Last Stop: Novo

February 8th, Sanae-Troll-Novo: With a heavy hart I see five of my expedition friends shrink to pixels and vanish trough the Twin-Otter window. The team has split and I am on my way to Novo with Håkan and Fredrik. For reasons no one bothered to reveal to us. We were no longer flying out from Novo all together on the 8th as booked originally. Instead the science team flew out from Troll. Andreas is left at Troll to fly out the 14th. Fredrik is scheduled for a flight from Novo the 12th and myself and Håkan on the 16th. As long as the weather does not delay us further, this was within the 14 day margin I planned as a buffer for bad weather. But if a week long storm hits, like last year, there will be consequences too innocent on the home front.

Sanae and the Twin Otter. Photo: Carl

But returning back to that Twin-Otter window it can be noted that the mountain range in-between Novo and Troll facilitates a view of the worlds (at least the parts of it I've seen) most spectacular mountain range - Ulvetanna - The Wolfs Tooth. I find myself dreaming this being a site for cosmogenic dating some day…

Reloading and splitting up at Troll. Photo: Carl

Novo is (a well needed) short for Novolazarevskaya which is a Russian year around station and also the flight hub for Dronning Maud Land which in turn is the piece of Antarctica facing Africa. The actual runway is on the ice some 11 km away from the nunatak called Schirmacher Oasis. On Schirmacher Oasis there is also the Indian year around station MAITRE.

Ulvetanna, "Wolfs Tooth" Photo: Carl

Tourism at Novo. Photo: Carl

There are some containers and facilities for accommodation at the Novo Runway but we get transported to the nunatak to stay at Guesthouse Oasis. Lucky us, it turns out to be the best accommodation around.

February 9th, Novo: Visiting new places is always fun and this particularly holds true on a continent to 97 % covered by ice and not the least to say scarcely populated. So we take the opportunity to invite ourselves to both the Russian and Indian station. It is out of scope to go into details here but it can be concluded that basically the antarctic stations all share the same tasks and challenges - to provide shelter and to burn plenty of fuel to produce, heat, water and electricity. But the solutions, routines and culture around how to solve these tasks come in such variations, it is just mindblowing….

Oasis Lakes. Photo: Carl

February 10th-11th, Novo: We rest, eat and wrap up documentation and reports. Fredrik does the first Swim-Run of Antarctica as there are open water “lakes” at Schirmacher Oasis nunatak. The historic event is documented on film by Calle and Håkan. After that Fredrik mindset flips and he goes into a frenzy of attempting to see all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones before his return to wife and twins. He came only a few episodes short, mainly due to technical issues, his charger cable melting under the stress of the fantasy series extravaganza.

Fredrik's Game of Thrones Extravaganza. Photo: Carl

As being the flight hub Novo does not only se a lot of air traffic but also gets crossed by news and rumours from the stations around. A Russian ship called Ivan Papanin (used by SWEDARP 2006) has sprung leak while servicing another Indian station - Bahrati, east of us. As the story goes most of the passengers are being evacuated. Once in Cape Town we learn that Agulhas II is going back from Capetown to assist. Another story is that a person has broken his Thighbone on the Russian ice station Vostok and is being flown to Novo Runway for MEDEVAC.

Patient. Photo Carl

Patient loading. Photo: Carl

Patient Medevac. Photo: Carl

February 12th Novo-Cape Town: The flight schedule changes into the better and Håkan and Calle get rebooked to the flight the 12th. The Boing jet we are planned at arrives the 11th and the crew stays overnight at Guesthouse Oasis with us. At breakfast we learn that the Boeing plane is unfortunately unable to take the patient with the broken femur, now injured since a week, out due to paper and insurance reasons. Instead he will have to fly with the Ilusjin 76 freight plane later the same day.

While waiting to board at the Runway we get alerted that there has been an accident and doctor Fredrik is asked to assist. According the bits and pieces of information we receive along the journey, the engineer of the Boeing was standing on one of those tall staircases used to board jets from ground in order to load cargo into the plane. Meanwhile the Ilusjin 76 freight plane maneuvers around to get into position to be loaded and while doing so blows the staircase with the engineer over with the draft from its engines causing the engineer a broken femur and dislocated shoulder in the fall. Once Calle and Håkan manage to locate Fredriks medical equipment in the cargo the patient gets stabilized and put under pain relief. Luckily for him insurance and paperwork did not prove to be a hinder for his flight out.

Novo Runway. Photo: Carl

In the evening we meet up with Jenny and Robin at the hotel. Robin gets the bags which he could not bring on the Troll flight due to cargo restrictions and leaves with a late flight.

Feburary 13-15th, Cape Town: Two days roll by while we try to switch gears and get on terms with cellphones, overloaded inboxes etc. Jenny, Calle, Fredrik and Håkan fly out 00:30 the 15th. Andreas arrives to Cape Town a few hours later and in the afternoon the 16th he returns home as the last one of us.

Thanks to all involved in making this happen. It truly was a terrific trip and I cross my fingers the science results turn out to satisfaction.

#Travel #LifeintheArctic #SANAE

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