Saturday, 3 December 2016

Still Day Four: Sunday 4 December

Castle Rock

Today Richie, one of the field safety guys, offered to take a group of us out to Castle Rock - a half hour drive in a Hagglund, then a scramble up the side of a big rock. Does that sound easy? Well, it wasn't!

I've left out the whole bit about getting ready - although I'm much better at that now. I know where to collect a day pack and snacks from, what sort of clothes I might need, and what else to put in my pack, and I remembered to sign out without having to traipse all the way back and do that, and I gave myself enough time so I didn't get completely hot and bothered pulling on all the jackets and boots, and I don't feel quite so overwhelmed when stepping outside into the cold.

I've also left out the bit about slipping over on the ice, and figuring out how to use the cows tails (I think that was what Richie called them? like carabiners) to haul myself up the rock face, and  not getting freaked out by Richie's descriptions of what would happen if you got too close to the edge.

But once at the top, it was pretty amazing, with views from Mt Erebus smoking away to the peninsulas of Cape Royds and Cape Evans (both sites of historic huts) sitting behind Razorback Island, and glaciers spilling into the sea ice, and away across the other side, the mountains and glaciers of the Dry Valleys, and bits of McMurdo and Scott Base down below, just visible behind Hut Point. We stood up on top for a while and then ducked down into a less windy spot and had a cup of tea and biscuits while still admiring the view.

I've also left out the bit about scrambling down again, which was just as challenging as climbing up,.

A few of our group set off to walk back, but I felt like I'd had enough adventure for the day by then, and anyway we had another science team lined up to talk to - a group of four guys from Wellington who've been working on rare atoms and cosmic rays, which sounded pretty enticing.

Scott Base is a long way from anywhere, but there's a lot to do, both indoors and out. People have been on walks for their day off, watched movies, visited McMurdo, or joined in supporting the NZ teams in the man hauling competition, with teams of four pulling one other team member on a sled from McMurdo to Scott Base. (Sadly the Americans won this time... )

After dinner, the science team we'd talked to gave a general talk about their work in the bar, but Guy and I missed it because we were on dishwashing rota in the kitchen, which involved a whole pile of dirty pots and pans (but it was a very delicious dinner) as well as sweeping and mopping the floor. Dessert was provided by My Crew Rules! (Part of an ongoing competition between the different groups at base) and their entertainment also included a "surprise mystery speaker" who turned out to be Richie, talking about leading a group on a 75-day climbing expedition up Everest back in May. Castle Rock is tiny in comparison, but it was big enough for me!


  1. Loving the blog. You are making it so full of day-to-day info and amazing activities.