Into the chasm of impending doom

One of the few recreational trips offered this summer was to visit chasm 1, the doom part being that this is the chasm that’s become active again and now is growing at around 10 cm per day towards Halley. This means that the station will have to be moved to a more easterly site in summer 2016 to avoid being on the calving side if the shelf does break off.

On a sunny Sunday they offered several snocat rotations going to the chasm to abseil into. I got on the afternoon trip and we arrived at the old gatekeeper feature after only a short drive. We geared up and split into two groups to abseil down. It was about a 30 m drop and the bottom clearly was saturated with salt water (icicle taste test). We couldn’t really move away from the solid bit we had been let down onto, so after some brief shots for the album one by one we climbed back up the rope using two hand jammers. This can be a tedious business if one’s technique isn’t perfect and often stops to admire the surrounding views are obligatory and nice. As the whole procedure takes a while not everyone got to visit both abseil points and we quickly packed away the ropes and headed back after another amazing trip.

The very tip of the crack is now only around 5 km SE of the station and the protruding features where we abseiled can be seen from upper obs on a sunny day. Also the abseil point we used was the same one that Peter Gibbs went down into the chasm for the Halley Horizon programme.


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