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15 December, 2003

Minna Bluffs/Mt. Discovery

We woke up this morning to find calm winds, bluer skies, and much warmer temperatures. We also discovered that we’d chosen a beautiful site to set up camp. To the north of our tents we could see Mt. Erebus and to the West Mt. Discovery. After a leisurely breakfast we unhooked the sleds and set out on our ski-doos for our first sampling site. Our mountaineer, Brain, determined a better route to reach land and without our sleds traveling over the pressure ridges was much easier.

Minna Bluff’s clay-like dirt, relatively “close” mountainous peeks, and glacial ice and cracks were a stark contrast from my experience in the Dry Valleys. In some ways this was easier. Distances are not as deceiving and it didn’t take as long to hike to the next desired location. On the other hand, the glacial ice can be extremely difficult on which to walk. When the ice is exposed, it is very slippery. Often, parts were very thin and broke as our feet hiked over it. Also, there are numerous cracks, which are often uneasily detected due to blown over snow and re-healing. Even though we had all taken our sea ice training, we felt much better having Brian there to point out the areas over which we had to cross carefully. Hiking was even more difficult as we had to do it in our bunny boots instead of our hiking boots. Even though we were careful there were still a few tumbles, but thankfully the only damage was a hurt finger and a few bruises.

1. A view of our camp today. Mt. Discovery is in the background.

2. A view of our sampling area as seen from our tent. We went to one of the VERY tiny peeks seen in the front of the larger brown peek. This distance was about 7 km. How many miles is this?

3. Me standing by a skidoo trying to cross some of the icy pressure ridges on the way to Minna Bluffs. If you look closely you can see the definition of the pressure ridges over which we had to cross.

4. Minna Bluffs

5. Up close the pressure ridges and the glacial ice over which we had to walk looked like this. This is very rough and bumpy. Notice the blue hue to the ice. Glacial ice is much more compressed and often has a bluer tint.

6. Do you notice the crack in this picture? Look closely!

7. Regina assisting Rusty as he steps over the hidden crevasse.

8. Scott and Laurie getting ready to sample.

9. Laurie uses her ice axe to expose the glacial ice below the rocky soil.

10. Our mountaineer, Brian, helps point us to the safest hiking route.

11. Even larger pressure ridges. These were caused as the glacier pushes up against the land. Note: we didn’t drive over these, we just saw them as we sampled.

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