9 January, Saturday.
After 2 hours of flight from Troll, we have arrived to the Princess Elisabeth Station.The Bassler airplane is not pressurized, so that some passengers suffered from the lack of oxygen and the high temperature inside the cabin.
Before the arrival to PES, I have taken air pictures of Pingvinane and Utsteinen.
We arrived quite late at the station (around 23.00 of local time).
Our tents were already installed, the supper was ready, and wine and beer were waiting for us on tables. The temperature inside my tent was +3 C, and in the morning, as the sun is very fierce, it raised up to +17 C.
10 January, Sunday.
There was a moderate wind at the end of the night and the first half of the day, and it was cloudy. The second half of the day was better. However the forecast for the following days is good. For us, the weather forecast is very important and it is made by a meteorologist at the German Neumayer Station. The people at the station are very friendly. They have shown us where all the facilities were located, how to use them etc. It is a Sunday, so the majority of people doesn't work.
Me and Josef have assembled the OTCs. In total, we has 10 OTCs, but one of them broke. In fact, we had brought two additional ones as back-ups. For example, they could serve if one OTC is flying away with strong winds. We were a bit worried about this possibility, as we know that it has happened in Signy Island (Sub-Antarctic Island). It took us about 4-5 hours in total to complete the assembly. I wanted to look at the scientific hut, South of the Station, where the apparatus of Alexander Mangold was placed. The door was frozen so I couldn't open it alone.
I have built a snow wall at the most windy side of my tent. I have enjoyed this. Probably it was the first time that I was doing it, since my childhood, when we loved to build snow fortresses! It seems that I did not forget the skills. A bit later, I was able to check my e-mail box from the station.
11 January, Monday
There was no wind today and the Bassler left the station this morning. We had a briefing with Alain and Gigi, the field guides Sanne and Alain Trullemans (both from the Belgian Army) and the 5 scientists (Elie and Steve, Irina, Josef and me). David Gladsteen (cameramen of the expedition) filmed us. We have discussed about plans. We get important information ; that the field guides leave the base from 13 to 14 Januray for the traverse to the sea coast, Alain and Gigi are going to meet the Japanese expedition from 27 to 29 or 30 January, and the electricity for the 2 scientific containers will be installed on 13 January. Gigi showed us the pictures of a non-frozen lake. This is great news, as last year, Jeroen and Steve spent a lot of time trying to find lakes. Gigi will be able to collect more samples during the trip to the Japanese scientists. I will do the microscopy of already available sediments. It is also decided that if the weather is good, we'll go to Pingvinane on Friday (15 Jan).
A less good news is that this year, there is a lot of snow (probably more than in 2007). This means that we can expect some difficulties in locating the microbial communities, because we would be buried in snow.
After this briefing, we had a field training with the guides: all about the camp, Prinoth, ski-doos, radio, Inmarsat, Iridium phones, GPS, climbing, crampons, safety on glaciers, installation of tents. I was very proud as my tent was shown as a good example of wind protection with a snow wall. With a radio, we have learnt to use the following system (if I call to Josef): Josef, it's Zorigto, over. Zorigto, it's Josef, over. Josef, it's Zorigto, radio check. Zorigto, it's Josef, radio check. To conclude the conversation, at the end - Josef, it's Zorigto, out. It is a bit long and fussy, but avoids misunderstandings.
We went around the nunatak on ski-doos and now I understand why people pay money for that!
A very important finding of this day was a field of cryoconites at the foothill of Utsteinen. The closer to the slope, the bigger and more numerous they were. Some of them are very big, probably more than a meter in diameter. All of them have frozen lids, that are quite soft and are composed of big cristals of ice. Lids could be broken, but they are deeper than 20 cm, so we will need to use a drill. On the surface of snow, there were cryoconites also.
This is very promising, and with this nice discovery, we went back to the camp.