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24 December, 2002

Christmas Eve at Site 4

Date: 12/24/02

Latitude: 86 30 08.99 S

Longitude: 107 59 24.64 W

Time of Observations: 11:00 PM local time

Temperature: -27C / -17 F

Wind speed: 7 knots

Wind Chill: -37 C/ -35 F

Wind direction: Westerly

Meters of ice collected: 389 m

By Dan Dixon

Christmas Eve, we arrived at Site 4 - 44 hours after leaving Site 3. We were fortunate in that the weather was clear for most of the journey and we could see where we were going. Thankfully, we did not encounter any crevasses.

Soon after our arrival at Site 4, a thick fog bank rolled in and reduced visibility to about 100 m. The fog did not last long and soon passed over us; the skies have been totally clear ever since. The temperature here is extremely cold (due to the altitude), but as long as the wind does not blow and the sun shines it is bearable. Site 4 is situated on the top of a large dome-shaped feature in the ice sheet, called Hercules Dome. The elevation of the dome is about 2600 m above sea level, only slightly lower than the South Pole itself which is 2850 m ASL. Today the temperature here is -25 C with a blue sky, no wind, and the sun is shining!

The first jobs completed upon arrival were: site suitability selection, surface snow sampling, setting up the atmospheric tent, setting up the drill site (and 2-inch drill site), recovery of the fuel cache, and driving a GPS survey grid around the site. By the time we had completed all of this and eaten a lovely dinner, prepared by Blue and Andrea, we were all pretty tired.

Before dinner, Susan made a valiant effort to make the camp feel Christmassy. She put up fairy lights in the kitchen and laid out all the presents which Ann and Debbie (our support staff back in Maine) had prepared earlier in the year. Andrea helped the mood by playing tunes with a Christmas theme. We are all becoming impatient to reach the South Pole and the best present we could hope for at the moment is good weather and no breakdowns to speed us on our way without delay. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and we will all be working hard but we will finish earlier than usual to open our presents and eat Christmas Dinner. Merry Christmas to all our families and friends, we miss you all very much and hope to see you soon.

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