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8 December, 1999

McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica


"What is your hobby? Every woman ought to have some pet interest in life, outside of the every day routine which composes her regular occupations. What is yours?"

The Mother's Magazine 1915

Began today working in the lab at my old friend the gas chromatograph. We've been getting along just fine for two entire days now! Everything has worked according to plan. Tomorrow is the final field day. I don't know if I will get to go. I am sadly realizing that I may never see the Dry Valleys of Antarctica again.

This afternoon, Mark and I climbed Observation Hill. Ob Hill, as it is called, is a 230 meter volcanic cone. Mark told me before we left the lab that the walk (he called it a 'walk') to the top was "a piece of cake." I'd love to know what kind of cake he was referring to! The 'climb' is up slopes that are steeply angled and strewn with loose gravel and rock. On the upper slope, the gravel turns to boulders that must be traversed. I proudly carried myself to a certain point and there I stopped, frozen in my tracks, certain that one more step would send me off the edge! I lowered my center of gravity, practically hugging the rocks. It was impossible to continue in this way and yet I was determined! "Mark? Can you hold my hand?" Mark grabbed my wrist and held tight. It was the only way that I could steady myself! Fear of heights is a terrible thing! Mark continued to encourage me and before I knew it I had made it to the top! Most people get to the top of Ob Hill without any fuss. I, on the other hand, struggled because of my irrational fear!

>From the top of Ob Hill, you can see for miles. It was a beautiful, clear day and that is why I wanted to climb. I couldn't easily stand on the top, again because I was afraid that I would fall. I physically get very dizzy and I am always reminded of the Hitchcock film "Vertigo"! Mark was very patient with me! He explained that if I fell I wouldn't fall very far! Now THAT was encouraging! In one of the photos below, Mark has walked me out to the edge and posed me. It was all I could do to remain standing!

The views were magnificent! You could see all of McMurdo Station, Mount Erebus, Mount Terra Nova and Mount Terror. You could clearly see Willy Field, the ice runway and the Royal Society Range. It was beautiful and well worth the trip!

On the top of Ob Hill is a cross erected in memory of the five men who died returning from the South Pole in 1912. The names of the men, Edgar Evans, Laurence Oates, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, and Robert F. Scott, are carved into the wood.

Going down Ob Hill was just as much of a challenge to me! Now I was forced to actually SEE how high we were! If Mark hadn't steadied me, I would never have made it! Piece of cake, huh?

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY'S QUESTION: It is necessary to wear sunscreen because the ozone, the substance in the stratosphere that screens ultra-violet light, is disintegrating over Antarctica. The Antarctic stratosphere is cut off from the rest of the atmosphere by a strong westerly circulation pattern during the winter. A sort of polar vortex forms. In the Spring, the concentrated chemicals in this vortex, especially chlorine from chlorinated fluorocarbons (CFC'S), destroy the ozone as light begins to penetrate the stratosphere.

TODAY'S QUESTION: What kinds of fish would you find if you went fishing in Lake Bonney? What kinds of fish would you find if you went fishing near the ice shelf?



Today I climbed Observation Hill! I was very scared because Ob Hill, as it is called, is very high. The sides of the hill are steep and I was afraid of falling!

At the top, the view is wonderful! I took many pictures. You can see for miles if the air is clear. I saw the ice runway and a plane taking off for the South Pole. I saw Mount Erebus, the active volcano. It was very exciting!

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY'S QUESTION: In Antarctica, the ozone layer is very thin or gone completely. This layer protects us from harmful ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun. Without a thick ozone layer, the UV rays get through and cause us to get sunburns!

TODAY'S QUESTION: What kinds of fish would you find if you went fishing in Lake Bonney? What kinds of fish would you find if you went fishing near the ice shelf?


Looking up at Observation Hill from McMurdo Station. The climb was a 'piece of cake'!

The view of Mount Erebus, Mount Terra Nova, and Mount Terror from Observation Hill.

Can you tell how nervous I was standing this close to the edge of Ob Hill? Fortunately, there wasn't a strong wind!

Mark, without whom I would never have made it to the top! He appears far more confident at the edge!

The cross erected at the top of Ob Hill in memory of those who died en route from the South Pole with Robert F. Scott in 1912.

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