Wednesday, 4 February 2009
finally arrived at Utsteinen
Last friday, after 5 days of traveling, the party of scientists, station engineers, artists and myself finally arrived at Utsteinen.
Due to the bad weather, we were blocked two more days at Novolazarevskaya.
As, for flying, one depends a lot upon the weather, it is not unusual to be stuck for several days.
When we arrived, the weather at Utsteinen was grayish and cloudy with poor visibility. A big bravo for the pilots who decided to fly nevertheless.
In the end, everybody was very eager to arrive.
The first afternoon and evening at Utsteinen was dedicated to find out how the living at the base is organized.It is rather easy, mainly because the people who stay there or the ones who were there before, already arranged everything: the mess tent, the bath room, the toilets, the room for washing and drying clothes (these are often containers, not real rooms)...
Sleeping in tents is also far better than I thought: you have three or four layers of mattresses, or thermarests, a nice warm sleeping bag and if this is not enough, you also have warm clothes.
When going to bed, the temperature is around -10 degrees, but after staying in the tent for about ten minutes, it's already 10 degrees warmer. It gets cold during the night, but your body warmth is kept in the sleeping bag. During sunny days as we are enjoying now, in the morning the temperature in the tent is even between 10 to 20 C°.
This is time to get up... to warm to stay in a sleeping bag.
On Sunday and Monday we benefited from the perfect weather to put up the first of our scientific instruments: the automatic weather station. First we dug a cross of two times 7m, 80cm deep, 50cm wide. This was quite a heavy work, but the snow was not too hard and probably there is no more beautiful working place then this:in our back the station on the ridge, to our left flat snow as far one can see, in our front a mountain ridge covered with snow, and to the right the Utsteinen nunatak.
And all this against a perfect blue sky.
The automatic weather station is now ready to work. It gives a good feeling to have completed the first task.
To give in evidence that everything is well organized here, the cooks pleased all of us with duck and polenta in an olive/almond sauce,hmmm...
And if you want to give yourself another treat: washing away the sweat and suncream afterwards gives back all energy.
If the weather stays like this, the next autonomous station, a magnetometer, will also be installed quickly and with pleasure.
Until now I haven't experienced the extreme cold temperatures that are customary for Antarctica.
The real test for my equipment still has to come.
Have nice days,