Albane Barbero, a 25-year-old glaciologist from France, is sharing her experience at Concordia this year. Below are translated excerpts from her original blog in French.
Saturday 2 February, a large group left today, the research base is emptying fast. To relax before the third Raid trail arrives with the extra work it entails, we enjoyed a short session of sauna. It was quite enjoyable not to mention invigorating, jumping out at -40°C in a swimsuit.
Monday 4 February there was a lot of work to do. We emptied all the outside containers filled with frozen food to fill them with the new food that arrives around noon on the third Raid. Everything must be ready as we must lose as little time as possible.
Some food is stored at 4°C and must not freeze, so everyone has a role to be as efficient as possible. Antonio and I positioned ourselves outside the storage room on the second floor of the base. As the door opens to the outside world we had to wear security ropes while transferring the food to the people inside. It is physical work because we are exposed to the elements. But the operation allowed us to observe how this year’s winter crew work together.
Wednesday 6 February we continued our unloading and cleaning work but today we started after lunch. We made use of the time in the morning to catch up on the scientific work or rest a bit. Three Italians leave tonight, we will say our goodbyes before we go to bed as they leave at three in the morning and after three days of heavy work, we are not sure that we will wake up on time to see them off. The technicians on the base do not have a choice because they are needed to prepare the aircraft. After they leave only the 15 of us who will stay the winter plus five more will remain. Among the five who will stay on a bit longer are the brothers Lepage who are preparing a graphic documentary about their trip to Concordia.
Friday 9 February, the aircraft departure has been delayed so I invited the brothers Lepage to join me at the American tower. Unfortunately there was a lot of wind and it was very cold at the top of the tower, we undoubtedly experienced temperatures between -65 ° C and -70 °C. It will be a nice anecdote for their project! In the evening, the chefs organised a champagne aperitif to celebrate the departure of the last summer guests and it was a very pleasant evening!
Monday 11 February, the last of the summer guests left and the plane returned with 1,5 tonnes of fresh food. We had to be outside to unload it at six o’clock and just around this time the wind came up and the temperatures dropped. You cannot see anything with the masks on as they freeze up, so we work without them but then your eyelashes freeze. In short it was a struggle, luckily the 1,5 tonnes seemed insignificant compared to all the food we unloaded over the last week.
Tuesday 12 February, the aircraft and its crew leave. This is it, today is the first day of winter! It is a strange sensation but it is great because winter has arrived and we are finally in our own home for the next year.