Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Race Around the World

A Christmas tradition at the South Pole is to hold a race on Christmas day called Race Around the World.

The race is 2 miles and consists of 3 laps around the actual pole. There is an inner track for walkers, runners, skiers, biking or whatever else you want to do, and there is an outer lap for vehicles to drive on (some of which play music or throw candy at the racers).

The race was a lot of fun! The approximate temperature was -18 with an approximate windchill of -30. Jeri, Kate, and I all went as a team and wore fleece ear bands with our initials attached in memory sticks on them.

The top male and female finishers (this year 15:41 and 21:07 respectively) get to go to McMurdo station to run a race there, which they usually win since they are already running really well at altitude.

Click here for some photos

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow Stake Run

On Saturday, myself, Liz, Jill, and Glenn volunteered to go off-station via snowmobiles by 20 km to measure snow stake lenghths and angles. The snow stakes are placed every .5 km away from the station on 6 different lines. We were doing LIne B.

The purpose of the project is to characterize snow accumulation near the Pole. Since the stakes are spread out over a wide area, the data gives a better statistical picture of snow accumulation than if measurements were only taken near the station itself (structures and activity cause unnatural drifting and mess up the measurements).

The project is not actually funded anymore, and hasn't been for at least a couple years. Special permission had to be gained from the NSF to do these runs, and for most projects this would be too much trouble to go through, but in this case the South Pole Science Support and Meteorology think it's an interesting project. It's also a great project to get non-science crew directly involved in some science.

Driving the snowmobile out over the sea of snow and ice was lots of fun. We were following the line on a perpendicular route to the way the snow blows. This forced us to go a little slower as we were riding over the sustrugis (snow drifts) as if they were waves. The other best part of the day was that we got far enough out to not see the station anymore. It was just us and Antarctica. Also, I saw the moon for the first time in months as it's now hanging out over the horizon with the sun.

Click here for some photos

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Anniversary to the 1st South Pole Arrival

96 years ago today, on December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen arrived at the Pole (90°00'S) beating out Robert F. Scott's fatal expedition by 35 days.

To read more about Amundsen, click here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Boss Gets Published in Computerworld

If you're interested, check out this article in Computerworld (don't forget to look at the pictures). My boss, Henry, who is here on the ice with me, answers a lot of interesting questions about IT and Antarctica.

The picture above is from Mohawk night when Jeri was shaving mohawks for people. Henry is the second guy from the right.

Click here for article

Sunday, December 9, 2007


South Pole Recreational Outdoor Camping Session

If someone is looking for a ridiculously insane way to experience Antarctica, I've recently learned that a good way to accomplish this is to go camping.

This is what I did on Saturday night.

The temperature was -25 degrees with a windchill of approximately -50. We left the station around 7:00 p.m. and drove out to our campsite. Once there, we set up camp which included erecting Scott and mountain tents, building snow walls, and building a quinzhee. I chose to eventually sleep in a mountain tent with my friend Jill (aka Pumpkin) and my fellow Portlander, Kate.

The hardest part for me was staying warm. Even people that are hardened by working outside were getting cold too. Staying outside in temps that low for 12 hours with no place to warm up is no easy feat. My actual lowest moment ended up being when I had to use the restroom and the pee tent was getting used to warm up water for hot water bottles to put in your sleeping bag. This meant that I had to brave the cold and go by the pee stick that designated the bathroom area. To actually go, I had to take off my parka, undo my Carhart bibs and drop drawer in the freezing cold. The worst part was that I was holding it so long that once I started going, it felt like an eternity before I was done. It took me a long, long time and some running around camp to warm up, but now I can say I've peed on Antarctica! In the future, a pee can or a funnel are definitely in order.

Overall, I definitely have a new appreciation for the early explorers and the people in expeditions who still brave the cold to venture onto the ice.

Click here for some photots

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cooking at the South Pole

It's a tradition at the South Pole that the Saturday after Thanksgiving, different departments in the station take on the task of cooking so the kitchen staff can have a day off. IT and Science cook lunch that usually consists of tomato soup, grilled cheese and some type of vegetable. This year, my fellow Portlander, Kate, and I took on the task of cooking asparagus for 250 people. It was a lot of fun to spend some time in the kitchen again, and the asparagus turned out decently well.