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Date:   November 16, 2006
Location:   Taylor Dome
Latitude:  77 degrees, 47 minutes South
Longitude:  158 degrees, 43 minutes East
Temperature:  −35°C (−31°F)
Wind Speed:   18 knots
Wind Chill:  −53°C (−63°F)
Elevation:  2,365 meters (7,759 feet)
Written by:   Joe

After spending my second night here at Taylor Dome, I woke up feeling that my body is finally adjusting to the shock it experienced upon arrival; the jump from sea level to 7759 feet in less than a half hour.  The high altitude, along with the extreme low temperatures, is making many of us feel a bit groggy.  It is not so easy to work quickly on the tasks that need to be completed before we head out on the trail.  Everyone seemed to finally get a good night’s rest, and woke up refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s tasks. 

Brian worked with Josh and got the crevasse detector attached to the Pisten Bully.  The crevasse detector is a ground penetrating radar (GPR) system, which is attached to the end of a 35 ft boom that sticks out in front of the vehicle as we travel.  This is a critical piece of safety equipment for the team as crevasses, cracks in the ice, can be so large here that the trains could literally be swallowed up.  The Pisten Bully will drive about a kilometer in front of the trains with one member of the team continuously monitoring the radar.  If a crevasse is detected, a radio transmission will be sent out for the trains to stop, and a new route around the crack will be planned. 

Lora and I were planning on taking her radar unit outside of camp and getting her science work completed, but a quick test of the equipment in camp revealed problems with the system.  As it turns out trying to run computers and electrical equipment in this environment is inherently problematic.  The gear was all moved into the heated galley, and she spent a bulk of the day troubleshooting the problem.  Her efforts are looking promising.

I instead helped Andrei with organizing all the supplies we will need for drilling the 100 m Taylor Dome ice core, as well as stockpiling the extras we will need for future cores.  Andrei is also doing a great job organizing the “Blue Room”, which is the main berthing unit for the many of the team.

Cathy spent her day organizing all the food that we will soon be loading onto the train sleds, and continuing to improve the function and organization of the kitchen.  Another big task is getting fresh drinking water to the camp.  To complete this she must drive a snowmobile away from camp in the upwind direction to get snow that is not in any way contaminated from the exhaust of the generators, tractors, and airplanes.  All this and she still managed to prepare several more fantastic meals.  Mmm mmm.

The weather began to worsen as the day advanced, with increasing winds and light snowfall, so the focus shifted to getting gear organized and marked with flags on long bamboo sticks incase a storm blows through and buries it in deep drifts.  It’s a harsh continent as Mike always says.

After our bellies were full of shrimp and cheesecake, and the weather continued to deteriorate, our attention shifted to the construction of “nose flaps”, felt pieces that are to be sewn onto your goggles to protect it from the cold winds.  My vote for the best goes hands down to Mike, who made a long pointy nose with a drinking straw core reminiscent of a Monty Python witch.  Is he a good witch, or a bad witch?  Good for sure.