Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cape Crozier

Looking North out to the Ross Sea past the hut at Cape Crozier.
I went out to Cape Crozier, where there is a science hut for a few folks that spend the season studying the Adelie and Emperor penguin colonies that are out there.  The trip out to Cape Crozier took about 45 minutes in a Bell 212 helicopter and on the way it was very interesting to imagine three of Scott's men making the treck in winter, 100 years ago over the course of a few weeks.  It was fascinating to look down at the crevasses and ice features imagining I could see three small figures hauling sledges of equipment, almost losing their lives many times over all for the sake of scientific discovery via the goal of obtaining a few penguin embryos.  Their story is told by one of the members, Apsley Cherry-Gerrard in his book, The Worst Journey in the World.  (I am reading it now).

When we got to the cape, on the far eastern side of Ross Island, we had stunning views and could see open water below the huge ice cliffs farther to the north east.  We checked the solar panels.  Nine of the ten seemed to survive the harsh winter unscathed, but one's outer glass had shattered.  Hopefully we'll go out again to replace this panel.  We checked the batteries, found that they were still fully charged, as frozen batteries hold their charge very well if they are fully charged.  And then I climbed the short tower nearby that had a little wind generator on it.  This one was very similar to the one that we had on our boat Crazy Horse so it was quite fun to get my hands on another.  Fortunately or unfortunately there was no wind which made for very pleasant outside work conditions, but I was unable to hear one of my favorite sounds - the spinning up of the generator.  I think I would have laughed out loud if I had heard that noise with so many fond and excited memories of getting power from the wind.  
The shattered solar panel.
Happy to still be able to do some tower climbing!
The wind bird, as we call them.

It was very cool to be out at the hut.  Power from solar panels and a wind generator, communications through various VHF repeaters, and a stunning view must make for a very interesting summer for a few scientists.  
The Cape Crozier science hut.
Like astronauts on the moon.
...or Mars.
Where the frozen ice shelf meets the frozen sea.
The frozen southern ocean...calling out to me.
 More familiar faces keep pouring into the station.  During September there were about 500 people here.  We're now up to around 800 and in Dec. we're scheduled to hit around 1100.  The galley is very busy now and can be quite loud.  I miss the friendly atmosphere of September when there were fewer people around, but I'm certainly glad it is a little warmer, that I don't have to check out a radio or find a partner if I want to run outside, and that the helicopters are now flying again. 

This upcoming week, I'll head into the Dry Valleys (one of my favorite places in the world) to open up these science camps... That's the news from down south!   Thanks for reading!

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