It’s Friday October 14th here at the largest base on the continent. Outside it’s sunny, a little windy, and the temp is -6F with a -26F windchill. Lovely.
The process of getting here is a long one. Beginning in February or March with online job announcements and applications the next few months are busy filling out paperwork and completing the rigorous process to get medically PQ’d (Physically Qualified) to work in Antarctica. I finally deployed on October 8th.
The first stop was Denver, Colorado. Everyone working on the continent must have a few days of OSHA and safety awareness training at the Raytheon Polar Services (RPSC) headquarters. This morning I woke at 0400, the shuttle picked us up at 0430 on the dot and we all made our way to the Antarctic Center near the Chch airport. We checked in and got a quick breakfast. Then taking a last look at the grass and trees, boarded the plane heading to the ice. The flight is about 5 hours, and if the weather changes it’s not uncommon to “boomerang” or turn around and fly back to Chch. If this happens it’s a LONG day. Most people fly down on a USAF C-17 Globemaster. Last year I was on that plane, but this year I was put on the Airbus – a regular commercial plane. There’s only one Airbus that flies down and it’s quite the luxury. Stewardesses with tea and coffee, seats that recline, much quieter than the military planes so earplugs aren’t required and you can listen to music. The best part though was having a window seat and getting some AMAZING views of the sea ice and transantarctic mountains on the way in to McMurdo.
So here we are: McMurdo Station Antarctica. Its Friday Oct 14th here (New Zealand time to make flights and schedules easier) and a lovely sunny spring day on the coldest, highest, driest continent on earth.