27 November, 1996
Nov. 27 Ferrell : Remote site 100 km from McMurdo
McMurdo Min temp - 5.7 ° C Max temp - 3.9 ° C 17 knots prevailing wind Ferrell Min temp -8.9 ° C Max temp - 6.1 ° C 22 knots prevailing wind
Winds still gusting to 36 mph. Temperature varies from 15-18 F. Wind chill is - 16 ° F
Another day in the blizzard. Today it is a true whiteout. You can hardly see beyond your face. The atmospheric pressure is lower and McWeather predicts another 24 hours of storms. They also predict that the following 24 hours will have high winds although the sun might come out.
Our tent is completely drifted under. In trying to clear some snow we tear the outer liner, probably with the sharp edge of the shovel. Once you tear the slightest place on a nylon tent it continues to expand. We really are in trouble now. How can we prevent it drifting inside to cover the tent door? We had torn the outer liner door, but now have no protection to prevent lots of snow getting inside. We try to cover that area with an extra pack beg, but worry all day about what may happen. It already is very difficult to get in and out of the tent. Since the tents were placed in a depression, you have to go down to get inside. With all the drifting snow, you just slide down and crash into the tent door. It is very difficult for me to maneuver. I really feel my age. I am not as flexible as I used to me.
Radio check in as usual. During breakfast we try to decide what to do. Do we fill in the tent porch with a cooler and then try to climb over the cooler and lower ourselves into the tent? (Problems for me) Will duct tape fix it? (Probably not because things are damp and cold.) Should we try to mend it with thread from the sewing kit packed with our gear? Should we just use the back door although now it is already covered by much drifted snow? The back door is at the head of my sleeping bag and I know it really is packed in at that place.
We are so bored we calculate that with a full tank, the Coleman stove lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes - 4 hours.
Where I sit is very cold. My back is to the wind and my legs to the door side and always full of snow. My snow pants get so wet that when they freeze in my tent tonight they will be able to stand up by themselves. My parks is also soaked in the front, all along the zipper
and all pockets. I had forgotten to zip some of the zippers and the pockets got full of snow. When the snow melted the parka got wet. Then the water froze. It is stiff and I have a lot of difficulty just getting the front zipper closed. I fumble around a lot with it each time as it is, but when it is frozen, it really is tough. We had hung my parka up on the clothes line and that helps dry it slightly. Now it is time for others to hang their parkas up. Soon it looks like a laundry inside the tent. with 3 parkas, many socks, gloves, hats, etc. on the line.
Breakfast and lunch are standard fare already mentioned. Dinner is rice, scallops, shrimp, peas and corn and pineapple chunks. That is the high point of the day.... eating.
We finally make a "pee" bottle for we females to protect us against the brutal cold. Now we can go in the potty tent for this function. One of us has already gotten our fleece liners and wind pants full of snow when we had to drop them in a blizzard. Once the cloth is wet, it doesn't insulate well and it makes you miserable. Now new method may make things better. I had asked for one when I was issued clothing in Christchurch, but they didn't have one. I should have thought to ask at the Berg Field Center, but didn't know. Now I know, but it is a little
More sitting and reading all day. This is such a boring, uncomfortable day. Dr. Braaten says I am getting the full treatment in Antarctica. He has never been in a three day storm before. Lucky us! This will be something to talk about later. We only leave the tent to get more fuel, snow to melt, food from the cargo line and to go to the "pee" flag or potty tent. Not much activity today.
We don't know when we'll get out of here because no helos are able to fly. We had to delay our pull out one day in the hopes that we can finish the work of two days in one day. That will be grueling, but things must be done. So Friday figures to be our pull out day. If we cannot get out there will be problems. Because of the two day holiday given to personnel at McMurdo for Thanksgiving, we wouldn't' get out until Monday if we can't get out Friday. The Kiwi's might be able to fly on Saturday because Thanksgiving has no meaning to New Zealanders, but a flight isn't scheduled yet. We cross our fingers and hope for clear weather soon. We do have first priority to get pulled out of here. All field groups would be flown out before any other groups. Who knows?
Jennifer and I decide its time for bed by 9:30. After using our potty tent, etc., digging out the snow around the front of the tent, we get inside at 11PM. It was difficult to remove some of the snow, but we managed. Jennifer is much more flexible and has been such a help. As it is, we had to have Suruj help us shovel snow out and then cover the door with the bag after we got in. We might have to be dug out in the morning.
Once again my parka front is soaked. It was frozen stiff this morning and probably will be frozen again in the morning. I dread that. I keep my socks dry by placing them in my sleeping bag, but you cannot put your parka, wind pants, fleece pants and top in there also.
My hips and knees are stiff from sitting. I wonder if I am getting arthritic.
This has not been a nice day. Now I understand a little of what the explorers must have had to endure when they encountered such weather. You just cannot go anywhere. How Robert Scott and his team must have suffered!
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