9 January, 1999
Saturday, January 9th, 1999, McMurdo, Antarctica.
Greetings from the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth?
This welcome explains why we need to stay hydrated at all times!! I had a great time walking around McMurdo after our midnight snack. I thought it was not cold at all but I learned quickly that I should have brought my heavy jacket. The wind is very penetrating. However, we hiked to Scott Hut about 1 mile from our 'hotel'. Unfortunately, nobody was awake to give us the key, so we did not see fully the inside. But it was exciting to imagine that many years ago, one of the great explorers was living in the hut. The view across the sound was spectacular and I could not get enough of seeing the Mountains, ice and snow. We also saw a little bit of the famous 'Crary Science and Engineering Center'. The view from the library was spectacular. We
did not see any penguins because the bay was frozen. Maybe on my return.
It was very quiet in McMurdo maybe because it was Saturday. However, people were up everywhere coming and going from work. McMurdo resembles a little urban center. It has reached its population capacity of 2000 this season. The winter population will be about
250. It serves as an international center where people of different background meet and exchange ideas. It probably would be very busy during day hours. Two miles from McMurdo is the neighboring New Zealand research facility Scott Base ( not to be confused with 'Scott Hut') established in 1957 as part of the British Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Edmond Hillary., the father of Peter Hillary who, at this very moment, is trying to follow Scott's path to the South Pole.
To our question from yesterday... The Ross Ice Shelf and Ross Sea were named after the Scotsman James Clark Ross. He was born in 1800 and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 11!! Besides exploring the Arctic where he and his uncle located the North Magnetic Pole (which is different from the Geographic North Pole), he also wanted to find the South Magnetic Pole. He set sail in 1839 with two strengthened ships ready to go through ice --- Erebus and Terror. He was the first
person to reach the Ross Ice Shelf . He was still searching for the South Magnetic Pole and he discovered what is now called Ross Island (where McMurdo station is located) and he named its two mountains after his two ships -- Erebus and Terror. He named the bay McMurdo Sound after his first lieutenant McMurdo. Ross was forced home after
4 ½ years away and never found the South Magnetic Pole. Ross married later that year, but only after he signed an agreement with his bride's father that his days of polar exploration would be over !
So much for McMurdo. It was time to think about the South Pole.
We left on time: again with an LC 130 or Hercules. This time we were only 8 passengers, the rest of the plane was filled with cargo. Some of it was very heavy equipment. The flight over the Transatlantic Mountains was just spectacular. We were looking out the window for most of the 3 hr flight . One person at a time, we had a chance to enjoy the scenery from the pilot's point of view!! It is difficult to describe and I hope that my pictures will come out.
We arrived on time at the SOUTH POLE, AMUNDSON -SCOTT BASE, the most Southern spot on Earth!! It felt incredible getting out of the plane and walking over the Geographic and Ceremonial South Pole. Two people made it here without any support or communication to the outside world : Amundson and Scott. I flew over the glaciers they walked across for many weeks to reach the South Pole. To honor these great men, The U.S.A. named its South Pole Station after Amundson and Scott. When did they reached the Pole?
Andy and Joel from our research group and whom I met in Boulder last summer greeted us at the plane. We took pictures and went to our welcome meeting. After that we went for a little tour, saw our sleeping quarters and had dinner. I started to have a very bad headache - a first sign of altitude sickness or maybe just because of lack of sleep. We went to bed because we were told that a reporter group from CBS was going to film our ozone work and balloon launches tomorrow. We needed to sleep fast to be ready!!
Until later.. Stay tuned!
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