Journey south – nearly there…

Katie Joy | 20 Dec 2018
Katie departing from Heathrow

I am currently in the town of Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile. This small city is the exit point for flights over to Antarctica (and ship departures to the polar oceans). To get here I flew from London Heathrow, to Sau Paulo in Brazil, over the Andes to Santiago and down to Punta — a journey of about 36 hours so am pretty tired. Today we had a look around the town, which is pretty bustling – full of tourists setting off for adventures in Patagonia, and have had a briefing about our departure plans.

Two of the US Antarctic Program icebreaker ships — the Palmer and the Gould are currently in port here in Punta Arenas, ready to head south to the Palmer research station and help support science operations for the Thwaites Glacier research project, ongoing this season in western Antarctica – a complex (there are 9 different science projects) international collaboration between the US and UK polar research programmes.

The US Palmer and the Gould icebreaker vessels in dock at Punta Arenas

Our field equipment has arrived safely in Antarctica on the RSS James Clark Ross ship, which just moored on base, and is now awaiting my arrival to get unpacked and ready to send onto the field site. We haven’t seen it since we packed it up in Manchester in August, so it will be good to be reunited with the kit again and get ready to start the field season.
If the weather holds hopefully I will fly out with several other BAS staff and contractors working on the new dock to Rothera research station on the Antarctic peninsula on BAS’s Dash 7 plane . The journey over to the continent should only be about 5 hours, but there is always a chance that the flight might get scuppered and bounced back to Punta, or we might not be able to depart at all in the weather around the peninsula is not good. Hopefully my next post should be from Rothera unless the weather is too bad to fly… keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunset over the Andes on the flight south from Santiago to Punta Arenas