Date: November 16, 2007
Location: ITASE Winter Over Site
Latitude: 80 degrees, 18 minutes South
Longitude: 144 degrees, 41 minutes East
Temperature: −34°C ( −29°F)
Wind Speed: 8 knots
Wind Chill: −46°C (−51°F)
Elevation: 2191 meters (7189 feet)
Kilometers Traveled: 0
Ice Core Drilled: 0 meters
Written by: Nicky

Yesterday, we started monitoring our oxygen saturation and pulse as a way to keep track of crew fatigue. It is interesting to see how our numbers today compare to yesterday's numbers. I wouldn't be a single bit surprised if everyone had a higher pulse today, after all there are big things going on. We have 3 flights, one to our camp bringing a 3 person British film crew (working on a climate change documentary) and our much needed CAT parts; and two to our first fuel cache bringing the last of our first cache of fuel.

Our instructions are essentially to ignore the film crew as they'd like to start filming as soon as the door of the plane opens. This seems simple enough, but its hard to ignore the urge to run over to the plane and start unloading, as we normally do. The planes always bring exciting things from McMurdo. While the film crew is given a tour of our camp, the plane is unloaded and Josh immediately gets to work installing the radiator and fan. This goes off without a hitch and it is now certain that we'll be ready to begin moving tomorrow. In the meantime, Dan B. tests his downhole density logger. It essentially works as planned, the winch bearings just need a little oil. It is very cold and they don't want to turn under the weight of the instrument (which isn't even that heavy!).

The Twin Otter pilots, Brian and Steve, join us for lunch and once our guests have all departed, the afternoon is spent in a flurry of sled tie-down activity. We make sure that nothing will fall off the sleds while they trundle over the bumpy terrain and then begin hooking them up behind the CATs. Tomorrow we leave!!


Date: November 17, and 18 2007
Location: East Antarctic Plateau
Latitude: 81 degrees, 6 minutes, 36 seconds South
Longitude: 138 degrees, 0 minutes, 36 seconds East
Temperature: −34°C ( −29°F)
Wind Speed: 8 knots
Wind Chill: −46°C (−51°F)
Elevation: 2400 meters (7874 feet)
Kilometers Traveled: 183
Ice Core Drilled: 11 meters
Written by: Nicky

Its 10:30AM and we're ready to leave! The PB takes off and goes 3/4 of a kilometer out ahead before radioing back to the Dozer CAT that it is okay to proceed. That's me. I'm up! Mike is riding with me for my first waypoint (~10 km) to make sure I can handle driving the train. It's a bit of a rough start (you have to take the emergency brake off to go anywhere...crazy!) and before we get very far there is a transmission from the PB that they have something funny on the crevasse radar. We weren't expecting to see crevasses in this area, but all strange findings are taken seriously, so Paul and Brian walk up to see what's on the screen. It turns out to be a false alarm (it was interference from the VHF radio), but as the old adage goes, better safe than sorry. After this we're really under way. We radio back to the 2nd train when we're 3/4 of a kilometer out (this is their signal to start moving) and finally everyone is on the move.

I find that when driving the CAT alone I feel strangely empowered. It's so large and I am totally in command (of everything but the heater, which seems to be broken...don't worry it got fixed eventually!). And the scenery, while pretty constant, is beautiful in its own way. The patterns on the snow surface are mesmerizing and ever–changing. In addition to all these factors, there
is the wonder at the truth of what you are actually doing (driving a route never before driven by anyone else) and by the fact that you are alone with only your thoughts (a seldom occurrence)...I could drive like this forever!

When the 2nd shift starts there is an unfortunate fuel mix–up and the diesel powered PB is filled (almost to the brim) with gasoline. A pit has to be dug and the gasoline drained back into the barrel. Then the PB has to be filled again with the right stuff (diesel). This costs about an hour of time, but still our start this year is more successful than the start from last year. Also, during this shift, Brian's radar computer crashes and upon being started again refuses to write data to the hard–drive. This is a little disheartening, but luckily Brian has an old computer from previous years with him. So, we stop for a while longer while he switches the system over. Once we get going again, Brian's radar sled begins to experience generator problems. This requires another layover, as he switches to a generator that has been sitting in the blue room warming up.

Once Brian is sorted out we continue on and cycle through several more four hour shifts. During these shifts we stop a couple of times to check suspicious things on the crevasse radar (the general consensus each time being that they are shallow firn cracks and won't cause us any trouble). Additionally, with the deep radar, Brian finds a series of 8 evenly spaced parabolas at ~500 m depth (what we have been taught indicate crevasses in the more shallow radar) and warns those in the PB to be extra attentive to the crevasse radar. They see nothing at the surface and Brian hypothesizes that the deep things he saw were likely 1) old buried machinery, 2) buried meteorites, or 3) who knows?? (either way it is fascinating!). Around 2AM, after another computer crash, Brian finally says "uncle" and we all stop for 10 hours of stationary rest. We traveled 183 kilometers in the last two days. Not too bad for our first attempt.