This morning we awoke in our Scott tents. This was the first night sleeping ‘out on the ice’. We had been camp bound since the day before, when a snow storm rolled in during our Shakedown trial run (see photo of the storm in full force). Plans to summit Castle Rock and test crevasse rescue training were cancelled when dark clouds with snow precipitation were seen along the horizon, racing towards us.
Instead, for the rest of the afternoon and evening, we stayed inside our remarkable cozy Scott tents, chatting with our tent mate, cooking dinner, writing in journals, and learning new card games. It was a good opportunity to spend time figuring out how to set up our 8 x 8 floor spaces. Finding a system that works for your tent of 2 people is important, and then sticking to it. There’s not a lot of room to play with, so finding a place for each thing is not trivial! (see the picture of my tentmate Mini Wadhwa, from Arizona State University – this is as far apart as we could get from each other in our tent!!).
When we awoke this morning, the wind was silent. At 6:45 am, the green light was given for an 8:30 am start up to Castle Rock for some training and then camp takedown before heading back to McMurdo station. We quickly started getting ready – breakfast, packing lunch and snacks, warming up the skidoos…..during all of this, the silence faded and was replaced by a growing, insistent wind. By 8 am, we were back in the thick of it! The call was made to take down camp immediately and head back to McMurdo.
I kept reminding myself of John Schutt’s (Case Western Reserve University, one of our field team leaders and a mountaineer) words: “in Antarctica we take it day by day”. Good advice to live by no matter where you may be! Here, where the nature of our work is completely dependent on the elements, these words really hit home. In Antarctica the weather can change in an instant, and even the best laid plans may need altering or even scrapping altogether. Adapting and responding to the ever changing environment is not only a valuable life skill, but here, a matter of survival.
Marianne Mader, Dec. 5, 2012 McMurdo Station