Monday, January 17, 2011

Tall Towers

Two weeks ago we went up to T-site (short for Transmission site) to fix the rhombic antennas. They are used for talking with New Zealand, though these days with satellite phones, the rhombic antennas are a back up communications system. Four 80-90 foot towers make up the antenna with three wires hanging one over the other between them making what we call a curtain. One of the curtain wires had broken so we needed to string a new one.

This is Observation Hill in the background. "Ob Hill" is mentioned in many early explorer books of 100 years ago and was the scene of the Up Ob Hill race of Christmas Day. My time: 7 minutes, 11 seconds (of suffering).

Our next mission was aptly named, "TALL TOWER." For a week we had been trying to fly out to a site about 100 miles to the south located on the Ross Ice Shelf. Unfortunately, the weather was cooperating and we had a lot of time on standby. With time running out, it was decided that we would traverse to the site to put up the 100 foot tower. The site is along the over-land route to the South Pole so there is a relatively groomed road out to the site.

We had three tractors with us and rode in the "kitchen module." This is much like being below decks on a ship, everything always moving, sometimes crashing around the mod, sometimes flying across the mod but thankfully nothing broken except a bottle of soap. It took a day and half to arrive at the site.

For the evening, I chose to sleep in a tent by myself rather than in the sleeping mod with other folks. I like sleeping in the cold air, and it gives me a quieter space to read and relax.

The following day, we arrived and after the tractors helped dig out our anchor spots, they helped us raise the first 40 feet.

Then the climbing began. Section by 10 foot section. 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100. We use a gin pole to extend above the highest section we're working on, then haul up the next section from a pully on top of the gin pole, while the tractor pulls the opposite end, very slowly. Slowly it went up and thankfully nothing was dropped from such heights!

Once everything was all up we had to put the horizontal science and weather monitoring mounts at heights of 12, 25, 50 and 100 feet. (The equipment will be put on later this season or maybe next year).

When all was done, we took pictures and headed home!

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