Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Winter Wonderland to Explore and Running the Skiway Part 1

A few weeks ago Les, the heavy equipment operator, had the area around the trash yacht cleared and flat. The last two weeks of storms and whiteouts has made the drifts larger than all season.


The snow level is almost piled up to the first floor. This was also flat and level two weeks ago. 

Destination Zulu (DZ) - the most often used exit/entry. The station is designed to elevate from the pilings. In two years the station will be lifted due to accumulated snow.

DZ Cargo deck with crane.

My ice friend (friends that we meet in Antarctica) Matt that I wintered with in McMurdo 2012 has for the past few years followed my daughter Jocelyn and my
 world bicycle ride. He spent the summer here at the Pole and I relieved him in February. Each year he sent us two calendars with various bike ride pictures from our blog. October is another fine month of pictures using lake pictures with Jocelyn and my wife Andee from Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, me at a spectacular waterfall in Chile and a great picture of Jocelyn and my son Cary. This is very appropriate with all of my family in October since next month we will all be together again. Thanks Matt for all the calendars.

Before I left Florida for the South Pole I had only one day to shop and pack for my nine month adventure. I splurged on this bag of candy and saved it unopened most of the season. Two weeks ago I broke down and opened this jumbo bag. I am rationing these M&M's to last until November 4th when I leave the South Pole. 
The South Pole Skiway is 12,000 feet long and 200 feet wide.

I am back running outside on the skiway. The temp was -66F with a windchill of -81F. I was dressed in four layers and outside for over an hour but didn't get cold as long as I was moving. Now I know how a dog with hair covering his face feels like. It's hard to see but the ice forms a warm barrier.

Les is doing a fine job preparing the skiway for station opening.The Dark Science Labs are in the background. That's an antenna behind the tractor.

Sastrugi is fascinating to me. Wind eroded snow that looks like waves. Sastrugi is found in the polar regions of the earth.

The aerodynamics are simply amazing. The eroded ends/points are so fragile but due to aerodynamics they have formed and lasted the brutal winter winds.

Back in front of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Underneath the station. The station is built on pilings that can be raised as the ice builds. Small sleds to the right.
Running at the South Pole

Several more sastrugi pix.

The following day was more windy so I didn't get as far. I got a little frostnip near my eye. My work antenna domes in the background.

Les taking advantage of the good weather with long grooming days on the skiway. After our sunrise we didn't see the sun for 12 days, including four whiteout days. It was brutal.

The summer crew will spent the entire summer season, about three weeks pushing the winter accumulated snow out to "no man's land" as it never melts. 

The entrance to the vehicle maintenance facility and logistics. Power plant exhaust to the left.
This is what it looked like in February. 

No wake zone near DZ entrance.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Changing of the Flags

At sunrise the flags at the ceremonial South Pole marker that have flown all winter are removed and raffled to station crew. These flags represent the twelve original signers of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959. Since then many other countries have signed this treaty. Photo credit to all the flag pictures: Brett

New flags are then attached to the flag poles. During the raffle I won the New Zealand flag seen here! My daughter and I spent six weeks exploring the island nation with our bicycles in 2012 - one leg of our world journey. The excellent medical duo of Catherine and Sarah removed the flag (which I won) and installed the new one. 

The new flags flying proudly.

The last several days have been very cold near -100F with windchills in the -140's. Now another Antarctic storm has enveloped us. This and the next view taken from my room.

Geographic South Pole sign and flag to the left.
A friend who volunteers in the Growth Chamber brought me some freshly grown broccoli while I was working. What a great snack! Thanks Catherine.

The storms continue blasting upstairs windows.

Snow accumulation on the window sills. 

Snow accumulation on an upstairs overhang.

A crane on one of the cargo decks.

The "trash yacht". All trash is separated inside the station, bagged, then deposited in cardboard tri-wall boxes. These boxes are then flown to McMurdo Station 835 miles away on the coast onboard the C-130 Hercules planes. One a year a supply ship arrives in McMurdo Sound. Once off-loaded from the planes all trash and recycled waste is loaded onto the ship and taken to the ship's homeport of Port Hueneme, California where the trash is off-loaded and sent to the appropriate landfill/recycling center. Seventy percent of all Antarctic trash is recycled. 

You always hear about kids and adults complaining about taking out the trash in the states. Spend one winter at the South Pole and you will never complain again. During the winter including 6 months of total dark in temperatures lower than -100F and windchills in the -150's we on station walk out the DZ exit and down the stairs shown here and walk through several feet of snow drifts to the trash yacht. We then figure out which box, as it is dark, then open that box in the cold wind, deposit the bag, then close and secure the box. It can be a very adventurous task. 
The station crew all signed the Norway flag. The winter station manager will take this flag to Oslo, Norway and deliver it to the Fram Museum. Amundsen sailed the Fram to Antarctica in 1911 for his trek to the South Pole which he and his team achieved in December 1911.

The Arctic/Antarctic ship Fram was specially designed for extreme ice sailing. It is in a museum in Norway.

The Fram in Antarctica as the crew prepares for their journey to the South Pole.

The Fram under sail.

End of the season parties in the galley bar.