Sunday, December 05, 2010

Back to the Ice

I'm sure we've posted photos very similar to this one in the past - it's always a magical moment, stepping out of a very dark airplane hold into the brightest and strangest environment on earth, thankful that the hardest part is over. This was Dec. 1 - everything had gone perfectly thus far. Now it is Dec. 5 and I should be at Cape Crozier... but I'm not. The wind and blowing snow are keeping the helicopters grounded, so I have an extra day to catch up on correspondence. Scott and Annie at Cape Crozier report 94mph winds there, so they are taking a hut day. Katie and Libby at Cape Royds have a little less wind, but their heater mysteriously burned through two tanks of propane in a few hours. Fortunately the third tank is behaving normally.

The days here have been typically full. I had shipped two weighbridges back from the states and they arrived in less than perfect shape. We have learned that small particles of dirt get shaken loose in shipping and end up under the loadcell inside the bridges, which makes the weight data completely unreliable. Fixing requires pealing back the rubber mat (which is glued down), taking the whole scale apart, cleaning, attaching a shim under the loadcell to give it more clearance, and then putting it all back together again. If all goes perfectly this takes about 3 hours, plus 24 hours for the glue to set up again. That on top of all the refresher courses (cold weather injuries, survival bags, helicopters, sea ice, waste management, lab safety, communications) and getting our food together for the next month required about 3 full days of effort. It isn't all bad to have a relatively easy day in the midst of this, as long as we are able to get out to field camps tomorrow!

At this point there is no internet connection whatsoever at Cape Crozier, so there may not be much updating going on again this year, at least not until I get back to McMurdo - approximately January 2.



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