The Beginning of the End
We are nearing the end of our field season. The ice is getting thinner, and soon it will not be safe to drive vehicles out onto the sea ice because of the danger of falling through. We’ve had a run of warm and sunny days in the last week, and it’s amazing how fast the ice changes since it’s daylight 24 hours. We are now driving over potholes filled with water, and it is especially pronounced near the transitions from sea to land, where the pressure of the ice hitting land causes fracturing, and fine volcanic particles tracked out onto the ice by vehicles leaving town darken the surface and accelerate melting. You almost need a helmet when riding in the Pisten Bully because you can be bounced right into the ceiling!
Our camp takedown began on Saturday, when our fish hut was pulled off the ice, and the culvert below it was removed. Mel from fleet ops came out in his Challenger bulldozer to do the heavy lifting and hauling. It’s sad to see it go – this was our project’s first portal to the world beneath the McMurdo Sound, and both Bill and Sunfish performed many successful dives through this hole. All remaining dives will go through the main borehole in the bothouse.
Other structures and pieces of big gear are following piecemeal. The Tweety Tent (galley) will be removed on Tuesday. Everything else, including the bothouse, will be completely off the ice by Friday Dec 11th. We will run a few more missions in the meantime, but the sense is definitely that things are winding down.
We also took down our tents, so no more sleeping out at the SIMPLE site. Goodbye, camp life, we’ll miss your beautiful vistas!
We’ll miss the beautiful views from camp. (photo: Evan Clark)
Reporting by Evan Clark