The Invasion(s)

Week 6 for me at WAIS Divide and 100 years ago the Norwegians reached the South Pole for the first time. The PM of Norway Jens Stotlenberg visited the Scott-Amundsen South Pole Station on Wed. to celebrate. Here’s a link to another Antarctica blog that mentions the importance of the date: http://antarcticablog.blogspot.com/2011/12/this-week-in-antarctica-100-years-of.html. Further down in the article you will read about the giant crack at the Pine Island Glacier iceshelf and that is where the PIG traverse team is heading, which you’ll see soon. A few days ago a LC-130 attempted to land at PIG, but could not find the runway, therefore boomeranged, and the PIG traverse has yet to arrive. PIG camp is a big unknown right now. Where’s the crack? Where’s the runway? What’s going on over there?

As for WAIS camp, some days it feels like a Panamanian island resort high season, lots of action and warmth and pictures of palm trees drawn on the interior of the outhouses. Other days it's really chill and not much shaking. Christmas weekend will be our last big feast and a week after that we start discussing redeployment. Where to journey once I get off the Ice? New Zealand? Hawaii?

Before thinking too far ahead here's a synopsis of our week at WAIS. Every morning we review our flight schedule and because of weather, mechanical issues, staff limitations, etc., only about half our flights have been coming through. Despite the scheduled LC-130 flights (skier) missions being delayed we saw an influx of outsiders from BYRD, PIG traverse and elsewhere, like, how did these flamingos get here?

Last week's big storm birthed monster drifts all around and some tents were lucky since the drifts developed nicely around them. My tent was nearly swallowed up with snow as shown in the last post. Not so lucky, but fun to shovel? Yes, indeed. Sweat and snow.

I created a large snow wall around my abode to keep out the snow and so far it works. Only been sunshine and 30 F since I built it, but hey, sooner or later a CON 2 or CON 1 will roll through western Antarctica.

To the Arctic Tent master plan I added a staircase that leads to the top of the drift outside the front door...

and a side tunnel leading into the back of the tent.


Off work, I was shoveling and others were marshalling planes.

The pic below shows a group of scientists waiting to board and fly away back to MacTown. Some researchers are here for a month, others only for days. We also have a temporary crew that flies in from MacTown to help with janitorial and dining attendant services. They rotate every couple weeks. In addition to that, carpenters come in at the beginning and end of the season to put up and take down our camp. We also have a couple third shift dozers that rotate in-and-out depending on our snow removal needs. Since we're in the heart of the season the staff at WAIS is somewhat on cruise control, but things are always changing and that means we gotta always be on our bunny boots. WAIS in flux.

The galley makes cookies for all the pilots and I'm not sure if they actually make it to the plane.

The WAIS cargo team ready to pick up the bounty.

And this is how you get 1000s of gallons of AN8 plane gas from an LC-130. WAIS operates as a thriving gas station... planes bring in gas that's stored in fuel bladders and with that we fuel up planes when needed.

Papa X-Ray examining our fuel bladders.

Sir Dean and the bosses discussing the gas plan I presume. A shout out to Dean's mom... Dean says Hello and Happy Holidays from WAIS. It's been a great season with a great team and WAIS rocks this ice sheet.

The cargo unload.

Science has picked up in the last week. For weeks they (drillers, the Don, grantees and their assistants) have been in the Arch dropping loggers in the borehole and gathering data. They do everything from measuring a 3000 meter cable with a measuring tape by hand (it took 2 days) to blowing up and dismantling bombs outside our camp. Science is only human. The tools break, like the hot water ice drill below. The days are long and tiresome. The weather is nasty at times. But, they get it done and are excited every morning to proceed with their projects.

After a day's work they got the drill working and next thing I see is them out there a few hundred yards from tent using it for a project.

Scientists come and go. Food is brought in and eaten. Equipment is broken and parts are flown in. Janos rotate. WAIS in flux. Today we have five flights supposed to arrive. We're as much of an airport as we are anything else.

A bike ride from the camp to the Arch. The way I see it... less friction means more exercise.

One day after breakfast there was a call on the radio that the Piggies have arrived. Oink what? I went outside and met a convoy of tractors and sleds. They came from BYRD and we're working their way at 6 MPH to the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) camp. They are carrying with them science equipment, tons of fuel, tents, snowmobiles, dozers... pretty much a field camp on 5 long sleds pulled by tractors.

This is their mine detector. Haha, not really, I'm not sure what it's for... maybe to detect the PIG crack?

They came in for a night, ate breakfast and then went back on the road although I don't think there are any roads on the west Antarctic ice sheet. Adios Piggies.

Next morning I found a box in the fridge from the girlys at BYRD. The PIG traverse team carried it with them for that 100 or so miles. Thanks all. The grub was good and eaten well.

Ah, what to cook at 3 AM. Lemon poppy seed muffins sound good.

As do blueberry.

I found this recipe in a book and reproduced using homemade multi-grain bread. All you do is toast one side of the slice and lather the other side with cream cheese and bananas. Drizzle the bananas with honey and pop on the broiler rack for a couple minutes. Top with nuts.

Rustic blueberry baked ‘French’ toast.

Monster bacon breakfast burrito. MB3. The MB3C is with chorizo. Sorry, watched Star Wars the night before.

Tomato and onion tarte.

Blueberry and raspberry crisp pie. Can you tell that I found a frozen box blueberries in our cave? Blueberries all up n dis joint!

Sunday cheese platter.

The cold side of breakfast. Cheeses, candied apricots, applesauce, berries, nuts, dried fruits, hazelnut granola, tropical trail mix, cottage cheese and yogurt.

Bread time. A dried fruit and seed bread.

Dates, cranberries, apricots, bing cherries, raisins, currants, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds.

Banana nut loaf.

Failure. Not, bread pudding... bread crumbs... egg casserole...

Do not eat.

When yo tomato paste hosts a world of frozen micro-organisms throw it out and write a song called 'Frozen WAISland'.

Get some sun n play some frisbee golf.

Prep for the holidays.

Walked into the work one morning with maple leaves glued to the windows... smelled like Canada.

And what do you know... there was a Canadian KBA plane outside. 11 BYRDies got redirected to WAIS because their camp got whitedout when on a 3-hour science mission. 11 mo peeps for bfast, no problemo.

So there you have it... planes, tractor trains and Canadamobiles. Peace outtie till next week.