18 November, 2002
Skies Clear with unrestricted visibility. Absolutely beautiful!
Latitude: 77 degrees, 51 minutes south
Longitude: 166 degrees 40 minutes East Temperature: -9 C / +16 F
Wind speed: 11 knots
Wind Chill: -21 C / -6 F
Wind direction: East
Meters of ice collected: 0
Notes on Daily Life:
This Journal entry was written by Jim Laatsch. We are alternating logbook duties to keep our perspectives fresh... Jim is an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. This is his first trip to the Ice.
Well the big day is almost upon us. If everything goes according to plan we will leave McMurdo tomorrow morning and head out to Byrd Surface Camp to start the traverse. Luckily everyone has been working hard for the weeks before this so there really wasn’t much left to do at the last minute; but the charge of excitement in the air still bred a lot of energy. Containers and boxes that had been packed, checked, and rechecked were checked again as the portent of actually beginning our work loomed in the very near future. One fact that started sinking in amongst the team was that we would soon be removed from the comforts of McMurdo that we had grown accustomed to. When we departed for Antarctica we were all mentally prepared to travel to a harsh environment with few accoutrements and little communication with the outside world. This would certainly be an inaccurate description of the posh comfort that is McMurdo Station. The knowledge that we would soon be leaving struck home the realization that we would not have easy access to phones, e-mail, showers, computers, or any of the numerous luxuries that characterize McMurdo and team members spent much of the day taking full advantage of the time that was left. Calls were placed, that e-mail that kept being delayed was finally written, packages and letters were mailed home, and that two minute time limit for the showers was liberally superceded (one ITASE’rs logic being that he was going to cumulatively add up each of the two minutes a day of suggested shower time he was missing while he was on the traverse and use it in advance.)
During the afternoon many people chose to enjoy the warm, beautiful weather we’re experiencing in McMurdo to go for a ski or a hike. A few watched the last bit of TV they’ll see for a while, and Jim finally mailed his grad school applications after spending weeks having it re-edited by anyone he could trap into the task. After enjoying what will hopefully be our last meal at the Mac town galley for a while we were off to begin the process of flying to Byrd Station.
Hopping an intra-continental flight in Antarctica is somewhat more complex of a process than just heading to the airport and waiting for the flight attendant to show you to your seat. The night before you are scheduled to fly anywhere in Antarctica you first have to go to Bag Drag. Bag Drag, as the name might imply, is not the most exhilarating thing to do on the continent. It involves packing everything ? yes everything- that you will be taking or wearing on the flight to one of the cargo yards to have it all tagged and weighed. There is always cargo that needs to accompany a flight so the Air Force has to know exactly how much weight is going to be taken up by passengers and their luggage so that it can include as much cargo as possible to keep logistics running smoothly. So we packed our, bags and donned all of our warmest clothes and headed to the weigh-in. Whenever you fly in Antarctica you have to wear all of your government issued outerwear (unless you get an exception to wear your own gear). This involves carrying a lot of bulky gear with you and sometimes being to warm, but as Paul euphemized “You’ll want it all with you in case the plane has to, uhhhh, stop.”
Well after Bag Drag most people went back to their rooms to make sure they had everything and then headed over to Mark and Brian’s room to watch a couple of movies and engage in apprehensive banter over whether we would actually depart McMurdo in the morn. With the demand for supplies so high in other parts of the continent and the weather so unpredictable we can’t be certain that we will actually be able to fly out. But as wavering as the other factors are one definite fact that can be relied on, is that the ITASE team is ready to get started as soon as we get the green light.
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