Glenn goes to the South Pole!


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  • #936
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    Here we go.

    Tomorrow evening I’ll be leaving on the first leg of a trip to the South Pole, flying to Christchurch, New Zealand. Word on the USAP grapevine is that, as of yesterday, the Pole hadn’t opened yet, so polies are backing up in McMurdo and in Chch. I saw Sam Feola this morning and he hadn’t heard if there was a successful flight today either. Temps there have been very cold, -70F or thereabouts. I wouldn’t mind a few extra days in NZ, but I also know that there are a lot of toasty polies aching to get out of there.

    This is a bit weird for me, in that two weeks ago I was just leaving Palmer. I can still taste the air there. Going to the Pole will take me through McMurdo, making this a kind of tri-fecta of Antarctic service: all three US stations in one season. Am I crazy? Possibly. Am I wintering again? Hell no. At least, not this year. This will be just a summer season at the Pole for me, about 3.5 months.

    It’s been about 6 years since I was last there, and I’m very interested to see what the new station looks like now.

    Hmmm. I wonder where they will be housing me?
    :mrgreen:

    glenn

    #8699
    Baghdad Jim
    Member

    whoa…how the hell did you swing that?!?!? Secret RPSC exec? Hey, with that kind of pull, how abouts finding me a winter tour, I promise–no funny stuff with the penguins.

    For the first week.

    And no, I wouldnt happen to know how it got to the pole.

    #8700
    Been There
    Member

    Jim,

    Once you get as many months on the Ice as Glen has you can ask that question. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

    Been There

    #8701
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    And here I am.

    Whoa, what a crazy place. I’m in the middle of a turnover of duties, so I don’t have much time to talk right now. But sooner or later I’ll have a lot to say…
    😉

    g

    #8702
    Baghdad Jim
    Member

    @Been There wrote:

    Jim,

    Once you get as many months on the Ice as Glen has you can ask that question. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

    Been There

    😯 Ouch…it was meant as a joke. …

    anywhoo…get as territorial as you like, you’ll not dissuade me from the ice. Some day, eventually, somhow, I’ll get there w/o being a tourist and Glenn, if you’re still there, I’ll buy the first round. You too, Been There.

    #8703
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    I got the joke, no worries. If you get to meet BT you’ll understand his POV.

    Naturally, I had a good idea about who to contact. Whether or not a position was available was luck.

    #8704
    Been There
    Member

    Sorry for the some what gruff reply. Guess I am getting into my deployed frame of mind already.

    Glenn see you some time next month or so. Should make it to Pole a couple times with all the visitors scheduled….but that could change.

    Been There and Heading South Again Shortly

    #8705
    Baghdad Jim
    Member

    so Glenn, how is it going back after so long..what kinda vibes are you getting from the current activity?

    #8706
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    A lot has changed since I was last here (6 years ago). At that time I saw the first outside panels going up on the frame of the new station. Now I’m living in it…

    I’m putting together a quickie web page with pictures, so this is a kind of preview for that:

    As always, the season is short and the pace of work is frenzied. Living in the station is considerably more comfortable and convenient that ever before, but I confess a bit of nostalgia for the dome. (I’ll get over that quickly, I’m sure, after a few more Sundays running around the elevated station in shorts and flip-flops.) The comfort is deceiving… Just outside it’s -40 below or colder, with a fierce windchill. Even now I can hear the rumble of the wind.

    And the station is over-taxed. Despite the new facility and all its improvements, bed space, power and water are in short supply. This is really no surprise; the planned science projects always seem to expand beyond the supporting capacity of the station and crew. Ambition and determination are the only things in abundance, aside from ice.

    My first impression was being startled at how many people I know here, and more friends are showing up every day. Some aspects of the station show signs of brilliance (e.g., a quiet reading room, twin double-duplex outlets and a double LAN jack above the desk in every dorm room, etc). Somebody was thinking. When I saw the gym my jaw dropped. Holy guacamole! Color me impressed. At the same time, some things seem to have been overlooked. Storage is practially non-existent (frozen food is still stored under the dome, the crafts room and others are stuffed with boxes). The computer lab is short of electrical outlets. And the interior walls are tacky op-art. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    Overall it’s pretty exciting to be here. Speaking of which, I should get back to work.
    :mrgreen:

    g

    #8707
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    Yesterday I wandered around the station a bit more, and found even more rooms crammed with boxes, typically DNF (Do Not Freeze) stuff. This was mind boggling. But the explanation became clear later that evening when the station’s NSF rep, Jerry, hosted a lecture about the history and future of the station — this is the same presentation that’s given to DVs (Distinguished Visitors) when they arrive on station.

    If I got the gist of it, there is a remaining arch section — buried under the snow — that was part of the older station. It’s easily accessible from the new elevated station, and still houses some older buildings (The old gym is one of them, and has been converted into the smoking bar. It actually has a lot of character; too bad it’s really smokey in there and also slated to be torn down.) Anyway, the dilapidated structures under the arch are going to be removed, the arch expanded, and it will then become the new hub for materials. I’m assuming that when this happens (FY09?) most of the items stuffed into anterooms around station will be moved into there.

    Here’s a picture of the interior of the arch today…

    #8708
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    I made a quickie web page of the trip to the Pole, here: http://60south.com/polevaulting/pole.htm.

    Lots of pictures, probably a long download with a slow connection. Still to come are pics of the station itself and the people here.

    g

    #8709
    Baghdad Jim
    Member

    I’d forgotten all about the smoking bar and the arches.

    When I first started reading about AQ, I started with the dome station and inadvertantly migrated into McM without realizing it for a while. I had to back peddle and re-learn the general history of the dome with pics of everyone wearing those gawd-awful sweaters from the 70/80’s 😉

    With the heat turned off out there and the smoking bar partially gone, just how does a person manage to inhale cancer nowadays?

    I’ve see photos of those walls and one impression stands out front: they should stock more booze.

    As far as the lacking storage, that’s a shame. As much of a project as that was, I would’ve imagined they would have allowed for that.

    #8710
    Davinator13
    Member

    Glenn,

    Outstanding web site (Pole Vaulting)! I love reading all the accounts of people’s trips to McMurdo and the Pole, and I never tire of the shots of those massive military carriers. (I’m guessing you chose the in-flight bag lunch option instead of the in-flight movie? 😉 ) Thanks for making the effort to share much of that with your readers. I’m looking forward to future additions.

    There’s something incredibly amazing about how the snow looks in your shots getting on or off those planes. I know it’s just snow, but it looks so perfect. Almost manicured.

    #8711
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    Hello Davinator, welcome to the board.

    You’re right, the snow is manicured. At the sea-ice runway in McMurdo they scrape all the snow off so that the planes can land (wheeled) on the bare sea ice. It’d probably taste salty if you tried a chunk.

    At the Pole they compact in into a nice snow runway. When they’re done there’s almost no give to it, it’s very hard-packed snow.

    g

    #8712
    Davinator13
    Member

    Thanks, Glenn.

    So is the layer in the sea-ice runway shots that shows vehicle track marks a snow layer on the ice? (That displays the marks of tracks)

    I’m assuming even though it’s ice there’s still enough “bite” for the wheels to brake upon, or does the plane use a thrust reverser to actually decelerate upon landing?

    That must be a cool job to be on the runway team.

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