Thursday, May 12, 2005

Wintering Over

The "Greenhouse" where I lived for 11 months.

After my summer in Greenland, I figured I'd start getting back to work and graduate from the University of Washington. Still, I wanted to stay in the polar game. While I'd been in Greenland, I met Jack Dibb from the University of New Hampshire. Jack was putting together a team to spend the winter at Summit, which had not been done before. The project was diplomatically called the "experimental summit winter over" by PICO, then Arctic logistics support contractor. Jack and I got along well, and I agreed to join the team as lead science technician and camp medic in the spring of 1997. I decided I had to finish college before going, which involved a flurry of exam-taking and compressing the last few weeks of the term into a few days. I then went to SOLO in New Hapmshire for Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician training before heading to Summit in late spring of 1997.
To make a long story short, I spent 2 months at Summit during the summer, preparing for the winter-over, and then was joined by 3 others for the 9-month winter season. During the winter, we had visits by 2 airplanes, Twin Otters, that brought us fresh food, mail, and smiling faces. One visit was in November, the other in February- one on each side of the period of winter darkness.
During the winter, our job was to keep all the systems of the camp running, from the diesel generators to the science equipment like this weather station wind sensor:

Another of the jobs we did every single day was to take small samples of clean surface snow. This required careful cleaning of the equipment, and the use of special 'clean suits' for sampling:

Getting ready for the winter, USA Today did an article on the winter-over, which gave me a few of those 15 minutes of fame which everyone is entitled to.
By the end of the winter, I was ready to go home- I'd spent 11 months on the ice. Apparently I continue to hold the record for the longest continuous stay at Summit.


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