So a few days ago, Mike Santos, one of the guys who is in charge of our Recreation Department, came in to make some sandwiches for something or other – he was going on a trip or a training or something, I don’t really remember what it was. Anyway, he asked if I had any bell peppers I could spare and I gave him some of what I had just finished slicing up. In return, he tipped me off to the fact that they had just posted the sign-up sheets for the first pressure ridge tour and they were going to go fast so I should nip over and sign up for one right away. Heeding his advice, I took off my apron and ducked out of the kitchen and down the Highway to the Rec Office to sign up.
Pressure ridges are very cool things indeed. They form at the convergence of sea ice – which moves easily – and things that are less mobile, like land. As it happens, there is a convergence of sea ice, ice shelf, and land right near Scott Base. As these geographical features press into one another, they create what basically amounts to a little mountain range, only in some of the most spectacular colours and shapes you’ve ever seen. I had read a lot about them, learned about them during Sea Ice Training, and heard people talk about them so I definitely wanted to go see them for myself. I knew they weren’t as big as some others in the area but these had been checked and flagged for safety so I figured that was better than trying to find bigger ones and falling through the ice somewhere.
When we first arrived, we saw some Kiwis kite-surfing (kite-skiing?) which I thought looked incredible but must make the wipe-outs considerably more painful than on open water.
Then we made our way out onto the ice and other than announcing that I wished to build an ice cave, grow hair on my feet, and live there as an Ice Hobbit until the end of my days, I remained spellbound and silent for most of the rest of the hike.
There’s not much narrative needed and I’ve tried to pare down the pictures as much as possible, since I know they do the experience poor justice so you’ll just have to believe me that the experience was completely phenomenal.
Then we came across these inverted footprints. Someone actually had to explain to me how they were formed: as people step, it compresses the snow. As the wind picks up, it blows away the uncompressed snow so that the compressed snow is now higher than the surrounding area. Love it!
As I was bringing up the rear, I stopped to kick some snow away from a tiny hole, realizing that it could be indicative of a crack. I pointed it out to the firefighter behind me who protested that it was nothing and I should keep moving. I stepped over giving it a wide berth, he did not…
And more amazing gorgeousness, complete with melt pools…
It just goes on and on. You can see why I didn’t want to leave.
And at the very end was this chubby little seal to say goodbye. At this point, I may have frightened the others on the hike by singing very softly, “He’s so cute! I looooooves you….I want to eeeeeats you…” but can you blame me? According to Scott and Shackleton, they’re quite delicious!