Friday, November 20, 2015

Livin da Vida Antarctica

I sit here, fingers chilly, trying to think of an accurate way to describe camp life in Antarctica. I guess I’ll just run through an average day. Today we woke up at a ripe 6:45, stumbled into the cook tent around 7:30 (it’s tough to get out of the sleeping bag) and had a yummy breakfast of oatmeal, grape nuts, and berries. After a cup of coffee (or two for Drew) we prepared ourselves for the long day ahead. Backpacks on, we finally started trudging our way along the moraines of Mt. Discovery around 9:30. With the sun hitting the peaks of the ridges, we hike up, and up, and up, until we’re finally at a good starting place for sampling. Drew arrives first, as always, Natalie and I bringing up the rear. We’ll get better at this hiking thing eventually. Although the days have been rough, in this climate it’s good to be busy. I think I’ve gotten used to the cold, or at least to always seeing my breath - but sometimes the wind can still be brutal, especially on top of ridges.

Drew and Natalie enjoying their morning coffee.

In The Field!

After a rushed morning in McMurdo last Thursday, we hurried to the Helo Pad and loaded our things onto an A-Star helicopter. After some safety instructions from our Kiwi pilot Shaun, we took off for Mount Discovery. 
Drew showing our pilot Shaun where we planned to camp on a map

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Clothes! And a Corollary on Moisture-Wicking Fabrics

   This week I bought most of the base-layer clothing I will be wearing in Antarctica! I leave in less than a month, and am getting finishing my preparation. My preparation has included not only the purchase of these supplies, but also research into the different types of fabrics needed to keep warm in a frozen desert. Since this research turned out to be surprisingly interesting, I decided to share my findings…

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I pick things up and put them down.

The past two days have been really busy, really long, and really fun! Yesterday we did the food pull, which means we have to pack all of our food for the next month into rock boxes. We separated them by breakfast, dinner, and snack, that way we only have to have 3 boxes in the tent at a time. We packed a lot of oatmeal and beans. We also packed A LOT of chocolate. It is one of life's necessities after all! It was strangely comforting to organize all of the boxes - we could really see our progress, and they looked so nice in their little rows. Then came the hard part, we had to carry them - 40 lbs each (it's harder than it sounds) - down the stairs and back to the cage. We emptied everything out of the cage... again... to make a final spreadsheet of all of our cargo and it's total weight.

In total we had 9 food boxes, 2 for breakfast, 3 for snacks, 3 for dinner, and one for spices and drinks.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Discovery Hut and More Preparation!

After lots of practice setting up and using our new equipment, we tested our skills yesterday morning when we were dropped at the top of a hill outside of town and asked to set up camp. With our new knowledge of the trucker's hitch and our not so warm gloves, we successfully used two stoves, an old HF radio, and our satellite phone.

Drew and I take a spin on the snowmobile!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Updates from Boston

Flight path to Antarctica. Image Credit: USAP

As of last Thursday, I am the only BU Antarctic Ambassador left in the hemisphere! Antarctic Ambassadors Natalie Robinson and Emelia Chamberlain left with graduate student and BURECS/BUARG team member Andrew Christ, and are in Antarctica now! As my general lack of blogs over the past month will attest, though, I have been very busy back here in Boston. Between midterms, homework, research, and extracurriculars, it has been difficult time to fully prepare for such an extraordinary voyage. However, because my time of departure is fast-approaching, my physical and mental preparation have necessarily begun.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Living in McMurdo

The sign we made for our office down here - it's the counterpart to " 'Lil Antarctica " back at BU.
Today is our third day in McMurdo, but we've been so busy it already feels like a week! Yesterday we spent most of the morning in briefings, and then most of the afternoon at the BFC (Berg Field Center or as it's lovingly called "Building Full of Chicks"). While there, we pulled all of the equipment out of our cage or storage space and sorted through it. There was a lot of picking things up... and putting them down. But it was also super useful because it gave me and Natalie a better idea of just exactly how we would be living out in the field.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


After three days of delays and some extra time to explore New Zealand, we finally made it to McMurdo Station! At 6:30 this morning we reported to the CDC, put on our ECW gear, and headed to the terminal. A few hours later, after some presentations and security screenings, we climbed on to the U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo jet with our packed lunches for the second time, hoping we wouldn't have to turn around again. There were also twice the amount of passengers than the first try (about 90 in total), as another group of people had come in since our arrival last Saturday. Seats lined the two side walls of the plane and some extra seating was put in towards the front. All the other space was was packed high with luggage, food needed in McMurdo, and other equipment and supplies. I was able to go to the upper level at the front of the plane where the pilots and other crew members stayed.
The ceiling inside of the plane

View of the passengers from the pilot's back window

Monday, November 2, 2015

Delayed again!

This morning I woke up to my alarm, eyes flying open... today's the day! We had to report at the Antarctic Centre at 6:30 AM to check our bags, get debriefed, and board our ice flight. Nat, Drew and I met up at 6:10 in the lobby of our hotel to head over (thankfully we're right next door!). We got in and had to hurry up and get all of our gear ready.
The International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch NZ... this is the view from the balcony of my hotel room!

Christchurch, New Zealand!

After a late arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand on Saturday night, we checked into our hotel and took our jetlagged bodies to bed. Sunday morning we woke up, and after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we headed down the street to the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) building where we were given flu shots, briefed on our upcoming trip, and outfitted with our extreme cold weather gear. After some quick training, we had the rest of the day to explore Christchurch!

Emma and Drew walk through Christchurch