Oct. 6th – Day 279 on Ice

Weather: It’s been warming up. Today is a balmy -49C and in fact is a gorgeous day with very low wind.

No pictures on this update, unfortunately, but I haven’t really done too much besides work and run on the treadmill for the past few days. This morning I ran 20 miles, and for about 13 of those I was actually reading while running… which was not all that great, I must admit, but I think the act of reading was better and more thoroughly distracting than watching a movie, or listening to music. I was reading, and finished, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild ; I don’t think it was the first time I’ve read it but it definitely gives me a bit of wanderlust. I finished up the other 7 miles by listening to some Garth Brooks CD that was available in the gym.

I spent about an hour and a half outside this evening, walking the final visibility marker line and clearing them off. I sat at the end of the markers for a few minutes, looking out over the vast nothingness and listening to the sounds of silence. The unusually low winds made it very possibly the first time I could actually enjoy the silence outside. I was far enough away from station that I couldn’t hear the exhaust vents roaring out heated air, and there weren’t any flags around to rustle even if there was some wind. The only sounds were that of the ice slowly shifting underneath me. It was calming, relaxing and peaceful. Alas, one can only sit on the ice at -50C for so long, even in full ECW.

And that was my day today, mostly.

Another fun fact about today (well, tomorrow for you Northerners in the US) is that the 2021 South Pole Winterover crew is beginning their long slog down to the Ice. This year is an unprecedented year for the United States Antarctic Program (and, I presume, all other Antarctic programs) because Antarctica is still COVID free so much care is being taken to assure that it remains this way. The new crew is flying to San Francisco, where they will be quarantining for a few days and tested twice during their stay. They will then board a contracted flight down to Christchurch, where they will spend at least 14 days in managed isolation at a hotel. If the weather on the ice cooperates, they will leave Christchurch in a Kiwi LC-130 headed to McMurdo. When the plane arrives to the Ice, McM will go into ‘yellow’ status for 1 week – which means social distancing, wearing masks, assigned meal times, etc.. If after 1 week (and no other incoming flights) there are no signs of COVID, McM can return to ‘green’ status, which as I understand it, is operations as usual.

Here’s the fun part,

There will be no on-continent LC-130s, so once the South Pole crew arrives in McM, they will be waiting for clear weather at both Pole and McM for flights in DC-10s (also known as Baslers) which are much smaller and slower than the LC-130s. Right now, as I understand it, the plan is to go to ‘yellow’ status at Pole for 1 week whenever we get a flight in. This means social distancing. At Pole. Boo. That would be no fun, and would present a challenge of it’s own (since we all live in the same building). It’s also no fun because the plan is to have flights coming in to Pole every other day for about 2 or 3 weeks which means that ‘yellow’ status would remain in effect for the entire month of November (which is our entire turnover period with our replacements).

One hope, is that there is a chance we might be allowed the following reprieve: If McM is in ‘green’ status before the flight leaves for Pole, we might allow Pole to remain ‘green’. Fingers are crossed that our incoming crew gets delayed a week in McM for weather, and by the time they leave, McM is ‘green’ and we can remain so!

1 Month until station open!

All for now.


2 thoughts on “Oct. 6th – Day 279 on Ice

  1. Soon you will be home. They always through an extra test right at the end. The yellow status in the last month will be a breeze next to the long dark night!


  2. The late evening silence sounds – or doesn’t as the case may be – so enjoyable. Glad you didn’t sit too long! xo


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