Very cool place to spend summer

By Kelsey Wilkie

Few summer jobs involve living on the American Base McMurdo Station and building bridges in Antarctica, but for Lance Corporal Russell Schipper it has become a reality.

Mr Schipper, 28, is part of the New Zealand Army's Light Engineering Team which is carrying out a number of construction, deconstruction and repair tasks around the McMurdo Station to ensure facilities and equipment will withstand the harsh winter.

Mr Schipper grew up in Wanganui, and he joined the NZ Army in 2004.

"It's my first time here in Antarctica and I was stoked to be able to be part of the team," the former Wanganui High School student said.

He has been in Antarctica for two weeks, keeping busy by helping build a Bailey bridge, which will assist in the offload of shipping containers to move cargo to McMurdo Station and Scott Base next month.

"This is an experience of a lifetime. The wildlife is really different."

Talking to the Chronicle yesterday, Mr Schipper admits he is not missing New Zealand yet, as there is always some sort of activity. Last week former astronaut Dr Scott Parazynski did a presentation for McMurdo Station, sharing his space exploration stories.

"I will eventually miss seeing colour; everything here is black and white - white snow and black rock. I will get to the point when I need to see some green."

It is summer in Antarctica, meaning constant sunshine, which he says can be deceiving. "You go out for a beer and inside the bar it's dark. When you walk outside, it's streaming sunshine."

The Light Engineering Team is made up of 17 personnel. The team will return to New Zealand in late February.

The NZ Defence Force has been involved in Antarctica for more than 50 years, supporting Antarctica New Zealand and the US Antarctic Programme.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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