South Pole is Spook Country

Thanks for posting the blog link, D.H. The satellite schedule hasn't jived much lately with not-so-busy work hours here.

The sun goes down on Saturday, and fingers are crossed our weather doesn't get overcast for the first and only sunset I'll have between October 2009 and November 2010!
Wow, yeah...posting here kind of got away from me. Like I wrote way back when, we didn't have much satellite coverage during my normal waking hours for much of the winter. Even just keeping my blog postings at a rate of about one per week has been a bit of a chore.

That being said, it's a WHOLE lot different doing this year at the Pole thing a second time around. Some of the aspects that were shiny and new the first time aren't quite so exciting (at least to me) on subsequent repeats.

I've also had to support quite a few more projects than last time, which has been pretty time consuming and physically taxing to the ol' bod', which has made for generally earlier sack times this year (hence fewer overlapping hours of wakefulness and internet access).

Anyhow, excuses, excuses, I know. I apologize if anybody who was interested didn't find their way to my blog. Any day now, we should get some of our first visitors flying in from Rothera Station in Basler aircraft. Shortly after they get from here to McMurdo Station, the "soft opening" should begin with passenger flights. C-130 Hercules flights aren't scheduled to start until 2 November, but we'll see how it all comes to pass. I'm definitely in need of some R&R after working here every single day for the last 352 consecutive days (and counting).
Originally posted by CuspTech:

The sun goes down on Saturday, and fingers are crossed our weather doesn't get overcast for the first and only sunset I'll have between October 2009 and November 2010!

Glad ur back dude. This thread is wicked.
I'd gladly shoot pics with Zero History, but have few options for directly getting a copy here. I would have to get somebody headed here for summer to bring a copy down with them. Incoming mail for winterovers is not a priority for the cargo folks, and we can't reliably get anything here before leaving.

Bic 2.0:
Thanks, and sorry for not being able to write more over the last 9 months.
Hey CuspTech! Nice to see you.

I would have to get somebody headed here for summer to bring a copy down with them.

Or maybe there's somebody with a Kindle or an iPad already on location.
You could take a picture with a digital copy. It would still be pretty damn cool Smile
OK, I've found a copy of Pattern Recognition here on-station, and will see what I can do photo-wise with that. We can't seem to get any flights in here, and I don't know anybody with an electronic reader, so it's probably a no-go on the Zero History photos. Apologies, but as we say down here in Antarctica, "It's a harsh continent.". It's the polar equivalent of "Sh@t happens.".

Apropos to that statement, we just had a C-130 Hercules headed have to return (Ice speak: boomerang) to McMurdo Station after one of its engines failed in flight. Also going on today are SAR operations to try and reach a crashed helicopter that was flying near the French Dumont-d'Urville research station. The pilot and 3 passengers are still missing as of the latest update we've been given. Last time I was here there was an emergency medevac situation from one of the Aussie stations, since somebody there had managed to get injured in an accident while using an ATV. It makes me wonder what the actuarial tables, if there are any for this part of the world, say about longevity for folks like me that come down here...

Again, I'll try to post some pics when I get a chance.
Unfortunately, the ZH "book" is a simulacrum constructed with material from the inter-web-nets using 100% free-range Antarctic labor. We can't seem to get flights in regularly, due to an ongoing storm, so even getting anything brought down like a simple book has not been an option most of this week. Anyhow, sorry to burst any bubbles out there. ZH is here in spirit. Yours truly is the unfortunate one who can't get my hands on a copy to read yet. I'm supposed to leave on next plane after 13 months here. Can you say "culture shock"?
Well, another challenging year seeking employment is leading me back to the Spook Country/South Pole in a few weeks. Like two years ago, I return there hoping the economy will have picked up in the intervening months.

It should be an interesting and slightly different year to be there. In December and January we will celebrate the centennials of the first two expeditions (led by Amundsen and Scott, respectively) to reach the geographic pole. Several hundred tourists are anticipated to be in attendance those days. In November a new contractor will be named by the NSF, and they will take over on 1 April, so that will be potentially interesting and challenging in a variety of ways. Then there are all the other unknowns in spending that much time in such a place.

Yes, I've already submitted my paperwork to vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Summertime is flying by here at the South Pole. In mid-December we celebrated the centennial of the Roald Amundsen expedition reaching 90°S for the first time in 1911. A contingent from the Norwegian government, including their Prime Minister, stayed at the station for several days, and there were various festivities. The non-governmental organization camping roughly 0.5 miles from the station was at a population of 93 souls for the big day, which was a major change from previous seasons.

We have had nice dinners for the American Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and this past weekend had a nice party with 4 live bands in the gymnasium. I was a lead singer for one of them, and a good time was had by many.

Coming up in the next several weeks we will observe the centennial of the runner-up expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott. There have not any of the big plans or visits announced for this particular anniversary. There is a vast gulf between first and second in the history books.

It has been easier in many ways coming back for the third time to the same science job (fourth time to Antarctica). Having some experience, or a whole lot of it, comes in handy down here. I still have zero clue what I might follow this up with, but did submit my second application to NASA for an astronaut candidate position. It is a very long shot, but what the heck? Why not? Living in this isolated, alien place for this many years has to count for something!
Vancouver is the coldest place I have even been in my life, and I hated the weather. I have a feeling the claustro of being cooped up would be worse than the cold though. I was newly single, Antarctica seemed like a good way to escape. I was also looking at peace corps deployments to Africa at the time. The reason I initially returned to school was so I could join up.
Well, South Pole is the coldest place I've ever been. During my second winter here (2010) we hit -103.something°F, not counting the wind chill. I know I've seen -135°F wind chill, but I don't usually pay attention to it, since we don't walk around outside with much exposed flesh in the winter.

Being unable to go anywhere else doesn't end up being a big deal for most people. The scope of your world just starts to shrink, and many people just stop paying much attention to what is going on in the rest of the world. A downside to that is that the problems and conflicts that can (and inevitably do) arise here can get blown out of proportion. Keeping things in perspective can be a challenge at times.

An Antarctic deployment definitely isn't for everybody, which is even more the case for winter. Though winterovers at McMurdo and Pole have to go through a psychological screening, you still see a few folks each year that just really don't end up handling it well. Other folks aren't so much psychologically unfit, but are just not suited to living in close, shared quarters with other people. The biggest factor influencing how a season goes down here has to be, and probably always has been the people, not the Ice.

I've visited friends in the Peace Corps in Belize and Ecuador, and would sure like to do that someday.
I've never done "The Thing" blood test, but in 2007 I did have to give blood to participate in a Mayo Clinic study about the effects of high altitude on the body/sleep cycle. Sadly, no flame throwers were involved at that time, but one of our maintenance crew did build one (and got in trouble, of course) over the winter.
Sorry for the belated reply, Minx. I just noticed your comment on this thread.

I'm fine. That guy requiring evacuation was down in McMurdo, and I'm up at Pole. We haven't been warm enough for planes to land here for months and months, and the sun is only just getting ready to come up after a 6 month journey below our horizon.

I finally got my tentative redeployment date (Nov. 2), which is coincidentally one year from when I flew from New Zealand to Antarctica last year. I'm not sure what comes next, but I suppose it will sort itself out. Whether I leave on that date is contingent on SO MANY things going right.

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