My blog while I work for British Antarctic Survey

BAS Conference 2008…

September 25th, 2008 Posted in Training, UK

BAS Conference 2008Well, as if the last few months haven’t been crazy enough, things stepped up a notch with the arrival of this year’s BAS Pre-Deployment Conference held at Girton College in Cambridge. I’m not sure where to start with all that’s happened since my last post! The purpose of the conference is for all the staff who are first-timers heading South to meet the people they’re heading down with and get briefed on various aspects of BAS operations and culture. The pace moved up another two or three notches when the BAS Medical Unit took over for 3 days of advanced first aid tailored for us (still not sure if treating hypothermia by warm fluids introduced rectally is a wind-up…!) and then a final day of oil spill response exercises.

The 2009 Rothera Winter TeamOf course mixed in with all this was the process of meeting the team I’m going to be spending the next 18 months and, naturally, much of this was done in the bar… so basically the conference was a tough mix of late nights, information overload, death-by-Powerpoint and casualty actors screaming at us!

Can I get a cup of tea lowered down?As if that wasn’t enough, straight after conference we headed up to the Peak District for the field course. The field course is designed as our initial training in BAS camp-craft (pyramid tents, Primus stoves…), glacial travel (roping up as an alpine pair, abseiling, changing over to climb the rope, Z-pulley systems…) and the difficulties of navigation in a featureless landscape – something the Peak District seems to be surprisingly well suited for!

We were split down into smaller teams for this week’s camping. As you could expect, lots of fun was had by all as we enjoyed the great outdoors, hung around on top, at the bottom or half-way up the crag (the picture on the left is me asking if I can get a cup of tea lowered down, in case you were wondering!) and stumbled through the heather with blindfolds on, much to the amusement of those without blindfolds on…

Our field course team

An excellent couple of weeks, totally exhausted, both mentally and physically, lots of cool new skills to practice at home (traction splinting, Italian hitch belays…) and it really feels like the adventure is beginning. Oh, I’ve got a date for travel now, it could still change ("don’t believe it until you’re stepping off the plane" seems to be the way it goes) but it looks like I’m heading out on 26th October, arriving in Rothera on the 28th. I’ve still got another couple of courses and then a couple of weeks at home and I really need to get a leaving do sorted out!

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