Antarctic Diaries 2012 - Part 4

Friday 2nd March
Terrapin Hill
This morning, excited to be finally ashore, we rose early and got the water boiling for our porridge. We had some jerry cans of ship’s water, but they had started to freeze, so this took a while! Brushing my teeth was the next challenge, as my toothpaste had frozen in its tube. Getting ready for fieldwork took a little longer on this first day, as we found our science kit and sorted our bags.


Looking down to basecamp

Our plan was to walk to the top of Terrapin Hill, and collect rock samples on the way down. To aid rapid sampling of tough granites, we had a rock saw. Sadly this failed to start up, and despite taking it apart and putting it together again, it was a lost cause.
The weather was foggy and misty, so unfortunately views were limited. We did not allow this to dampen our spirits though, and set off for our march to the top of the hill, stopping to make notes and observations along the way. We found a large granite boulder at the summit, perfect for sampling. For the first time, Cheese and John got to sample the joys of rock sampling with a hammer and chisel.

Half way up Terrapin Hill we found Hideaway Lake, a gash cut into the hillside. Not visible from below or above, it comes as a surprise when you almost fall into it. One of our objectives is to try and understand how this outstanding natural feature was formed.
We returned to camp about 7 pm, boiled water for tea and dinner, and fell exhausted into bed after a productive day, despite the setbacks and weather.


Terrapin Hill

Saturday 3rd March
Terrapin Hill
It snowed heavily overnight, and much of the ground was obscured, making mapping difficult. However, we had photographed suitable boulders the day before, and set off back to halfway up Terrapin Hill, to continue our transect down. We managed to sample five boulders today, an impressive achievement. We returned to camp about 6, all rather chilly from walking in cold, windy, foggy weather all day. By 9 pm we are all tucked up in bed, me with my luxury item: a hot water bottle.

Sunday 4th March
Terrapin Hill
The snow that fell on Friday night had begun to thaw and get blown away, so despite the persistent low cloud, the weather was better today. We had planned a walk around the perimeter of our valley, and set off early to complete our task. During the afternoon, the sun broke through the cloud, allowing a few shafts of sunshine to reach us.
In Boulder Valley, we found an amphitheatre filled with soft sandstone concretions, beautifully weathered by the wind. Delicate protuberances, filled with holes, stand out vividly against the orange volcanic rock called tuff. As the weather began to slightly improve, we had beautiful views across the valley, to the top of Terrapin Hill and across to “Cascade Glacier”.

Cheese delights in rock sampling with hammer and chisel

Ventifact. wind sculpted boulder

As we returned to camp after a fruitful third day’s fieldwork, we planned our itinerary for the next few days. That night, the wind began to get up and we went to sleep, listening to it howling outside.

Missed the journey so far? Check out Antarctic Diaries 2012- Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3or move on to the final instalment Part 5

By Alpkit