15 January, 1997

>1/15/97  4:30 PM  If all is working well I should be able to get this
>message to McMurdo by 1/16.  However, this message along with all of the
>others may not get out until 1/18.  We get back on the 23rd.  Oh well....
>We just got back from the Dais, above Lake Vanda.  This was a real rock
>climbing expedition, something I prefer to scrambling over scree.  We
>picked up samples early so had to carry them to the upper part of the
>basement sill, scrambling from rock to rock and sometimes teetering from
>the weight of our packs.
>What we found in the Dais Basement Sill was amazing.  There are materials
>in the rock there that are not seen anywhere else.  Bruce Marsh welcomes
>these irregularities since they are what he is always looking for.  He has
>to account for them using his theory of igneous rock formation.  They force
>him to answer the very tough questions other geologists might ask.
>Before closing I wanted to mention what goes on around camp every morning
>before the helicopter arrives.  I wake up at 7:30 AM, usually, and go over
>to Bruce's tent for coffee.  He listens for a call from McMurdo to see if
>and when helicopter support will arrive.  After he receives word we all sit
>down to a quick breakfast.  After breakfast I, along with Mike, usually get
>the lunches ready.  Then we go to check our gear.  In addition to our
>backpacks and hammers for collecting we also need our cold weather gear.
>We carry this with us everywhere because the weather can change so
>dramatically.  Also, sometimes research teams are left overnight if the
>helicopters are unable to fly.  Our emergency gear can pull us through if
>this should happen.
>The first person who hears the sound of a helicopter shouts, "Helos," and
>everyone looks to see if it's headed our way (since I'm nearly deaf I see
>the helo long before I hear it).  If it's ours we rush to put our bags in a
>good position and then run behind a tent.  A good pilot can land a helo so
>that very little sand is blasted into the campsite.  Unfortunately we have
>recently had a pilot who hasn't learned this trick; he blasts the heck out
>of the campsite.
>A sandstorm rises beneath the incoming helo.  We turn our backs and put up
>our hoods to protect ourselves from the blowing sand.  After the helo
>settles we wait for a signal from the pilot to approach.  When the signal
>comes, everyone lifts their gear and runs for the helo.  We load as fast as
>we can and then jump on board.  As soon as we are seated, we fasten our
>seat belts, put on our flight helmets and prepare for takeoff.  This
>procedure is repeated in the reverse when we land again.
>The helicopter rides are always a highlight of the day.  They are like
>amusement park rides with fantastic scenery thrown in.  But the best
>scenery of all is earned.  We earn it by hiking for miles and climbing high
>up mountain sides.  My work here is one of the most rewarding jobs I have
>ever had.

Return to Bill Philips' Page

Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.