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11 July, 2000

Leaving Camp Summit 7/11/00

The day has come for us to leave Camp Summit. Wouldn't you know, it's snowing. It has been snowing since early this morning. I had this feeling that the weather would turn the day we were leaving and sure enough, a self-fulfilling prophesy. The weather is down right gross. The wind is blowing at a steady 5 meters per second and snow is blowing. You cannot determine the ground from the sky. The horizon is absent.

We cleaned our tents out by noon and put our personal belongings on a cargo pallet. It wasn't until 5:00 pm that the decision was made that the Herk from Kanger was leaving to pick us up. Everyone is very anxious about our flight. We all hope that we can leave this winter wonderland but in the back of my mind, I feel that it may be impossible.

I still have a lot of work to do. Since the past few days were devoted to packing science equipment, I have been delinquent in preparing my scientific reports for Hans and Nick. I decided that the morning would be dedicated to completing this task. At least it will give me something to do. It took me a lot longer than I thought. I started right after breakfast working on the last coding of my observations for Nick. By Noon I was just finishing the last touches. It had taken me 3 hours. I was going blind by looking at my computer screen. Now I had to produce 2 science reports for Hans-one for the profiles I collected and the other my 24 hours snow sample analysis. My goal was to finish by 3:00, go skiing then workout in the gym until dinner. I finished the reports right on schedule, 2:50 pm. Yahoo.

Skiing was really nice albeit the weather. Actually, I found that looking outside sometimes is worse than actually being in the weather. There was a cold southerly wind blowing snow. The horizon was still invisible but much to my surprise, I was able to see the end of the runway two miles away. The snow was very fast as my skis slid along the runway. Maybe I am finally in some athletic shape after spending so much time at altitude. The only problem I had was seeing the ground. With the light as flat as it was, seeing distance was not a problem. It was seeing where I was going directly under my skis which was the problem. After an hour ski, I decided to pack them up. When I returned to the Main House, the decision had been made. We were leaving Summit tonight.

My last workout in Santa's Workout Shop was nice. Nick was just finishing when I arrived. I had the little weather port all to myself. I am going to miss this place. It was my own sanctuary where I could retreat away from life at Camp Summit but every good thing must come to an end.

Dinner was pasta and meat sauce. I chose to have leftovers of chicken from lunch. We had to eat fast because the Herk was arriving shortly. With a roar overhead, I looked out the window and saw my ride back to civilization. Everyone scurried outside to meet the Herk. There were 11 new arrivals that debarked the plane. They were part of the construction crew that was going to revitalize the camp after we left. It is so funny when new folks arrive because they don't realize how high we are. The altitude hits you just as you leave the plane. They huff and puff because it is very deceiving. I was like that 4 weeks ago too. I just chuckled.

After the Herk and VECO crew pulled the cargo pallets onto the plane, we were allowed to board. We said our goodbyes to the Swiss team whom are staying behind. We all eagerly climbed the steps which is our doorway back to civilization. But wouldn't you know, the skis of the plane got stuck to the runway. We could not take off. The pilot tried to move the Herk up and down to dislodge the skis but we were stuck. The warm temps on Summit along with the warmer metal of the skis melted the snow around the skis. The Herk was stuck. Are we ever going to leave Summit? After the crew of the Herk and the remaining camp residents dug furiously under the 3 skis that supported the plane, we were able to move off the ice cap. With ear plugs in plane and our polar gear on, we left the winter wonderland for a 2 hours flight back to the warmth of Kanger.

Ciao, Cathi

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