5 December, 2003
We arrived safe and sound last night around 8 PM our time. Under a brilliant Antarctic sun we set out to find a place to put up our camp. The practice we got at snow school and on our shake down trip went to good stead as the camp went up quickly and efficiently. By 11pm we were relaxing and talking with the other Beardmore residents who were waiting for our arrival, not so much for us but for what we brought, helicopters! We scheduled our work around heli's because our sought after prize is around 14,000 feet high and the only way we were getting there is by those magnificent rotary winged craft. Our departure from McMurdo was tied to the earliest date that the helicopters could leave for the field.
I have been few places where photographs could not do justice; this is one of those places. I will do my best to capture the immense beauty of the trans-Antarctic mountains but to try to capture the stark contrast between the dazzling white glaciers and the dark horizon piercing mountains that jut up touching the deep blue cloudless sky will be a tall order. I did bring my film camera to back up the digital equipment, which lacks the latitude to capture the transitions in luminosity. I realize too, the images that I can email are pitifully small in file size, so that will diminish your ability to share in the experience that we here are privileged to parcticipate in. Hopefully when I return home I can upload file images with greater detail.
Presently, I am writing from the mess tent, run by Tanya, the camp cook who has been doing this for six seasons. She arrived in Antarctica seven years ago as a construction worker in McMurdo; she was following her husband here who was working out at a remote camp. But he was in the field and she was in McMurdo, understandably, she did not want to be separated from her husband so she applied for and got the position of remote camp cook. She, like many of the support staff here is thrilled to be here not only for the raw beauty of the place, but the education she receives on the side. "I love the PI's here." said Tanya, "they love to talk about their science, and they take the time to explain even the most basic concepts."
So on to our work. We will be off this afternoon making our first trip to Mt. Kirkpatrick. This is just a set up mission to map out the work ahead and get the lay of the land. I hear the chopper's blades slicing through the air so I must upload this journal entry and get packed for the next part of this expedition.
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