Date: December 10, 2007
Location: East Antarctic Plateau, Drill Site 3
Latitude: 85 degrees, 46 minutes, 54.8004 seconds South
Longitude: 145 degrees, 43 minutes, 10.1424 seconds East
Temperature: −28°C ( −18°F)
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Wind Chill: −44°C (−47°F)
Elevation: 2867 meters (9406 feet)
Kilometers Traveled: 746
Ice Core Drilled: 220 meters
Written by: Nicky

A weather window at last! The winds have slowed and blue sky is peaking through (is that the horizon I see in the distance?). After breakfast, Dan D. collects a sample of fresh snow deposited by the storm, for chemical analysis. Gordon and Dan B. gladly take the opportunity to conduct their site survey, while Mike and many willing helpers finish dismantling the drill site and loading the drill sled. These activities are completed well before lunch, but any hopes of moving are squashed by our water situation – we don't have all the jugs filled. Since this will be a long driving leg (360km) we can’t move until all the jugs are filled, and the snow melter is being particularly slow today. The remainder of the day is dedicating to melting snow and preparing everything to move. With any luck, the weather window will hold and tomorrow we can race the storm towards the South Pole.


Date: December 11, 2007
Location: East Antarctic Plateau, On the road
Latitude: 86 degrees, 18 minutes, 38.34 seconds South
Longitude: 148 degrees, 24 minutes, 24.624 seconds East
Temperature: −28°C ( −18°F)
Wind Speed: 25 knots
Wind Chill: −46°C (−50°F)
Elevation: 2902 meters (9521 feet)
Kilometers Traveled: 806
Ice Core Drilled: 247 meters
Written by: Nicky

Today, the weather is better. So, a group decision is made that we should proceed. Our first task is to dig out the trains. They have drifted in pretty severely during the last several days. We dig for what seems like hours until the drifts are no longer drifts, but rather they are rubble, scattered between the trains like the aftermath of something horrific.

Once the digging is done the Dozer CAT is used to plow out a path in front of each of the trains in order to facilitate freeing them from their current position. Even after all the digging and plowing, freeing each train requires the power of both CATs combined. The CATs are chained together and hooked up to the train, then the drivers proceed in this manner:

1st CAT Driver: "Hand brake off?"
2nd CAT Driver: "Off"
1st CAT Driver: "Okay, 1800 RPM, 3rd Gear, we go on 3, ready?"
2nd CAT Driver: "Ready"
1st CAT Driver: "1, 2, 3..."

And both CATS are thrown into drive and their combined strength is enough to break the trains free.

We make a wide sweeping arc to get ourselves back to the drill site to pick up the drill sled and the ice core boxes. Somehow I overestimate the pulling power of the CAT, try to drive over a giant berm of fresh snow and get stuck! While the ice core boxes are hauled over to the science sled and the drill sled is tied to the PB, Josh unhooks both CATs so my stuck train can be double−CAT−teamed over the berm. While driving the fork CAT over, Josh finds that the engine idle is stuck at 1300 RPM, it won’t go up, it won’t go down, it is just stuck. The CAT is basically out of action!

Josh begins the difficult job of removing the throttle cable. This requires removing the heavy and completely non−pliable rubber mat on the cab floor, among other more sophisticated hindrances, and is finished (cable completely removed) by lunch time. Because the hope is that the cable has somehow gotten water in it and is only frozen, it is brought into the Blue Room to thaw out while everyone eats. After lunch, much to our collective delight, Josh announces that the part is no longer seized and that it was in fact frozen. It takes him only 30 minutes to put it back in and then we are ready to move again.

Finally, after three days of sitting in the storm we are on the go. The storm has deposited a lot of soft snow and the going is quite difficult. Although the load isn’t particularly heavy, the dozer CAT train gets stuck twice and has to be freed with the assistance of the fork CAT.