We got out of WAIS on Thursday, January 21st by a Basler plane. There were 2 members of the camp who had gotten hand injuries earlier this month, and they need to get seen my the doctors in McMurdo. There was a Basler passing over WAIS on the way back to McMurdo, so they were kind enough to stop by and pick put 9 of us from camp. We were notified about this plan at 9:30am and then plane was coming at 10:30am. Then lead to Lee and I quickly packing up all of personal bags, tents, and our equipment in an hour. We had to leave more equipment than we wanted to out at WAIS, but we grabbed all the important items. Flying back on the Basler was a lot of fun because there were windows and the camp chef quickly baked some cookies for our journey 🙂
Then we took Friday to regroup and got on the Otter and Helo schedule again. We got the whole weekend off and then we got cancelled on Monday, but Tuesday we got to go to Siple Dome which is an actual camp staffed with 2 people for the whole season. For our first flight to Siple we took 3 riggers with us (Andrew, Mikey, and Buddy), and then there were 2 passengers going to fix a seismic station. Since there were so many of us we got to take a Basler again which was fun! It took about 3 hours to get there and we had 4 hours of ground time. We knew that this still wouldn’t be enough to complete the station move.
The work that we needed to do at Siple Dome AWS was a little usual. The old AWS was located a couple of miles east of the Siple Dome camp. It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to snowmobile there which cuts down our ground time by 30 minutes to an hour, thus we wanted to move the AWS closer to the camp and the skiway. In order to do this, we needed to first put up new tower, remove all the instrumentation, and re-install all the instrumentation on the new tower. We figured it would take more than 4 hours to complete all this work, so 2 flights would be necessary.
First, we had the riggers help us install the new tower. We finished securing the tower in about an hour thanks to the expert riggers!
Next, all 5 of us snowmobiled over to the old AWS. The riggers were able to help us bring the power system to the snow level which was super helpful! Then we figured that was all could really do until we had more time to come back. We thought about unplugging the instruments and waiting to install them until the next flight, but there’s always a possibility we couldn’t get back to Siple Dome this season and then we would lose a year’s worth of data. We snowmobiled back to the camp area, notified the pilots we were done, and flew back to McMurdo.
We got lucky in that the very next day we got confirmed to take an Otter back to Siple Dome. The Otter is a smaller plane, so this time it took about 3.5 hours to get there. We had 3 hours of ground time and we knew it would take almost exactly that amount of time to finish our work. First we snowmobiled to the old AWS and removed all the instrumentation in about an hour.
Then we snowmobiled to the new tower with the all the instrumentation and began re-installing everything. We finished everything in just enough time and we were pretty exhausted. We did about 13 hours of flying for about 6 hours of work, but we did get lucky because the weather was clam, sunny, and about 20 F both days we were there. This kind of weather is unheard of at Siple Dome because it’s usually fogged in really bad.
Enjoy a video of the Siple Dome visit!