Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Helo Flight to the Warren Range

Dylan Taylor and John Goodge planning the route with the Helo pilot.

Dylan Taylor and John Goodge, checking the route.

Jeff Vervoort, enjoying the fantastic terrain

A lateral moraine on the  Koettlittz  Glacier.

Moraines on the Koettlittz glacier

The Pyramid refueling cache.  In order to support helo trips from McMurdo, refueling is essential.  Several refueling caches are maintained for this purpose.  Bring your own fuel pump!

Rolling a barrel of fuel to the helo

At the Pyramid fuel cache.

Looking at the rocks in the moraine at Pyramid Point.

Mt. Discovery near Pyramid.

Large crevasses in the  Koettlittz Glacier south of Pyramid.

Huge claw-shaped crevasses.

Side glaciers flowing into the Skelton glacier

Side glaciers flowing into the Skelton glacier

Side glaciers flowing into the Skelton glacier

A lateral moraine trailing off of Mt. Darbyshire

A lateral moraine trailing off of Mt. Darbyshire.

John Goodge looking at the rocks of the Mt. Darbyshire moraine.  The rocks here appeared to be all locally derived, and dominantly clasts of the Ferrar Dolerite.  Temperature here was about -20°C (-5°F), but with a stiff wind blowing off the polar plateau that made it feel much colder.

Dylan Taylor picking his way across the blue ice near the helo landing spot.
Rocks of the Beacon Group with Ferrar dolerites exposed along cliffs of the Boomerang Range.

Clasts in the moraine trailing from the Boomerang Range exposures.

John Goodge and Dylan Taylor scouring the moraine for clasts mixed in with the more locally derived material

Mark Fanning looking at the moraine material

The moraine near the Boomerang range.

Snow filled ablation scours in the blue glacier ice with a few scattered clasts.

John Goodge and Tanya Dryer in the Boomerang Range moraine

Boomerang Range moraine

Near the Koettlitz Glacier.

Near the Koettlitz Glacier.

Near the terminus of the Koettlitz Glacier.

Near the terminus of the Koettlitz Glacier.

Patterns in the sea ice between Koettlittz Glacier and McMurdo Station

More sea ice patterns. 

More sea ice patterns. 

More sea ice patterns. 

More sea ice patterns. 

More sea ice patterns. 

Flying over the ice runway on the return to the helo pad.  The ice runway is schedule to be moved from here after Dec 3.

Crevasse Training

The crevasse training site was in the shadow of Mt. Erebus.  There is always a little sign of activity from the peak of Mt. Erebus.

The crevasse training site--a trench dug in the ice 

Tanya practicing tying up the ropes

Dylan Taylor demonstrating anchoring techniques

Dylan demonstrating anchoring a picket.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving in McMurdo

Please click on photos for a larger view.

Well, actually, it wasn't strictly Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving is celebrated in McMurdo on Saturday rather on Thursday to give most of the station inhabitants two days off.  It was a beautiful sunny day and there was an abundant spread of food for Thanksgiving dinner.

The day started with the (locally) famous "turkey trot", a 5K race/jog/trot leaving from the "Chapel of the Snows" overlooking McMurdo Sound.

This race brings out a diverse collection of individuals, all sporting their finest racing threads.

Temps were in the teens at race start, so their was some chill in the air.  The green man later told me that running in  his suit was fun, but after a while the fabric over his mouth frosted up making it hard to breath.  He also said he couldn't see a thing when running into the sun.  But fun was had by all.

It was a mass start at 10 AM.

And off they went, past Derelict Junction, through the dusty streets of McMurdo and beyond.

Thanksgiving Dinner is a big deal at McMurdo.  The dining staff puts out quite an extravagant spread.  In addition to Turkey and all the fixings there were King Crab legs and many side dishes.  Overeating was easy to do.
Many McMurdo residents took the opportunity to take out their finer threads.  Cowboy hats, coats and ties, dresses were all dusted off for the feast.

On Saturday nights and holidays wine is allowed in the galley with dinner.  We took the opportunity to sample some of McMurdo Store's finest.

Mike Brown joined us for dinner.  Mike has been thwarted in his attempt to join his field party in the Fosdick Mountains due to weather and flight availability issues.  Mike had 7 failed attempts to leave McMurdo before he was able to fly out on Dec 1.

The signature Thanksgiving dessert dish--The Skua eclair.  This is a chocolate mousse and caramel creme filled eclair fashioned into the shape of a skua--the local scavenger bird.  Delicious. (Mark Fanning photo)

Hut Point
Mike Brown, Mark Fanning, and John Goodge on Hut Point, named for the hut the Scott Expedition built in 1902.  Sea Ice of McMurdo Sound in the background.

Scott's hut.  McMurdo Station in the background.

The "Ob Tube".  This is a very cool observation tube set through the sea ice and into the water beneath.  Visitors can climb down through the steel tube and into a observation platform beneath the ice.  The ice here is about 10-12 feet thick.

The view of the Ob Tube looking up toward the entrance. (Mark Fanning photo)

The view of the sea ice from the Ob Tube.  The bottom surface of the ice is composed of intricate web of crystals growing into the seawater.  The green tint here is algae growing on the bottom of the sea ice.  Thousands of small white-colored fish lay suspended below the ice and appeared to feed on the algae.

If lucky, there are seals and penguins swimming past.  

On this night there were a couple of Weddell seals swimming about.  (Mark Fanning photo)

A Weddell seal poking his head up in a hole in the ice near the Ob Tube.

The Weddell seal is a large seal and can get up to 10 feet in length and 800 pounds.