Saturday 17 May 2014

Hotel Iceshelf

On the way. The wind is blowing.
Day after day after day of bad weather can get pretty boring. And despite all the exciting indoor activities Rothera has to offer (see Blog from April on Winter Tripping), some of us were itching to get out (well, some, not everyone). Somehow, on a Friday Night, after 1 or 2 Ciders I got convinced to come out on Saturday and dig a snow hole to sleep in - in my mind it sounded totally crazy and had buried disaster written all over it, but as the evening went on, it did sound better and better. When we got up on Saturday I was convinced that no one would be adventurous enough to leave station in +30knots wind. Oh boy, was I wrong … I am sure my disagreement with the whole operation was visible on my face as I was reminded that no one forced me to go - right, I knew that, but surely it would be fun once I had left the warmth and safety of station. And since I never had a chance to leave base on my winter trip I felt like I had to go and do something.
Digging the 3 doors.
As a group of 5 crazy people we left base just in time to miss lunch - food is overrated anyway … 3 crazy fools decided to skin to the location (approximately 2 hours and than another 2-3 hours of digging), one of who was even man-hauling (pulling on skis) his kit. Malcy and myself took advantage of the modern invention called a skidoo. Once we got to the caboose (about halfway between us and our destination), we stopped and reconsidered   - man it was windy and snowy, soon enough we would be cold and miserable. We nearly abandoned the plan but decided to have a look anyway. And sure enough, where we wanted to dig the snow hole it was fairly sheltered. So we went and picked up the group of adventurers, had a cup of tea in the caboose (we don’t want to lose our Britishness) and drove to Stork Bowl where we would dig our hole.
On the ledge after having
a toilet break.
It took us roughly 2 hours. We started off digging 3 doorways, connected those once we were in far enough and than dug a shelf for us to lie on. Funnily enough, the guys had far more headspace on their side, than the 3 girls had on theirs - no gentlemen here - everyone is digging their own grave ;) However, we somehow missed out the bathroom, so the ledge in front of the doors had to function as one. This turned out to be a rather interesting mission in the dark, with snow blowing and not too much space for the feet. I was half expecting to slip and slide down the slope with my pants down - but luckily nothing like that happened.
View from the main door.
We had a great evening with man-food, card games, some wine and port and marshmallows. It was far warmer than expected. We were all tucked into our sleeping bags by 11pm and slept until 9.30am Sunday morning. The main door (2 of which we blocked up the day before with snow blocks and one of which was blocked up with a sledge) was not too badly snowed. We made it back to base just in time for brunch - hungry and a still a little tired but happy. It was a great weekend and definitely one of the best experiences I have had here (despite my initial lack of motivation :D)!

(click on the pictures to enlarge; more pictures by Kenrick Turner:

Leaving the caboose after a warming tea.

Arrived at Stork Bowl. View from the top.
Blocked up door - nothing should get in (not monsters or so ...)
Happy diggers. Fed and watered, ready for a nice evening.
Tilly lamp lighting up the cave but not really warming it - wouldn't want the roof to melt! With the middle door in the background.

Panorama picture of Hotel Iceshelf (Picture: Kenrick Turner - our doctor)

Spoons or not just good for eating but also for creating hooks in snow walls for mugs and jackets!

Playing cards :) (Picture: Gail Ashton - Marine Biologist)
Bel cooking marshmallows - yummie (Picture: Gail Ashton)
Door all blocked up and prepared for a nights sleep - the trick is to find the balance between not getting too much snow in but also having enough ventilation.

All tucked into bed! Sleepy time. (Picture: Belinda Vause - Marine Biologist)

Gail desperate for the toilet in the morning. Luckily we were not snowed in too badly.
On the way back to base - brunch is calling. (Photo: Gail Ashton)