Date:   December 18, 2006
Latitude:   76 degrees, 46 minutes South
Longitude:   153 degrees, 22 minutes East
Temperature:  −-26°C (−15°F)
Wind Speed:  15 knots
Wind Chill:  −39°C (−38°F)
Elevation:  2,392 meters (7,848 feet)
Written by:  Joe
Kilometers Traveled 130
Meters of core drilled: 180

Notes on daily life

This morning brought news from McMurdo that they were able to remove a hydraulic line from a Pisten Bully back in town to replace our broken one, and it would arrive via twin otter later in the day.  We were all excited that they were able to act so quickly and that hopefully we would be back on the road soon.  After breakfast, Mike, Andrei, Dan D. and I headed out to the drill site to continue the drilling we had started yesterday.  After pulling up a couple of meters of core, the core dogs were not gripping properly. Core Dogs are little spring loaded pieces of sharpened metal that grip the core so that it can be extracted from the hole.  Mike worked his magic on them and after lunch we were ready to continue the operation in full force. 

Meanwhile, the twin otter arrived with the hydraulic line. Josh to repair and Brian jumped in the fork Cat and drove the 20 km out to where we had left the Pisten Bully.  It took several hours of work to get the part replaced.  A hole had to be dug in the snow under the machine so that they could gain access to the underside in order to repair the hose.  It’s much more difficult to repair such things in the field than in a proper shop, but they did excellent work despite the obstacles. 

On the drive back, the fork Cat managed to bend the two hydraulic rams used to move the fork up and down while traversing a large sastrugi field.  This is yet another piece of equipment that needs to be fixed before we can leave this site.  The fork has been carrying the heavy ski-way drag, a large metal beam that will be pulled behind one of the Cats at the end of the season to create a smooth runway.  It also serves as a weight for the front of the Cat during travel to keep the nose down, increasing traction and limiting the chances of it getting stuck in soft snow.  Since we are pulling such heavy loads with these tractors, soft snow often makes the fork Cat tilt backwards, limiting the surface area of the tracks on the snow surface and resulting in a loss of traction.  The weight of the skiway drag at the front of the Cat keeps the tracks level during travel.  Hopefully, the hydraulic rams can be quickly repaired and we can once again be on our way.  We are counting on the  heavy shop expert fabricators back in McMurdo.  if anyone can accomplish what we need, they can.

One good thing that came out of our delay was extra time to melt additional snow in order to take showers.  We have a “shower stall” that is mounted on one of the smaller wooden sleds.  It is comprised of a wooden box with a slot cut on top where a portable 5-gallon water bag can stick though.  It is not quite the shower you are used to back home, but when you only get a chance to shower once every few weeks it feels like heaven!

Date:   December 19, 2006
Latitude:   76 degrees, 46 minutes South
Longitude:   153 degrees, 22 minutes East
Temperature:  −25°C (−13°F)
Wind Speed:   6 knots
Wind Chill:  −34°C (−29°F)
Elevation:  2,392 meters (7,848 feet)
Written by:  Lora
Meters of core drilled: 240
Kilometers traveled:  130

Almost a beach

The drill site looked like a beach today.  People were lying on the drill sled listening to music and basking in the sun.  It was beautifully sunny with no wind whatsoever.  It is a strange thing when –25°C feels like a beach. It was so sunny and nice at the drill site that Dan D. brought out his MP3 player and speakers and put on some Bob Marley to complete the scene.  Joe, Mike, Andrei, Dan D. and I were drilling and processing the core, but almost everyone in camp came out to the drill site to hang out in the sun for a while.  It was a good way to lift our spirits.  We drilled 33 meters today and the core is now 70 meters deep.  Thanks to Mike’s expertise, it is a really good quality core.

The day started out at bit hectic dealing with the bent hydraulic rams on the fork Cat.  Rick called the Heavy Shop with dimensions to make a new part for the Cat.  This part will hold the fork in place until the rams can be repaired or replaced. We should be able to drive the Cat like normal, but not use the forks.  The bent rams will be sent to McMurdo, hopefully fixed by the heavy shop and sent back in 2 to 3 days.  The Heavy Shop in McMurdo specializes in fixing engines and parts on large machines.  The Heavy Shop is responsible for fixing problems with large generators, vehicles, and even Ivan the Terra Bus.  Josh worked in the heavy shop for 8 seasons.

Dan B. spent the day logging ice densities with “Madge” (Maine Automated Density Gauge Experiment). He logged over 10 meters of density on the 2-inch core.  Steve and Gordon took GPS readings and shallow radar around the drill site in the Pisten Bully.  Josh spent the morning taking apart the bent rams on the fork Cat in order to send them back to McMurdo to be fixed.

We were waiting for a Twin Otter to come in and pick up the rams.  In the end it never came because of bad weather in McMurdo.  Hopefully, it will come tomorrow.  It will bring out some temporary ram replacement stays to put on the Cat and take back the bent rams.  Rumor has it that it will also be bring out some personal mail. That will be a welcome treat!