Date:   December 4th, 2006
Location:   Taylor Dome
Latitude:   77 degrees, 47 minutes South
Longitude:   158 degrees, 43 minutes East
Temperature:  −22°C (−8°F)
Wind Speed:   10.4 knots
Wind Chill:  −33°C (−27°F)
Elevation:  2,365 meters (7,759 feet)
Written by:   Dan D.

Taylor Dome at Last

After an early morning breakfast, we all arrived at the MCC by 08:00. After checking in, we all climbed aboard a Delta and prepared for the long drive out to Willy Field. This is the name of the place where the airport has been moved to. Unfortunately, it requires quite a long drive to get there and the Delta moves very slowly. The Delta is a vehicle with very large wheels; they are the same size as those on Ivan the Terra Bus! One of the effects of having wheels this size is a very bouncy ride; we all had to be strapped in to stop our heads from banging on the ceiling.

Upon arrival at Willy Field our plane was in the pits refueling, half an hour later we were boarding. The take off went smoothly, as did the 40-minute flight to Taylor Dome. After touching down and getting off the plane we met some of our traverse team for the first time, but we could not stand around chatting because the plane was on the ground with its back open, waiting for cargo. The crew at Taylor Dome sprang into action and immediately began preparing a snow ramp at the rear of the plane. The ramp was needed in order to unload some of our fragile cargo more carefully than usual. The usual method of unloading cargo in the field is to open the back of the plane, unhook the cargo pallets, and then gun the engines until all the cargo flies out of the back! But this time we carefully winched our precious cargo down the snow ramp using the hydraulic winch on the back of the forked CAT. The snow ramp was doubly useful; after all of our pallets had been unloaded, it was used to load up some of the large and heavy retro cargo bound for McMurdo. One particularly awkward item was one of our old Berco sleds that was damaged, it took the flight crew over two hours to get this sled safely loaded, and that was with the help of the whole Taylor Dome crew.

After the Herc took off, we started to unpack all of the cargo that had flown in with us. There was a second flight a couple of hours after the first, delivering more cargo to us and loading several more awkward pallets for retro to McMurdo. There was lots of hustle and bustle. Meanwhile, all the carpenters and welders who had flown out with us were busy working hard around the camp, building stuff, fixing stuff, and welding stuff.

When the second plane had left and things had calmed down a little around the camp, we started to move into our bunks and settle in. Joe and Lora prepared a delicious lunch and it kept us going well into the evening hours. After dinner, the night’s entertainment was a film called “Tootsie” in the galley cinema (a laptop hooked up to some computer speakers in the kitchen). The weather has been beautiful, allowing us to view the multitude of mountains covering half of the horizon. We are lucky to have arrived on such a fine day.