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

Why You Should Travel to Tibet

Story and Photographs by Shane Ness

“Jokhang was an interesting combination of smells, colours, faces and sentiments. I felt blessed to be so close to the heart beat of Buddhism and yet so saddened by the annihilation”

Alisa Gwyn, Sydney Australia

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View of Lhasa from the Potala Palace

Why Tibet? Isn’t it dangerous? It’s not the real Tibet anymore. These thoughts did play a part in my decision to visit, but not in the way they were intended. I wanted to visit Tibet to see what is really going on there, I wanted to see the Tibet as it is today, with all its beauty, destruction and sadness however what I got, was much more than that.

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Walking The Jokhang

I was on an organised tour with Intrepid Travel, we met our crew in Kathmandu, Nepal the day before we would enter Tibet. We had our own reasons, however one rang true, we want to see it for ourselves.

We hadn’t been in Tibet for long, before we started to see the effects of the occupation. On our visit to the Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace we were quickly aware that we were being watched.

“We were even aware of one of the cameras following us around the room”.

Samantha Stocks an editor from Somerset England said.

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Intrepid Travellers in traditional Dress

Samantha, her husband Elliot and fellow Intrepid traveller Lauren had just been persuaded to wear traditional dress, by two Tibetan ladies who were hiring the clothes for tourist to try on.

“They were very charismatic ladies! Friendly and smiling. I enjoyed the interaction with the women who helped us to dress in the garments, and I hoped that the money we gave them would stay directly in their hands and not find its way into the Chinese government’s”. Samantha Stocks.

As we walked around the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, I noticed Alisa sitting with a monk.

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The Jokhang and the Tattoo

“I have a line out of the Tibetan script tattooed on my forearm. He sore my arm, reached for a pen in his bag and finished off the rest of that particular chapter in the Tibetan script”

What does your Tattoo say?

“Boundless compassion, Love and kindness”

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Intrepid Travellers walking the Kora

It is this love and compassion that the Tibetan people have, even with all the destruction and oppression they have suffered that has changed the way that I see everything. When I asked my tour if they would suggest Tibet to their friends, the answer, did not surprise me,

“I would, and I wonder whether the only thing that will really keep the Tibetan culture alive in Tibet in any form is tourism. But I would like to see more literature on responsible tourism in Tibet, so that tourists can ensure that their money goes into the hands of Tibetans for the most part” Samantha Stocks

“Yes YES ANDDDDDDD ABSOLUTELY! Before it’s completely nothing more than a country encased by a false pretence” Alisa Gwyn.

Leader Antarctica. Jenny Wressel: World Nomads

“That first step out of the plane, the thing that struck me was just the absolute freezing cold…”

Jenny Wressel, Station Leader at Mawson Station Antarctica 2016

“I wasn’t prepared for the rush of -20C air straight up my nose and into my goggles and everything freezing”

Living and working in Antarctica offers some unique challenges. Jenny Wressel explains what it is like to live and work in the most isolated environment in the world.

It was a real honour to make this film about a friend, and someone who is such an inspiration to me. Entering a film in the World Nomads Scholarship competition, taught me so much about film making. This is my first entrance in the World Nomads Film Scholarship competition, and it certainly will not be my last. I look forward to making many more films in this style.

Thank you Jen for being a great interviewee and an inspirational subject.

Thank you for watching, you can follow TatteredPassport on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and BEME, or simply by clicking on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your screen. If you have enjoyed this film please LIKE and SHARE.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Part Of Me. Inspirational Travel Film

“Why Do I Travel? How can I not? It is a part of me”

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It is a Part Of Me

To me, travel is a way of life, it is a part of me, it is in everything I do, see and feel. Travelling is not about ticking items off a bucket list, or racking up stamps in your passport, it is about learning, understanding and maybe just maybe growing as a human being.

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Do what excites you

I have been inspired by the people I have met all over the world. Every person you meet has their own story, their own journey and their own lessons to teach, lessons you can not find in any classroom.

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Walk into the Unknown

I want to inspire you, motivate you to follow your dreams, create your own path, to

“define your own success”,

I want you to be true to your being and

“Live, I mean really live,
See, with your own eyes,
Love, with your own heart.”

Our world is an incredibly beautiful and fragile place that needs our love and compassion.

