12 Dec 2006

Field training begins

Field training started today for the winterers. ‘Round trippers’, like me, start their training tomorrow. So tonight, my Australian Government Antarctic Division (AGAD) field manual is my bedtime reading. In Antarctica this little book, and the AGAD first aid manual, must always be carried with you. Whatever dangerous situation you’re in, it can help you out, provided it’s in your pocket and you have time to read it! It has loads of life saving information, from how to build a snow cave (if you are caught out in bad weather) to how to use your ice axe as a brake system (if you are falling down an icy slope).

Today I also went to a talk by Tim Jarvis. In 1999, Tim became a Joint World Record holder for the fastest unsupported journey to the South Pole (47 days) and the longest unsupported Antarctica journey in history (1580km) with fellow adventurer, Peter Treseder. Tim is journeying south this year to lead an expedition that is retracing Douglas Mawson’s tragic Australian Antarctic expedition of 1911-14.

Mawson was the only member of this three man expedition to survive. Lieutenant Belgrave Ninnis fell to his death down a crevasse, together with the sledge carrying most of their supplies. 506km from their base, Mawson and Dr Xavier Mertz started their journey back, killing their dogs for food. Tragically, Mertz died with 160km to go. It was not discovered until years later that he had been poisoned by Vitamin A from the dogs livers.

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