Too Busy to Post (reasons / excuses)

Watching the Basler land at Davis Ward, as viewed from the Davis Nunataks (Mt. Ward in the background). Look carefully in the center right and you’ll see camp in the distance.

Just in case you’re wondering why the team hasn’t been posting the last few days,  don’t worry;  it’s good news.  I’ve been in touch with them and they’re just very busy.  Here’s some reasons (call them excuses if you want).

  1. When we put together our schedule for McMurdo we typically front-load it,  cramming in as many obligatory meetings and trainings and lectures and stuff as possible at the beginning.  We do that because a lot of our tasks in McMurdo are serial;  “must meet with X and have training Y before you can begin task Z” kinds of things.  Miss a few of the X’s and Y’s early on and delays build quickly.  John and Brian take care of these as much as possible,  but with a “to do” list incorporating literally hundreds of items, some obligatory for every individual, we have a lot of hurdles to clear.
  2. This year’s team transitioned from the US to McMurdo really, really fast, a welcome surprise.  There’s a huge advantage to being ready earlier than scheduled- our #1 goal is to be “ready to fly”, with everyone fully trained and all cargo in the system. Reaching that point puts us on the flight schedule for real; before that its all speculation.  So we hustle to get on that flight schedule as early as possible, and this year being ready early is a real possibility. It takes pressure off everyone in the flight queue, not just us, and given that delayed put-ins are the #1 thing reducing ANSMET’s time in the field,  it is a very worthwhile goal.
  3. Making the hustle even more critical is that we have a flight scheduled (gulp!) TOMORROW!  Most of our gear and people will fly to Davis-Ward aboard the Basler, a beautiful plane for our purposes (big enough to carry lots of stuff, small and agile enough to go to difficult places).   However,  if the Basler can be said to have a weakness it’s that it is a tail-dragger,  taking off and landing with its rear-end (and tail wheel) on the ground. In its first few years in Antarctica, a few Basler tails got damaged by snow that can be MUCH harder than it looks,  so now landings in the open field require a little preparation.   John and one other person will be flying out to Davis Ward via Twin Otter (which isn’t a tail-dragger) with a snow groomer, basically a road grader towed behind a snowmobile, to prepare a runway about a mile (or more) long..  They’ll be out there for about a week , but if the weather is nice they could be done in a few days.  As per #2 above,  get that strip ready early, you’re ready at both the McMurdo and Davis-Ward ends of the flight, and ANSMET’s work gets a big boost.

So that’s the reason for no blog the last few days-  the team is hustling to get all trained and lectured and indoctrinated,  and to get John and buddy in the air.  I’ve gotten a promise from the team to post something from McMurdo soon,  but no pressure.  Honestly I’m fine if they’re too busy right now; from my point of view,  it’s a sign of great progress.


-posted by Ralph from Cleveland