Travel Log: 02 December 2001

Dateline: 8:55 AM Sunday, 02 December 2001
McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Visibility: unrestricted
Wind: variable at 4 knots
Temp: -03°C / +27°F
Windchill: -04°C / +25°F
Next Sunset: February 20, 2002

Randy writes:

Yesterday was a very full day! The early part of the morning was spent checking in and waiting to see if another flight had been canceled so that our stand-by flight to Pole could go. The weather was beautiful so all other flights went, which means we will not make it to Pole until at least Monday because there are no flights on Sunday.

Once we knew that we would not be flying, we went to the ice runway to try to film the take off of a ski-equipped LC-130. Everything went well. We had the permission to do it, we were in a good location by the runway and we were all set up. However since the wind was light the pilot decided to take off in the direction of where he was headed, which was not the runway we were stationed at. Still it was beautiful out there and the active volcano, Mt. Erebus, had a nice big plume of smoke that we took photos of.

Before lunch we took a walk out to Scott's hut. It is incredibly well preserved due to the cold and the dryness of Antarctica. After lunch I worked on the computer and Jason and Vivian went back to the hut to film some.

cave entranceAfter dinner the real excitement began. We had signed up as alternates for a trip to the ice caves, and not everyone showed up so we were able to go. The caves were beautiful! My entrance to the first one was a little dicey though.

The cave had a very small opening, only a few feet across, and it was like a tube that went on for a bit. No one had been in before so one brave person who had done a lot of climbing went first. The cave had been inspected by others and was safe to go in. Fred kept taking more and more things off, saying that the hole was small: first a water bottle, then his parka... This made the rest of us a bit nervous. Once he was through and reported back, we followed. I didn't like the narrow tube so I slid through it really fast; unfortunately there was a hole going down about ten feet at the end of the tube. I slid through the tube and right down into the hole. I was fine, but for a moment I was very scared; I couldn't see where I was going because my head was in the tube still and I could sense that I was falling. I didn't know how far I was going to fall, and there are lots of warnings about crevasses.

(The reason I knew about why the plane that we tried to film took off on a different runway, was that Max, the commander of the 109th, was on our ice cave trip. He was the pilot for that flight.)

After we had explored the ice caves we went further out from the base to Cape Evans, the site of Robert Scott's hut from 1910.

I got up early today and Vivian and Jason are still sleeping. We'll meet up in an hour for brunch.

This large vehicle was the "bus" to the ice caves. Pilot Max peers down into a cave, while Randy poses in an ice archway.
transport Max Randy

Some pictures of the ice crystals inside the caves. The dense glacier ice appears blue because it absorbs the redder components of white light.
looking up crystals blue crystals blue crystals

Go on to the
next day...