“To Travel, is to begin the puzzle”

All quotes are my own from,

“My Story,
My Journey,
My Lessons.

Thank you for visiting TatteredPassort, if you have been inspired by this Short Film, please hit the FOLLOW button. You can also follow TatteredPassport on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and BEME.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

The Emperors of Auster: Antarctica

Story and Photographs by Shane Ness

Perhaps the toughest creature on the planet and the only animal to breed during the Antarctic Winter, The Emperor Penguin is truly living on the edge.

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Emperor penguins keeping warm

I am off to visit Auster Rookery, which was discovered in August 1957 and named after an ANARE, Auster aircraft. Auster Rookery lies around 50km from the Australian, Mawson Station and it will take us over 2 hours, through a maze of giant ice bergs in our Hagglunds, over snow vehicle. On the way we see some weddel seals and a beautiful sunrise.

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Hagglunds and Antarctic Sunrise

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Weddel Seals and Hagglunds

We camp the night at Macey Island, in the Macey Hut “Rodgers Lodge” no idea who Rodger is? After setting up the hut and a coffee to warm up, we jump back in the Hagg and continue our journey a further 10 km to the rookery.

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Macey Hut and a Hagglunds

In the distance I see the colony, the distinctive black line amongst the white sea ice and blue ice bergs. Emperor Penguins huddle together to stay warm throughout the toughest of antarctic winters. They battle the “Katabatic Winds” which blow off the plateau and blizzards that reach 200km/h.

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The thin black line

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I wonder what is going on over there?

It was one of those, I had to pinch myself moments, sitting there on the sea ice, in amongst giant ice bergs, with this penguin just chilling watching us. I think he was as interested in us, as we were of him.

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So whats going on?

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Everyday i’m shuffling

In the huddle we could here the very faint chirp of emperor penguin chicks, we never saw one, they would be very protected from the cold by their fathers. This would mean that soon the females would return, and almost as soon as we thought that, in the distance we spotted two penguins making the journey back through the bergs. As they approached the huddle, all the penguins started squawking, you could feel the excitement in the males, then the females quickly disappeared into the huddle and vanished.

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The Return of the Mothers

The harshness of the Antarctic winter and the incredible toughness of these birds amazes me. They survive in this extreme environment with no food for up to 120 days. During this time the males will lose about 40%, of their body weight, around 12kgs.

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So what are you guys up to?

On the walk back to the Hagg I spot an egg, sitting there on the ice, frozen. I stark reminder of how tough it really is out here in the middle of the winter.

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Frozen Egg

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The sun sets and the moon rises

Thank you for visiting Tatteredpassport, if you have enjoyed this post please like and share. You can follow simply by clicking on the FOLLOW button, or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and BEME.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane,

ANTARCTICA: Swimming in -1.8C Water

This week we celebrate Mid Winters Day,the Mid Winters Solstice,with a unique Antarctic Tradition.The Mid Winter Swim, something that I have been looking forward to for ages.I don’t know why, it was sobloody cold, it hurt. The temps on Mid Winters day were -29.3C and the water was a freezing -1.8C, I must be crazy to swim in this. 

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Chainsawing the Sea Ice

Why are the Mid Winter Celebrations so important to expeditioners? Well it is a milestone for us. Here at Mawson the sun set on the 19th of June and we wont see it again for 10 days. It is now that we are in the middle of the darkest, coldest part of our stay in Antarctica. It’s around this time that you really miss home, you miss your loved ones, you miss the beach sand and you miss your dog, well I know I do. This is when your Antarctic family come together for  the best dinner and festivities of the year. We still have a long way to go before we return to the warmth of home, but for now, this is home and this is our family and now I realise that, so we celebrate. 

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Preparing the pool

One thing we do for a bit of a laugh is send out invitations to our celebrations. It’s all a bit of fun as we are well aware how isolated we are right now, there is no way in, or out. This year I sent a few invites out to some of my favourite YouTubers and to my suprise, got a few great replies from Nicole Eddy and Louis Cole.

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Getting ready for the swim

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Yep its as cold as i thought

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Shane’s Polar Plunge

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Yep it was freezing

Thank you so much for visiting TatteredPassport. If you have enjoyed this post please share with you friends. If you have any questions about this video or anything about life down here in Antarctica, please ask in the comments and i’ll see if I can do a video on it.

