Monday, October 15, 2007

The highest, driest, coldest, windiest place on earth

"Scott used to say that the worst part of the expedition was over when the preparation was finished." Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World

Above is the equipment that we are taking to Cape Crozier. It's the second time that we assembled the stuff and hauled it down to the helo hut, but Paul, Jessica, and I didn't leave this morning. The wind decided not to cooperate. It's not a storm, per se, since we see patches of blue sky at times, but there's wind blowing. More importantly, the weather people say that Cape Crozier will have wind gusts up to 40 mph today.

Works for me to stay home until the wind dies down a bit. Walking on sea ice to reach the emperor colony with those weather conditions would be no fun. There's little to block the wind on flat ice.

Come to think of it, even if the conditions are ideal, it's still not going to be big fun climbing down an icy mountain with crampons and mountain boots, and then, walking all the way to the colony. It means that when we finish taking the census, we will have to reverse that steep climb up the mountain to the helo landing site.

Besides, roads and weather permitting, they are going to try tomorrow to put in Penguin Ranch, our research camp, again. Paul and his group went out on Saturday and found a new route into the camp site that avoids all that dangerous, thin ice.

Matt and Cory are out on the ice this morning, as I write this, with one of the F-Stop people (field safety) checking our new road. Assuming that everything looks good, we are set for the put in of our camp .

I hope I haven't confused anyone. The Cape Crozier trip is to census the emperor colony there. Crozier is on the other side of Ross Island from McMurdo and is the site of Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World. If you are interested in Antarctic history from the heroic age, I recommend the book. It's well worth reading. Fortunately, we are doing the trip in the Antarctic spring, rather than the winter, like they did, and we have a helo to pick us up when we want to go home.

Anyway, Penguin Ranch is Paul's research site out on the sea ice on the same side of the island as McMurdo. It's in a completely different area from Crozier. We are keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes as planned. If it does, then we will try for Crozier one more time. Third time is the charm, they say.

Here's map of the area with all the emperor colonies on it.