Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.

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Moving Camp

We broke camp this morning, loaded up our Nansen sledges, and formed a snow mobile convoy in the middle of Antarctica, with eight machines, occasionally blowing smoke in protest of the load. We drove from the Otway Massif to Mauger Nunatak, a section of blue ice glacier that has never been looked at before (for meteorites). The traverse was about 35 kilometers. During the traverse, a number of boxes fell off of sledges, apparently not tied on sufficiently secure. Since I tend to drive slow, I was literally picking up the rear, finding boxes of supplies that had somehow managed to wiggle loose from the constant pounding of the sastrugi structures, beautiful sculptures carved out of wind blown ice.

We set up camp near an area of blue glacier ice. This field of blue ice gave off a robin egg hue in the low angle Antarctic summer sun.

Even though it was summer time, the ambient temperature was -20°C. We wasted no time erecting our tents, putting the snow mobiles to bed, and firing up the stoves to make dinner for hungry travelers.

One part of up camp set up was to erect the Latrine tent, complete with our improvised cardboard toilet seat. During this process, an excited voice announced the finding of our real toilet seat! Apparently, we did not forget it;
it was simply hiding among the 8000 kilograms of supplies. This was welcome news.

However, often times the euphoria of good news is countered by new information. Apparently, my lagging sledge had not gathered all the lost boxes of gear. At least one had escaped and was somewhere left behind. As if from O'Henry's "Gift of the Magi," the lost box contained our expedition's supply of toilet paper (Note: we managed in a rather short time to recover this lost box).

Sno-mo ready to pull a double Nansen sledge for our 35 km traverse from the Otway Massif to the Mauger Nanatak.

A collection of sno-mos with sledges stopping during the traverse to tie on boxes that had fallen off.

Murphy's law on ice;
there were a number of times when we tried to see how the sledges worked if up-side-down or sideways.