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27 November, 2002

Shakedown: Day 2

This day also began with an early start. The tents do such a good job of holding in heat, I was almost disappointed that it was so warm (32F) when I woke up. I've camped in colder weather many times. My tentmate, Jaime, made breakfast and tried to radio McMurdo. We were actually so close that our signal bounces off the Ionosphere and right over base. So he had to call a team at the South Pole, to have them radio McMurdo to let them know we're fine.

We continued our crevasse training by lowering Dr. Carlton Allen of the Johnson Space Center into a crevasse. I hope his wife, Jackie, doesn't kill me for allowing this to happen. Through our training, and a group effort, we were able to "rescue" Carl from the ice. Much of what we did relied on simple machines. We constructed pulley systems that worked so well that Dr. Scott Messenger and I were able to pull him out with relatively little effort. Scott and I are not exactly burly, so it's a real testament to the power of the simple machine. It's amazing how often we use what we learned in 9th grade Intro to Physical Science in our lives.

This really was a good team building exercise in that we learned how to communicate with each other duing a rescue and how to fill various roles. Although I don't desire to fall into a crevasse, I'm a lot more confident that my team could rescue me or that I could contribute to a rescue of someone else.

We headed out early in the afternoon and stopped by Happy Camper school. This is where most people who arrive at McMurdo go to learn how to survive if caught outside. They build a number of snow structures that fill multiple roles. Igloos look cool (literally) but take a lot of time and effort. A good alternative is a snow dome, where one piles and packs snow on their gear, then pulls out the gear and diggs a tunnel to the dome. An ice cave or trench is a good structure to make in a hurry if one doesn't have lots of gear, but can be the coldest of all.

Arriving in McMurdo meant about two more hours of unloading gear and running it inside. We were exhausted, but felt richer for the experience. Some members of our team went to bed by 9:00, while a few of us felt we needed to celebrate with a "carbonated beverage."

This experience has made me much more confident in our abilities for the six week field experience that is just around the corner.

ANSMET Camp on Mt. Erebus. (Jamie Pierce in foreground using radio to check in with McMurdo-MAC-OPS).

Andy coming out of an ice cave shelter at Happy Camper School.

John Schutt giving instructions and advice at the crevasse edge.

Ski-doo and sled for transporting gear (Castle Rock in background).

Looking into the crevasse.

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