Date: 12/08/03
Latitude: 85.32 degrees South
Longitude: 96.14 degrees East
Wind speed: 2 knots
Wind Chill:&minus28°C(&minus18°F)
Wind direction: not given
Elevation: 10,755 feet
Kilometers traveled: 514

Notes on daily life:
By Dan

The driving conditions along the route from the first drill site to our second fuel airdrop (LGT 2) have improved greatly from earlier days. As we slowly climb to LGT 2 and AGO 4, the snow surface conditions have become friendlier to our straining tractors. For the last 100 miles, we have traveled over much firmer snow pack with many hard, smooth areas. This greatly helps the tractors gain much needed traction to pull our heavy sled loads, sometimes over 35,000 lbs each train. Nevertheless, we continue to run into rough sections that have numerous sastrugi that slow down our progress significantly. The driving is particularly rough because we are often driving over the sastrugi perpendicularly. Even driving a snowmobile perpendicular to the sastrugi can be a laborious task and one’s legs and arms get sore from navigating the rough surface.

At the end of the day, we were all excited to realize that we had traversed 63 miles in 15 hours! Our best day yet. In addition, we sighted a small British AWS station (Automatic Weather Station) on the horizon in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the Brits arrived by airplane previously to install the lonely station and we just happened to drive right by it to say hello.

Date: 12/09/03
Latitude: 84.58 degrees South
Longitude: 96.32 degrees East
Wind speed: 3 knots
Wind Chill:&minus26°C(&minus14°F)
Wind direction: not given
Elevation: 10,900 feet
Kilometers traveled: 598

Notes on daily life:
By Matt

Waking up to a beautiful Antarctic morning like today brings the whole reason one is here into full circle. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was&minus21°C with a very light breeze, which is why it was so pleasant out. Our departure to LGT 2 was delayed slightly by regular maintenance of our equipment but also by the unexpected event of snapping one of the lifting forks off our lead tractor. Even though the fork is made of hardened steel, it decided to snap in half when we were using it. Fortunately, no one had a foot or hand under it at the time. We had to pull the broken one off and replace it with an old spare that we were carrying for just this occasion. Equipment breakdowns are very time consuming and damaging to our efforts. Anything that makes our daily routines easier is imperative to success, so when equipment goes down, it affects us deeply. But that is why we have two very talented mechanics with us to keep things going as efficiently as possible.

After refueling ourselves with a nice lunch and hot tea, we headed out. We will travel until midnight under the late sun to reach LGT 2. Traveling conditions are very nice at the moment and we are averaging 5.5 miles per hour. Our GPS shows that we are currently at 10,900 feet above sea level and one can certainly feel the altitude when walking and lifting heavy objects. We always have a tank of oxygen handy if one needs a few breaths to get over some heavy breathing. Our goal is 52 miles today and it is definitely looking promising.