Have you ever thought about how much luggage one person would need to drive across Antarctica for 60 days? The nice thing about tropical places is how lightly you can pack. Swimsuits take up very little space compared to large down parka jackets. There are very few pieces of luggage/cargo in Antarctica that do not have an oversize-cargo label. We are going to be packing 4 very large sleds-worth of gear for the traverse
Cathy started collecting our traverse gear together when she arrived a last week. She collected 5000 pounds of food, 14 sleep kits, stoves, heaters, shovels, radios, Satellite phones, medical kits, trash bags, wet wipes, toilet paper, soap, kitchen utensils, etc. etc. All of the gear is staged in a large locker until it is time to pack and label it ready for the United States Antarctic Program cargo system. Every group going out into the field is issued at least a part of a storage locker, we have two!
In addition to our lockers full of gear, we also have many boxes that are stored outside in the Science Cargo yard. These boxes contain our science equipment, they include: 3 radars , 2 ice core drills, snow pit sampling tools, ice core handling equipment, drill sled, radar sled, cargo straps, and much more. The ice core boxes that store and protect the ice cores are also kept outside, there are three Air Force pallets of them. Tomorrow we will write more about these special Ice Core boxes.
The team members currently in McMurdo are tasked with going through all of the gear and checking that it has arrived safely. We also check to make sure it is all there, test it to see if it is in working order and then pack it safely again for the shipment to Taylor Dome, our first field location. Packing the gear safely involves making sure it will not be damaged by the elements or any unexpected rough treatment by the cargo handlers. One part of our task was to make sure the 200 rolls of toilet paper were safely wrapped in plastic so they would not get covered in snow. Lora and Joe had a fun time with this task. In the afternoon, we all took a shuttle out to the Sea Ice Runway. We went to check out the pieces of our cargo that were already in the system. This was also our first look at our two brand new Lehmann sleds that will be replacing the aged Aalener sled this year
Yesterday afternoon, Dan, Andrei, and Brian attended a Snow School Refresher course. In the refresher course they practiced their Antarctic survival skills, some of these include: HF radio communication, cold weather and high altitude injury prevention and treatment, lighting camp stoves, gear maintenance and repair, and tent construction.