Christmas in Antarctica

Christmas Eve 2016

And so both Christmas and the boat arrived. We had an early Christmas service on Christmas Eve and unloaded the boat from the edge of the ice shelf. We drove the cars to help with the unloading of bulk goods. The Germans transported most of their stuff in containers. However, we had a fairly simple ride because everything was packed on a sled of about 5 tons which was simply delivered by crane in one package to us. All we had to do was fix the cargo on the sled.

Agulhas II is unloaded at ice shelf edge. Photo: Carl Lundberg

However, we got an extra assignment. The South African transport convoy had arrived at the wrong boat landing and didn’t know how to get to the boat. So we were instructed to go and pick them up in the fog and escort them back to the boat. They returned the favor by pulling us out with their yellow tractor when I got stuck with the six-wheeled car on my maiden voyage - even though it was unloaded. Services and favors ... In retrospect, it is likely that we drove with tire pressures that were too high to get a good grip on the snow.

South African convoy in the fog. Photo: Carl Lundberg

In the evening we enjoyed a Christmas celebration with table service and a three-course dinner of:

- Carrot and ginger soup

- Goose with knödl (a type of dumplings), red cabbage, sauce and plum chutney

- Baked Apples with almond croquante and vanilla ice cream

- Red wine, white wine and beer of your choice.

Free bar in the evening, like every evening, but two German men in Lederhosen were a unique feature for this evening.

It's not Christmas without Lederhosen! Photo: Carl Lundberg

We handed over a Christmas gift to Eberhart, head of the station, who was pleased to note that the photo book was signed by the head of the Polar Research Secretariat.

It was a fantastic evening even though our longing for home, friends and family became particularly evident on Christmas Eve. You should know that we are thinking of you even if it can be difficult to keep in touch with everything that happens and will happen down here.

Christmas Day 2016

This is a free day at Neumayer. However, we were occupied the whole day with sorting and loading of material for the first transport. One part of this was opening boxes with refrigerated food. Karin has previously had bad experiences with how the food is packed by the agent who delivers the food. She had therefore given very clear instructions on how she wanted this to happen. Unfortunately, little to none of this was respected. Dairy products had short expiration dates instead of long, and frozen goods came without such labelling at all. Worst of all was that fruits and vegetables had been packed helter-skelter, with fragile products below heavier goods. It was really sad and frustrating having to throw away about half of the fruit and vegetables. Just to try to save what remained meant a lot of extra work for us.

Even though it was a free day, we received help from Stefanie, the overwintering engineer, to refuel. By evening all that could be loaded was loaded. We loaded as close as possible to the maximum payload and, based on our previous experience of getting stuck with the car – even without payload – we decided to pull the trailer with the 6-wheeler instead of the 4-wheeler. However, because the cars have the same engine capacity if you have a good grip on the snow, it is better to pull the trailer with the 4-wheeler because it has a lighter payload on its cargo area.

Boxing Day (the day after Christmas)

Morning: Crevasse training, everyone must be able to:

- Tie in on the rope

- Perform “manskapsdrag”

- Repel down a crevasse to help the injured

- Use the rope to climb out of a crevasse

- Lift an injured person out of a crevasse

The descent to Neumayer's garage underneath the station is an ideal training ground.

After lunch we loaded frozen food, the food that should remain unfrozen and the refrigerated products.

After that, it was time to thank for everyone and say goodbye to our friends at Neumayer.

Crack climbing is not a problem! Photo: Carl Lundberg

Karin and Pär rescue Ola with the technique ”manskapsdrag”. Photo: Carl Lundberg

#Travel #LifeintheArctic #Neumayer

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