Field logisticsDecember 6th, 2011 by Maria-Jose Viñas
By Michelle Koutnik
It has been a busy first week in Antarctica! We planned to stay 10 days at McMurdo station so that we could complete all of our required safety training and prepare all of our food, shelter, and equipment for the traverse. There are many people in McMurdo who support our field research and we thank them for all of their hard work in helping us make our field season a success: They assist us in getting all of our food and camping gear, coordinating flights to Byrd Camp, and sending all of our cargo (and our team!) to Byrd.
Here’s a summary of everything we did this week:
We spent one day testing our tents, sleeping bags, and kitchen supplies, and then we packed it all into duffel bags and boxes that we will be able to load onto the sleds that we will tow behind our snow machines. There are so many small things (like lighters, flags to mark our camp, insulated water bottle holders, batteries and much more) that we must remember to pack, but I’m glad to say that we have put all of this together now!
We spent a few days going through safety training — anyone new to Antarctica went on a two-day overnight trip to learn how to be comfortable and safe in the harsh Antarctic environment, and those of us returning to Antarctica took an afternoon refresher course.
We had other meetings to arrange our communications with McMurdo Station when we are out on our self-supported traverse. We must call in every day: if we were to miss a call (we won’t!), a search and rescue team would be deployed within an hour, and everyone would be on alert.
We also checked our equipment that had arrived to the station so that we know it will work in the field. And, most importantly, we picked up our food — including over 200 chocolate bars!
Today we completed snow mobile training, so we now know how to ride and fix the machines once we are out on the traverse. We are almost all ready to go now and we hope that the weather will be good the next few days so that we can fly to Byrd Camp soon.