Travel Log: 03 December 2001

Dateline: Monday, 03 December 2001
En route to South Pole

Randy writes:

We are up in the air right now aboard a ski equipped LC-130 aeroplane heading south from McMurdo to South Pole. The trip will take about 3 hours. Right now there isn't much to see but in an hour we will be over the Transantarctic Mountains which are incredibly beautiful. I expect that we will not do much or think too clearly on our first day at Pole due to the lack of oxygen at altitude.

Yesterday was Sunday which is a day that most people take off for fun activities. We took a hike up Observation Hill. Obs Hill looks small but is almost 800 feet high, so it provides a good view of the entire Ross Island area. Since it was Sunday we took it easy as well. In the evening we went to a Sunday Science Lecture on collecting meteorites, and then we were invited to go ice fishing with a group that studies the genetics of cold adapted fish -- in other words, fish that can live in the freezing water of the Ross Sea. The penguin particularly liked the trip as there were a lot of fish to eat. The CARA bear is still a bit confused as Antarctica is not a natural place for a bear. There are no bears in Antarctica!

The fish hut was about a 20 minute ride from the main base via Ski-Doo or Sprite. The fish traps are interesting. They put bait inside that attracts little critters that the fish like to eat, arthropods. The opening of the trap is designed so that the fish can swim in but they can't get back out. Once caught the fish need to be kept "warm" so that they do not freeze. The traps are set at about 500 meters down.

We caught a number of fish and even an octopus. Our friends who invited us are probably already studying them in the laboratory.

The bear and penguin pose on the Sprite, and the penguin learns how to drive a Ski-Doo.
Sprite Ski-Doo

The animals outside the fishing hut.
Fishing hut Fishing hut

Inside the hut, the penguin helps to fish. The human researchers pull up the traps and examine the catch.
penguin fishing pulling up fish examining catch catch

Dateline: 10:16 PM Monday, 03 December 2001
at Pole

We have had a full day. We made it to Pole around mid-day and have been going ever since except for a short nap in the afternoon.

Views of the ice runway and the LC-130 airplane at McMurdo, ready for a trip to Pole.
Ice runway LC-130

The Trans-Antarctic Mountains, as seen from the cockpit.
mountains mountains mountains mountains

The Beardmore Glacier.
Beardmore Glacier Beardmore Glacier

Views from the cockpit: the pilot and the instrument panel (showing altitude)
Pilot Altimeter

Go on to the
next day...