8 December, 2001
The previous evening I was talking with some geologists from Syracuse University who had just arrived at the South Pole a few hours earlier. They were using the pole as a staging area to get to Reedy Glacier, two hours away from the South Pole. A goal I have before leaving Antarctica is to collect geologic samples, so I was asking them where good places were around McMurdo Station for obtaining them. As the discussion continued, they offered me a most generous invitation...to join them at Reedy Glacier for a few days.
I did not think it would be possible because I did not bring my ice climbing equipment to the South Pole. A great number of people both at South Pole and McMurdo worked hard to send me the equipment and obtain the necessary permission. I was shocked when all of the supplies arrived within 48 hours of initially asking if I could join the geologists from Syracuse University at Reedy Glacier. As a result of their efforts, I will get to join the group at their remote field camp.
Reedy Glacier is located a little less than two hours from the South Pole via a Twin Otter airplane. It is near the inner most part of the Ross Ice Shelf. The flight to the interior was operated by extremely talented Canadian pilots. Unlike the South Pole, Reedy Glacier has no ice runway. The pilots have to fly over the glacier carefully to locate the smoothest place for landing. A combination of an extremely well designed airplane and skill of the pilots resulted in a smooth landing. We landed only fifty feet from the camp site.
The first thing I had to do upon arriving at Reedy glacier was set up my tent and store my gear. The tent I was using was no normal tent. It is a tent designed for the cold climates that mountaineers experience. It is essentially two tents combined. The inner tent is for sleeping and the outer tent traps a thin layer of air which acts as insulation for protection from the cold.
Littered around the campsite were drums of fuel that were previously air dropped by an LC-130. The fuel would be used by the Twin Otter which was providing us with field support. The camp was directly atop the glacier. Unlike the South Pole, we were completely exposed to the elements of Antarctica. After a quick debriefing with the geology team, I slipped into my tent for the best sleep I have had since arriving on the ice.
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