On the Ice

First days at McMurdo

Hello! This marks my first post to the On the Ice Blog for the 2012-2013 field season. It feels great to finally be down here, after some long, but relatively smooth, flights from the US to Sydney, Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand to here in McMurdo, Antarctica, where I am reporting from (Crary Lab to be specific). In this entry I will be talking about 1) current weather conditions, 2) the flights I took (with pix), and 3) my schedule for my first week or so in McMurdo.

1) The weather in McMurdo has been very pleasant for the time that Lee and I have been here. Currently, it is 14F (-10C) with winds out of the East at 11 knots and mostly clear skies. Not too shabby!

2) I flew out of Minneapolis on 24 Nov, transferred at Dallas, then LA (where I met up with Lee), then took the 15 hour flight down to Sydney. From Sydney we flew to Christchurch. We didn’t experience any delays, which made things much less stressful, and we arrived in Christchurch on 26 Nov in mid-afternoon. After getting the ECW (Emergency Cold Weather) gear in Christchurch the next day, then taking some time to wander through the city (still some parts in shambles from the earthquake in 2011), we left for McMurdo on 28 Nov.

We had to take the shuttle from our hotel at 4 am on 28 Nov. When we arrived at the Antarctic Center at the airport, we got our bags, watched an “instructional video” then drove to the C-17. After waiting for a while, we finally took off at 7:15 am. The flight was loud, but I think all of us were able to get at least a little sleep. It was a very cool sight when we first reached the Antarctic continent. Here’s a picture I took from the window of one of the hatches on the side of the plane:

Picture of Transantarctic Mountains in Victoria Land, with left wing of C-17 in upper right-hand corner

After that rush, another one came when we landed on the ice (we landed on the blue ice runway). My first steps on the Antarctic continent!

I have conquered Antarctica! Picture taken by Lee

We all took the Delta vehicle to get from the runway to McMurdo. It was a long, and somewhat bumpy, ride, but it beats walking. And to boot, I got to sit in the front cabin and get some good views:

View from front of Delta, with windshield wiper in foreground and Mt Erebus in the distance

3) Upon arrival at McMurdo, everyone attended a quick briefing, in which we received some general information and got our room keys. After that, Lee and I did some work in Crary, got some food, went on a short walk around McMurdo with Kathy and Cindy, and got our checked bags.

Today, Lee and I attended our science in-briefing at the Chalet and got our Lab trainings done. Tomorrow and Saturday are big days for me, as I will be completing snow school. I’m looking forward to that. I will update you all with a blog post after that, with pictures. Next week I will do my light vehicle training and the outdoor safety training. Lee and I will also have to schedule snowmobile training, but we aren’t sure what day we will schedule that for yet.

That’s all I have for now. Until next time.


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