Friday, November 20, 2015

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
During our flight over the McMurdo ice shelf we saw Black Island, White Island, Brown Peninsula, the Royal Society Range, and Mt Discovery. Shaun also played music through the headphones in our helmets to enhance the experience. We hovered over the western side of Mt Discovery, making sure the wind wasn’t too strong to land, as Drew chose the location for our camp. 

The view of Mt Discovery from the helo

We quickly got out of the helo, grabbed the personal bags we brought on with us, put them on the ground, and laid face down on top of everything, to both protect ourselves and make sure nothing blew away. Most of the time, the pilot doesn’t let the engine shut off during a quick landing/unloading, keeping the rotors spinning, in order to avoid the possibility of it getting too cold. 

Shaun later came back with two more loads of cargo after that to drop off our tents, food, survival equipment, and science gear. Each item we brought with us had to be labeled with its weight and a priority rank (things needed to survive being the most important and science equipment the least). 

That afternoon we set up our tents, cots, and “kitchen.” We enjoyed a nice dinner of frozen burritos, and went to bed. 
The Scott Tent that Emma and I live in
Emma and I awoke at 4:00 AM to the sounds of Drew shrieking and strong winds whipping against our tent. A big storm had started and we had to go outside to add more stakes to our tents and make sure everything was weighed down enough that it wouldn’t completely blow away. The storm even caused a small rip in Drew’s tent. Antarctica was giving its new visitors a warm welcome. Eventually we went back to bed and waited inside our tents until around 10:00 AM for the wind to die down.
Emma and Drew hiking near the edge of the morraine

Since our traumatic first night, Emma and I have adjusted to the showerless, outdoor toilet, camping life. We have spent the past few days collecting rock samples for cosmogenic nuclide dating and algae samples for radiocarbon dating. 
Modern algae in a frozen lake that we found the other day
Frozen lake near Mt Discovery
Tomorrow we will begin to map out the moraine using a high precision GPS unit. We are also starting to plan our disco-themed party at Club Mt Disco. Stay tuned for pictures!

View of the sea ice from the helicopter

A very cloudless Mt Discovery
A very cloudy Mt Discovery

-Natalie Robinson

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