4 July, 2000
The 4th of July Away from Home
While everyone in the United States is celebrating the 4th, we, Americans, at Summit also had our version of a 4th of July celebration. We did not have fireworks because it does not get dark but everything else is pretty much the same. This 4th of July is one I'll always remember.
Science was put on hold for most people at Camp Summit. Why it was a National holiday even though we were away for home. I still took my weather observations (every 3 hrs) as well as collected my rime samples this morning but that was as much science as I did today. Analysis will have to wait until tomorrow.
At 10:00 am, twelve members of the camp and 5 snowmobiles departed for an adventure. Approximately 30K (18.6 miles) away from Summit is an abandoned field camp called GRIP. GRIP was an international camp similar to Summit where ice core drilling research was conducted in the mid 1990's. As far as we can figure, the camp was abandoned in 1994. We started our journey with each snowmobile pulling a sled. We, passengers sat on the sleds. Because we were going to a more remote area than Summit, we carried along with us 5 survival packs that included a sleeping bag, tent, plastic covering and a stove. The weather can change very rapidly on the ice cap so it was important to be prepared. We also brought a ton of food including GORP (a peanut, raisin, M&M mixture), Powerbars (of course), Oreo cookies, hot chocolate, coffee mix and fruit and lots of water. We would not starve. To our load, we included a portable ham radio to transmit back to Summit.
After 10 minutes of riding (we were still on Camp property), Tim stops the lead snowmobile. He realized that we were going in the wrong direction. We had GPS (global positioning system) coordinates for our trip but the wrong camp coordinates were plugged into the GPS system. We were headed toward NGRIP (another station which was 400K away). We would have never made it. After a short delay and a change of coordinates, we were on our way.
It took us 1 hour on the snowmobiles to reach GRIP. All you could see as you approached it was some black poles sticking out of the ground. When we arrived, we started digging next to one of the poles and 1.5 meters into the snow there was a hatch that looked to me like a skylight. We opened the hatch and climbed into a large geometric dome that was buried in the snow. It was quite large inside. This was the living quarters for the researchers at GRIP. The funniest thing was they just left everything the way it was. They never packed anything. There were two stories to this structure and the top story was the sleeping quarters. Bunk beds were there as well as heating stoves, desks, and shelves. On the bottom floor was the living area that included a kitchen. There was so much food in this kitchen it was unreal. Cases of food were frozen because it was -40C (-40F) down there. We all had headlamps so we could see and venture onto the bottom floor. I was so cold I couldn't stay that long. Some folks brought back food and other unique items they found. Why did the Europeans just abandon the camp like that?
On the way back to Summit, one of the snowmobiles died and we had to tow it back on one of the sleds. When we arrived back at Camp, we had a barbeque that couldn't be beat with hamburgers, veggie burgers, hotdogs, salads, corn on the cob and watermelon. The night was warm with not much wind so we had a game of glacier wiffle ball. A nice ski and sauna finished a great day for me. The 4th of July, for me this year, was as good at Summit as it might have been at home. Happy Independence Day USA.
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