You can follow Tatteredpassport by simply clicking on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your screen, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and BEME.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

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.

Thank you for visiting TatteredPassport, please Like and Share this post with your friends. You can follow TatteredPassport by simple clicking on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your screen or on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and BEME.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

ANTARCTICA: Aurora Australis Timelapse 2016

It is late and I am walking back from the Power House, there is a slight Aurora happening so I grab my camera, what happened next was out of this world.

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The Aurora starting to take form

Its the 1st of May 2016 at 830pm, I am walking back from the Mawson Power house, I slight Aurora is appearing in the night sky, nothing special, but its there. So I thought this might be a good chance to practice my Aurora Timelapse. I have never taken a timelapse of an Aurora before, or used my new timer remote, but tonight is the night.

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Aurora over Mawson

Its a little windy tonight so i set the camera up in the shelter of the “Red Shed” (living quarters) and face towards the ANARESAT, that big golf ball looking thing. To my suprise, this is when the sky decides to go crazy and show me one of the most epic Aurora’s I have ever seen.

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Aurora over Mawson Station

I was hoping for a return of the great Aurora the next night, and was not disappointed, infact, the next night was even more incredible.

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Aurora over Wombat

Thank you for visiting Tattered Passport. You can follow the adventure by simply clicking on the follow button at the bottom of your screen or on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and Beme.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Shipwrecked in Antarctica

Outside my window, the wind is pumping 130kmp/h, then I hear the loud scream of the SAR Alarm. I grab my survival bag and head to the mess, the primary muster point. That is where I am informed that the Aurora Australis, Australia’s Ice-Breaker has broken its moorings and run aground in Horseshoe Harbour. This is going to be a long day.

The local time is 9:15am (3:15pm AEDT) on Wednesday the 24th February 2016. Mother nature is showing us how much power an Antarctic blizzard has, sustained winds of 130kmp/h and zero visibility. You can hear the wind hitting the “Red Shed” (Living Quarters) the windows, they are pure white, you can’t see a thing out there. We all gather and our Station Leader Jen Wressel informs us that the “AA” has broken its moorings and run aground on West Arm. “The ship remains watertight, with no damage to the hull of the vessel”

The Aurora Australis departed Hobart on the 11th of January 2016 carrying 66 expeditioners and has been conducting marine science around the Kerguelen Plateau Region in the Southern Indian Ocean before arriving at Mawson Research Station on the 20th of February 2016 to conduct the Mawson Re-Supply.

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Aurora Australis on the Rocks

After the briefing the Field Training Officer who is also the Emergency Response Team Leader calls the ERT which I am a part of, to meet up stairs. We gather and discuss the options. We know that we can’t go out there now it is too dangerous, we also know that the crew on board are safe and that the ship remains water tight. So we gather all our ERT equipment and return in an hour. This goes on for a while, the weather is atrocious, and stays this way for 2 days.

The next day I managed to get the first image of the ship. It really looked battered, there were huge pieces of ice, frozen on the bright red iron, you could only just make out the tiny AA 2, the Aurora Australis’s little tug boat moored to the side of ship. It was strange to see the ship there. We new where it was, but the last time I had seen it, it was moored in the middle of the harbour.

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Aurora Australis Icebreaker

Blizzard conditions remained for 2 days, the crew on station were doing well, our concerns lay with those on the ship. We have been working hard and by this time we had laid plans for the crew aboard the AA to transfer to Mawson, when the weather conditions allowed. We have now been informed that there is a breach in the hull. It is only minor and in a section of the hull that normally holds ballast water. “This breach has occurred in an area of the ship that poses no risk to the stability of the vessel or of fuel leaking into the environment”.

The following day the weather lifted and we initiated our plans to transfer all expeditions from the AA to set foot on Antarctica. This was a real relief for the current team at Mawson and I am certain for the crew that have been aboard the AA since it left Hobart 7 weeks ago. We welcomed the AA crew to Mawson and escorted the new Mawson-ites up from the wharf to the warmth of the Red Shed.

