Summer is coming to an end in Concordia and preparations are underway for this year’s winterover. The ESA-sponsored medical doctor has arrived in Antarctica (more from him soon) and the last caravan of supplies is travelling over 1000 km from Dumont d’Urville on the Antarctic coast to Concordia research base.

In addition to the regular air transport, three expeditions called Raid trails arrive with heavier equipment. The traverse across Antarctica takes ten days to complete, climbing over 3000 m to reach the plateau where Concordia was built.

Raid trail arriving at Concordia in 2009 by Concordia09

Pulled by heavy-duty tractors, the caravans carry 150 tonnes of fuel, food and heavy equipment each time and are organised by the French polar institute IPEV. Once at Concordia, three days are spent unpacking and preparing for the return trip. The trip back to the coast generally takes two days less as it is downhill most of the way.

Two years ago, ESA-sponsored research doctor Eoin MacDonald-Nethercott travelled on a Raid trail. Read his blog entries for a personal insight on the experience.