Monday, April 23, 2007

Well, almost......

When Bridget asked if I wanted to come ski mountaineering in Morocco, I thought it was an elaborate wind-up. But, yes, there is snow in Morocco. In fact they even have a little lift served ski resort. And lots of mules to do some of the hard work for you.

Jbel Toubkal is the one in the middle/top of the pic above. We skied up the obvious wide coulour to the right of the summit then up the ridge to the top. After a wee rest to let the surface of the snow soften a little it was on the planks for a 1000+m descent back to the hut trying hard not to feel smug as we cruised past the walkers.

The summit (4167m). The sahara is the bit in the distance!

Hassan our main mule man.

Food was good but Nido seems to be haunting my every step.....

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Back to normality.....

Flying over King George VI sound in a BAS Twin Otter

Flying over Isle of Wight on EasyJet......

Eating what I want when I want is nice

Although "winter" conditions in the Northern Corries isn't so good

I would've gladly paid double to get away from the Falklands. No idea what happened to "S Stephenson" thou......

Monday, February 05, 2007

Back in civilisation??

Well, that's me back in civilisation, or at least as close as is available in the Falklands. To cut a long story short, last month we got on the HMS Endurance, sailed down Drake's Passage which was flat calm or at least that's what all the guys on the ship said. When we got down to the pininsula, we were flown by helo(copter) onto James Ross Island (JRI) where we stayed for a fortnight. Then we were uplifted, had a shower and did various day trips from the ship mostly by helo but we were also input by inflatable.

our campsite on JRI

our walk to work.......

our tents getting uplifted

Then we sailed around to Deception Island to help out a Norwegian cruise ship who had had some difficulties finding the way out and sailed north to the delights of Mare Harbour and Stanley. Via Drake's Passage which even some of the crew described as "lumpy". I don't think I've missed my calling in life by not becoming a sailor.
Now I'm waiting in the cradle of civilisation waiting for the weather to improve so the MOD can fly me back to proper civilisation. See you soon.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Dead dogs and pisco sour

After a false start due to the wrong kind of snow, we said our goodbyes again and escaped the pull of planet rothera. Tom and I spent yesterday wandering around Punta smelling things and looking at trees. Having said that, there was surprisingly little culture shock - it all seemed pretty normal pretty quickly. The pidgin spanish is coming along well - ordering beer, wine and pisco sours are all no problem now although things are a bit more pot luck when it comes to ordering dinner. In fact, probably the most difficult thing to adjust to after living in a place where we're all interdependant is being looked after in a hotel - we keep trying to tidy up after ourselves which confuses the staff at the hotel. That and the hours of the nightlife - we're looking for nightclubs when most people are still eating dinner.

Flying to Stanley tomorrow on a commercial flight which will be a bit of a change after the Dash7 - I'll have to remember not to go up to the cabin to chat to the pilots while we're in the air. And i'd better take the flares out of my hand luggage.

Then it's off to James Ross Island. This was taken from the campsite that last year's field party used.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I'm off!

Well that's it - I'm all packed, the dash7 is working and the weather seems to be improving. The plan is for me to head north tomorrow, up to Punta Arenas then get a commercial flight to Stanley and meet the HMS Endurance there for a month of flying about in helicopters then home for tea and medals. I've been walking around with my wallet in my pocket to get used to the weight. Although being surrounded by people that i don't know might take a bit more getting used to.... Tomorrow there will be two very startled looking guys sitting in a chilean bar!

Going deeper.....

RABID is at about 79 south. The mountains in the background are the ellsworths with is where mt vinson and the like are. It's not a bad view for a petrol station.

This is about the point where my boss realised that the person that was as far south as anyone in BAS was the same person who had to be on a plane to Punta Arenas in a week. Nico and i flew to sky blu where the dash7 was waiting for me to take me back to Rothera for christmas dinner.

Fossil Bluff

Summer is a bit swings and roundabouts. On the one hand, we get post and fresh food. I didn't realise how good bananas tasted. On the downside we have to do some serious work. One of the first jobs is to open up the Fossil Bluff and Sky Blu depots. 'the bluff' is the closest, most relaxed and in early season has really good skiing so i was pretty happy to get out there. Having said that the sun is pretty strong even early season so we were having to be out the door before 6am to get decent snow. Then the rest of the day is spent refueling planes and doing weather observations.