Sacha shares his Antarctic journey so far

My Antarctic experience

It has always been my ambition to come and walk the Antarctic continent and to be here now is a dream come true. So, what have I learnt? What have I experienced in the 3 months I have been at Davis station? Is it what I expected? Has it lived up to my expectations?

Arriving by plane and landing on the sea ice out the front of Davis station and seeing the icebergs, the landscape, the station itself, the place that was to be my home for the next 12 to 14 or so months (one thing I learnt is that there is NO real departure date as things constantly change in Antarctic) put me in a state of wonder and awe at what I was seeing and the reality that I was actually here.

Very soon after arriving, shown my room and unpacked my stuff, the reality of “I am actually here to do a job” kicked in like being thrown in the deep end of a pool without ever knowing how to swim.

It was quite the learning curve to say the least. Learning all the parts of the station, as the plumber, was very daunting and with the thought that the current crew we were taking over from would be leaving soon and then it would be just us. It was somewhat an anxious time for a new comer and you feel the weight of, “I am now responsible for this” on your shoulders. The scenery soon took a back seat to getting my head around everything.

Like most new jobs the learning curve is steepest in the early stages but with time comes better understanding, better knowledge of how everything runs and fits together and anxiety goes down and the wonder and awe starts to set back in and the appreciation of where you are.

After a few months, the job is just that - a job. It is an ordinary job in and extraordinary place. But then comes the field trips both for work and pleasure, both in helicopters and by foot hiking on this beautiful continent and seeing all its wonders and soon the reason I was here was clear again, for the experience and what an experience it has been and winter is still to come.

First came the hiking and overnight stays in field huts. Then the helicopter flights and seeing Antarctica from the air and actually seeing the hiking routes you walked.

It has been amazing. Some of the sights you see at ground level are just as spectacular as those from the air. And then there is the wildlife. And the boat trips to see a glacier and scenery.

Other things learnt living in Antarctica was that nothing gets left behind and I mean nothing. You carry a pee bottle whenever off station and a poo bag. These things take a bit to get use to as is cold when using this equipment lol. Once you overcome the obvious it isn’t too bad and trust me you don’t want to be in the cold too long.

I still have about 10 months to go and I am sure I will see and experience many more things and look forward to the challenges ahead. Winter is coming and with it the return of the sea ice and darkness which will be quite strange as has been the 24 hours daylight.

So, so far has is it worth it? For me TOTALLY YES.

Sacha Helou