my trip to the Antarctica and the South Pole

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

360 degrees

360 degrees

Today I went with some people from meteorology on a snow stake run. it was my last time being away from the station before winter sets in. we followed a line of stakes that went 20km out from the station--far enough to not be able to see anything but horizon for all 360 degrees. we drove out in a tracked vehicle called a pisten bulley, which has a maximum speed of maybe 10mph. the whole trip took about 3 hours in all. we measured the snow depth at 40 stakes along the way. i must be really sleep deprived because i managed to fall asleep in a vehicle driving over hard ridges in the snow taller than 1 ft, over and over and over! if anything here were to remind me of being on a boat in choppy water, that was it. we had to call south pole comms every hour, and since we were too far for our radios to reach, we had to use the portable satellite phone. just didn't feel the same as driving while chatting on the cell phone at home though. it was -45F today (without wind chill), and we had to take enough survival bags for everyone along, just in case we were to get stranded. it's funny to think that back home, my typical daily commute is over 30 miles, and here, going somewhere less than 15 miles away is a huge deal.

the last flight is only 6 days away now....then 8 months of winter. it will be interesting to see how it feels to be in one place with the same people for so long. today a big group of people left for the season, leaving our station population at just about 180, down from 260. we'll be just under 90 for the winter. there was a noticible difference in the crowd in the galley and around station after the passenger flight left. it's quieter and more comfortable with fewer people. in a week i'll be toasting the take-off of the last flight with other winter-overs!


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