It’s been an interesting week for sure
…after receiving our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear and a very short one day delay in Christchurch, Shaun and I made it to the ice! We are extremely lucky as many were delayed by up to a week. Also, lucky not to have boomeranged…which is a very terrible experience involving waking up early, checking out of hotel, saying goodbye to ‘normal life’, checking in with NZ Defense Force/US Air National Guard, waiting, taking off for Antarctica with all the hope in the world only to turn back after a few hours in the air.
The flight was on a “Kiwi Herc”, a NZ Defense Force C-130. This plane is a beast. It also was completely packed with passengers which meant for some tight seating arrangements. This is particularly nice to remember the incredible legroom aboard my next airline coach flight. While the cramped seating would be maddening on a typical airline, it works really well here because of everyone’s incredible attitude. In fact, the very nature of any Antarctic work encourages team work, contributing to a shared experience and going a little outside your comfort zone. The semi-uncomfortable flight is simply part of the experience!
Overall, the flight takes about 7 hours and this time I had a window seat! Most of the flight’s scenery was big blue ocean (or the inside of my eyelids) but sea ice begins to appear as we approach Antarctica. Beautiful views of Mt. Erebus, Transantarctic Mountains and the Ross Ice Shelf seal the deal that we are in fact landing today and excitement begins to build. We made a super smooth landing at Phoenix runway and disembarked like kids at a candy store.
We were a bit surprised not to have the red carpet rolled out for us but we understood, after all, we landed at dinner time. After a short wait, our massive taxi arrived and promptly got stuck in some slushy snow thanks to Antarctica’s summer heat, which is near freezing. Check out the terrible little series of snapshots from this first part of the journey.
Over the next couple days, we’ll get all trained up in how Scott Base runs and how to thrive/survive in the field. We’ll also get to start planning our field work with all the amazing people who will help us achieve our scientific goals (mountaineers, pilots and logistics support, chefs, mechanics, builders, domestics, electricians, and many others). It will be a fun next couple days and I’ll attempt to capture some of it.
Any questions!? Ask below!