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20 November, 2003


Temperature: 16*F

Location: Lake Bonney, Dry Valleys

First order of business was to prep a melt hole for tomorrow. We drilled down four flights with the jiffy drill. We did not want to punch through the ice just yet. Once we punch through, the hole fills with water. We will not be able to put the heater in until tomorrow, so if we fill the hole with water today, it obviously would re-freeze and we would have to drill our hole all over again; no one wants that to happen! We drilled as deep as we dared and then moved to the next location.

We took the ATV through a beautiful gorge over to the west lobe of Lake Bonney. This lake is divided into two lobes; east and west. The east lobe is considerably larger than the west. The west lobe butts up against the Taylor Glacier which is seeping into the valley from the polar plateau.

We arrived in the west lobe just in time to witness an avalanche off in the distance. We heard the tell tale rumbling sound which made us all look. In the instant it took for us to turn our heads, the avalanche had already reached a high velocity. Snow flew in all directions as the rushing avalanche enveloped the glacier. After a few short moments, the snow settled as if tossing a large white sheet onto a bed. The only evidence it had ever occurred was the gaping hole in the ice sheet above where it had fallen and our memories. I was glad there was no one on the glacier to get swallowed by the event, and that we were able to watch it from a safe distance!

Following the fabulous display from nature, we got to work thawing cables from the ice. Before we began drilling our melt hole, we hooked up the computer to the data logger and retrieved all the information that had been collected throughout the year. Holes were drilled and heaters put into place.

Peter and Phil rode back to camp to drop off some equipment and to do some work on the east lobe of the lake. Roman and I finished melting out the cables from this hole.

All is well and I'm having the time of my life!

1. Avalanche in progress!

2. Measuring ablation rate.

3. Ablation stake data.

4. Downloading data from the monitoring station.

5. Trombone lessons in Antarctica! - Getting ready to start melting!

6. Traveling by "banana sled!"

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