And: Lift off! – Really.

Nearly three weeks at McMurdo gave us a good chill about weather in Antarctica and its predictability. The last days partly felt like never ending SIO coffee hours with all the project Scripps partitioned that  this season (see San Diego Union Tribune).
Today is the day of take off to camp: They day when we say good by to frosty boy, heated buildings, US TV and a lot of comfort you really wouldn’t expect down here. We will exchange the spectacular view on on the trans-antarctic mountains with a 360 deg view of nothing else than a horizontal line. Our days will be filled with searching for solar panels and then digging holes in the snow. Not beautiful, but fast. We will leave nothing behind the nature itself, but will know the shelfs movement, measured continuous and accurate as never before.

We are done, when we are done. See you in about 3 to 5 weeks!aa16_mhell_6_20161108_0002-5aa16_mhell_5_20161104_0099-3 aa16_mhell_5_20161104_0096-2aa16_mhell_4_20161106_0042-4

Fight cancellations and frosty boy

Here in the Antarctic, unlike at home, we are continuously reminded of the immensity of nature and its ever-present hostility to human life and activity. As we await the “put-in” of our campsite on the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS), each morning we check the TV screens outside the galley (food hall) before breakfast for an update on the day’s scheduled flight from McMurdo to RIS. Each of the last two days, the flight has been cancelled due to weather and/or visibility, effectively pushing our work back a day and gently reminding us of nature’s superiority.

There are many ways to process news of a setback. Hiking and enjoying the raw beauty of McMurdo Sound (and its topography, which our campsite in RIS will distinctly lack over the next three weeks) is one reasonable approach. Computer-based work from inside our offices in the Crary building is another way to spend these unplanned extra days at McMurdo, although the intermittent internet connectivity further tests our patience. One cathartic response to a weather-cancelled flight is to take advantage of the free soft serve “Frosty Boy” ice cream in the galley. When one considers the full context of consuming a cold dessert from inside a large, heated dining hall on an inhospitably cold continent, it’s possible to convince ourselves otherwise of nature’s superiority, at least for a few scoops.


The flight cancellation status screen outside the galley. Adds excitement to breakfast every morning.


Good ol’ Frosty Boy, provider of unlimited soft serve ice cream. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about the “Frosty Boy challenge” which includes creative applications of soft serve ice cream to enhance every meal of the day.


Some quality entertainment options (7 of them!) to keep us occupied while we’re delayed.


P.S. In other news, today we learned from Momme that “pickle” means “ice axe” in German.

Update: No flights for us yet, but we are on weather delay (not cancelled yet!) for a potential flight to take out two stations today. In celebration of the possibility of good news, here’s a picture of a cat Momme used to live with, named Pickle.