15 January, 1997
>1/15/97 4:30 PM If all is working well I should be able to get this >message to McMurdo by 1/16. However, this message along with all of the >others may not get out until 1/18. We get back on the 23rd. Oh well.... > >We just got back from the Dais, above Lake Vanda. This was a real rock >climbing expedition, something I prefer to scrambling over scree. We >picked up samples early so had to carry them to the upper part of the >basement sill, scrambling from rock to rock and sometimes teetering from >the weight of our packs. > >What we found in the Dais Basement Sill was amazing. There are materials >in the rock there that are not seen anywhere else. Bruce Marsh welcomes >these irregularities since they are what he is always looking for. He has >to account for them using his theory of igneous rock formation. They force >him to answer the very tough questions other geologists might ask. > >Before closing I wanted to mention what goes on around camp every morning >before the helicopter arrives. I wake up at 7:30 AM, usually, and go over >to Bruce's tent for coffee. He listens for a call from McMurdo to see if >and when helicopter support will arrive. After he receives word we all sit >down to a quick breakfast. After breakfast I, along with Mike, usually get >the lunches ready. Then we go to check our gear. In addition to our >backpacks and hammers for collecting we also need our cold weather gear. >We carry this with us everywhere because the weather can change so >dramatically. Also, sometimes research teams are left overnight if the >helicopters are unable to fly. Our emergency gear can pull us through if >this should happen. > >The first person who hears the sound of a helicopter shouts, "Helos," and >everyone looks to see if it's headed our way (since I'm nearly deaf I see >the helo long before I hear it). If it's ours we rush to put our bags in a >good position and then run behind a tent. A good pilot can land a helo so >that very little sand is blasted into the campsite. Unfortunately we have >recently had a pilot who hasn't learned this trick; he blasts the heck out >of the campsite. > >A sandstorm rises beneath the incoming helo. We turn our backs and put up >our hoods to protect ourselves from the blowing sand. After the helo >settles we wait for a signal from the pilot to approach. When the signal >comes, everyone lifts their gear and runs for the helo. We load as fast as >we can and then jump on board. As soon as we are seated, we fasten our >seat belts, put on our flight helmets and prepare for takeoff. This >procedure is repeated in the reverse when we land again. > >The helicopter rides are always a highlight of the day. They are like >amusement park rides with fantastic scenery thrown in. But the best >scenery of all is earned. We earn it by hiking for miles and climbing high >up mountain sides. My work here is one of the most rewarding jobs I have >ever had.Return to Bill Philips' Page
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