Date: 11/15/03
Latitude: 77 degrees, 51 minutes South
Longitude: 166 degrees 40 minutes East
Temperature: −12°C( −10°F)
Wind speed: 15 knots
Wind Chill: −22°C( −7°F)
Wind direction: East
Elevation: Not Given
Kilometers traveled: 0

Notes on daily life:
By Dan Dixon reports from McMurdo:

Today Matt, John, Lynn, and Jim flew to the South Pole to prepare the CAT’s and sled trains for the traverse. They will spend the next few days doing nothing! This may sound odd but it is necessary so that their bodies can acclimatize to the altitude. The South Pole station sits at ~2900m elevation above sea level. However, the equivalent pressure elevation can be as much as 4000m a.s.l.! The Earth’s rotation causes the atmosphere to be ‘pulled’ towards the equator resulting in an atmospheric thickness that decreases toward the poles. Extremely cold temperatures, such as those at the Poles, enhance altitude−related effects.

It is very important to take high elevation acclimatization seriously (as Tom and I found out in altitude class this morning). The results can be life−threatening if the proper precautions are not taken to allow the body to adjust to the high−elevation environment.

In our class we were taught how to prepare ourselves for altitude and also how to recognize the early signs of a problem. One of the treatments for high altitude illness is a contraption called a Gamow Bag (pronounced Gamov). A Gamow Bag looks like a sleeping bag that zips up all the way around with you inside it! It is constructed of reinforced plastic and is airtight apart from several valves that are designed to withstand two pounds per square inch of pressure. The ‘patient’ must crawl into the bag, which is then zipped−up by a ‘watcher’ and pumped up with a foot pump until the pressure inside reaches two psi. The watcher must then stand guard and supply fresh air to the patient via 10−12 pumps of the foot pump per minute for however long it takes (it may be days!). What the Gamow Bag is essentially doing is providing a higher−pressure environment for the patient to exist in until help arrives – usually in the form of a medivac. I for one am greatly relieved that most of our team this year have plenty of experience working at high altitudes.

After the high altitude class Andrea, Tom and I spent the rest of the day in the cargo yard packing and labeling our drill, snow sampling equipment, and personal gear ready for the flight to South Pole Station. It was a hard day’s work but it felt good to be getting nearer to the beginning of the traverse.

click on a photo to view a full size version
Tom and Andrea   Gamow Bag   Pumping up the Gamow bag   The 'patient' climbs out of the bag.
  Some of our cargo.   Tom checks out the cargo   Tom moves the big box.