It’s not always about working down here in Antarctica, the job has its perks.
Living in one of the most isolated places in the world we are required to be trained for search and rescue (SAR), firefighting and as lay surgical assistants to the Doctor. Everyone has a role to play and I’m lucky enough to part of the SAR team for this season at Davis station.
The SAR team consist of two plumbers, two sparkies, one Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) observer, a diesel fitter and three field training officers (FTOs). The FTOs are the brains of this elite team as some of us would say. We are required to do regular training out in the field, so this week was all about abseiling, climbing ice walls and ice anchors. This would have to be one the best days I have had in Antarctica so far.
We were flown out by helicopter to be dropped off on top of this icy wall near Platcha Hut. Before we could do any descending or climbing on the cliff face, we had to learn how to install and use the right ice anchors for the first time. After a few hours the FTOs felt it was time for us to practice what we had learnt. So now we were at the point of no return, we now had to put our anchors to the real test. It was easy to select who were the first two to descend this cliff face, one sparkie and the BOM observer as it would be easy to replace these two if anything was to happen (kidding, of course!). After everyone had successfully rappelled down, the next task was to climb back up using our two ice axes and crampons. It was a challenge to climb up but we all made it in the end. To cap the day off was a flight back in a helicopter to station.
The height of ice cliff was, I’m saying over 100 metres, but it is yet to be confirmed.
Unreal experience and something that I would never have done back home. If you ever get lucky enough to work in Antarctica, don’t hesitate to put your hand up for the SAR team.
Scott Plummer - I love long walks along the beach and sunsets. I’m also a plumber.