Friday, November 24, 2006
Dad has been able to call us every few days on his satellite phone and he regrets that he is not able to add to his blog more often. He sounds great however there is a slight delay between our voices. The temperatures in Antarctica have been fluctuating almost everyday. A warm day would be 0 degrees F and a cold day would be -20 degrees F. Yesterday the temperature was a broiling 28 degrees F. All day around the camp everyone wore T-shirts because of the intense heat :) The average windspeed in Patriot Hills has been an incredible 40 miles per hour and Dad has had a hard time getting to sleep at night because of the noise.
Dad has also had many fun experiences such as a ride on a snow-mobile and many conversations with interesting people. He had drinks in the Canadian pilots' tent the other day, and was able to watch a tractor filled with 100 barrels of fuel begin its journey to the refueling station about halfway to the South Pole. It will be dropping off the fuel so that the planes traveling to drop people off at the South Pole can refuel on the trip back. Dad also says that the food is really good and the people there are very interesting. He has spoken with the Antarctic mountain climbing guides and they have told him about their experiences climbing Mt. Everest.
Dad's job is to keep track of all the people who are traveling to the South Pole and climbing Antarctica's highest mountain, Mt. Vinson. He has met all these people, some of whom will be walking for fifty-eight days to the South Pole in high winds for fun. He also has to keep track of the weekly plane flights from Chile shuttling supplies and expeditioners onto the continent. Sometimes he has had to stay up during the night and manage the plane flight because it was delayed and could not make the trip during the day. Fortunately it is allways light there so he has no trouble seeing.
One of the more difficult activities at the camp is showering. His showers consist of melting snow in a pot and pouring it over youself. then you soap off and pour a second pot of water over yourself. Not exactly the best way to shower, but it works.
Most importantly he is happy and he is doing something he never expected to do.
P.S. You are all welcome to send Dad an email but it must be short. two sentances max. No attachments or files. He can only recieve very small amounts of data. You can send the emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Here is a photograph taken yesterday of runway snowblowing operations at Patriot Hills.
An advance party flew into Patriot Hills a few days ago on a pair of Dehavilland Twin Otters and found a great deal of snow on the ice runway. So they are spending this week blowing snow and otherwise grooming the 7500 foot ice runway for our arrival, which may be as soon as tomorrow. It is a monumental task for a small number of people.
We have spent the past week oranizing radio and other logistical gear and meeting with expeditions here in Punta Arenas. Now our bags and the equipment are stowed on the Ilyushin 76 jet waiting at Punta Arenas airport. The pilots - all Ukrainians - are former officers in the Soviet air force - Zdrastbyi! Kak ti pozhivayesh!
When we arrive at the base we will set the camp up from scratch. All gear is either is stowed in an under-ice cave last season or that which we bring with us. I imagine that it will be gorgeous but cold - yesterday the temperature at the base was minus 4 Fahrenheit.
First thing we will do is set up our mountaineering tents - one per person. I will additionally be working with the others to get the communications tent set up as I will need to go to work immediately - four expeditions set out the moment we arrive and the Ilyushin needs to be followed on the way home less than two hours after it arrives.
That all for now from picturesque Punta Arenas. Going down to the pier to say hello to the Americans aboard the MV Gould, an icebreaker heading to the US base at Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Punta Arenas, Chile
Flew down on LAN airlines from Santiago yesterday morning. Argued with the airline beforehand about the excess baggage charge, in addition to the one I paid in NYC. We compromised. Then I sat down on the plane, and a young woman twice my weight sat down beside me. Go figure.
I arrived yesterday afternoon and met up with those members of the team who have arrived already. Great bunch of people from all over. We had lunch at a local Croatian restaurant - fully 30% of the city of Punta Arenas is of Croation origin, then Italian for dinner. Never ordered lasagna in Spanish before.
Staying in a small local hotel. I was chatting with the night desk clerk who turns out to be the owner. Turns out he was an American Field Service exchange student in Troy Michigan in 1982. Then went to law school in Chile and got his masters in maritime law in Britain. Was then hired by the Mengistu government in Ethiopia to draft a maritime code. Worked on it while living in Geneva, where he met his British wife. Mengistu government then fell, Ethiopia lost Eritrea and became landlocked, and Ethiopia continued nonetheless to keep working on the maritime code. When that was done, he moved his wife and children back to Punta Arenas where he practices maritime law by day and manages the family hotel by night. AFSers, everywhere you go!
Love to all. Adam
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