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Aurora Australis Mawson

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Aurora Australis A ground at Mawson

On the 27th of February the ships crew managed to re-float the AA at 7:20pm AEDT (1;20pm Mawson time) using the ships ballast and work boats. The crew aboard the AA conducted a full assessment of the ships damage, whilst the AA stayed with in the vicinity of Mawson Station. This took 4 days to complete and on the 2 March the AA sailed, on its way to Fremantle in Western Australia.

The marine science expeditioners aboard the AA and the previous wintering crew remained at Mawson until the 2nd of March. They were transferred to Casey Station via the Japanese Ice-Breaker The Shirase, and onward to Hobart Australia on the 14th of March via a C-17A Globemaster III, operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The Shirase is operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (Japanese Navy) for the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE)

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The AA Shipwrecked

It was an incredible experience, super challenging for everyone involved on so many levels. Mawson is designed to house 40 Expeditioners, during the grounding there were 80 people on station. This stressed the very small water producing capabilities meaning the entire station was on strict water restrictions. One, three minute shower every three days. The waste water treatment plant was well over capacity, however “Team Plumb” did an incredible job at keeping everything working well. There are only 42 rooms on station, which meant many people needed to share the very small rooms, some slept in the library and some in the “Dog Room”. There were many little things that popped up as well, we didn’t have enough chairs in the Mess for everyone to sit down for dinner, we needed to get more coffee mugs, plates, cutlery and glasses from “The Green Store” and the very small dish washer, well that was pretty much going all the time. Even with all this extra stress on the station, everyone got along great. It was great to have the scientist on station. In my field I tend to talk to other tradies, Electricians, Plumbers, Mechanics and Carpenters, so having someone from a field so far away from what I do was super interesting. I spent a lot of the time asking questions about their research and about their time at sea. I also found a new light on my trade. I don’t tend to see what I do interesting, the things that I do everyday for work are just work, however these were interesting to them. It was a mutual cross skilled interest in someone else’s life, something I really valued and something you just don’t get anywhere else other than here in Antarctica.

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Mawson and The AA

After this huge start to our season, the Mawson Wintering crew, the 69th ANARE had settled into station life and had built a community we are all proud to be a part of. This does happen usually but the challenging start, I felt helped it along. I look forward to what this season brings and I invite you to join me on this adventure. It will be a long year down here, there will be ups and downs, there will be incredible challenges and lifetime friendships. This is going to be one adventure I will never forget.

Thank you for stopping by Tatteredpassport, if you have liked this post, please SHARE with your family and friends. You can FOLLOW Tatteredpassport on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and BEME, or simply by clicking on the FOLLOW BUTTON at the bottom of your page.

One Life, One Search,
Peace Out,
Shane.

ANTARCTICA: Vlog# 1, Frozen World

G’Day, For those of you who are new here, Welcome. My name is Shane, I am an Electrician and I will be spending and entire year working in Antarctica. That does sound crazy and I guess it kind of is, but this challenge is life changing.

I have been asked a number of times now, what is it that I do in Antarctica? So I thought a great way to actually show you all is to vlog it. So this is the first episode of ANTARCTICA: Vlogs by Tatteredpassport.

As you know I am an Electrician here at Mawson Station Antarctica. Mawson is located in Australia’s Antarctic Territory in Eastern Antarctica at (67, 36S, 62, 52E). Over winter there are only 14 people on station, two electricians, two plumbers, two mechanics, one carpenter, one BOM observer, one BOM Technician, one Field Training Officer, One Doctor, One Comms Operator, One Chef, and one Station Leader. We are some of the most isolated people on the planet right now. This itself brings some very unique challenges you would not experience working any where else. Which over the course of the year, I hope to show you.

This vlog is pretty much my usual day on station. I was on call as Electrician meaning I attend any alarms that come through the paging system, I was also on Power House Observations, which has me check the power house at 0800 and 2000, (8am- 8pm). I am also the Hydroponics Master and was on Hydro Obs this week, so you get to see our hydroponics room, where we are growing some fresh vegetables

I hope you enjoy the vlog and a little bit of a tour and insight of life in Antarctica. If you have any questions please ask, I hope to do an Antarctica Q&A soon.

Thank you for stopping by Tatteredpassport, if you have enjoyed this post please share, you can also follow by simply clicking on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your screen. You can also find Tatteredpassport on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and BEME.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.