Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A day in the office...

Waiting for cooler weather to prevail and grant us access to the glacier. Last night was very warm, so this morning when we gathered to decide what to do there was no chance that the whole team could to get up to the Kongsvagen. So a team of 3 headed out to attempt a different route to the glacier, travelling light and quick. The rest of us settled in for a day of office work, making sure our batteries stayed charged for the next time we have a chance to get out, and catching up on office work. At least it's a beautiful office to work in, with one of the best views on earth.

Panorama looking across Kongsfjorden, from Ny-Alesund. Click on the picture for a larger view! Photo by Pascual.

As we worked on papers and data analysis, the field party was turned around by a lack of snow on thier route. Snowmobiles can be driven over short stretches of loose gravel and such, but this was a bare batch at least 300 meters long, and there was no way around. So they turned back to reattempt the route we had tried yesterday.

This time, travelling with lighter sleds and more powerful machines, they made up onto the glacier. They made mass balance measurements at the permanent stakes installed on the glacier, measuring how much snow fell or melted at different places along the glacier. Then they rescued several pieces of equipment which had been left 'overnight' a few days before, and headed for home.

It wasn't long before they ran into trouble again- the slush and water were more extensive on the trip back, and one of the sleds sunk into the slush and capsized. This caused extra drag and the snowmobile, though powerful, got bogged down as well and partially sunk.

Jack Kohler, our Fearless Leader, surveys Kjell Arild's sunken snowmobile. Photo by Rune Storvold.

Fortunately, the engine stayed dry and they were able to pull everything out and continue home, albeit with some very wet feet!

Almost needless to say, we won't be trying to head up to the Kongsvagen tomorrow. Now it's time to look at contingency plans and see what else we can accomplish. It would be a shame to have to go home empty-handed!


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