Friday, November 17, 2006

Back to Crozier, First Storm

We're finally at Cape Crozier, and this is what the view out of our hut window currently looks like:

Cape Crozier white-out

I stepped out very briefly and was immediately inundated with snowdrift swirling around me at 50 miles per hour. My camera lens was instantly coated with ice, so I quickly retreated into the heated comfort of our 30 year old hut. This hut has withstood many serious storms, especially during the dark Antarctic winter, but sometimes I wonder how many more it will last through. After particularly stormy winters we find large pebbles and small rocks lodged into the side of the hut, and the external orange paint on the windward side is almost all gone from getting pummeled with wind-borne debris since 1974. Luckily the foundation is deeply frozen into the permafrost, so our chances during this relatively mild storm are quite good.

Crozier hut window

This is a view of the actual window, encrusted with snow. On clear days this window has the most spectacular view I have ever seen - the glacier flowing down to the sea with its rocky lateral moraines, grounded tabular icebergs along the shore, a vast expanse of sea ice and bergy bits, and Beaufort Island asleep in the middle of the Ross Sea. Snow, rock, sea, and ice. Occasionally seals sleeping on the fast ice, tiny penguin dots hurrying toward the ice edge, and if we are lucky some minke whales and orcas.

Oops, our wireless link to McMurdo station just died - the antenna either blew away or is totally covered with ice, so I'll have to use the satellite phone to finish posting this, which is too slow for photos. It may be a few days before we have internet connectivity again and before I can post more photos.

It's amazing to be here again in this Crozier universe - so removed from the mundanities of the "other" life. I love looking out the window and seeing ... well, nothing at the moment. Off to a sip of Scotch, maybe a cookie, and then to brave the fierce winds for 10 meters to the tent and the cocoon of our sleeping bags.


At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I currently live in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and am completely fed up with our extended summer and the continual drone of the air conditioning. I have been dreaming of wearing winter clothing and remembered that I had saved your blog under my 'favourites'. I am happy to report that I am now feeling a little cooler!Thanks! Take care down there.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger randy said...

.: What a fascinating blog. I am so impressed that you are able to post from a satellite phone inside a hut from Antarctica. How cool is that? (No pun intended.) I think most of humanity has no idea of what infrastructure exists on Antarctica. Thanks again for blogging from the far side, and I hope you are looking forward to summer. It is supposed to drop to -25C with the wind chill in Edmonton this week!

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Viola said...

Well, it's equally amazing to me that my tales and photos from Antarctica can reach Dubai and Edmonton through a flimsy satellite phone connection! Thanks for your words of appreciation ... it makes Cape Crozier feel just a little tiny bit less isolated. And Randy, you can tell everyone you know in Edmonton that it is colder there than Antarctica right now - our temperature during the storm went down to -10C, and now it is a balmy -2C.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger randy said...

-2C!!!! Argh! Viola, it was -40C this morning here, with the wind chill. Last year at this time it was around +10C...

Where is global warming when you need it?

A friend at Johns Hopkins was telling me about one of the JH researchers at Willy Field, who is maintaining this blog: I can only assume that you must be aware of him..
- Randy


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