Archive for December, 2010


A glorious day

December 21, 2010   

Yesterday we weren’t able to pick up Pat and Sarah (government officer and postmistress) from Sorling which is on the Barff Peninsula. The conditions looked fine when we set out from KEP however, when we got to the far reaches of East Cumberland bay the swell and wind meant it wasn’t safe to do a beach landing. So they got another night of holidays and we returned to base with our tails between our legs! This morning the forecast was for miserable weather well it couldn’t have been more wrong so we set out at 8:30am and picked them up off the beach. Seeing as it was such a beautiful day we felt it was necessary to have a detour along the face of the Nordenskul glacier. The small amount of brash ice was good for training Alastair and Tommy about driving through it.

We returned to base and set about doing some maintenance on the RIB trailers and before long it was time for doc school (about fluids) followed by christmas drinks at Pat and Sarahs (south georgia gin and tonics), dinner (chinese) and more christmas decorations which went up in the bar. There are so many trees in the cupboard here that we decided to have a ‘forest’ instead of just one tree.

3320 – a long climb!

December 20, 2010   

On Sunday a group of us Rob (BC), Alastair (beaker), Hugh (handyman), Jon (beaker), Theis (resident yachtie) and myself climbed 3320. The peak is unnamed so it is distiguished on the map from others by its height in feet. You can see the peak in the picture it is the furthest one on the right above our heads.

It is at the far extent of our travel area so we walked a total of 20.4km which is very hard going on the scree slopes. The walk from base takes you along the track – the furries were acting oddly and wanted to attack us as we walked by. Exit Grytviken on the track up to Gull Lake than alongside the lake on the springy mossy ground and up the stream bed past the little lake at the west base of Brown Mountain. From there across the top end of junction valley and onto the scree slopes. Past the Echo pass turn off and up more scree slopes with a large waterfall. At the top of this little hill is Glacier Col which has the remanents of a large glacier which is melting fast into a large torrent of glacier melt water rushing down a waterfall that has spread out across a wide area.

Walking over the glacier morraines is much nicer than the large scree as is walking over some of the snow patches. At this point you reach the top of the Col at 486m and descend into a valley with the top of Lyell Glacier on your right side and Lyell lake.

View of the peak from the top of Glacier Col.

The traversing of the lower slopes of the 3320 mountain was a killer on the knees and seemed to go on forever, as to get to the top requires approaching from the south side of the moutain. From then on it is some serious scrambling on rotten rock requiring use of hand holds to pull yourself up the moutain all 800m of it!

The last part to the summit requires climbing very carefully up a small crack see below picture.

At this point our party split into two as one person didn’t feel comfortable about getting up the last 5 meters so we left three to exit the summit down another gully while we turned around and went down the one we had come up. The below is a panaroma half way down the moutain (by Alastair).

The ”expedition’ took 10.5 hours with a few short breaks and we climbed about 1700m or 5577feet. It was very windy at times so we did get buffeted around and unless down jackets were donned it got chilly during the stops. The majority of the time was taken on the descent as the ground was steep and the rock very rotten so we needed to go slowly and pick our way. At some points we were on our butts. I lost the bottoms out of yet another set of trousers – so have a bit of sewing to do.

We got back to Grytviken and were invited onto Wanderer III the local yacht for cake and tea and this became pasta which was exactly what the Dr. ordered. We didn’t get back to station until 10pm when we fell into our beds. Not a bad Sunday.


December 19, 2010   

Being a bit lazy with the post today! However, we don’t have many beautiful sunsets at the moment so thought I would post this one that we had last weekend. The mountain is Brown Mountain which is part of the half marathon course. The half marathon is planned for February so the training will soon start!

Have a great weekend.

Christmas Decorating at the church

December 18, 2010   

This afternoon we went over to one of the most southern church in the world and put up the christmas decorations. The museum folks made mulled wine, mince pies, sausage rolls, brownies and blackberry pies to entice us over. The building was pre built in Norway and erected by whalers in 1913 managed by Carl Larsen (there is a bust of him in the church). It is a Norwegian Lutheran Church of the Church of Norway. It was consecrated on christmas day 1913 and in 1922, a funeral service for Sir Ernest Shackleton was conducted here before his burial in the church cemetery the other side of King Edward Cove.

Alastair did a grand job of sweeping up the inevitable bits of tinsel at the end.

Alastair put his camera up in the gallery and made a time lapse movie which I shall post up on the site when it is fully put together.

This is a picture of Hugh the museum caretaker who had all the decorations ready for us to put up. He is a star the other day he noticed I had a flat tire on my bike and before I had a chance to fix it after work he had done it as well as oiling the chain.

A practical fake tree – I do miss the smell of a real one though!

