Soon we will be on our way: away from the daily routine, flying to Antarctica and experiencing something new. But how does the preparation phase of a polar expedition look like ?
- Science equipment, we will be using a suite of modern instruments to capture ice-ocean interaction in Antarctica. This involves several glacier stations that are drilled in the ice, novel radar measurements from a ridge overlooking the entire glacier and even coordination with satellite measurements from space. All of these instruments need testing beforehand.
- Survival gear, our tents/sleeping-bags/food/clothes/toilets/generators/fuel/tools and everything else that we will need is currently shipped from Scott Base to Christchurch. But a two week long storm currently prohibited our camp gear to arrive in New Zealand. Will they make it in time ?
- Logistics, how do we get with all our gear to the Priestley Glacier and nothing on the shopping list was forgotten ?
- Medicals, are we physically and mentally fit to stay at a remote location for several weeks ? Our pre-departure medicals include a full-body check up, blood tests, dental clearance, eye- and aural examination and a Doctor’s OK that we won’t get cabin fever.
- Field training, we train how to set-up our camp in strong winds, how to keep all equipment organized, how to prepare meals in a confined space. But we also practice to deploy our stations as quickly as possible on the glacier to minimize the use of helicopters and our environmental footprint.
And all of this while I am writing the final sentences of my PhD thesis… have you ever tried to juggle with your hands tied ?