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5 August, 2001

Creating the civilization that is Summit camp

There I was several kilometers away from camp, skiing alone through the whiteness of the snow and suddenly the smell of grilled beef came wafting by. How ironic, I thought. Here we are so far from civilization as we know it, and yet, we have freshly cooked food, warm showers, lights, heated buildings, movies, desks and (for some) even beds.

How does this all get here or stay in operation so that science experiments can take place 24 hours a day without really worrying about the next meal?

Its thanks to the hard working group of support staff from VECO polar resources. These men and women include cooks, carpenters, electricians, radio operators, heavy machinery operators, plumbers and people who can do just about anything. Over the weeks that I have been at Summit camp I have become increasingly impressed by the diverse backgrounds, personalities and skills these folks bring to the camp.

Most have spent several seasons in Antarctica as well as coming to Summit in the summer. They are the "people of the ice". A small, tightly knit community, they are friends at work and after work. It takes a tough mind and spirit to work here. It also takes the willingness to help out beyond your "job description" . Carpenters do dishes and cook. Electricians drive snowmobiles and help scientists move equipment around. Everyone helps to melt the snow and to get the water to cook, bathe and do the dishes. This place is a small village, if one didn't know better you'd never realize how far away we are from "real" civilization. It is incredible that places like this can exist, a tribute to the hard work and resourcefulness of the people who provide us civilization.

Here are some of the people and projects around Summit this summer....

Mark and Kathy are waiting to refuel the plane before it leaves again.

Mark delivers snow to the melter so that we can have water.

Leslie doing morning radio communications

Dave checking the batteries for the winter over crew.

Jay cutting a piece of drywall for the new building. Notice he is working outdoors. These guys are outdoors every day, no matter the weather.

Brian is working on the new utility room. The fuel tank is in the background, as is the water tank. This building has been completely assembled in three weeks. The carpenters have overcome a lot of problems with these buildings.

When a plane arrives everyone helps to unload the cargo and passengers.

Brian. Jay and Jordan are building the new building, section by section. Here they are working to raise the roof.

Dave is fixing a wire in the shop.

Elsie is planning a weeks worth of meals for 30, no easy challenge. Elsie rarely sits still.

Meg out measuring snow accumulation in the bamboo forest of snow stakes.

Shelly is packing samples to send home with hte scientists. She is in the freezer below the greenhouse.

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