Thursday, November 06, 2014

Finally getting to ROOS!

Put in!

Today we finally got to get out to Roosevelt Island.  I've been waiting 2 years for this.  No cancellations the night before, so we got up early and packed up our bags and vacated our rooms, and went for breakfast.

I then went back to our office to wait for the phone call that would give us a go/no-go for the flight.  It was a go!  And as field team leader I needed to go down to the airfield with the aircrew so that I
could see them loading the airplane, in particular to ensure our emergency equipment was on board.

Then a 2 hour flight got us to Roosevelt Island, and the weather was still spectacularly clear.  They set us down right next to the borehole, shut the engines down, and we got off the plane to silence (except for the stiff breeze blowing).  The first thing was to get a tent up and get communications with McMurdo, so David and Maurice went for the tent while I fired up the iridium phone.  5 minutes later we had connected with McMurdo, and had our tent up; the air crew was busy unloading our cargo.  Then a few handshakes and they were off again, leaving us again in the quiet of the ice sheet, save for the sound of the wind.

[Here we are, unloading the plane (a repurposed DC-3 known as a Bassler), establishing camp on an otherwise empty expanse of ice.  The borehole casing, visible sticking up on the right, is the only sign that people have been here...]

Our next step was to transform our pile of cargo into a camp, putting up tents, getting a stove going, and making some hot drinks.  Then we started setting up the first of our science gear.  We'd set up our large Endurance tent over the borehole, so we were able to set up everything inside.  Once the gear was set up, we rigged our 'ice breaker' tool and went down to see if we could find the top of the fluid in the borehole, which often has a plug of ice that we have to break through.  To our surprise, we couldn't feel the ice at all!  The ice plug was either not there or just weaker than wwe imagined...  so
we brought the ice-breaker to the surface, and turned in.  A great first day!

[side note- this and subsequent posts 'from the field' were written in the field, and then posted later when I got back, but backdated to the appropriate day in the field.  Hope that's not too confusing!]


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