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Holiday Season Fun at the South Pole

SOUTH POLE, ANTARCTICA– It has been a fun and eventful holiday season here at the Pole which included a great Christmas dinner, a Race Around the World, and a party to ring in the new year. It’s hard to believe we are this far into the summer season and in a little more than a month the station will be all set to brave the winter.

The galley staff once again put out a great spread for Christmas dinner in which beef Wellington and lobster tails were the main course. Dessert included raspberry rhubarb pie and cheesecake which were both delicious. The celebration lasted late into the night with music and dancing in the galley.

For those that didn’t have too much fun the night before was the Race Around the World. I have to admit, I was feeling it a bit the next day but I was able to hop out of bed and make the 10am starting time. The race doesn’t necessarily need to be run. Some people walked, some skied, and some rode snowmobiles. In fact some rode a giant chariot, a hot tub, a stationary exercise bike (being pulled by a snowmobile), and a smoke breathing dragon! Some of the folks really out did themselves with the construction of these things. I found it pretty hilarious.

The giant chariot made by the IceCube folks.

Stationary exercise bike being towed by snowmobile.

Smoke breathing dragon and hot tub.

I ended up jogging the race and completed the two and a half mile track around the world. It was a ton of fun and I’m glad I pressed through and finished it. I haven’t been doing any jogging lately so being at a physiological altitude of 10,500 ft, and running on a uneven packed snow surface, let’s just say I was happy that I was able to finish. I’ve ran in some cold weather back in Wisconsin but this was another level. I think race time temperature was -18F which was probably 30 degrees colder than any day I ran back home. My lungs were definitely a little on fire after the race.

Hilary Smith the recreation coordinator at the start of the race.

My frosty face at the end of the race.

The winning runners were Curtis Moore who posted a blazing 17:17:43 for the men, and Emily Thiem at 20:48:33. Good on them!

The later part of the week brought us 2010. New Year’s Eve fell on Thursday night and unfortunately the station didn’t have off work on the actual New Year’s Day so the big party was on Saturday night. Three bands had been working hard practicing together for their New Year’s bash performance. The gym was all decorated and there was even a little “patio” made up that was quite cozy. I was very impressed with the bands. They really did a great job and it looked like they had a lot of fun performing. First up was a bluegrass band, then the Violent “Flemmes” doing Violent Femmes covers, and lastly was just a good ol’ rock band. People really know how to create some fun environments down here that’s for sure.

First up: Bluegrass!

There were probably five other people playing not in the picture.

The “Patio” and party decorations.

Eli, the lead singer of the Violent “Flemmes.”

Ethan has sort of an Elvis voice.

And finally, of interesting note, there was a BBC film crew over the last few days. They are busy creating their next series “Frozen Planet”. It is going to be similar to the Planet Earth series but with a focus on the Polar regions. Apparently the last episode is going to be about “People at the Poles”. I’ve heard that the South Pole only gets a four or five minute segment in the episode but I’m excited for it to come out. Especially since they filmed me launching and ozonesonde and collecting some air samples! I’m pretty sure they will use some of the footage. They seemed pretty happy with it.

That should about catch you up with what has gone on over the last couple weeks. Things look to be pretty busy for the month of January. I do get to go to Christchurch for a week of R&R on Jan 18th which I’m looking forward to. With that coming up, it will be winter before I know it!

Photos Courtesy of Reinhart Piuk

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5 Responses »

  1. Wow,The race looks like it was a lot of fun. The parade looked it was a lot of fun.The food sounds like it was very yummy.So glad that you are having some fun.And to have some bands so you can have some fun that is just so cool.Look forward to hearing more!!

  2. Thanks for the update and pictures. Hope you have a great year at Pole. Say hi to Ethan for me.

  3. Dear Nick,
    Let your celebrations continue with a moment of laughter on Global Belly Laugh Day, January 24, 2010.
    On January 24 at 1:24 p.m. (local time) smile, throw your arms in the air and laugh out loud.
    Join the Belly Laugh Bounce ‘Round the World.
    Hope you can spread the word about about a moment of laughter to celebrate the great gift of laughter.
    Your laughter is wondefully contagious. We look forward to catching your laugh from Antarctica.
    with a smile and a belly laugh,
    Elaine Helle

  4. My name is Chanwoo and you have my Flat Stanley.
    I like your story- it’s very good.
    But I don’t speak English well,so I do not understand much. It looks very fun.
    I would like to holiday there. but I guess it costs a lot of money.

    It is very cold?? Here in Prague in the Czech Republic it is -19 celsius today.
    What do you eat???Where do you get food??
    And how do you get drinking water????Do you melt the snow?!?
    I look forward to hearing from you.


  5. Hi Chanwoo,

    Did you receive you Flat Stanley pictures? I took some with him at some various places around the South Pole here. I emailed them to my supervisor in Boulder, CO and we’ll try to forward them to you if you don’t have them yet.

    It is very cold down here. Luckily right now it is summer so it’s fairly warm. Today it is -33C which is a little colder than it has been lately. Winter is fast approaching in the southern hemisphere and the temperatures are going to drop quickly. Winters here can reach -70C! We do indeed melt snow for our drinking water and as for food, it is all shipped down here. From Mid February to Mid October, we are without any flights into the Pole so we make due with what we have for that whole period.

    Sounds plenty cold up there in Prague!