on some warm clothes and hit the trail.

We reach the first clearing and I see a plaque, I wander over a get a pretty massive shock. This is the location of the only nuclear power plant to have been operated in Antarctica. I didn’t even know there had been one down there. I learn that it was built in January/ February of 1962 and run until September of 1972, being decommissioned in 1979, producing 1800kW.

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The only Nuclear Power Plant to have operated in Antarctica

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The one and only Nt Erebus

We reach the summit of Ob Hill and are treated to a pretty impressive view over McMurdo, Scott Base and Mt Erebus, the second highest volcano and the most active in Antarctica. I took a moment up here to attempt to take it all in. I was standing on top of hill, looking out over this vast expanse of frozen land, I couldn’t believe that I was here, that I was in Antarctica. This is going to be one hell of an adventure.

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We make it to the top

That night we make the walk over to Scott Base to have a few drinks with our Kiwi friends at the American Night. A bunch of the Americans make the trek over and spend the afternoon mingling with there neighbours.

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Visiting the Kiwi’s

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Flying from Tasmania to Antarctica.

Hobart Tasmania, Australia to McMurdo Station Antarctica.

Its 1:30am and we are sitting on the verge waiting for our bus to pick us up and take us to the famous Sapphire Lounge at the Hobart International Airport. For those of you that don’t know where Hobart Tasmania is, well its the little island state off the bottom of Australia. Tassie as us Aussie’s call it is a seriously beautiful location, with picturesque mountains and unusual to the rest of Australia it is very green. Tassie’s airport is very small, however tucked away in the corner is the Saffire Lounge, the international terminal. The only international flights that leave this airport are those that fly to most remote place on earth, Antarctica. Today I am one of those lucky few that get to not only visit this amazing continent, I get to live and work there for the summer season.

We board the AAD, (Australian Antarctic Division) A319 jet plane. I feel this sense of, is this really happening? Am I actually going to Antarctica? We are in the air, this is no ordinary flight, the cock pit is open, there are a bunch of seats in the middle of the aircraft that are missing, there are all these red bags everywhere, and everyone is chatting. Some are reminiscing of their previous expeditions, some are getting to know the other trades are some are just stunned into silence. As we settle at our cruising altitude we are able to move about the aircraft. Everyone seems to congregate in the large open area in the middle. This is so unusual, its like a lounge area, we sit down, chat amongst our selves, we have a few cups of coffee and eat our muffins. This is how air travel should be. I am asked if I wanted to have a look in the cock pit, “Um Yes!” So I walk up to the cock pit, I walk through the door and I am welcomed by the two chilled-out pilots. I sit down next to them and have a great chat. They point out a few things, like the pancake sea ice that is forming, a few small icebergs and a bunch of switches. It is amazing to look out the front window of an aircraft, then to look out and see sea ice, well it’s just breath taking.

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AAD A319

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Antarctic Pancake Ice

As we start our decent, we are instructed to start putting on our survival gear. Now its starts to get really hot. I have so many layers on, of hard core Antarctic survival clothes, but I am still inside the aircraft. I look outside and I can see huge expanse of sea ice, then I see mountain and I can actually see land. I can see Antarctica! We drop below the clouds and I can see the runway. Then we land. I am now on the Frozen Continent. I step off and I am struck by the freezing -17c. My glasses instantly freeze up, my camera lens fogs up and I can feel the hair inside my nostrils freeze. I know that I am here, I am standing on Antarctica. The airstrip at McMurdo is the Pegasus Field and it is on sea ice. It is incredible that the huge A319 Aircraft can land on the sea ice. We are quickly escorted to the infamous “Ivan The Terror Bus”. This huge all terrain people carrier vehicle that looks like something from a Mad Max film, for the very slow drive to McMurdo Station.

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McMurdo Station

Once at ‘Mc Town’ we are informed that we will be staying here for a few days, because of bad weather and that we will be sleeping in the gym. After setting up our camp we get to wander around the station and find our way to Scott’s Discovery Hut, and up on top of a nearby hill to have a look over the Ross Ice Shelf. There I get to see my first Seal, basking in the Antarctic sun. After our long day, we search out one of the two bars that McMurdo has and find ourselves the centre of attention. We play pool, learn a game of Shuffleboard, which has now become one of my favourite pub games, and as Aussies do, we have a few drinks.

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My First seal spotting in Antarctica

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Looking out over the Ross Ice Shelf.

As we leave the bar we are greeted by a perfect midnight sun. This is the first time that I have seen the midnight sun, it is out of this world beautiful. I have a moment and flip out a little. It is midnight and the sun is high in the sky, it is so bright I am forced to wear my sunnies. I am in Antarctica, it -17c, it’s midnight and the sun is shinning bright. This is going to be an EPIC summer.

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Antarctic Midnight sun.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Magic Mushroom Dealers and Mountain Biking: Nepal. Daily Vlog: 49

I grab the mountain bike from my hostel “The Hotel Cherry Garden” and head for the hills on an adventure in search of the Friendship Stupa. Along the way I get completely lost in the farming land of Pokhara, get hassled out by a Magic Mushroom Dealer, almost die riding up the 1100m high mountain, barely escape from a out of control motor bike, dodge lightning and crazy Nepalese bus drivers and then have diner with the manager of Hotel The Cherry Garden. Oh he also makes me the most incredible coffee I have ever had. Hand ground organic coffee, Hemp Filtered and poured down a sandalwood stick, It was epic.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement.

I leave the chaos that is Kathmandu, jump on a plane and head to the most incredible place, Pokhara. I had heard about a very special settlement just a 30min drive from the town centre so we decided to grab a cab and head out see what it was all about.

Tattered Passport Pokhara

A gift from the Dalai Lama

We arrive at the Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement and were greeted by a beautiful gateway and a very unique script written on it. Through out my time in Tibet we had not seen any reference to his holiness the Dalai Lama. This left a huge gap through out Tibet, as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism the Dalai Lama is held in the highest of regard, however it is illegal to even talk about him in Tibet. So it was so beautiful to see his name right there in big letters, inviting you into the settlement. “Given by his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama”, I new instantly this was a special place.

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Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement

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om mani padme hum

I dropped a “tashi Delek” and was instantly welcomed with open arms into their settlement. We were shown around by a beautiful Tibetan lady. Then I was invited into the Butter Lamp, prayer room and shown how to pray. This was a magical moment for me, I was able to give something back to these beautiful people, I purchased a butter lamp, said a prayer and was blessed.

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Prayers and Butter Lamps

There are estimated 13000 Tibetan People living in exile in Nepal according to the The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). I am unsure of the number at this settlement. The people living at the settlement are kind of stuck between to worlds, it is very difficult for them. I do not pretend to understand how it all works for them, but from what I gather is that they are not allowed to work in Nepal. The only way that they can earn money is by selling some souvenirs. They have a small gift shop which sells hand made crafts, and as you walk out from the settlement you pass through a make shift market. Here you will find some amazing jewellery I am a big fan of beaded bracelets and necklaces and I was in heaven here. They are all hand made and you purchase them from the person who made them. In attempt to spread my money around I tried my hardest to by something small from all the stalls. 

https://youtu.be/7XB8nN0pR7g

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport. If you have liked this post please Like, Share and Follow. Simple click on the follow button at the bottom of your screen. You can also find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Have you visited Pokhara, Nepal? What did you think about the Tibetan refugee settlement?

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.