Hiking up the glacier with ropelines to the crevasse adjacent the Ross Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Coast during our one week R&R
The New Year was celebrated with a party in the garage and the setting of the new South Pole marker ( marker) at the site of the South Pole as of January 1, 2001.
As part of the construction of the new station a large tunneling project is underway to provide utility tunnels. (tunnel work access ) . The tunnel is through the ice and is done both by hand and with a machine. ( tunnel-1 , tunnel-2 , tunneling machine )
Since I was up on the roof of skylab the other day doing some GPS work I took a number of photos to make a panoramic image. (This is one of the shots of the dome)
Before winter closedown, the winterovers traditionally get flown 800 miles to McMurdo Station on Ross Island on the coast of Antarctica. I picked the third week of January and there were about 12 winterovers for this week taking R&R. It was nice to be able to take more than two 2-minute showers in that week, but best of all were the activities that were planned for us. We also got a chance to go over to the New Zealand Scott Base and have a few beers with the Kiwis.
All of our planned activities were either on the glaciers or on the Ross
Ice Shelf and we first traveled from McMurdo Station to the snowmobiles by
Haglund which is a tracked All Terrain Vehicle.
These vehicles are very noisy and you must wear ear protection.
(me in the Haglund)
Once we got down on the ice shelf we started up our snowmobiles and
traveled on the ice shelf or up on the glacier.
(me in front of my snowmobile)
We had a 2 day snow survival school on the Ross Ice Shelf.
(leaving McMcMurdo Station in the Nodwell for the Ross Ice Shelf)
(snow school class, I'm
at top right)
We learned some survival skills and learned to erect a
scott tent in the wind, make snow walls and erect tents inside of them, and
we made and slept in snow caves. (One
of the Kiwi's snow cave with dog house and inflatable Dalmatian)
(my cavemate sleeping)
This short course wasn't intense and rigorous like the one week
High Altitude/Polar Survival School I attended in 1985 at 12,000 feet in
the Rockies , but it was good. After the first day of the snow school
was over, four of us left camp and hiked about 5 miles up the glacier to
the top of castle rock and back in about 4 hours.
(the brown peaked castle rock summit seen from the ice shelf)
We got there about midnight and the view was spectacular,
as we gazed over to the almost 13,000 foot high Mt. Erebus, an active volcano
that was smoking in the bright sunlight.
(me at the peak at midnight)
(the 4 of us at the peak)
(mike at the peak)
(hiking down to the Ross Ice Shelf from castle rock)
(Mt. Erebus seen from the ice shelf)
The next morning we cooked a freeze dried breakfast (eating) on the stoves and then hiked over to the glacier and roped up for ascent. (preparing to ascend the glacier) (ascending the glacier with rope line attached to our harnesses) At the top of this glacier was a large crevasse that was hidden by a thin snow bridge. Looking at this, I could see why it would be very easy to be walking along and fall into a crevasse. It is one of the hazards of this area. Our instructor knew this particular crevasse well and each one of us got a chance to be lowered on a rope about half way down this deep crevasse through a small hole at the surface of the glacier. (me being lowered into the crevasse) The view and sensation inside was spectacular. (inside the crevasse looking at other person) (looking up the rope I am hanging on) (looking up at second person) Since there were two holes at the surface two people could be lowered simultaneously.
On another day we took the Haglund to the snowmobiles (snowmobiling) and traveled on the ice shelf to see penguins and seals. (seals) (seal entering air hole) (penguin exiting water) (penguin)
On our last day of R&R we got to go on a great snowmobile trip to "Room
With A View". (winterovers with
This was an area high on the glacier that was adjacent to Mt. Erebus.
(Mt. Erebus with smoke plume and
fog in the foreground)
In addition to the great view, the instructor
took us on a hike down to the bottom of a deep crevasse, nearby.
(getting ropes tied to each other)
the glacier to the crevasse entrance)
instructor, at the mouth of the crevasse)
(at the v-shaped
bottom of the crevasse with a person in front)
(looking out towards the mouth of the crevasse)
(at the crevasse bottom) ("room with a view" group)
Our group got back to our home, the South Pole, two days late. About an hour into our 3 hour flight to the pole, the LC-130 developed engine trouble so we turned back to McMurdo to land at Williams Field on the Ross Ice Shelf. The problem was that by the time we got there the whole area was fogged in. After 10 approaches to land and waiting for the fog to lift , we quickly landed in a brief period of clearing fog. We then were stuck at McMurdo Station two more days until the fog cleared out. The flights to and from the pole were fantastic with clear skies and great views of the immense rivers of flowing glaciers between the peaks of the Trans Antarctic Mountains.
Back at the pole, it was back to long days working the 10 science projects
that I am responsible for. I had someone flown in for the week that I was
gone to run my projects, but it seems that he had to return early. That coupled
with the fact the we were delayed due to weather left my computers unattended
for several days creating much work upon my return. When we returned, I was
surprised to see the the first third of the new station was now completely
closed in and ready for winterover workers to work on the interior.
(new station as of Jan 28)
Winterovers next year will sleep in the new station, making
this the last year for the dome after 26 years of service.
(New Station as of Jan
28 with snow drifted dome in the back)
Later that day
the Germans flew an aircraft from their station on the coast , picked up
a severely hurt expeditioner injured in a snowmobile accident and transported
him to the pole. He was then flown out to McMurdo and then directly to Christchurch,
New Zealand. (German Aircraft
at the Pole)