Monday, 9 February 2015

Winterer’s Training

A couple of weeks ago we, the 2015 winterer’s, had a weekend away from 
base to undergo some training to prepare us for our “winter trips”. Once 
the ship has left with all of the summer folk there is the opportunity 
for us to go out in groups of three (two people and the GA) to explore a 
little over a number of days. This means…Antarctic camping. So the 
training weekend was to give us a taster of how this is done and give us 
practice in practical exercises such as using the Primus stoves and the 
Tilly lamps. We also covered some rope training, crevasse rescue and 
linked skidoo travel training.

We set off to Creek 3 on Friday afternoon and after a brief chat we set 
up our tents. Natalie and I were tenting together – a good thing in case 
we suffer separation anxiety from spending more than a couple of hours 
away from each other! It was a lovely evening, which made it 

Nathalie digging snow blocks/defensive trench (!).

Once the tents were up we were free to cook some dinner, melt water and 
chill out for the rest of the evening. The whole BAS tenting system is 
super comfortable. I will post more on that when we actually go on our 
trips, but it is toasty and cosy in those things, especially at this 
time of year when it is not yet cold (!).

The next day we grabbed a partner and were split in to two groups. Our 
group went with Nick (a GA visiting from Rothera to give us a hand with 
training at the moment) and started with some rope work and general 
crampon/ice axe training. What a day for it!

Creek 3 is where the ship was able to moor this year for “relief”. Just 
weeks ago there were some big vehicles driving back and forth on the sea 
ice off loading all the cargo. You could still see the tracks … heading 
straight to the water now as a lot of the ice has broken up since.

We finished the morning with some abseiling and belaying each other on 
safety ropes.

After some lunch we then headed to the other side of camp to do some 
“fall arrest” and crevasse rescue training. This is for if the partner 
you are roped together with falls into a crevasse – you can stop them 
going further, build an anchor, take the strain off the rope and rig up 
a pulley system with which to haul them out of the crevasse, should they 
not be able to climb out themselves. We had covered this on our field 
course so it was great to be able to put this in to context and to brush 
up on what we had learned (and nearly forgotten) a while ago now!

We took it in turns being the “casualty” at the end of the rope and 
conducted the exercise on a small slope rather than anything more 
severe. Steve wins the prize for most dedicated casualty – giving his 
partner absolutely no assistance as he was being halled up the slope as 
total dead weight, and for a part of it at least, face first.

We also got to have a little walk to admire the view…

Day 2 saw the weather turn a little – the wind picked up a little and it 
was pretty overcast. Some of us were woken in camp by a little visitor…

We then packed up camp and took a little while to sort stuff out and 
decide on what the group wanted to do next. Most of the group wanted to 
head back to base, but three of us stayed behind with Nick to do a bit 
of recreational ice climbing. It also meant we could do our link skidoo 
training on the way back to base afterwards.

It was great to get away from base for a couple of days, especially over 
a weekend (a real treat for a chef). Winter trips will be happening 
soonish as it is already February. The ship is due in at the very end of 
the month and will be leaving somewhere around the first week of March. 
Not long and we’ll be down to 13…

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