Guiding the Japanese geologists through the white-out - © International Polar Foundation

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Straight Through the White-Out

Our first Mission this year was to drive the Japanese to their first base camp, 76km away from the station. What should have been a simple task turned into quite a challenge, thanks to a sudden white-out and delays in Basler flights.

Flight Delays

After being delayed for four days, the flight from Novolazarevskaya finally arrived, bringing the cook and an American scientist, as well as part of the material needed by the Japanese researchers for their first mission in the field. No time to waste! We are Saturday afternoon and everything has to be packed and ready to go for Monday morning. There goes our Sunday ...

That's just the way it goes in Antarctica. Logistics, weather conditions and science dictate the schedule around here. We work until 10 PM every day but nobody complains. The scenery and the feeling of being part of a great adventure obliterates these small contingencies. Finally, on Sunday night, everything is ready.


On Monday morning, the wind is blowing and it's snowing, the visibility is down to a few meters: a true Antarctic white-out! Fortunately, we know the itinerary quite well and all important routes have been marked with flags on bamboo poles (way points). The Prinoth and both sledges are thus able to progress slowly, from way point to way point. 6 hours later, we arrive at the Austkampane nunatak and install their base camp with the Japanese. All of them are happy to have made it safely and are impressed by our knowledge of the terrain.

  • Yusuke Suganama, expedition leader and geologist for the NIPR
  • Yukihisa Akada, field guide
  • Hiraoki Saita, cartographer from the japanese geospatial department
  • Tatsuo Kanamaru, geologist for Nihon University
  • Hisashi Oiwanz, geologist for the NIPR

These 5 Japanese researchers will be in the field until the beginning of January. Every day, they will call the station at an agreed time for a status report. If they have any problem, our doctor Jacques Richon will go there to assist them.

Next up, a trip to the coast to take measurments through sea ice for Jean-Louis Tison, a scientist from the University of Brussels!

Author: Michel Brent

Picture: Guiding the Japanese geologists through the white-out - © International Polar Foundation

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