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20 November, 2003

Feeding Frenzy

This morning was the first meeting for our entire Erebus team, as several members have been in McMurdo for a couple of weeks and did not attend Happy Camper School with us for the last two days. We laid out a game plan of what needs to be accomplished before we head out into the field. Crampons (spikes that attach to the bottom of boots to aid in walking on snow and ice) need to be fit to individual’s boots, ice axes and packs need to be handed out, computers need to be inspected to ensure that we are not bringing viruses into the USAP mainframe, and food must be selected and packed.

Food quickly became the top priority for the day. Feeding eleven people for three weeks in a field camp is a massive undertaking and Julie Calkins actually volunteered for the job. While Julie is a volcanology graduate student, she has come to Antarctica as the team’s chef. Her job started with planning a lengthy grocery list. We then took our grocery list to the Berg Center Food Room, McMurdo’s one and only grocery store (Figure 1).

A vast and varied assortment of food is available for the creative chef. Fortunately for the Erebus crowd, Julie had some great ideas for dinners. She quickly put us to work selecting assorted items from the shelves (Figure 2). Each item had to be scanned to help with proper billing, store inventory, and planning for next season’s Erebus trip (Figure 3). Finally, all the items were carefully boxed and labeled (Figure 4).

After 4 hours of shopping, sorting, and packing the exhausted food crew assembled 18 boxes of food and 12 flats of juice (Figure 5). All of this food needs will be weighed and transported to the helicopter pad to await transportation to our field camp on Erebus. Despite the fact that our stack of food looks like it could feed an army, this is only the non-perishable food. Frozen food will be pulled one day before departure and taken directly to the helo pad. Conveniently, frozen food storage is readily available at the Lower Erebus Hut as it can simply sit outside, but here in McMurdo it is stored in a large outdoor freezer building.

For today it looks like we are all set to eat well on Erebus. With so many people and so much food, the next critical issue to tackle is “Living at High Altitude.” Tomorrow we will be taking classes on Water Management, High Altitude, and Skiddo Maintenance. With food organization out of the way today, all that is left to do tonight is take a late stroll up to the top of Observation Hill (Figure 6) to get a look at McMurdo station (Figure 7), Mt. Erebus (Figure 8), Scott Base (the New Zealand base), and the airfield.

1. Figure 1 - A 180 degree panoramic view of the Food Room, McMurdo's grocery store --

2. Figure 2 - Jackie and Julie peruse the shelves for tasty morsels. --

3. Figure 3 - All items must be scanned for inventory and billing. --

4. Figure 4 - Colleen and Jackie boxing food for helicopter transport to Erebus. We used wooden boxes to keep items from breaking. --

5. Figure 5 - Julie made a list and is checking it twice to be sure we have enough food to feed eleven people for three weeks. This is a small number of our boxes of non-perishable food. --

6. Figure 6 - Observation Hill as seen from McMurdo Station. --

7. Figure 7 - An overview of McMurdo Station as seen from Observation Hill. --

8. Figure 8 - Mt. Erebus as viewed from Observation Hill. --

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