Geology fieldworks (extreme): climbing, tumbling and crossfires

All of the last week I spent on the field in Bergen area collecting data for my master thesis. I was together with my main supervisor and one of the new master students, lets call her Hedda. The work mostly occurred in an anorthosite quarry.

Joyfully mapping the beautiful outcrop at the top of the quarry

 Fortunately the responsible persons were well minded and we always got in the quarry with no problem. However, in the afternoon the main gate closed a bit before 4 pm, so, although we were allowed to continue the work, we had to choose another way to get out of the quarry.

This made the things bit more complicated but usually we climbed down the hill slope next to our working place. It was not particularly difficult but took about a half an hour to get down. The slope was a steep rocky terrain covered with long grass and burned trees. When we got down our clothes, hands and faces were always black with the ashes from the burned trees. So the desire for an easier route down was not completely irrational here. So, one day, we decided to look around if there is some other gate open after the closing time, or at least if there is any passable one.

The results of the examination did not look very delightful. Every one of the gates was more than 2 m high with 3 rows of barbed wires on the top and certainly closed.

I still thought we should try to get over them but my supervisor was not so keen on acrobatics and Hedda did not show any vocal support to my plan, so we chose to climb down the closest slope.

It was still high up but looked promising…. until after 15 minutes of climbing and few somersaults by me, we stumbled upon an almost vertical bare wall which was the only possible way down.

Totally terrifying, I thought. I casted a glance at my supervisor and he seemed to actually, seriously considering the idea to go further. But eventually he said that this is too much of a risk to take, so we should better go back. Phew… that was an exhale of a relief. And then he added that if there would be any other of the crazy rock climbers from PGP present, such as my other supervisor, they would climb down this wall with no hesitation. Gulp…. my short relief was quickly replaced by a slight feeling of terror trying to imagine the forthcoming fieldworks with my other supervisor.

But we turned back here and after another 25 minutes of climbing we were atop again, at the starting point. We decided to return to the usual track, however, on the middle of the walk, checking one another slope. We get over the edge of the quarry and… they started to shoot on us. There was a shooting practice ground down in the valley so if we would go down here we would come in a direct firing range.

That was enough. No more experiments! We turned around, went to the original route and got down. Altogether it took more than an hour over our usual time and we were even more dirtier than usually. But at least now we know that there is really no other way down. Good to know.

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