Before going across to the church I introduced the base to a Perrin family tradition of making a gingerbread house. There was quite a bit of enjoyment and people on a sugar high.

Tommy and Alastair weren’t around to make it so we left a wall for them to decorate. They put a whale on the wall out of smarties, had a pig (meant to be a cat) and some flowers in a pot.

Scrub out and a friday evening walk

December 17, 2010   

Scrub out is on Friday afternoon and it is when the whole base is fully cleaned. We get different tasks each week – last week I did the bins and this week the kitchen. The bins involves using the telehandler to carry all the dustbins to the end of station where the waste room is.

In the waste room there is a bailer for the cardboard, plastic etc. and a chipper for the glass.

The glass looks like this when it comes out

The cardboard is put in large bags and when they are full they are put in a container for storage until last call (in March/April). The garbage when it is thrown out is washed as it would really smell in the container if we didn’t 🙂

Anyways after the garbage bin excitement Tommy and I went for a great walk up a waterfall.

It was a stunning walk – with the recent snow/rain and with it being so very warm (tshirt weather) the waterfall was in full flow. We walked in the water climbing up onto the plateau above base. At some points the river gets very narrow and there are also lots of pools which would be great to swim in. We found a few places to bivvy but tonight it is meant to rain/snow so we decided not tonight. Tomorrow is christmas decoration time at the church.

Furry pup

December 16, 2010   

Furry pups are popping out all over the place at the moment. Females give birth to a single pup between mid-November and late December. I witnessed a female giving birth on one of my evening walks just off the track to Grytviken last week. This picture is of a pup which is a few days old they come out dark brown, nearly black in color. 1 in 1000 are blond.

The pups are weaned after about four months. This pup was on its own as its mother has gone out to sea to forage for primarily krill. In between these foraging trips, they are ashore for one to several days to nurse their pups. Survival of suckling pups is low in years when krill abundance near a colony is insufficient to allow lactating females to forage effectively. This occurred in South Georgia two years ago when the currents meant that krill was in very low densities around the island.

The diving ability of pups substantially improves during the first few months of life, and by about four months old their diving patterns are similar to those of adult females. The deepest recorded dive of an adult was 590 feet deep and they can hold their breaths for up to 10 minutes.

Elephant Seals

December 14, 2010   

Since we got here the beaches have been heaving with elephant seals (the name a result of its size and large proboscis of the males) but they are starting to disperse. The pups have ballooned into weeners (spelling?) which with their large eyes are very cute despite their farting! The large bulls make roaring sounds especially when they are in the middle of a fight also when they most resemble sumo wrestlers!

For more on the elephant seals click here.

Sunday baking

December 13, 2010   

Sunday was again a morning for some baking so back by popular demand I made english muffins. Also some ginger chocolate cookies which got devoured quickly – due to the large amounts of chocolate.

Last week Rob (the BC) took a lot of time and made pain au chocolate which was incredibly tasty. It did mean I had to walk an extra hour that evening to walk it all off!

Seven Summits Challenge

December 12, 2010   

Hodges above the church at Grytviken – the route up is right up the scree slope.

Duse the last one rises above Base picture taken from Brown mountain

Directly above my head is a snow field coming down from Narval which is what we bum slid down! The peak in the far right of the picture is the second Petrel.

1700m or so of height climb, seven summits and 8 hours later we completed the seven summits challenge on saturday. Out of the 6 people who did it 3 have been at KEP for 2 years and are leaving on Monday.

This is a picture of us on the summit of the last mountain Mt Duse. In the picture are myself, Rob (the new BC), Thies (who lives on the yacht Wanderer III), Jon (the predator scientist – outgoing), Richy (the outgoing electrician) and Luke (outgoing fisheries scientist).

The route was a total of 14km involving some scrambling, ridge walking, bum sliding (down a few snowy patches), post hole digging through some small snow banks and being pushed over by 35 knot gusts. We started with Orca (277m), Hodges (605m) Petrels (two peaks one 632m the other 620m), Narval (about 650m), Brown (332m) and last Duse (507m).

Stretcher altering

December 11, 2010   

Last week I spent a lot of time designing a SAR unit to allow us to pick up an injured patient by boat and get them back to base in a stretcher inside the cab of the jet boat. Sounds like an easy thing but actually as with anything to do with boats it is not. We started by taking apart a stretcher (see above) which had runners on it allowing it to be used on snow. Tommy then cut it apart and rewelded it together into a back board (allowing us to immobilise a patient with a potential c-spine injury) that fits through the jet boat door and also fits into the pulk that is used for transport on scree, snow and on the RIB from the beach.

Below is Tommy with the finished product – I added 8 handles which I sewed on made of ABS plumbing pipe and climbing webbing to allow the backboard to be easily picked up.