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18 April, 2002

Review on snow pits!!!! Many measurements and observations are taken on the snow when a pit is dug. The following measurements are recorded in a snow pit: snow stratigraphy (layers), crystal size and shape, temperature, density and hardness. We will discuss hardness later.

At a 100-meter line, there are 5 snow pits dug. There is one main snow pit dug at the beginning of the 100-meter line. There are also 4 quick pits dug at 25 m, 50 m, 75 m, and at 100 meters. These quick pits are dug for an essential reason. Matthew wants an accurate analysis of the snow from this parcticular site. The use of the multiple snow pits allows for accurate analysis. Since more than one snow pit is analyzed, it ensures that a more complete picture of the snow is recorded in that area. If only one snow pit was analyzed, it might not be a good representation of the area. Science often involves taking multiple measurements. Even in the cold, for good scientific data to be collected, there must be multiple measurements.


LATITUDE: 69.44844 degrees North

LONGITUDE: 155.50568 degrees West

The Arctic is inhospitable. We have traveled hundreds of miles since Ambler and there have been no signs of human existence. There are no villages or settlements from Ambler to Atqasuk. With the exception of some few animal tracks, the signs of animal life have been non-existent. In this massive space exists vast, snow-covered land. The Arctic can be a beautiful, enchanting, peaceful place. We have been blessed with many of these peaceful days adorned with sunshine and clear skies. The Arctic can also be a troublesome, fierce, brutal place. The Arctic can turn and have no respect for life. The winds will howl and the cold can be brutal. It will take whatever crosses its path. Today we experienced a brutal Arctic day.

The winds started lightly in the morning. They gradually picked up their fierceness by mid-afternoon. We managed to work through one complete site and two abbreviated sites despite the winds and the cold. However, the winds fought harder and grew fiercer. The winds had gained enough speed

to engulf us in a ground blizzard. When the winds reach speeds of 10 miles per hour, the snow on the ground begins to be transported across the tundra. Winds over this speed can create a ground blizzard. Today there were gusts of wind up to 50 miles per hour. The snow was being transported from the ground up to 30 feet in the air. To us exposed out on the snow on snowmachines, it is dangerous.

Our visibility was limited to only 25-50 feet, almost non-existent. The winds howled and pushed us on our snowmachines. Each person focused strongly on the snowmachine in front. The snowmachine tracks would disappear in a matter of 15 seconds. Matthew led us using the GPS as his guide. He avoided cornices and dips within the snow. The winds continued to howl. The snow continued to blow. The winds managed to travel through my parka and layers of clothes sending cold chills throughout my body. If there was any exposed skin, frostbite would occur in a matter of seconds. It was dangerous to be out in such a strong ground blizzard. We needed to quickly find cover from the wind. We traveled on in a slow, meandering line. Matthew stopped every mile to check on the team. Finally a hiding spot away from the wind was found. A dip, in a creek bank existed where the snow had drifted a safe spot.

The winds continued to howl overhead but here in this spot we were safe. The team breathed a sigh of relief. It was late afternoon. Work was called off for the rest of the day. Tents were erected and warm food was consumed. Matthew quotes "The Weather always wins on expeditions and mountaineering excursions."

One must have deep respect for the Arctic. The life that exists here manages through harsh conditions. Winds and bitter cold are common. The plants and animals sustain. It is no place for humans. We respected the Arctic storm. We found safety and sat quietly in our tents.

Temperature min- -24 degrees Celsius Temperature max 16 degrees Celsius

Matthew smiling as he works in the snowpit!

Ken and I are seeking protection from the wind at the beginning of the storm.

Camp, the morning after the storm. With the windchill factor, the temperature felt -65 degrees F.

Matthew repairing the SnowSTAR sled after the storm. He is sewing the fabric back onto the sled.

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