One Last Night in McMurdo

So our original Put-In itinerary looked like this:  Monday - fly in cargo; Tuesday - prep to leave town; Wednesday - fly in the team.

I should have known better. :)>

Instead, we had a little mechanical difficulty with the aircraft on Monday when the altimeter didn't work.  So we waited until Tuesday while the maintenance crew worked to fix the problem.  Tuesday went without a hitch.  We had fantastic weather, a smooth flight to Neptune, and unloaded the 4 snowmobiles, 8 drums of fuel, and a full pallet of tents, sleds, instruments and other bits and bobs.  The snow was firmer than the crew had worried, and Greg and I got to stand at the South Pole for our first times while the plane refueled just enough to get back to McMurdo.

Over last weekend, we worked on our glacier travel and crevasse rescue skills, including a walk through the F-Stop Icefall and practice in the "Crevasse Simulator," a deep trench dug 20+ feet into the snow.

When we returned to McMurdo Tuesday night, we got a surprise - Wednesday's flight was going to continue as schedule.  Meaning that we were all scrambing to do laundry, get our "checked" baggage dropped off, and make a last minute internet check.  Because we won't have internet for the next 5+ weeks.  I may occasionally ask Patsy to post a Tweet or Facebook message for me, but I'll be silent (except for a few short pre-posted holiday wishes) until 20 January.  See you in 2011!

Meeting with Flight Ops to discuss our schedule.

Building the Cargo pallets for flights.

Hiking out to the Icefall | photo Claire Todd

photo Claire Todd

Greg modeled crampons for us | photo Claire Todd

Practicing self arrests. 
Getting ready for glacier travel | photo Claire Todd

Taking a two-hour tour through the ice fall |
photo Seth Campbell

photo Greg Balco

photo Greg Balco

photo Greg Balco

Kat and Claire practicing crevasse rescue.

The crevasse simulator.

Seth, Mike, and Greg practicing ascending out.

photo Greg Balco

photo Seth Campbell

photo Seth Campbell

The full team:  Mike, Greg, Kat, Me, Claire, and Seth |
photo Seth Campbell

Pulling up to the LC-130 for Monday's attempt.

Greg checks out the pallets while we get ready to not leave.

The view from a port hole on Tuesday's successful flight.

One minute, everything was in back...

...the next, everything rolled out in a "drifted" off-load,
accomplished while the aircraft was taxiing around.

Standing at the ceremonial south pole -
the real one is about 20 meters to the right.

Refueling at the South Pole for the flight north to McMurdo.