21 November, 2002
Time of Log: 9 PM local time
Latitude: 120 degrees West
Longitude: 80 degrees South
Temperature: -20 C / -4 F
Wind speed: 6 knots
Wind Chill: -28 C / -18 F
Wind direction: Northeast
Meters of ice collected: 0
The day started out with a superb breakfast made by Andrea in the Byrd Jamesway shelter: fresh eggs, kiwi fruit, freshly made bread… Jamesways are military green on the outside and a lighter green inside. They are made of wooden hoops attached to a wooden floor, with canvas covered blankets for walls and ceiling. This parcticular Jamesway has eight sections, making it 16 by 32 feet. That makes it somewhat crowded with all seventeen of us (including Mark Buckley the filmmaker and Kirk Salverson, who will be heading back to McMurdo shortly after we leave for the Pole). We’d better get used to it though soon we will have to combine kitchen with living quarters: the three women (Susan, Betsy, and Andrea) will sleep in the wooden shelter that is also the kitchen. Seven of the men (Markus, Eric, Gordon, Blue, Steve, Dan, and Jim) will sleep in the “Blue Room”, a 20 by 8 foot shelter that doubles as a laboratory for Markus and Betsy’s atmospheric chemistry work, as well as for weather observations and radio communication. Paul, Lynn, Karl and Mark will all be in a blue weatherhaven a modern version of the Jamesway, with nylon rather than canvas walls.
The weather this morning was beautiful; warm (minus 12 C), calm and sunny. We continued getting all our gear together and began to position vehicles and sleds so that we can hook them up to the Challengers. Lots of little things to do: mount the GPS antenna to the roof of the blue room, find the cables connecting the laptop to the weather station, sort out the food. Eric spent a couple of hours sorting through crevasse rescue gear. This is something we doubt very much we will need, but which we will need very badly in the unlikely event that one of our vehicles or, worse, one of us, falls into a crevasse. It is unlikely because we are traveling through areas where the ice is moving quite slowly, and is not likely that there will be any big cracks (crevasses); these tend to occur in fast-moving areas or where the ice is going around sharp corners or over steep cliffs. It is also unlikely because we will be constantly monitoring our crevasse detector: this sends radio signals into the ice that, if they hit a crevasse will bounce back and produce an obvious signal on our computer screen. If one of the Challengers were to fall in, we could not possibly get it out, but we could, and would, use our ropes to lower ourselves down to the driver and get them back to the surface.
Paul, Mark, Susan, and Dan spent part of the day getting the 2” ice coring drill set up. This drill, which Mark designed and built, worked well last year but will be even better this year we expect. Mark has put together a fancy new winch system that makes raising and lowering the drill much easier.
Later in the day, the weather became a few degrees colder and the wind picked up. It doesn’t really become unpleasant until it reaches 20 knots (nautical miles per hour) and snow starts blowing about. Still, the 10 knots it reached today is enough to make it feel a lot colder, especially on the face. We were all reminded that it will be very cold this year as we head towards the Pole.
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