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.


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”

Tatteredpassport, Aurora Australis

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”


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”


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.


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,


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

TatteredPassport, Tibet,

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.


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.

TatteredPassport, Tibet,

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.


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”


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,


Part Of Me. Inspirational Travel Film

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


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.


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.


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,


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.


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.


Hagglunds and Antarctic Sunrise


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.


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.


The thin black line


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.


So whats going on?


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.


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.


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.


Frozen Egg


The sun sets and the moon rises

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,


ANTARCTICA: Bubbles Freeze in Mid Air

“Whats an everyday thing you could you get up to besides your job?”
TomPTV asked.


Ask a Question like TomPTV did

Most of my spare time down here at Mawson Station, is spent outside with my camera. Well that is when it is possible to get out side, between the epic Blizzards and sub -30C temps. On station we have heaps of activities to keep us occupied, like our climbing wall, dart board, pool table, table tennis, a cinema, well it is a very small cinema, a gym, a spa and even a sauna. Around station we are able to walk across to West Arm, which is a short walk and gives a pretty cool view over the station.

This day was a perfect day to be outside, a chilly -25C but no wind, which gave us the opportunity to try something that we have heard about, Freezing Bubbles. We made up some bubble solution in boiling water and quickly ran outside. As the bubbles were floating away you could actually see the ice form, it was pretty cool to watch.

If you have any questions about this post or anything about my time down here, please ask like TomPTV did and i’ll see if I can do a video on it.

Thank you for stopping by TatteredPassport. You can follow TatteredPassport on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat and Beme. Or by simply clicking on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your screen.

One Life, One Search,
Peace Out.

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. 


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. 


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.


Getting ready for the swim


Yep its as cold as i thought


Shane’s Polar Plunge


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,


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,


Quad Biking On Sea Ice: Antarctica

Even in the most remote, isolated and extreme place on earth, there is still space to have some fun.

Living and working in Antarctica brings some unique challenges you just do not get working in capital cities or even in remote mine sites. The isolation here means we can not get parts delivered until summer, the extreme temperatures can freeze anything, and the wind has been known to even blow away the anemometer, the device that gives us the wind speed reading.

So you can imagine we are kept busy by these conditions. However you know the old proverb “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” So what do we do for fun?

Tattered Passport

Curtis Bureaux asked a question

On station we have plenty of things to occupy our free time. In the bar area we have a dart board, pool table, table tennis and a soccer table. We also have a Gym and a climbing wall. However this week the Sea Ice in the recreation area has been opened allowing us to travel on the sea ice. We went out with the FTO (Field Training Officer) to conduct our Sea Ice Travel Training, we learnt how to measure the sea ice thickness, how to read the maps and where we are allowed to go.

Thank you for visiting TatteredPassport, I hope you have enjoyed this video. Please  Share with you friends and FOLLOW by simply clicking on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your  screen. You can also find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, BEME and Snapchat.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,


My Bedroom in Antarctica

Do you live in an Igloo?

Would you believe thats a question I have actually been asked. I am certain is was intended as a joke, but it does raise a legitimate question about how we live down here. So I thought, I will do a series of short videos about our day to day life, to show what we do and how we live in the most isolated and extreme place on earth.

We live in a specially designed building which we call “The Red Shed”. The Red Shed is built on a system called AANBUS, Australian Antarctic Building System. The walls are almost 1 meter thick and are made up four pieces of freezer wall with an air gap in between. This is unique to the Australian Antarctic Program and is great at keeping us warm inside.

Tattered Passport

The Red Shed Mawsom

My room is number 21 and I am on the top floor over looking East Arm and one of the Wind Turbines. Our rooms are quite small, which is fine as I spend most of my spare time in the communal living areas, like the bar, pool room, dog room and around the Dart board. We have all the creature comforts in our rooms like phones, internet connection, power outlets, and a comfy single bed. You would have seen in the video that I have a Humidifier, this is because Antarctica even with all this ice around is the driest place on earth. The Humidity outside is around 20% and inside the building can drop to as low as 10% making it quite difficult to sleep at night time, so a simple way to bring a little bit of humidity into my room is to have a humidifier. This one is real nice as I can add a few drops of essential oils, which is a great way to have a few nice smells around. As there are no plants other than the our Hydroponics room, or any natural smells, our sense of smell is heightened and we can smell the slightest change in the way the wind blows, blowing the smell of the diesel generators or even when the doctor is roasting his coffee beans, everyone all over station can smell them.

As you can see my room looks just like your room back home, however I do I have a few things that are unique to Antarctica. The “Normal, Caution, Danger, Stop” sign you sore, is our Field Travel Conditions guidelines. This outlines when you are allowed to go outside. Normal is basically fine weather and all travel is ok, Caution is visibility is less than 100m, and wind is up to 40knots, you are only allowed around station limits, Danger, visibility is less than 30m, winds are above 60knots. This is a blizzard and you need permission to go outside for urgent requirements only and STOP, it’s really, really bad out and no one is allowed outside.

I also have a few signs like The Mawson Station Search Zones, Fire Hydrant locations and Building and Structures. I need this for my roles as Electrician, Fire Chief and Emergency Response Team member. As we are so isolated, if anything like a fire, or someone goes missing, you can’t call the authorities, we are it, so we are our own emergency response.

I also have a few little things from home. My little Loch Ness Monsters, I bought them in Scotland in 2012, when my wife and I were on a road trip around the UK. They travel with us everywhere. The pink one is Crazy Ness and the blue one is Cool Ness. They sat on the dash board of the Kombi on the road trip across Australia. I also have some Tibetan Prayer Flags that I bought when I was in Nepal in 2014. The prayer flags remind me of the incredible spiritual journey I had through Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet in 2014.

So that is a run down on my room. I hope you enjoyed the video and the little insight into what life is like down here. If you have any questions about Antarctica, about what I am doing here, or about life down here, please ask in the comments and I will see if I can do a video on it for you.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,