Day 7 – Shakedown

A nice day for a shakedown: the team getting ready to set up camp at the foot of Mt Erebus (center right, with plume) and Castle Rock (at left).

The key to mission success is preparation and practice. Amundsen invested significant time and effort in preparing and testing himself, his equipment and his crew prior to attempting, and completing the greatest of all Antarctic achievements. Today, we left the comfort of McMurdo Station to conduct a “Shakedown” of ourselves, our equipment, and our team. Venturing across the ice on our Ski-Doo’s, with our equipment in tow, we established our camp for the evening, not far from the base of Mt. Erebus – the southern-most active volcano in the world. Setting up our Scott tents (named after Robert Scott), along with our stoves (for cooking and heating) and sleeping gear, we conducted a shakedown of our equipment, and our ice camping skills. With several ANSMET veterans on the team, camp was quickly established and allowed us to move onto our other day’s priority – developing and honing our Ski-Doo operating skills. Ski-Doo’s are large, bulky and noisy, but are the workhorse of the ANSMET team. Safely operating the Ski-Doo’s are paramount to mission success, as they allow us to effectively cover much larger areas of the ice fields, optimizing our chances of recovering a significant number of meteorites. How to safely ascend, cross and descend hills covered in snow and ice was demonstrated by our team leads, Brian and Jim. More importantly, how to utilize these vehicles for meteorite discovery and recovery was demonstrated and field drills allowed us to practice these techniques. It’s clear that with our trip leads, Jim, Brian – and John, who’s already out in the field preparing for our arrival – we will all continue to develop and hone the skills necessary for mission success. We also continue to develop as a team and although we are enjoying our time at McMurdo, we look forward to venturing into the field soon – hopefully by mid-week. Tonight, we’ll enjoy our evening on the ice, and return to McMurdo in the morning, where we’ll continue pre-deployment operations, including food preparation and collection. The weather has been optimal for our shakedown – cold, but clear – but recognize that it can change quickly, and will no doubt be more extreme at our final location. This two day shakedown is an excellent opportunity to prepare ourselves better for our upcoming mission and the extreme climate that’s expected. The best – and most challenging – is yet to come.

Written by: Mr. John McBrine (caption editing by rph)