Date: December 18, 2008
Today is snowpit digging day! A group of 4 core handlers (including me) and 5 camp staff went out to dig a backlit snowpit. A backlit snowpit is actually two snowpits dug right next to each other with a ~2’ wall between them. Then, you climb in one of the pits and cover it with plywood. When it is covered, the only light is from the sun shining in the opposite pit and through the thin wall. This is incredibly beautiful to see because it makes the wall an incredible shade of blue (my favorite color in the world) and it highlights the different layers in the snow. You can easily see layering from individual storm events and annual layers. Typically these pits only have one wall that is backlit, but we are going to make this pit have 3 backlit walls…I can’t wait! So, this morning I helped the initial digging effort. We were able to finish about 75% of the digging, and hopefully the afternoon crew will be able to finish off the digging. Once the digging is done it will take a number of hours to carefully finish off the inside walls to make them perfectly smooth. Then it’ll be time to take a ton of pictures!!
The afternoon was spent preparing the trays which will hold the ice cores for the season. To prepare them, we use a tool to de-burr the edges of the trays, scrape off the snow, then swab them with ethanol. Its not the most glamorous work, but at least I can listen to music while I’m doing it.