Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ups and downs

Good news: I finally made it out to a site today. Sadly the forecast was bad for the GPS sites, so it was just to a seismic site. We did fly on my new favourite plane though: the beautiful Basler.

We headed to Siple Dome, which is an established field camp (well, there are 2 people there), then the seismic station is about a mile away, which meant it was time for a skidoo ride. We were three people, so I got the job of sitting on the sledge being pulled behind, and making sure that we didn't lose any of our kit (or me!).

The site was nice and simple, and the weather sunny and still: perfect Antarctic weather. The box wasn't too buried, so we didn't have to dig too deep, then I took on the role of photographer and documented the state of all the instruments, and the upgrades that we made.

Upon our return to Byrd one of the boys was zipping round on a skidoo trying to dry the engine out after it got packed with snow during the storm the other day. It needed to run for another twenty minutes or so, so we changed over and I got to drive my first skidoo. This is very, very fun. I was comically rubbish to start with, jumping off the gas as soon as I started moving, thus resembling a noisy rabbit hopping around the camp. But as I headed out to the open snow beyond I started to get braver, and spent a fantastic 10 minutes riding over the 'waves' of snow drifts which had built up beside tent city. Given the forecast, I may be out playing again in the next few days...

The twin otter also headed out to a seismic site today, but decided to stop off at one of the GPS sites on the way back and hit some bad sastrugi as it landed. The plane bounced around a bit, and the tail got a bit of a bashing, and we just heard that the engineer thinks it'll need to head back to McMurdo to be fixed. Nooooooo!

In addition, we have fog forecast for Byrd tomorrow (but good weather at the coastal sites, which is where we really need to get to), so we have our fingers crossed that the pilots are in a jolly mood tomorrow and agree to give it a go.

On a final positive note, we have finished another demon jigsaw, accompanied by 80's rock night in the GPS tent, and our beer order is due in on a Herc at 1:40am tonight.

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