Antarctica: Walking To Work In A Blizzard

Antarctica is a magical place, its raw natural beauty, it’s remoteness, it’s ability to bring the best out of everyone who visits here, but it’s not always perfect, Antarctica is a wild, untamed natural environment and that is one of the reasons why I come here.

It is unpredictable and here, you can see and feel the full force of mother nature.

Working in this environment brings some very unique challenges, simple things, like don’t leave you tools lying around, they will either freeze or blow away, your drinking water freezes in its bottle, and simply getting to work can be an adventure.

This day I needed to get to work in a blizzard. It is blowing between 40 to 60knots,

which is around 70 to 110kmph. With the blowing snow our visibility is less than 100m, this puts us in the “Field Travel Condition” of CAUTION, meaning we are restricted to station limits and we should call ahead before we go outside.

Here I walk from The Emergency Vehicle Shelter to the Operations Building a short couple hundred metre walk.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

Survival Training: Antarctica.

The time has come, I am both excited and a little nervous about the next two days. Every expeditioner needs to complete and show their competence in all aspects of survival training. This includes everything from organising your expedition paper work through to plotting your course using maps and compasses.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Survival Training: Casey Station

As our training day approaches we are informed by the Meteorology team that the weather is turning bad and a blizzard is possible. We carry on planning our training day and decide as a group to go a head. I must admit I am a little nervous about spending 24hrs out in this weather, but at the same time I am well aware how much of a unique experience this will be. Everyone down there needs to complete survival training, but so far everyone has had perfect weather.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Survival Training, Antarctica.

Tattered Passport: Antarctica

Survival Training, Antarctica: Feeling The Chill

We have completed all our paper work, collected all our gear and we are ready to head out. We make our very first call in to Casey Communications, explain our intentions and off we head towards Shirley Island. We need to follow the approved walking route which winds its way through a rocky valley. We have a few marked GPS Way points on our maps, which we use to navigate ourselves through this area. I soon realised that this was going to be a challenge. We constantly refer to our maps and compasses, but it so windy. Every time I remove my map from my jacket it almost blows away.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Radioing In

We reach the sea ice and call Casey Communications. To walk on ice we need know how thick it is and the only way to do that is to drill the ice. So we grab our Sea Ice Drill and set it all up. We learn a bit about sea ice, how to tell if it is good ice, how thick it is and how saturated it is. As we finish drilling we are visited by group inquisitive Adelie Penguins. It was incredible, they came right up to us and spent a good 10 minutes just chilling and checking us out, until they get bored and return to their colony.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica.

Adelie Penguins, Shirley Island, Antarctica

As we reach Shirley Island we have another training drill. We set up a survival shelter called a Mega Bivvy. A bivvy is a bag that you can use in a survival situation. They are way to escape from the wind, they are super light and easy to set up even in strong winds. We all jump in the Mega Bivvy and call in to Casey Communications. We watch and listen to the weather getting worse and decide its time to head to our next location, The Wharf. Here we will learn how to use the camp stoves and how to set up our personal bivvy bags and where we’ll be spending the night.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

The Highest I’ve Been. Daily Vlog: 17

Today would have to be one of the most extreme days of my life, and I do seriously mean that. We wake up ridiculously early, before it was light and hit the trail before breakfast. The Aim? To summit Kalapathar and watch the sunrise over Mt Everest.

It was cold and it was hard, no one was around and the ground was still frozen, which made this odd crunching sound as you walked. A few of us were finding it real tough today. The mixture of the early morning, no breakfast and the altitude were all playing a mean part in making this ascent the most difficult. I myself was finding it difficult to breath, the frozen air and the lowest amount of oxygen I have ever experienced made holding a conversation difficult. However somehow I was still really excited to be there. Today I reach 5545m the highest part of our trek and The Highest I’ve Been.

Everest Sunrise

Sunrise over Mt Everest Western Shoulder

We were just shy of making the top for the sunrise, however we still managed a magical view as the sun rose over Mt Everest’s, western shoulder in a glimmer of white and gold aura, it was amazing to watch. Once at the top and completely out of breath I congratulated everyone who had made it and made my way up on to the very tip and just gazed out over the Himalaya. I was at 5545m and the massive 8000m+ peaks all around, begged for me to explore some more. It was here that I told myself that I will be back. I will come back and visit the himalaya. I have given myself a challenge, I want to break the 6000m mark on my next adventure to Nepal.

Kalapathar

At the Summit of Kalapathar

After breakfast we made our way to La Bouche for lunch, we stayed there only a few days prior, then on to Dingbouche, that is were the day turned. As soon as we left Dingbouche the weather turned on us. We watched as the clouds rolled in and the sky turn this unforgiving grey, then it started to snow. At first it was light then heavier and heavier, we needed to put our water proof covers on our bags and really rug up. At one point my glasses were pretty much frozen over and we were walking on the edge of a cliff. I could not see anything, I thought to myself this is not good and ended up taking the glasses off. Not the best idea I might add, now I was getting snow and ice in my eyes.

trekking Nepal

Its Snowing

Memorial

Himalayan Memorial

The temperature was dropping quickly and so was our visibility. I was struggling to see Kristy in front of me and we could no longer see any sign of a pathway. It was a little nerve racking at times when I could only just see the path and could faintly make out that I was on the edge of cliff of an unknown depth? After 3 hours we crested a hill, it had cleared up a fair bit and I got sight of some bright orange tents. I new that was home and all our hearts picked up and we powered on.

Trekking in Nepal

Dreadsticles

Once inside the warm very basic Tea House we all felt this amazing feeling of “We just did that!” We just hiked for 4 hours in pretty much a blizzard and we made it. It was a pretty awesome feeling, now just to get the feeling back in all our fingers and toes.

 

 

 

 

 

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One Life, One Search.

Peace Out.

Shane