I made it at last! The trip in was entertaining. First, we has a “safety briefing” which basically consisted of them telling us not to get frostbite. It was raining in NZ when they packed us all onto a bus wearing our ECW gear and drove us to the airplane. There was a guy with a truck full of food at the entrance to the plane, and he handed us bag lunches as we piled onto the C-17 cargo jet. There were enough of us that they put a few pallets of real seats on to the plane in addition to the jump seats along the wall, and I was lucky enough to get one. They handed out ear plugs (it’s really noisy on cargo planes), and gave us a safety briefing. The air guardsmen said, “For those of you in the pallet seats, if we experience a loss of cabin pressure, open up that compressed oxygen cylinder under your seat, fill up the plastic bag, and the put it over your head and seal around the neck. That gives you about 15 minutes of oxygen.” Great.
“Cut here to exit”
The trip was mostly uneventful, and every time I tried to look out the 3 tiny windows on the plane the snow and ice was blinding, so I didn’t see a whole lot. Finally, we landed on the ice. When I got off the plane, Mt. Erebus loomed ahead of me and poured steam out the top. It looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings. We piled onto “Ivan the Terra Bus” and were shuttled to McMurdo. After another long briefing, I was finally set free. After dinner Martin and I went for a walk to “Hut Point” the location of Scott’s Base the winter before he treked to the South Pole. We saw a giant seal hanging out on the ice next to a hole, as well as a mummified seal by Scott’s hut.
C-17 cargo jet parked on the sea ice.
After our walk, Martin and I met some people at the coffehouse for some wine. The coffehouse has no windows, so when we called it a night at 11pm, I was shocked by the bright sunlight all around me. The sun never goes down here this time of year, so time has no meaning here.
All of the flights to Pole are backed up right now (the weather there is bad), so I’m stuck in McMurdo for a few days. I intend to do some hiking while I’m here and check out the landscape.
My first day in Antarctica
I’m having a tough time uploading photos to the gallery from Antarctica, so for now you can access my photos here.