Another successful day. By this evening we had all the fuel sledges (scoots) secured with fuel bladders full. The cry went up late this evening that we were “flubbered up”! However, we still have another 300 drums in the hold which will be used to lay a depot up to the plateau. This includes a significant margin in reserve.

In one or two places the incline will require the Caterpillar bulldozers to tow the scoots and the accommodation and science/workshop cabooses individually before linking up the train again on level ground. Until the conditions and the snow surface are tested on the route up to the plateau, it is difficult to predict how much the Caterpillars can pull on the steeper slopes.

With all this talk of fuel, it is inevitable that readers will be concerned about the environmental impact of a project such as this which can only be undertaken in the winter months with vehicles and an adequate amount of fuel. As with all Antarctic operators, we have applied strict disciplines to ensure that there is no pollution. The bulldozers and sledges certainly churn up the surface but not a drop of oil is spilled. In time, after we are gone, the elements will take over, sweep the snow, level the ruts, ridges and even our footprints and return the site to its pristine, natural beauty. Nothing is left behind. To oversee our operations, Environmental Officer, Jo Hardy, is on hand. Apart from being an integral member of the expedition support team, Jo is very experienced in environmental protection techniques and keeps a beady eye on operations. Likewise, the ship has full environmental protection measures in place.

Once the ship had landed the workforce early this morning, everyone went to work. Ian and Jo returned to the accommodation caboose to continue fitting it out. It is now sporting its blue overcoat – a sort of tailored tea cosy which adds extra insulation and protection against the winter elements. Duncan, Geoff, Adrian and Ran were on drum handling duty and Eric, Glynn and Mike filled the bladders. Spencer and Richmond kept the Caterpillars busy towing scoots and sledges up the slope towards the depot.

Tomorrow, it’s more drums and then Caterpillar spares. Progress is on schedule and within a week, everything should be ready for the ship to depart. But for now, no one is thinking about that.

Oh, and now that all my pencils are sharp, I’m sharpening the biros.

Best wishes