this *IS* Antarctica after all

Today has been a training day. For the newbies (like me), a lot of the details of how we will be hunting for meteorites is new. This continent can turn nasty very quickly, so one can’t just walk around casually hoping to find some sky rocks! Imagine doing systematic searching on snowmobiles for hours in a cold non-stop wind…and suddenly realizing the person behind you is no longer there. Clearly, this would be bad. Did they fall in a crevasse or just take a bathroom break? One needs to be observant not only of the surroundings but of your colleagues; full situational awareness is needed for a successful season.

Here, things that are normally simple, minor, or unimportant can become serious nuisances or even life threatening. Exposing just a little skin to the wind, for example, could lead to frost bite in not much time at all. Or simply walking from packed snow on to blue ice, the snow crystals on the bottom of your boots can become lubricants on the ice, resulting in a nasty fall, with the nearest medical facilities hundreds of miles away.

Of course, we have as much gear and training as possible to minimize the impact of the inevitable accidents. One such training is how to climb out of a crevasse or how to rescue someone who has fallen into one. The first picture shows us learning how to climb up a rope using two other ropes (I was having flashbacks to long-ago days of learning knots).

We’ve had some breaks today though. The annual MacTown craft fair was today. There are some very creative people here! And we managed to squeeze in a quick hike to the Discovery Hut, shown in the next picture. On the left side of the building in the shadows is actually a 100 year-old seal body, perfectly preserved. And the cliffs in the background are the location of the first death in Antarctica, over 100 years ago on the Discovery expedition. After sending this, I’m off to see our own astronaut Dr. Love give a presentation on his shuttle mission.

But we must remember at all times where we are: the coldest, driest, windiest, most desolate place on earth.

Rob Coker, 2nd December, 2012, McMurdo Station

The group practices mountaineer rope tricks.

Rob in front of Discovery Hut, from Robert F Scott’s 1908 expedition

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