Winds here can be pretty strong. We have lost a few things already due to occasional very strong gusts – one knee pad blown off while being worn, Aslak’s scooter helmet from his scooter (though we found that 500 m away in the moraine). Of course we were prepared for windy conditions, and our equipment is designed for it, but sometimes the weather can be surprising, especially in the mountain area where we are working.
Just before New Year we went back to Aboa and picked up Kristiina, the third member of our group. Just after we got back to Svea the weather got pretty windy, and for 2 days we were kept inside as a lot of snow blew past the hut. On January 4 the wind was a bit less and we but went out to check our equipment that we keep with 2 tents 5 km down the valley.
Before. The equipment camp with the pyramid tent and Hilleberg tent and various boxes. Photo: John Moore/FINNARP
We found that the Swedarp Hilleberg tent was badly damaged with several poles broken. The pyramid tent was gone – but was visible near a moraine 1 km up wind. Boxes left around tent valence were all there and intact, though pretty well messed around, except for one metal box. Lots of food items were scattered around camp site. Also the large sledge we left there appeared to have been rolled over twice being moved about 10 m down wind despite being staked to the snow with anchors and parked backed onto a huge rock.
Along the trail to the remains of the pyramid tent we found many cans of food, empty and full, tools, etc. Further down wind (more than 2 km from the camp site), two broken wooden boxes were found (a sample bottles box and a food box). The circular saw (still functional) and zarges box (very battered and empty) were also found.
After. What we found after the storm – note the missing pyramid tent, and the boxes scattered around that were around the tent and the broken Hilleberg tent. Photo: John Moore/FINNARP
The worst damage was to things inside tent (where the bottle box was kept as it was very light – lost my down jacket, several mats, and probably some tools and odds and ends we were working on in the tent). It appears that the tent was picked up by the wind and things fell out of floor or door en-route across the ice. The Hilleberg tent appears fine except for broken poles, but of course that makes it useless as a tent now. The pyramid tent is of a design unaltered for most of the 20th Century and was supposed to be able to survive almost hurricane-force winds. But we were using a novel design with a few “improvements”. A good rule in Antarctica is that if it works then don’t fix it.
Kristiina aka Dr. Evil’s #1 henchman. Photo: John Moore/FINNARP