Getting into Rover, I settled myself into the surroundings that would become most of my home for the foreseeable future. Quickly refreshing my memory of all the extra switches, knobs and levers, I selected forward gear, and the first few segments of the tracks started to turn on the ice. And there I was, driving in Antarctica. Suddenly, it hit home that although the doors were open and I had the escape hatch, if this thing broke through the ice, it was game over. The worst I would suffer would hopefully be a quick, cold dip in the sea, but how was I going to phone Finning and tell them their pride and joy, which took two years to perfect, was on its final journey to the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean? Those kind of thoughts concentrate the mind. Thankfully, all went well, and the ice held firm as I tracked on up the unloading area to safer and thicker ground, where we could start our preparations proper and put our machines to work for the first time.
Those initial preparations consisted of getting the tent fixings into place, so they could withstand the frantic Antarctic winds, followed by the pillions for the comms and satellite antennas, and then generally helping set up a base camp. From then on, daily duties consisted of shuttling fuel and supplies up to the top loading area for storage until we could move the science and living caboose up the hill to the top staging point. There was a lot to do. Every single hand was busy doing something: from the ship-side (slinging and organising cargo) to the shore-side (unhooking the crane, setting up and pumping fuel into the flubbers and fuel scoots). Then we set about doing a few of the smaller jobs in the living and science cabooses, stuff like sorting outside lighting, completing decking, fitting the tents and insulating the undersides of everything we could lay our hands on. Finally, we finished and realised the moment had arrived: we had done everything we could to be entirely self-sufficient for what could be the next 12 months.