Into the White

“Hello party people! This is Dr. Wild speaking. Welcome aboard Venga Airways.  After take off we’ll pump up the sound system ‘Cause we’re going to WAIS Divide!”

Today we leave the comfort of McMurdo Station behind us (we have been here for 1 month already) and finally depart to WAIS Divide – an intermediate camp before we reach our deep field sites on the Thwaites Glacier and Dotson Ice Shelf. We step onto a C-130 plane, aka Hercules, and fly across the Ross Ice Shelf which has about the size of France. On our way, we pass the Siple Coast, and land on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide. As the name suggests, the ice flows in two different directions from here. One part flows towards the Ross Ice Shelf, the other drains through the Thwaites Glacier and into the Amundsen Sea. This ice divide is an important boundary and the place where kilometer long ice cores were drilled in the past…

WAIS_VengaAirways

Along our journey, we first enjoy the spectacular views of the Transantarctic Mountains until we pull into the endless white of West Antarctica. The flight on a C-130 is very entertaining; loud noises of the engines, flashing lights, dripping water, and people staring at each other throughout the flight. Passengers sit along the sides of the aircraft, while the central area is reserved for cargo. The flight attendants are soldiers from the US Air Force, and the in-flight entertainment consists of a visit to the aircraft’s cockpit. Yes, there is a toilet – but it is a bucket behind a curtain in the back of the plane. You don’t want to spend much time here anyway, as it is getting colder towards the back. After about 3 hours on the plane, we land on the ice runway next to WAIS Divide camp.

The camp itself is only open during the austral summer months. There is a galley in the central area, neighbouring tents for science and lots and lots of cargo standing around. We sleep in ‘tent city’ which is a bit away from the rush of the runway. According to the plan, we will enjoy some privacy at WAIS Divide and sleep in individual mountain tents. On the Thwaites Glacier and on the Dotson Ice Shelf we will mostly sleep in Scott Polar tents in pairs of two… unless we build an igloo…

WAIS_camp

 

This is how to Build an Igloo : Check

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