Date:   January 1, 2007
Latitude:   79 degrees, 8 minutes, 49 seconds South
Longitude:   149 degrees, 17 minutes, 35 seconds East
Temperature:  −17°C (−2°F)
Wind Speed:   17 knots
Wind Chill:  −29°C (−20°F)
Elevation:  2,300 meters (7,546 feet)
Written by:  Cathy
Kilometers Traveled 305
Meters of core drilled: 390

This is my first contribution to the daily log.
I have been busy cooking, but today Lora offered a trade; she would cover dinner and I would write!  We had a nice New Year’s Eve last night.  We reminisced of friends and family and what we would be doing if we were with them.   Around midnight, the kitchen became the focal point for the countdown with good music and lots of laughter. 

At breakfast, we had high hopes for a fresh start: it’s now US ITASE 2007.   The wind, blowing snow and poor visibility of yesterday seemed to be improving, but the forecast from Macweather was not promising.  There was a low pressure trough and high pressure ridge converging over us with the promise of more wind.   The decision was made to get as far as we could and scout a good site for the landing of the Basler tomorrow.

The first four kilometers went well and after five kilometers we assessed the visibility and weather.  It was still good enough to continue, unfortunately part of the kitchen hitch was not.  The metal hitch sheared on initial start-up, so we needed to take time to reconfigure the second train.  In the hour or so this took, the weather degraded to flat light and low visibility.  All of the trains parked up for the night, since we seem to be in a fairly flat spot. 

Hopefully this weather system will be past us by tomorrow.  We will wait for the flight to take out ice cores and empty fuel drums, receive precious mail, fresh fruit and vegetables and be back underway!!! 


Date:   January 2, 2007
Latitude:   79 degrees, 31 minutes, 47 seconds South
Longitude:   147 degrees, 55 minutes, 5 seconds East
Temperature:  −23°C (−9°F)
Wind Speed:   29 knots
Wind Chill:  −40°C (−40°F)
Elevation:  2,368 meters (7,441 feet)
Written by:  Dan D.
Kilometers Traveled 356
Meters of core drilled: 390

Today we made a lot of progress traveling. By the end of the day we had traveled 51 km, and that distance was accomplished despite an early stopping time. We had to stop early to wait for a Basler flight. “The Basler” is the upgraded DC3 aircraft in use by the United States Antarctic Program this year. The Basler Company has taken an old DC-3 airplane and revamped it; they have extended the wings and replaced the old engines with powerful modern units. They also added skis to the landing gear to make the plane capable of deep field landings. It is a beautiful looking aircraft, especially when it is swooping overhead to bring you supplies and goodies from McMurdo!

We had to time our overnight stopping point very carefully because the Basler is not able to land in areas with large sastrugi. Sastrugi fields tend to come and go rather frequently as you travel over the East Antarctic Plateau and each field can last for several tens of kilometers. When we started traveling this morning we were already deep within a sastrugi field, so we kept our fingers crossed and hoped that we would be clear of the field by the time the plane took off from McMurdo in the afternoon. Thankfully, we were out of the sastrugi field and onto a relatively flat surface by midday. We carried on driving until around 1pm with the agreement that if we entered another sastrugi-covered area we would turn around and head back to the flat ground. In the end, our luck held and we parked up in a nice flat spot and waited patiently for the Basler to come. The Basler had a dual mission; it was dropping off fuel drums for us further along our route and then landing right next to us to collect our empty fuel drums and retro them back to McMurdo. We also had 12 full ice core boxes to retro and a large tri-wall box of our accumulated kitchen trash.

Even after parking in a nice flat area, we were still worried that the plane might not be able to land. This was because the winds were very strong (29 knots) and there was a lot of blowing surface snow restricting the ground visibility. Luckily, there was a brief lull in the weather just as the Basler arrived and it landed safely. It took all of about 20 minutes to load the plane and then it was off again, winging its way back to McMurdo with our precious ice cores.

Before the plane arrived at our location, I walked half a kilometer away from camp in the upwind direction in order to collect an uncontaminated surface snow sample. The strong wind made collection difficult; the snow was blowing away before I could get it into the sample container! At one point, the sampling scoop blew out of my hands and I had to chase after it as fast as I could run. On the way back from the sampling site I noticed that the sun was in the perfect position to illuminate the blowing snow from directly upwind. As the blowing snow writhed over the glazed ice surface it looked alive, similar to the way underwater plants undulate in a flowing stream. I was transfixed for quite a while, marveling at the multitudes of snake-like snow streamers. Then I realized that I was late for dinner. Cathy had prepared a delicious feast of scallops and steak with accompaniments of rice and veggies. She is an excellent cook!