Port Lockroy blog #7 'Call a spade a spade'

16/12/2022

You may have read how much snow we have had here in the early season…if you haven’t, it’s A LOT! The by-product of all of this, other than lots of beautifully white scenery, is a new appreciation of different shovels! As a team we have now developed favourites from the large selection we have found on base. Shovelling is a daily ritual (which I understand sweeping will become later in the season as the snow melts). Even on our day off yesterday we found ourselves taking advantage of the softer afternoon conditions to carve out some new steps and ensure the site is visitor worthy today. And I’m very glad we did as the icy sheen which greeted us this morning showed it would have been much harder today!

Now, let’s get started…. I’ll begin with the most important shovel – the ‘crusher / smasher’ as it has become affectionately known! – Natalie’s favourite, this is a weighty steel machine, not for the average digger but perfectly designed for lifting up high and bringing crashing down, blade down, into hard snow or ice – perfect for making good angular steps and excellent for chomping through some of the tougher areas. This is becoming ever more important as the snow melts and we are finding layers of ice at the base of the snow pack. 

Next up we have the scooper – this is Clare’s favourite – a great shovel for shifting quantities of snow that is already loosened off or relatively soft. It can also be used near buildings to slide carefully down the building and loosen snow as it’s made of plastic. Its also a great colour (bright orange) and adds something additional to photos!

A half way house between the two is the light weight metal shovel – good for bashing harder bits and for making good angles but light enough for regular shifting of quantities of snow – this is my preferred shovel for upkeep of our landing site steps.

And then last but by no means least is the powder shifter. This very light weight plastic shovel is a star performer on powder snow days. Its easy to lift, has a smaller scoop so can fit into our front and back door steps more easily and is also great for delicate work around buildings. A bit more versatile than the scooper but not really able to tackle the tough stuff, this is our fluffy weather friend.

In other news, our star visitor of the week is a huge Weddell seal which we found this morning had heaved its way up the slope almost to Bransfield House and is currently parked in the middle of several penguin highways just beyond the old expedition sleds which are displayed outside. The penguins are a bit unsure and taking a while to decide whether to pass or not. It seems very happy having a good stretch out for everyone’s cameras.

And finally…mince pies have made an appearance. With a busy few weeks ahead there was fear we might not have time to make some before Christmas so Clare got baking during our day off yesterday and our first set is ready for eating. Whilst the snow arrives in the UK and melts here we are all gearing up for the festive times ahead.

Lucy and the PL Team!