It’s ice work if you can get it
AN INTREPID RAF officer based at Wittering is bracing himself for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to one of the coldest places on the planet.
Bomb disposal officer Toby Stedham (28) will head to the frozen plains of Antarctica for a two-month scientific research assignment after making through a tough selection process.
Flt Lt Stedham, from the 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron, has spent more than two years training for the expedition, which is made up of a team of 24 members of the British Armed Forces.
The expedition, which departs on January 4, is the first “Joint” service trip mounted to the Antarctic mainland by the British Armed Forces.
It also commemorates the 100th anniversary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated attempt to be the first man to reach the South Pole.
The team will be carrying out scientific research into global climate change as well as attempting to ascend previously unclimbed mountains.
They will also make the first-ever unsupported crossing of the ice-covered, 40-mile-long Avery Plateau.
Flt Lt Stedham said: “I’m thrilled to have been selected for the expedition having put in almost two-and-a-half years’ training.
“I feel most alive in the mountains and I can’t wait to get out on the ice.
“Attempting to cross the Avery Plateau will no doubt push me to my limits and improve my reaction to stressful situations, hence developing my ability to operate as a bomb disposal officer.”
Flt Lt Stedham was selected from an initial squad of 120 contenders who were eventually whittled down to 24 including 13 members of the Army, six from the Royal Navy, four from the Royal Air Force and one Royal Marine.
The team have had to do a huge amount of training to gain the skills they will need to work and operate in the sub-zero temperatures.
Their training regime took them all over Europe and included developing their map reading, radio work, practising boat capsizes and learning to ski.
The team have been provided with Mammut clothing in the form of ‘Haute Route Pants’, an ‘Ultimate Hoodie’, ‘Adrenaline Jacket’, a full set of thermal under layers and beanie hats.
Once on the ice, the team will set up a main base camp before splitting up into their sub-teams of eight.
They will leave behind a GPS transmitter to monitor any movements in the ice-shelf for the next three years.
The team will also be carrying out other experiments for universities including Brunel, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Newcastle and University College London.
These scientific projects include measurement of UV levels, tracing sea life microfauna and boring ice-holes to measure orographic flows and climate change levels.
To find out more about the expedition visit www.bsae2012.co.uk or www. facebook.com/bsae2012
intrepid: Flt Lt Toby Stedham.