Hi everyone. A quick post updating progress on this year’s ANSMET field season. John Schutt and Brian Rougeux have been in McMurdo since Nov 21, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday. They report a few things of interest:
-John and Brian have gone through the various training classes for the umpteenth time, how they stay awake is beyond me. They’ve also talked in detail with the Fixed Wing Ops people, and they report “no clouds on the horizon for our put-ins”. That’s really good news. Part of the story is that we’re not using LC-130’s this year, which is a blessing; those aircraft are apparently weeks behind schedule.
-John and Brian also spent time with the snowmobile folks; we know them really well given how important the snowmobiles are to us. We’ve known for many years that our snowmobiles are getting long in the tooth; and in fact the main snowmobile mechanic (James) says all of our skidoos are “…breaking in half and we need replacements”. USAP as a whole needs new snowmobiles and the hope is that ANSMET gets a buy-in on a fleet-wide replacement. Bad news is that nobody makes a glorified dumpy little snow-tractor anymore (which is what we need). Instead the snowmobile market is aimed at fast/light/flying-through-the-air-off-ramps performance. We will definitely be paying attention to this topic.
In other news…..
-Watch for an article (coming out soon) in Harpers about ANSMET’s 1998 season at Graves Nunatak. We had a pretty famous author as a field party member that year (Barry Lopez) and he’s finally written about the experience. And no, I have no idea if it’s flattering or not; I guess we’ll find out!
-We’ve tested the blogging system successfully. Seems slower than previous years, possibly due to increased data traffic on the Iridium network. But it works, and as usual we’ll hope for daily updates from the field.
-Finally, tomorrow (Thursday, 29 November) is ANSMET’s “Main Body” deployment, with the remaining six people from this year’s team starting their journey south. If all goes to plan they should get to New Zealand about dinner-time Friday (our time) and then fly to McMurdo from Christchurch on Sunday (Our time). I hope you’ll all join me as I think happy, safe thoughts for all of them; here’s a vote for no lost luggage, empty seats adjacent, and surprise upgrades to Business Class for all!
Ralph, posting from snowy Cleveland OH.