July 16, 2014
The flight from Kanger was a quick ~2hrs on a packed LC-130. We landed smoothly and stepped off the plane into blowing snow and low clouds; More grey than white. The droning, rumbling pulse of the props faded as we made our way off the flight deck and towards the Big House. The snow was soft, sliding beneath our boots like sand. The air is thin and I breathed hard, clutching my heavy parka and water bottle. I was prepared for the cold, but maybe I’m getting used to it by now, the wind was brisk, but not shockingly cold. It’s warmer here than at Pole – more like West Antarctica (10-20 degrees Fahrenheit…above zero), and we are at the height of summer. Walking past the Shop (SOB) and the Green House I couldn’t hide a grin, it’s good to be back. Some of the Summit crew was out to greet the pax and people hugged and waved and welcomed us to Summit Station.
I spent the summers (April-August) of 2010 and 2011 here at Summit as a Field Coordinator and Science Tech respectively. While most people start in the Antarctic program before coming to Summit, things happened to work out such that I deployed up here first. It was my first experience in the polar regions, in the true Arctic, and amidst the Great Flat White. I fell in love with the variety of projects, the significant research, and the small community.
This time around I’m here for just a short period, 6 weeks till the end of August – an extra hand to wrap up the summer season and close things down for winter. There are 19 people here now, but at the end of August we will leave only five: the manager, mechanic, and three science techs. The large summer science groups have all gone and until next month we have in addition to the five person winter crew, a cook, a cargo person, a heavy equipment operator, two field coordinators (including me), a medic, an IT person, and a construction crew (aka Carps) including an electrician, a plumber, and six carpenters. The summer season, like down South, is a whirlwind of projects both for science and support. These last few weeks are a chance to delve into some of the more intensive endeavors such as raising the Big House and constructing and organizing the winter berm.
Most of the people here have spent many seasons in Antarctica and many are going back to the ice later this fall. They understand when the question “Where are you from?” isn’t easy. Saying “Well, my storage unit is in…” is a perfectly valid answer.
Here are some photos from the flight up and the first few days at Summit: