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January 24, 2007

Hillary's Sherpa

This past Sunday Scott Base celebrated its 50th Anniversary. As part of the celebration the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark and Sir Edmund Hillary came down for a visit. Hillary was part of the original Scott Base construction expedition in 1957 and was most recently on the ice in 2005. The Kiwis absolutely adore "Sir Ed" and made every accommodation to make his visit as comfortable as possible. This included constructing the "Hillary Step" which affords an easier ascent into the helicopters down here.

At 87, Sir Ed is not as agile as he used to be, but maintains his commitment to the NZ Antarctic Program and the preservation of Ross Island's historic huts. On this visit, speaking at Shackleton's Nimrod Hut at Cape Royds, he asked that the British Government offer more financial assistance towards protecting and preserving these monuments to Antarctic exploration. Currently the maintenance of these huts is headed by the New Zealand based Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Pilot Paul Murphy and I felt privileged to have such a living legend aboard our aircraft.

For those of you who are reading about the "Forgotten Men" of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party, here is a photo of the Aurora's anchor. Imagine the despair you'd feel to wake up and find no ship attached to this giant hook!

January 14, 2007

Climbing the Matterhorn

Happy 2007 Y'all!!

There has been lots going on the world lately. A huge thank you to everyone back home for keeping in touch.

Nick here, Becky has been banished to the South Pole Station for the next two weeks. Perhaps she'll be able to post from 90 degrees South, but until then you're stuck with me.

There has been lots going on back home of late. A huge THANK YOU to everyone for keeping in touch and sending prezzies and treats!! Getting news from home means a great deal.

Congrats to Stefan and Rebecca who were married on the 6th of January. I'm sure that it was an awesome party! Wish we could have been there. Please no photos of the powder on Mt. Bachelor!

Congrats to Paul and Jessie on their engagement in India. Paul, I understand your ring fetish completely, read on! Will there be dahl bat at the wedding?

And hip-hip-hooray to Ma and Pa Dodd of Napa!! Becky and I can't wait to instill some wanderlust into the youngster. Better start saving now!

And, in case any of you missed it, we have a celebrity in out midst. Ol' TOC has gone primetime! Click here to read all about Dr. Terry's lifesaving (no joke!) antics on the Big E. Thank you to Michael for allowing Beck and I to follow the series. Congrats T on your accomplishment! And nice hat!

Now for the latest from the Ice.
On December 27th I had the opportunity to join Becky for an evening at her field camp in the Dry Valleys. Surprise!!! Rather than wasting the 24 hour daylight by sleeping, we decided to climb a nearby peak known locally as the Matterhorn. We departed the Lake Bonney camp at 7 pm, crossed the lake ice, humped up a steep scree slope, kicked steps along the edge of the Matterhorn Glacier, scrambled a ridge and finally climbed some steep, but blocky rock to an airy summit. Becky fairly dragged my sorry arse up the whole thing, she was charging!! The windless air was cold, but the sky was cloudless and the midnight sun, bright. It was one of those climbs that just gets more interesting the higher you go. The rock up high on the Matterhorn has been "ventifacted". That is, it has been sculpted and carved by the wind. Imagine climbing granite that looks like swiss cheese. Absolutely surreal.
On the summit, Becky sat for a moment to admire the view and sign the register. I fumbled around in my pocket for a small box. There, in the middle of the night on a peak in Antarctica I asked Becky to marry me. Shouted from the mountaintop, I think her "yes" could be heard all the way back at camp!! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!
We spent the next three hours skipping back to camp in a euphoric haze brought on by bliss and sleep deprivation. Then, after a few hours sleep
it was time to get back to work. Thanks again for the comments, congrats, and e-mails. Oh, and check out the new PeaceNick Image Gallery, its listed with the links on the right of the page.