From late 2014 until early 2016 I spent 18 months living in Antarctica working as a Field Guide for the British Antarctic Survey, based at Rothera Research Station. It was an intense and incredible experience including 6 months over-wintering with a small team of 18. I saw amazing places, learnt new skills specific to the job and made a lot of new friends. In my second summer season, I was lucky enough to explore the South Eastern corner of the Antarctic Peninsula along the Lassiter Coast bordering the Weddell Sea.
During the 73 days of this project, BAS Geologist Dr Alex Burton-Johnson (pictured above on one of the many first ascents) and I explored an area containing great ranges of mountains which had never before been fully explored collecting data which I understand he is still in the process of analysing. It was an incredible few months and I still feel very fortunate to have had the privilege to take part in this project. Alongside the samples which Alex collected to further understand the process which this area of the peninsula had undergone during its creation, we also found fossils of ferns on one of the sedimentary rock sites we visited. An amazing thing to find in such an extreme landscape.
They say 'all good things come to an end'. After 73 days in one of the most remote places on earth with only one other person, and 18 months living in Antarctica, I was back in the UK after a week of travel and gearing up to do my MIC Training course at Glenmore Lodge. Fast forward through a lot of work and play across the UK and Alps since returning and again I am heading south to Antarctica. But this time it will be a little different!
April 2nd 2015: I, along with 18 others, having feasted as guests aboard the ship the previous night, waved good bye to BAS's Ernest Shackleton as it sailed north leaving us at Rothera to look after the base over the winter. It was an emotional moment; the excitement of winter as a small group, alone and in charge, the excitement of winter trips yet knowing that 'that's it until next year', no more visitors, no more fresh food, no more projects, no more...
This season, as I wait for my flight south to the Falklands, to meet the Ernest Shackleton again and spend a couple of months assisting sea ice projects from this vessel, I feel like things have come full circle. Time to meet, see, learn, explore and be amazed again.