This is Sarah Shackleton reporting from the depths of Crary Lab, McMurdo Station – Antarctica (S77.85/E166.67). A lot has happened since we left our respective institutions, and we still have a lot to do before we make it to our final destination of Taylor Glacier. Some highlights include several lengthy flights to Christchurch, NZ, a trip to the clothing distribution center (CDC) to get all of our extreme cold weather (ECW) gear, some jogs around Hadley Park in Christchurch, and an ‘Ice flight’ to our current destination. It’s hard keep track of all of the acronyms and fancy lingo people down here use, but it seems like pretty much everything has it’s own 3 letter acronym. Anyways, we made it down this Monday and in between trainings have been running around trying to locate all of our cargo to send to Taylor Glacier by helicopter (or helo).
I think we’ve been to about a dozen trainings so far, and learned everything from how to properly prepare a helo sling load, to how to sort our trash at the station. On Wednesday, we had snowmobile training at the SSC (Science Support Center), where we learned how to identify and fix some common problems with the machines. Those of us who are new (or haven’t been to McMurdo in a while) got to stay afterwards to try them out. I wish I had taken photos, because it was pretty epic. It was a beautiful day and we got to ride around on the sea ice and over a bumpy course to learn how to balance when the terrain is rough. Taylor Glacier is going to be a much different experience because we’re working on blue ice, which is much more difficult to get traction on and can be pretty rough on the snowmobiles, so operating them there will have its own set of challenges.
On Thursday Rachel, Kathy and I did the ‘food pull’ for the food that we’ll be bringing out to the glacier. It was in an upstairs room of the Science Cargo building that was set up like a grocery store, so it pretty much felt like a normal trip to get groceries except on a much huger scale. I was glad to see that there was a significant stock of coffee and hot chocolate. If/when we run out of things in the field, McMurdo will send a load out to replenish our stock.
When we’re not in trainings or prepping, we’ve had some time in the evenings to explore the station and relax. The first night Michael, Thomas, Andy, Jake and I hiked up to the top of Observation Hill (or ‘Ob Hill’). We were treated to an incredible view of the station and Mount Erebus, an active volcano 40 km (or 25 miles) away. The last few nights, we’ve had time to hang out at the Coffee House to relax before getting some sleep and preparing for the next day’s adventures. It’s been great getting to know everyone over the last few days and I’m really looking forward to working with them over the next few weeks at Taylor Glacier!