There is a lot to discover in Antarctica – lakes underneath the ice sheets, meteorites on their surface, or historic artifacts from the polar heroes. And while I would love to tell you all about these, today we discover something completely different… urban treasures ! When walking around McMurdo Station, I have noticed a lot of artwork which reminded me of past experiences on the ice.
While being a tutor for PCAS in the 2017/18 Antarctic season, I was chasing wildlife with the students around the clock. Seals, penguins and skuas were very exciting in the beginning, but we quickly realized that this was our once in a life-time chance to see whales in Antarctica. For this reason we spent long nights on whale watch overlooking the open waters near McMurdo. Our patience was finally rewarded… not only with breathtaking views during the midnight sun, but also with Minke and Killer whales right in front of us. I like to think back to my PCAS experience, where I shared many once in a life-time moments with an amazing group of humans.
During my first deployment to Antarctica in the 2014/15 season, my friend Dan Price and I spent almost an entire day walking side-by-side along the ice. We were measuring snow accumulation and had to probe snow depth and dig many snow pits on our way across the ice shelf’s grounding line. In the end, we have moved around 5 cubic meters of snow that day and probed 100 times its depth, but we have learned that accumulation is about three times higher near the grounding line than it is on the floating ice shelf – one result of my PhD thesis that I would finish almost 5 years later.
In the same season, we were travelling back to Scott Base using 3 skidoos and a sledge. Just a couple of kilometers before we would return after almost one month on the ice, one of our skidoos broke down. And because of this delay we missed the fish’n chips dinner that we were craving at this point. Unable to repair our skidoo, it is now exhibited in the Antarctic center in Christchurch where you we can still see it today.
And then there is the troll hiding under the bridge. I have been crossing this bridge for weeks on my way between the Crary science labs and the galley at McMurdo. Life at Station is monotone, with the same daily routine for a very long time. And as I was crossing the bridge one fine morning, still sunk into deep thoughts, the troll suddenly caught my eye – I immediately had to laugh out loud. Today, I double-check every single time when I cross the bridge if the troll is still there.
Thanks artists of McMurdo – you brighten up this place more than the midnight sun.