“In limbo on the Icy Planet”

I have some very funny footage of my experiment with going outside in winds of over 55knots. Some of the fellows videoed me from upstairs as I attempted to move from the doorway down the steps – at the end Muzza came to the recuse like superman and I got a few meters before giving up while he went sailing off making it look all too easy. That was Wednesday – today is Friday, and although we were meant to be able to start helicopter flights back to the ship this morning, it looks now as though that won’t be until tomorrow or Sunday. The helicopter pilots need good horizon visibility as well as calmer winds. So I have all my equipment packed and am in limbo – “Hurry up and Wait” is one the Antarctic mottos.

Looking towards West Arm (that’s ice not water)
Luckily yesterday afternoon there was a slight lull in the winds, and a group of us walked out onto the West Arm of Horseshoe Bay, reached by walking over icy snow around the beach area to arrive at the smooth brown rocks of the arm. I think I was able to get some good recordings of wind through the baby harp strings in a sheltered and dramatic spot overlooking the icy sea and glacial cliffs of the other side of the arm, and continued recording and messing about until the weather changed – a light snow fall turning quickly to higher winds, and I struggled back with harp on my back over the ever increasing iciness. Walking in the high wind is a strenuous and exhausting experience, and I soon get very hot and puffed inside my warm down jacket. But rather fun too!
Theo has given us tours of his spectrometer lab – measuring air glow and aurora at high altitudes, and the cosmic ray lab – measuring rays from the air and from a cavern about 30 metres down in the bedrock. This is fascinating and mind-boggling (for the lay person) science at the edge of the human mind’s understanding – a creative venture which I am inspired to consider introducing into my Antarctic program in some way – finding expression for this science that goes beyond the visible world of the nature around us, just as music does. The invisible world is also what I feel most strongly about the Antarctic continent – the powerful rocky presence which extrudes, devoid of vegetation, is somehow more unexpectedly fascinating to me than the icy and changing cladding. I seem to tire very quickly here, and with the continual wind and being able to see only ice and rock with no other forms or life, it feels as strange as if we were on Neptune. A bare bones kind of experience.”


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