Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's beautiful down here!

Another cold frosty day working out on the Ross Ice Shelf. The faint black line leading into the distance is our 6" fuel line, marked by flags. The hill on the left is Observitory Hill that looks over McMurdo. McMurdo is located just on the other side of that small pass.

This is our early season, "WinFly" group of fuelies in McMurdo.
Mt. Erebus in the background, with an elevation of just under 12,500 feet. I was standing on the Ross Ice Shelf on my way out to Williams AirField.

This is a Piston Bully track vehicle that we primarily use to get around on the snow and ice. We use it to "strap" the 6" fuel line, or just get it out of the drift.

This is a photo of McMurdo from Observitory Hill. McMurdo can hold up to 1,200 people at a time, but usually only maxes out during the peak
of the Summer season. If you notice the four large tanks central right of the picture, they are each 2 million gallon holding tanks for fuel. Here in Antarctica we use three types of fuel, JP-5, AN-8, or MOGAS. JP-5 and AN-8 are both diesel fuels with AN-8 having an additive for colder weather.

I am on the right Delta vehicle. The center one is used to take fuel out on to the Ross Ice Shelf to fuel everything. We have to keep a number of buildings running out a the airfields. The Delta's tire is about 5' tall and 2.5' wide. They are a lot of fun to drive, but top out at about 10-15mph. They look a lot older than expected. I would have thought these vehicles were built in the 1960's, but were really a product of the last 1980's.

One more mode of transportation in Antarctica!

I've been in McMurdo now for almost seven weeks. Time has gone by swiftly, which is a good measurement of my experience down here. Temperatures are already warming up here in McMurdo for the summer season. Today we are at a temp of around 10º. That might sound a bit chilly for the common folk, but to us here down under under that is balmy. I am scheduled to leave for the South Pole this upcoming Friday, Oct. 24. I will be flying into the South Pole on a Bassler Airplane over the Transantarctic Mountains. From what I remember it is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking things I've ever laid my eyes upon. The sun is now to a point where it is continually light out all day. Some of my recent tasks have been filling fuel bladders to go on the South Pole Traverse. We are fill 62 different bladders, most having a capacity of 3,000 gallons. They are pulling more than 180,00 gallons of fuel. They will be using it for their transportation, setting up fuel cashes and leaving the rest at the South Pole to fuel the South Pole Station. That will be one of my major jobs once the traverse arrives to the South Pole. This fuel has a freezing point of about -51º and with an additive it is even cooler. If too much is spilled anywhere on the body, it will induce the frostbite process faster. I have done my best to be fuel free, but wherever I go on station people often take to the smell and remind me that I'm a fuelie. In a short period of time I became immune to the smell of fuel. I'm logging off for now, but if you have any questions or just want to say hello, please email me at


1 comment:

AllisonLynn said...

Great update, Andrew! I love your photos--that first one is so ominous. And the shot of Mt. Erebus is stunning, the sky is so intensely blue! It sounds like you are right at home! Make sure you have your camera ready when you cross the transantarctic mountains!