Surviving Antarctica: Field Training Officer

Story and Photographs by Shane Ness.

“Im also missing out on all the Screaming and the Pooing”

Tony Donaldson Field Training Officer Mawson Station, Antarctica.

Antarctica might be the most extreme place on earth, but could you imagine how tough it would be teaching survival techniques at -30C? Tony Donaldson a Mountain Guide from New Zealand is the Field Training Officer at Mawson Station over winter and he is up to the challenge.

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Climbing Fang Peak

“The scope for danger or loss of life is a lot smaller then it is back home”

Tony Donaldson,

“When things go wrong down here, they go wrong very quickly”

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When it all turns to Custard

Antarctica is a destination very few ever reach, designated  as “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” (Antarctic Treaty) Antarctica has captured the imaginations of intrepid adventurers for decades. You really feel you are at the edge of the world in Antarctica, some of the most isolated people on the planet.

“I wanted to see how I would fare, working in a really harsh environment”

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Search and Rescue Training

It takes a certain breed to be able to complete a winter, someone who is tough, capable of facing any challenge this icy world throws at them. An Antarctic winter has an uncanny knack of throwing everything it has at you, almost in an attempt to break you. Tony had an extra challenge, something very few would be able to cope with. Tony and his partner Svata had their daughter Anne while he was in Antarctica.

“Svata had our daughter Anne on the 22nd of Sept”

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Tony at home with Anne

“It’s been challenging missing some of the initial steps”

Tony says reflecting on the first few months of being away from his new born daughter.

Antarctica is isolated, really isolated, so isolated that once you arrive you are stuck until the summer returns 9 months later.

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Now this is remote

Once the Australian Ice-Breaker, The Aurora Australis leaves the station, taking with it the previous winter staff, you quickly realise how isolated you are. All of a sudden, station life goes from 40 people down to just 14. The station is quite, you cross paths with your new family in the corridors of the red shed. It starts to sink in, you are some of the most isolated people on the planet.

Thank you for visiting Tatteredpassport, Have you been somewhere super remote? Or have you visited Antarctica? I would love to read your comments.

You can find more stories from Antartica and many more adventures by clicking the FOLLOW button. You can also follow my adventures on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

Aussie Day Antarctica Style: Epic Triple J Hottest 100 Party!

Happy Australia Day from all the crew down at Casey Station. This was my first ever Australia Day in Antarctica and one of the most unique Aussie days I have ever had. The day started off with a swim in the Southern Ocean a chilly -2c, the air temp was 0c so it was so cold, in fact it was so cold it hurt. I managed to get my head under water and very quickly jumped out, the chill completely took my breath away. It was so much fun and to be a part of a Casey Australia Day tradition was pretty special.

After our very brief swim we made our way back up to the “Red Shed” our living quarters ready for our Aussie Day party to start. We had Triple J’s Hottest 100 count down cranking, an epic game of cricket, home cooked meat pies, darts and some games of pool going on and even an Antarctic Ute Muster. We were blessed with an absolutely beautiful day, in stark contrast to the previous day that was foggy, you could not even see the ocean, even today the day after, the weather has come in and it is snowing. We partied into the night dancing and singing along to the Casey band “The Meltdowns” pumping out epic pub rock anthems until the we hours of the morning.

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, if you have liked this post please, Like, share and Follow, simply click the follow button at the bottom of your screen. You can also find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram and of cause YouTube.

Have you celebrated Australia Day some where unique? What did you get up to this Australia Day? I would love to hear about it.

One Life, One Search,
Peace Out,
Shane.

The day I start my biggest adventure ever.

Today is the day, the day I start on my biggest adventure ever. Today I leave for Antarctica. After a few delays we all meet at the bus stop in front of the motel that I have called home for the last week. Its a cold wet Hobart morning, the sun still yet to rise, the fog still yet to clear and the feeling of excitement is thick in the air. The bus arrives we chuck all our gear in the luggage compartment and the adventure begins.

We arrive at the Hobart Airport, its a small airport that pretty much only caters for domestic flights, except for the little terminal that is hidden away in the corner, the “Saffire Lounge”. The Saffire Lounge is the rarely used Hobart International Airport which each year says fare well to all the Antarctic Expeditioners. I enter the small terminal and feel a wash of pride flow through me. I am one of a very small selected group of people who are lucky enough to see this very unique terminal and all that it represents.

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Antarctic Pancake Ice

The flight was not your average international flight, the A319 is a very unique aircraft. The middle seats have been removed to carry luggage, however in this instance the large space allowed the expeditioners the perfect place to mingle. We all hung out in this space, drinking coffee, eating muffins, chatting and of cause taking plenty of photo’s. We were also allowed to walk straight into the cockpit and chat to the pilots. This was a very unique experience. From the cockpit you got the best uninterrupted view of the large expanse of pancake sea ice and huge ice bergs.

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AAD A319

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The AAD A319 at the Pegasus

Once we closed in on Pegasus airstrip, the huge glacial runway at McMurdo the US station inside the Antarctic circle, I started to realise how lucky I was to have been selected for the Australian Antarctic Program. Then I stepped onto the ice and it hit me, A huge smile crept onto my face which 2 months in still has not left. It was bitterly cold, -17c but I did not care. I was here, I was in Antarctica. I quickly snapped a bunch of rushed pics as were getting guided over to “Ivan The Terra Bus”, the single most epic vehicle I have ever seen.

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The most epic vehicle anywhere

After a very bumpy ride we arrived at McMurdo. McMurdo is huge, and I mean huge, I had been told that it was big, but I guess I had no real idea what to expect, but this was not it. My first Antarctic experience was of this massive city, with 1100 people living and working there. I could see massive accommodation buildings, heaps and heaps of vehicles, there was a fire station equipped with a full size american fire truck and I had heard rumours of 3 bars. Was this really the Antarctica that I had expected???

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Chief Gareth and Sparkie Nessy at the famous McMurdo Station sign

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, if you have liked this post please Like and feel free to share. You can also follow by simply clicking on the “FOLLOW” button on the bottom of your screen. I will be posting regular updates from my time in antarctica so stay in touch. You can also find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

One Life, One Search.
Peace Out.
Shane.

(PS: I have been filming heaps, including our trip from Hobart to McMurdo, However due to the limited bandwidth we have I can not upload to YouTube. I will upload all my YouTube content as soon as I return to Australian around late feb early March 2015)