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One Month in the Deep Field, Part 1

ABOARD AN LC-130 EN ROUTE TO CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND– It’s with a heavy heart that I climb aboard “Ivan the Terra” bus to get transported to Willy Field and off the Antarctic continent. As the bus pulls onto the sea ice and we continue onto the runway, I catch myself looking back and stealing glimpses of the smoking summit of Erebus and McMurdo Station nestled right next to it. We board an LC-130, and on the 9 hour flight I’m able to reminisce about the six and a half weeks I spent on the continent.

We arrived at the very end of October excited and enthusiastic – ready to go. The excitement really builds when you are on the flight over, until you step off the plane and you are assaulted by the frigid cold and the wind blows hard on your face. What’s more is that you dishearteningly realize you will spend at least a month living out of a tent in these conditions, working hard every day outside – more on that in a bit. It took us about two weeks to go through Happy Camper School, Crevasse Rescue Training, Snowmachine training, and to get all our gear in proper order.

We embarked from McMurdo in a Hercules LC-130 to Siple Dome. Because Siple Dome is far enough off-base, the pilots do not turn off the engines and they perform a cargo drop, as you can see in this clip.

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From Siple Dome, we flew on the Basler, which is a DC-3 aircraft that was originally built in the 1940’s. Luckily for us, it has had some significant upgrades since then, i.e. avionics, new engines, etc. Have a look at this video of the Basler leaving us at our camp.

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