Sunday 8th January – how I became known as ‘calc’


I finally got my name onto the list for the Sunday trip and went to Creek 3.
There were 11 of us doing the trip. After grabbing some water and a sandwich for lunch I jumped into a sledge with transit bag for the journey to site VI.  When we got there I went to the WASP (winter accommodation building for the science team) building to pick some climbing boots and then jumped into the Snowcat for the trip.  The Snowcat is a really cool and quirky looking vehicle – almost like a Land Rover on high suspension and triangular tracks.

The Snowcat carried nine of us and the other four rode in the sledge dragged behind.  Just before we arrived at the creek we got a radio call from the people in the sledge saying the rope had broken free.  We looked out the back window to see them deserted and at a standstill 100m behind.  Our field guide turned round to pick them back up and found that a small burr on the shackle had over the distance of travel cut through the rope.
The other field guides had gone on ahead on skidoos to set up climbing ropes over an ice cliff and to check out the safety of the sea ice shelf.

When we arrived we popped on crampons and harness in preparation for the climb.  We were shown how to use ice picks and crampons and then let loose on the various climb routes under the watch of the field guides.
We then walked onto the sea ice carefully stepping over the crack with the ice shelf.  Wildlife was limited to a single Adelie penguin and a Weddell seal.

We arrived back to site VIa pretty exhausted and just in time for the Sunday 6.30pm meal.

In the evening I went out with the total station retrieved from site VI to check our alignment. It took a little while to established the line to set out the N/S axis and agreed that our line was around 0.9 degrees off the original. However, it was in the right direction, given the ice shelf rotation each year of 0.4 degrees.  The chief engineer was pleased that the original assessment was spot on and that my initial ‘on the spot’ advice on offset was also correct.  Now called the ‘Calc’ – I am starting to realise just how much as an engineer I take numerical fluency and manipulation for granted, and that it just forms an integral part of our language and communication.  So I now hear across the radio – ‘Calc’s happy with it’ and just left to get on with the numbers that inform our plan for the module positioning.