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January 10, 2003

Bombs and Three Sisters

McMurdo life and another field day.

We didn't fly in the afternoon on Tuesday. We were put on hold because of the weather, and then the helos were cancelled altogether. Instead, I worked on documenation of the GPS work we had done all season and distributing crystals. Getting the documentation of the new permanent GPS sites in to the folks at UNAVCO in Boulder was key, so that they can start archiving the data as it comes in.

Distributing crystals rocked. I got to play Santa Claus. Nelia and Rich E. divied up our crystal harvest into ziplock bags for the different work centers around town. I got the job of delivering some of these bags. Most people in town are pretty nice, but they're even nicer if you start off a converstation by saying, "I brought you guys this bag of Erebus crystals...." Everyone in town loves them. Rightly so--they're manky looking, but they're pretty cool.

The evening was, as usual, tough. I climbed in the bouldering cave, I lounged in the bouldering cave, I went for ice cream afterwards, then played ping-pong in one of the dorm lounges and watched the icebreaker make progress.

The next day was pretty much the same. We were scheduled to go out at 11, the helos were put on hold, and then the helos were cancelled. I began the task of processing the GPS data, which I'll describe in a future entry. I was in front of a computer all day. Although the helos weren't willing to take us up to Erebus for field work, they managed to make it up to get the folks who were still up there--specifically, Sarah finally made it down. Our grouped joined her and her husband, Wally, in their room for a little celebratory champagne. Then, on to the ping-pong lounge again, where we watched the Coast Guard folks walk drunkenly back to the icebreaker from the bars. At 12:30, those of us remaining went to Mid Rats, the mid-shift meal for night workers. Such is the McMurdo life.

On Thursday, I was able to go out in the field again. The rest of the Erebus crowd was to leave, so I worked with Seth, the science tech down here who had been helping us with our project from McMurdo. I said goodbyes to Nelia, Bill, Rich, and Rich shortly before leaving for the helo hanger.

Our first stop was Bombs, or BOMZ, a spot which can be wickedly windy. In fact, the last time we were there, it was wickedly windy.

Not so today. Today, it was perfectly calm, and sunny, and beautiful.

First order of business: Confirm that our equipment was still there.

On that wickedly windy day, when I had been at Bombs with Nelia and Rich and Rich, we brought a box of equipment for a permanent GPS installation. The idea had been to put it in that day, but our GPS antenna cable was too short to pull off the installation. So, we left the box with some rocks on top and on the leeward side and hoped for the best.

Within the next several days, we were hit by our worst wind storm at the Hut.

While some thought the box at Bombs was perfectly stable, I had visions of it tumbling to oblivion down the steep white slopes of the volcano. R.K. apparently had the same vision. He bet Nelia and Rich ten dollars each that the box would be gone. The groups parting words had not been, "Great working with you!"; they were, more importantly, "Don't forget to get a picture!"

[The GPS box.]

Looks like Nelia and Rich are in luck. I'm in luck, too, for not betting, since I would have been losing money with with R.K. It also looks like the rocks weighing down the box are a little more substantial than I'd remembered.

[Seth on the ridge.]

The actualy field work was quite simple. Connect this to that, make sure the appropriate lights are blinking, rock the cable and rock the box more completely. Then, enjoy the view for a few minutes.

View image
[Seth shows off the rotars.]

And show appreciation to the vehicle that brought us here. And to the pilot. Thanks, A-Star. Thanks, Barry.

[Up close and personal with the AStar.]

After finishing up at Bombs, we were off to Three Sisters. Three Sisters had denied us once, and we still didn't know which Sister the survey point was on.

[Approaching Three Sisters.]

This time, the Sisters were kind. I think Seth must have woo-ed them. Or maybe it was Barry. Barry woo-ing them, I mean. Anyway. We made it to the ground.

[Barry at Three Sisters.]

And ended up walking right to the site. Well, Barry did.

[GPS at Three Sisters.]

The set-up was uneventful. The place was incredible.

[Me rocking cable. Photo compliments of Seth (with his camera).]

[Me with GPS equipment. Photo compliments of Seth (with his camera).]

And we had a little bit of time after to enjoy the view.

[Seth at Three Sisters.]

[Erebus from Three Sisters.]

After the set-up, Barry treated us to a lovely flight over the ice flowing down from Erebus.

[Chunky crevasses.]


[Crevasses with helo shadow.]


[Erebus Ice Tongue.]

[Mt. Erebus.]

Posted by beth at January 10, 2003 4:54 PM