November 5, 2016

The TIDEx Campaign on Darwin Glacier: Part 4 – A Night on the Ice and Departure

November 03 - 05, 2016

The second part of the Antarctic Field Training offered a first small challenge: Setting up a camp on the ice with an overnight stay. The camp’s planned site was about 15 km off Scott Base close to the Erebus Ice Tongue. This ice tongue is formed by the glacier which comes down Mt. Erebus and protrudes off the coast of Ross Island. It forms a more than 10 km long narrow ice tongue into McMurdo Sound.

The Erebus Ice Tongue, seen from space by ASTER on the Terra platform.
The ice tongue protrudes off the coast of Ross Island into ice- and snow-covered McMurdo Sound.



Its ice walls stand only 10 m high but offer visitors like us stunning views into blue-shimmering ice caves.
We left Scott Base to start camp training on November 3rd. There we learned basics such as how to set up and secure the dome tents. But also simple and trivial tasks like cooking and having a cozy common meal requires some attention in this special environs.

Our training camp on the ice close to the Erebus Ice Tongue

Entspannung bot ein Ausflug entlang der Eiszunge, bei dem wir eine der erwähnten Eishöhlen näher inspizieren konnten. Weit im Süden ragte das Transantarktische Gebirge empor und erinnerte mich daran, dass dieses erste Camp nur der Auftakt zu etwas Aufregenderem war.

Während unseres dreiwöchigen Aufenthalts auf dem Darwin-Gletscher sind wir über VHF-Funk und Satellitentelefon mit Scott Base verbunden. Von unserem Trainer lernten wir, wie wir diese enorm wichtigen Geräte zu bedienen haben.

How to operate the VHF radio? It will be our communication means with Scott Base for the time on the glacier.

They will be very important for the next three weeks and will provide you with the content of my blog. This means only text messages and no photos!  A test from our camp proved successful. Seven lines of text summarized our daily routine:

„Lunch time we were heading out onto sea ice to do remaining Antarctic Field training.
Camp for the night is right next to Erebus Glacier Tounge. After arrival with skidoo we have set up tents and cooking equipment for training purposes.
We had a cup of tea to warm up and enjoyed the views of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains.
We went on a walk along the ice cliff exploring an ice cave. Inside we were exposed to all shades of blue ice.
All that is left is to practice VHF radio connection with Scott Base.
We are looking forward to our first night in our polar dome tent and especially our nice warm sleeping bags.
Good night“

The next day we returned to Scott Base and prepared for our departure to Darwin Glacier. Plan was to transport us and our equipment, 3000 kg in total, with 4 flights of a Twin Otter of the US Antarctic Program. The first flight had us as passenger, successively followed by the equipment. Finally departure occurred on November 5th from the Williams air field which acts as Antarctica’s “domestic” airport.

The Williams air field off Ross Island. It serves as Antarctica’s “domestic” airport.
Just before take-off to Darwin Glacier, me and my partners from Gateway Antarctica.
On the photo left Oliver Marsh, expedition leader and Christian Wild, right Ekki Scheffler.

From now on, for the next three weeks, I will only report via text messages. I hope, however, that the blog content remains interesting and invites the readership to further participate in our expedition and adventure.