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3 December, 2003

Digging Out

After Tuesday’s storm, comes Wednesday’s clean up. McMurdo personnel are digging out of snowdrifts and carrying on with life as usual. With a sunny day and a clean white backdrop, it’s a perfect day for a tour of McMurdo Station. With any luck, we’ll be able to leave for Fang Camp tomorrow, so this is my last chance to snap some photos around town.

1. Figure 1 – Digging out from an Antarctic storm takes some BIG machinery! Notice the person in the cab for scale.

2. Figure 2 – Now that the Seasonal Ice Runway road has been cleared, rush-hour traffic is heavy.

3. Figure 3 – The current airport is out on the Seasonal Ice Runway. Later in the season, the airport will move onto the permanent sea ice.

4. Figure 4 – McMurdo Station is nestled at the end of Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound.

5. Figure 5 – Bulldozers are used to move snow out of the way in town. It’s not like shoveling your driveway at home.

6. Figure 6 – The drifted and bulldozed snow piles reach to the second story of the dorms.

7. Figure 7 – It’s important to dig out emergency services like the McMurdo Fire Department.

8. Figure 8 – The hospital parking lot is clearly marked although a bit snowed in still.

9. Figure 9 – Derelict Junction, the bus stop, was dug out but slick roads kept people in town (shuttles normally run to the Ice Runway and over to Scott Base, the New Zealand station).

10. Figure 10 – Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet can keep the library closed. Note the drifts and the giant icicles.

11. Figure 11 – Jean Pennycook smiles from behind the library desk. Jean was a TEA (Teacher Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic) with the Erebus team in 1999.

12. Figure 12 – Skiing anyone? The ski chalet is actually the National Science Foundation (NSF) headquarters. But you can in fact ski here. There is a cross-country skiing route out on the sea ice and the Kiwis at Scott Base constructed a rope-tow for downhill skiing.

13. Figure 13 – Golfing in Antarctica?

14. Figure 14 – The golf ball actually houses an enormous satellite dish for a NASA project.

15. Figure 15 – The communal dining hall is quite good. This is a photo of the dessert table at Thanksgiving dinner.

16. Figure 16 – Everyone on station eats in the same dining hall so there you meet new and interesting people each day. Note the large screen on the wall at the top center. An evening lecture series and films are shown here.

17. Figure 17 – As we were weathered into McMurdo for an extra week, we took advantage of the opportunity to try out the “Band Room.” There are also several gyms and weight rooms and a bowling alley in town. A sizeable support staff stays in McMurdo all summer and they appreciate some amenities from home.

18. Figure 18 – While McMurdo does not yet have a stoplight, it does have at least two stop signs and a yield sign. I hope you enjoyed the tour of McMurdo. With a population of about 1,000 people in the summer and 200 in the winter McMurdo is a well-staffed and well-stocked little town at the bottom of the world.

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