Monday, December 31, 2012


Happy New Year!  McMurdo's annual celebration on New Year's Eve is a musical event called Icestock.  11 Bands, 9 hours, one stage.  A chili cooking contest, colorful costumes, lots of beer, wine and champagne - a real outdoor celebration!  It was a bit cooler this year than last, but it didn't seem to slow the party down at all.  Since I am transitioning to the night shift, this is one New Year's Eve I was able to stay awake for and enjoy!

Icestock 2013 stage.

Julie belting it out.

Michael Davis serving up chili.
Hot, spicy chili on a cold McMurdo day, awesome!

Dress up time.

Members of the local motorcycle club.

Nice day, the stage with Ob hill in the background.

One of the bands.

Kate, an amazing voice and crowd favorite.

Dave showing good Frisbee form & not spilling a drop of his G&T.
(his glass is hidden behind the glove on his left hand).

Monica & Deneen, ATO co-workers.

What the new Steward uniform should be.

Cool Science, Hot Scientist.

Have I ever mentioned the cool science and the cooler scientists doing amazing stuff down here?  We're in Antarctica after all.  The scientists, or Beekers as we tend to call them, are the reason I am here and why I can experience this wonderful, magical place.  While my background is business, not science, I still enjoy talking with them.  For example, I really enjoyed talking with the microbiologist pictured below.  I didn't understand a lot of what she was saying, and after I caught a glimpse of her stunning green eyes, I don't remember a word she said... but I'm sure she's doing important, significant work that will win her more honors & fame, success and good fortune. And maybe she'll take home some wonderful memories too.

There are hundreds of websites on Antarctica, but listed below are a couple of science sites that I have looked at and like.

One cool science project is WISSARD, check out the website below.

Another site, featuring work in the Dry Valleys, it has awesome photos.

A site about Weddell Seals in Antarctica by Montana State University.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

McMurdo Misc, part 17

Here are some more random images that I have taken over the last week or so.  Several are of Hut Point and Observation Hill (Ob Hill), a 300' lava cone on the edge of McMurdo town that I climb on occasion. It's a good workout, and if I'm too tired to hike up it, I walk around it. The Ob hill loop trail is almost 3 miles long.  Between the cold wind and the loose rock, it's always interesting.

Building 183, SPoT (South Pole Traverse) shop.

The sign on the door.

The interior of the SPot shop.

Weddell seals sunning on the ice off Hut Point.

Hut Point.

What do you do when your truck breaks down on the snow road?
Jess and Shelby make a snowman until help arrives, awesome!

Ob Hill and McMurdo.

Close up of Ob hill.

Trail marker at the base of Ob Hill.

View of McMurdo from near the top of Ob hill.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from McMurdo.  I hope this finds my family and all my friends, both old and new, warm, safe & happy.
Christmas presents under the tree snowshoes.

Co-workers with Santa.

Mt Erebus and McMurdo town down next to the ice.
Bottom center of photo between black hills.

McMurdo's Lifeblood

McMurdo's lifeblood, that which keeps us from freezing, makes our water and generates our power is OIL. Lots and lots of oil.  We use over 5 million gallons of the stuff every year.  Total station capacity will be 13 million gallons.  Vehicle and equipment use about 200,000 gallons of gas and diesel, but aircraft make up the biggest user, almost 3 million gallons annually.

With the world wide scarcity of Ice breaker ships and America's indecision about whether to repair our existing ones or build new ones, it was decided at the highest level to build another storage tank in case, one year, a tanker could not get to McMurdo to refill the fuel tanks.  It takes an icebreaker to break up the sea ice so a tanker can get to McMurdo. A new 2 million gallon tank is being built as a supplement, just in case.  It will go thru an extensive testing phase and should be online in about a year. Here are some photos of the new tank being built.

A massive 122' in diameter, 24' tall steel tank.
This tank will hold 2 million gallons.

View inside the tank, a tool belt, cords & a steel floor.

View of the tank walls with Observation hill behind.

Interesting rust designs on the steel.

Putting on the roof, like a pieces of a puzzle.

Close up of the roof pieces.

Two cranes and lots of steel.

Inside view with roof support posts and beams.


Awesome shapes, designs and colors.

A massive undertaking.
Tank finished, stairs to the top.

Roof complete.

Good Roads Gone Bad

You try to save them, but no matter how hard you try, they go bad. Here's a couple shots of nice smooth, glass like roads, and some other images after the traffic and warm weather has affected them...

Nice smooth road.

A beautiful road on a beautiful day.

After the weather got warm and the road turns to mush.

Roads and the Royal Society mountains on the horizon.

Almost everyone gets stuck.
Mt Discovery in the background.

Long Duration Balloon Launch

Supporting the Long Duration Balloon (LDB) Facility is a big part of my job, so when they launch a payload it feels great.  Long duration means up to a month, but more typical is 10 to 14 days.  This is compared to the hours long balloon launches by weather techs.  These balloons can reach an altitude of 120,000'  The payloads, full of science stuff, are assembled in one of two large buildings and then attached to the launch vehicle for transport to the launch pad.  There are two or three launches every season.  Really cool science and some amazing scientists.  I talked string theory with one of the guys just like on the TV show Big Bang Theory.  Fascinating, too bad I didn't really understand...

The road closure at the 3 km circle of safety.

The payload, the assembly building and the launch vehicle.

Close-up of the payload.

The payload hanging on the launch vehicle.

The balloon being inflated.

A series of images capturing the launch.
The red flag is part of the road closure.


Fly birdie, fly!