18.12 The lost key

On friday we were driving along two visibly darker bands on the blue ice. These bands are interesting for us as they indicate that all the snow within the band is a certain age. As we were driving along John stopped and said something. With the engine running I could not hear what he said, so I turned off the snowmobile and removed my helmet. John pointed out how the two bands were much closer together than they were at our starting point, implying a relatively high surface age gradient. John turned on his engine and continued along the band. I wanted to do the same – but discovered that the ignition key was missing.

Slowly I saw John and his snowmobile disappear in the distance. The key had probably caught on to my gloves and been pulled out as I turned off the snowmobile. I frantically started searching the immediate surroundings. After a short time John discovered that I was not following and drove back to investigate why. I explained and we both started searching. We searched the hard packed snow patch, the snowmobile, my gloves and pockets. We then turned the snowmobile on both of its sides to look under it. No key.

Having searched all likely places, we started looking in less likely places. Perhaps it had fallen into pants, my boots or my socks? I started to undress. I removed my gloves, jacket, kneepads, trousers… At the same time a bone-chilling Antarctic breeze had picked up. I looked in my long underwear. Took off my boots and looked in my socks. Checked my hat and helmet an extra time and found no key. In the end we covered up the snowmobile and left it parked there on the blue ice.

Once back at Svea John instituted a full body-cavity search, making use of the convenient supply of rubber gloves in the cupboards. Finally John accepted the fact that I had decided to swallow the thing and having no X-ray equipment handy, I reluctantly accepted the key was the victim of the perfect crime, or had found its way to a convenient worm-hole and hence to a planet where it could pursue a uniquely key-oid way of life.

Our only recourse was to contact the good people at Aboa and Wasa to get some advice. The mechanics there (Stefan & Tapio) found a method that enabled us to bypass ignition switch, so that you can start the engine using the pull-starter. We tried it today and it worked perfectly. After pull-starting the engine many times today, I can highly recommend it. I feel I have achieved a much more intimate relationship with my scooter than before when I merely used the ignition switch.  

-Aslak

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4 Responses to “18.12 The lost key”


  1. 1 Stefan December 20, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    This also raises the question: Why have ignition keys on engines in Antarctica? Is anybody going to steal them? Unlikely? Might you freeze to death looking for the damn keys? More likely.

  2. 2 Anna December 28, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Happy new year and hope you guys had a nice Christmas “down there”!

    Wishes,
    Anna, Suvi, Mirkku, Anna, Heidi, Maaret

  3. 3 Venkata January 1, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Hi John Aslak and Kristiina….

    Happy New Year!
    Godt NytÅr!
    Onnellista Uutta Vuotta!

    Cheers
    Venkata

  4. 4 Outi January 11, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Dear friends,

    let’s be careful out there! The fiercely protective Finnarp spam filter has classified me as a persona non grata so all my kind messages keep bouncing back… Now my own computer is full of that “return to sender, address unknown” stuff. I don’t quite know how to beam to you guys in an acceptable manner.

    John, take care of Emily.

    Outi


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KINNVIKA EXPEDITION by Emilie, Venkata, Michael and Sakari

ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION by John Moore and Aslak Grinsted


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