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4 December, 2003

Skiing the Cape Armitage Loop and American Night at Scott Base

Things have sort of slowed down as our trip to the labyrinths has been postponed to January and we are almost done with initial processing of the samples collected in Taylor Valley. Some members of our team are fighting the "McMurdo Crud", a horrible cold that gets passed around the base. With all the new people constantly entering the continent, germs and colds are easily spread. I'm glad I have had my flu shot and make a point to take my vitamins each day. Why do you think that people who winter over rarely get sick after a month or so of the station's closing?

While the members of my team were resting, relaxing, or working on grants, I had the opportunity to parcticipate in another new first- skiing! Thanks to the encouragement of Barb, I checked out a set of ski equipment (skis, boots, and poles) and headed out for my first cross-country skiing lesson. We filed our ski plan with the firehouse, were handed a radio, and took a shuttle over to Scott Base. From there we skied the Cape Armitage Loop back to McMurdo. Surprisingly I caught on very quickly and was gliding on the sea ice in no time. Perhaps it was just beginners luck. Even though it wasn't a clear day, the view s of Black Island, Cape Armitage, and Mt. Erebus were incredible. The crisp air, isolation, and total silence were refreshing after being "cooped up" in town and really gave you a sense of being in Antarctica. It was great fun and I hope to be able to do other trails before I leave.

Later in the evening we took the shuttle back to Scott Base for "American Night". Every Thursday New Zeeland's Scott base opens its door to its American neighbors. We are allowed to shop at their gift shop, tour part of the station, and mingle with the Kiwis in their main lounge. Their station's compact green buildings are a nice change from the "mining town" feel of McMurdo.

1. A map of Ross Island showing McMurdo Station and Scott Base. New Zealandís base is located on Pram Point and is only about two miles from McMurdo. There is a road that connects the two bases, or you can travel on the sea ice. We skied from Scott Base to McMurdo around Cape Armitage. Note: This image came from page 315 of the book Lonely Planet: Antarctica by Jeff RubinĖ an Antarctic reference book I highly suggest. See http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

2. Me by the Scott Base sign

3. Unlike McMurdo, Scott baseís buildings are uniform in design. Scott base is also much smaller than McMurdo. Only about 70 people work here during the summer season, compared to the 1200 or so people that are currently working in Mactown.

4. A sign showing the distances to various places from Scott Base

5. My pictures just donít do this justice, but the white caps in the foreground are actually pressure ridges in the sea ice. As the season progresses the ridges have gotten bigger. What might be causing these ridges to occur?

6. Me and Robin Ellwood (a fellow TEA teacher) cross-country skiing on the sea ice. Scott Base is in the Background.

7. Here I am a little further on my journey. Black Island is ahead of me. We have to travel along the flagged route. Red and green flags mark safe pathways. Along the way we saw black flags and knew to stay away from them. What kind of dangers might they be marking? (Hint: what are we skiing on?)

8. Hanging out in the Scott Base lounge. Pictured from left to right: Amy Stoyles, Robin Ellwood, Erik Odroniec, a McMurdo fire inspector, and Dr. Regina Redman.

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