Latitude: 90 degrees South
Longitude: 0 degrees East
Wind speed: 8 knots
Wind direction: Grid 093
Elevation: Not Given
Kilometers traveled: 0
Notes on daily life:
By Dan reports from Amundsen Scott South Pole Station:
Today Tom and I finished assembling the 2-inch ice core drill. After securing it to the Nansen sled we towed it several miles away from the South Pole station in order to test it. On the way we passed the buried remains of a crashed Hercules LC-130. Back in the days of 'Old Pole' the plane had crashed and burned during a difficult approach in bad weather. Luckily no one was seriously injured in the accident and the mangled plane remains as a grim reminder of the ever-present danger.
There are several good reasons for testing the drill so far away from the station, the most important being that we don't want to drill into any buried equipment (like buried planes for instance!).
The ice core drilling process is a cold one, as much time is spent standing around the drill. As you know, if you stand around in windy−40°C conditions you get rather cold. To combat the chill, we spent a few minutes every half hour running around and swinging our arms. This may sound silly, but it forces the body to produce heat and pump blood to the extremities (such as numb fingers and toes).
It was a good job that we did test the drill because there were several minor adjustments that had to be made. After a few hours of fiddling and making adjustments we were drilling without a hitch, we were also feeling pretty frosty. Eventually, we decided to call it a day so we packed up and headed back to base.
On our way back we stopped to visit the remains of the crashed Hercules. The plane is buried so deep that only the very tip of the tail remains exposed at the surface. Over the years South Pole staff have constructed tunnels so that visitors can see the wreckage that is concealed deep down in the snow. Tom and I explored a few of these pitch black tunnels but were unable to find our way to the main body of the downed plane. However, we did manage to find the tip of a mangled wing section. Seeing and touching the wreckage reminded me of how unforgiving the weather on this continent can be. It pays to be well aware of the forecast several days in advance. Nowadays we are lucky in that we can turn on the television or radio and receive accurate predictions of the coming days' weather, back in the days of 'Old Pole' they did not have that luxury.