Friday, May 20, 2005

Summit at last

Today I finally got to Summit. The morning dawned (as much as it can in the arctic, where if you're far enough north the sun just runs a circle around the sky instead of rising and setting) bright and clear. My first step of course was to check with Robin to see how the weather at Summit was. Weather in Kangerlussuaq is generally no indication of weather at Summit. The report from summit was that it was a beautiful day there as well. Looking good, but so many things can change that I never assume I'll get there until my feet are on the snow. We took off at our appointed time, had an uneventful flight, and soon we had camp in sight- and a wonderful sight it was after last night's fog!

Summit camp, seen from above.

We circled around camp and came in, with an uneventful landing.

Now I knew I was at Summit.

After having spent so much time at Summit, it's always nice to be back. It's a great camp. There are always old friends to catch up with and new ones to meet. The snow is cold and crunchy under your feet and the air is clean and thin- the actual altitude is about 10,000 feet, but because the atmosphere is thinner over the poles, the effect on the body more like 13,000 feet. Can you think of why the atmosphere might be thinner at the poles? Here the thin air is enough to cause altitude sickness, and people have had to be evacuated in the past because of complications. It's important to let your body adjust.

After catching up with some friends and getting my blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen saturation (a measure of how your body is reacting to the altitude) checked, I went to work checking to see how my gear survived the multiple flights, and making some improvements for use during the winter. Last winter my science technicians noticed that the electronics were getting too cold, so I decided to insulate them in a picnic cooler, keeping the warm with a bottle full of hot water and an electric heating pad. The repairs and improvements lasted into the night, and it was time for bed. Out to the tent.... more tomorrow!


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