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7 December, 1999

A hike to the crater rim.

This day is glorious and we decide to hike to the crater rim for a look inside. In the early years of Dr Kyle’s study of the volcano, the research team was stationed at the “upper” hut. This hut was much closer to the crater rim, but in 1994 the volcano started throwing lava bombs out of the crater and so the living quarters of the scientists were moved to a safer position, where we are now, and what is revered to as the lower Erebus hut. From here the trip to the rim starts out on ski doo. It takes about 20 min to reach the highest place they can go, then we are on foot.

1. This is the upper hut, now abandoned, with the crater rim in the background. Look closely at the fumaroles ( ice towers) along the top.

2. This is a close up of the fumaroles in the previous picture. They are about 6 times as tall as I am and they glisten white in the sun. They are formed when hot gases and water vapor come out of the vents around the volcano.

3. There is nothing to do but trudge up the hill, no trail just go. Along the way I collect several great crystals and look at some lava bombs. The entire volcano is covered with these formations. More about them later.

4. There are two craters. The first one we come to is the western crater, smaller and much less active than the main crater. It is still a beautiful place to stop and rest. Here I am sitting on the rim looking at one of the ice towers inside.

5. After another up hill pull we reach the main crater. Bjorn finds a safe place on the rim to sit and watch the lava lake and gas vents.

6. One of the walls of the crater. Notice the amount of gas emission from many places around the inside of the cone.

7. A close up of one of the fumaroles inside the crater, there are many like this.

8. It is hard to look over, it goes straight down, and the edge of the crater is not stable. Sometimes there is rock under the snow, sometimes not. It is very important to be careful.

9. Another view of the inside of the crater wall.

10. More fumaroles around the inside of the crater rim.

11. The lava lake at the base of the crater. In this picture there is no red showing. It is hard to catch the volcano belching on film. It did happened several times while we were there and one time it threw lave above the rim in a terrific explosion. Luckily we were far enough away so we did not get hit, but we did feel the compression waves.

12. On our way back to Lower Erebus Hut and lunch. What a magical hike.

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