Friday, January 7, 2011

Establishing camp on the Ascent Glacier

After a week in CTAM due to weather delays, we left Monday, December 13 for our camp on the Ascent Glacier in the Miller Range.

The Twin Otter was packed to the gills with the last of our stuff: Personal bags, sleep kits, and miscellaneous remaining items.

We arrived on the windswept Ascent Glacier to find the gear that had been cached the week before mostly buried in the snowdrifts.

The unloading began.

And the digging out began as well. Part of the USAP protocol is when dropping off a camp party, they need to set up a shelter (tent), establish communications with MacOp in McMurdo, and start up a stove before the plane can leave. This prevents a plane from leaving before a party has demonstrated basic functionality.

The dig out is largely done, except for the snowmobiles.

With one tent up and communications established, John Rees and co-pilot Bradon take off to return to CTAM.

And in the flash of an instant, they were gone—up over the top of the Ascent Glacier with a half hour flight back to CTAM.

The crew with the rest of the work to be done.

The worst were the snowmobiles, which were entombed in very hard, wind-blown snow. Snow had blown into, and set up in, every nook and cranny, including around the track and suspension, and under the hood. The snow formed a perfect mold around all the engine parts and had to be chiseled out piece by piece. This had to be done before the skidoos could be run and took most of the day to finish. The snowmobiles had covers, but these hadn’t arrived from McMurdo by the time the machines were ferried to the Ascent Glacier from CTAM.

The camp with our 5 personal tents and the Arctic Oven.

The Scott tent which serves as our outhouse shelter and the accompanying “P” flag.

At the end of the day, mountain guide Dylan Taylor relaxes for a cup of tea in the Arctic Oven—our cooking, eating, and gathering tent.

1 comment:

  1. The pilot, John Rees, of whom you speak was killed in an auto accident Oct.05/11.