Men at work - © International Polar Foundation

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Live from Antarctica: A sunny but cold weekend

Work on the station is advancing fast. It has been quite sunny but very cold this weekend (-16 to -20°C) at night. The wind has picked up and makes the sensation of cold feel worse, and prevents the use of the large crane.

Building continues regardless. When one activity slows down due to the weather conditions another can pick up speed. At any one time there are more than 20 people working up at the ridge and round abouts.

The wooden scaffolding was finished on Saturday, and the first upright beams are now in place. For some reason there is an enormous amount of wood for the scaffolding which hasn't been needed. It will be put to good use in making other structures, such as the work shops and storage spaces in the hangar/ garage.

Extra rock has to be broken at the base of the ridge to make room for the tower. This has led to some unorthodox methods of breaking rock as our team of geniuses comes up with ever more ingenious methods to remove a few cubic metres of solid granite. By the end of the day they look like they have come out of a sandstorm.

The 44kVa generator has come into play and since the 22kVa is no longer necessary on the construction site, we have brought it down to the base camp for heating water for the bathroom, powering the cookers in the kitchen, the fridge container, and the computers in the Command and Control Centre ...

The eighth traverse returned at 4 am on Sunday, after a "slow" 45 hour operation. Apparently, one Prinoth was acting up so they had to go very slowly. As they approach the Prinoth engines are faintly audible from quite far away. From the ridge they look like tiny soldier ants crossing a gigantic white tablecloth, pincers in the air. From closer up, with the plough raised, they look like giant lobsters.

The ninth traverse began this morning. More than half the containers are already here. The empty containers go back to the coast, so there are never very many in the container park.

The Prinoths were serviced on Sunday and one remains behind as the others head out on the traverse. All the machinery is operational.

The Hospital for Jacques Richon was completed and he is busy organising the medical supplies. He has already carried out his first interventions: a plaster cast for Gregory Diez who has a suspected fracture of the wrist but continues to work despite it, several small cuts bruises and burns, and lumbago for one unfortunate soul.

Author: IPF

Picture: Men at work - © International Polar Foundation

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