Above and Below McMurdo

One thing I got to mark off my Antarctic bucket list this year was a climb up Observation Hill (Ob Hill). Ob Hill rises about 750 feet above McMurdo and is the divider between McMurdo and Scott Base. It is also one of the many volcanoes that make up Ross Island. While this may seem small compared to Colorado standards, it's definitely one steep climb because the trail has very few switchbacks and essentially goes straight up.

You will notice the flat area almost halfway up on the right side. That is where the old nuclear power plant used to reside. As part of the Antarctic Treaty, nuclear material is not allowed in Antarctica so McMurdo was converted to run off of diesel generators and the nuclear power plant was decommissioned and removed. The Kiwi's have also installed three wind turbines that are shared between them and McMurdo, which also helps power the station now.

To give you an idea of where everything is, I've included an annotated version that points out some o…

A Turkey Trot, Pressure Ridges, and Icebergs!

Some of you may recall from last year that Thanksgiving is not celebrated on Thanksgiving day here in McMurdo, but is instead celebrated on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Work weeks here are 6 days long (Monday through Saturday) with Sunday as the one day of the week designated as a "weekend". While it may sound terrible, it's really not that bad and no one seems to mind working the extra day. To avoid interrupting the work week, major holidays are always celebrated on Saturdays so people can enjoy a 2-day weekend.

As part of the Thanksgiving holiday, there is always a 5k Turkey Trot race that begins at 10am Saturday morning. The Turkey Trot starts in McMurdo and goes about halfway to Scott Base (the New Zealand base on the other side of the hill) and back again. The Turkey Trot is always "something not to miss" and usually looks like Halloween crashed Thanksgiving's party. Many of the participants dress in some sort of costume to run the race and thi…

Phoenix, Tall Tower and Lorne

It's been a busy, but very productive, couple of weeks now. We've now been to all four sites and have completed work at one (Tall Tower), nearly completed work at two others (Phoenix and Lorne) and the fourth (Willie) is about halfway done. We are actually running a bit ahead of schedule (almost unheard of down here, especially since other projects have been waiting almost a month to start due to bad weather in other locations around the continent) and still have two weeks to go.

One of my earlier blogs talked about Phoenix where the shield was falling apart. We took another trip dedicated to getting Phoenix ready for the winter and it took Mark and I another three hours of work at the site to get most everything back in shape for the next winter season. This included raising the white box that houses the data logger and the electronics as well as the precipitation detection sensor and the snow depth sensor. The precipitation detection sensor was less than a foot above the sno…