skip page navigationOregon State University

« The ice core reaches 1,000 meters! | Clouds Over Camp »

Taking on Two Challenges

Posted January 16th, 2009 by

Name: Logan Mitchell
Date: Jan 13, 2009
Location: WAIS Divide
Time: 10:30 pm
Latitude: 79° 28’ 1.2” S
Longitude: 112° 5’ 6.0” W
Elevation: 1,759 m
Borehole depth: 1,230 m
Temperature: -22.5°C
Wind speed: 2.7 knots
Visibility: Unrestricted
Wind direction: 317° Grid
Relative Humidity: 72%
Barometric Pressure: 28.85mm Hg
Precipitation: None
Animals: None

Logan at breakfast

Logan at breakfast

Today was a day of seeing my vision become reality, of reaching goals that I had set out for myself. No, we haven’t finished drilling, and I haven’t finished editing the journal article that I’m working on (almost done with draft 2 though!). The two breakthroughs I accomplished today are as follows:

1.) There are two options for going to the bathroom here at WAIS: You can go to one of the outhouses if you need to sit down, or you can pee at the pee flag. The pee flag is very convenient for guys and since all of the urine is concentrated in one spot, it keeps camp clean. Now, as you can imagine, if lots of people pee in the same spot in snow, you can make quite a hole. (People here joke that this is called “hot water drilling”) The one closest to the Galley that sees the most traffic was about 6” in diameter and a maybe a couple of feet deep. During the last “storm” a few days ago, a lot of snow was blown around and the pee flag hole was covered up. So someone started a new hole about a foot away from the original hole. After a few days, the original hole was also re-opened and now we had two holes! Well, I got to thinking that it would be a fun project to connect these two holes and, with the help of lots of tea, got right to work. This is quite a delicate task since the area around the pee holes is solid ice and if you pee on flat ice you will splash all over the place (including your shoes) which is not cool. You have to hit right at the rim of the hole – too far inside it and you don’t make any progress, too far outside it and you are splashing your shoes. It took me a couple of days, but at long last I finally created a channel connecting the two holes!! The channel even had a neat “S” shape to it! Well, I figured this was big news for camp and I went right into the Galley and started telling everyone. This was right at the beginning of my shift, so only a few people were up. I had to wait until morning when the rest of camp got up for breakfast to tell more people. The reactions I got were priceless. When I told Gifford, his face lit up with a huge grin and he said with a laugh “Oh that was you? That’s awesome!” Ben, the camp manager, gave me a huge heartfelt congratulations after he saw it. In general, all the guys were excited to hear about it couldn’t wait to go check it out and help deepen the channel. The girls in camp just laughed politely, at times being fascinated and at times being baffled by what entertains the men in camp. My shift partner, Susanna, (bless her heart) had to listen to me tell the story of how it happened about a thousand times and by this evening she was telling it for me. She even humored me enough to go check out the pee flag herself. At the time of writing, the channel is getting deeper quickly, its already a few inches deep!

2.) One of the disadvantages of working on the night shift is that all of my meals are out of order. I wake up and eat dinner for breakfast, eat leftovers from yesterday’s lunch at 3am, and eat breakfast for dinner. I never make it to lunch since that is the middle of the night for me. So, I thought it would be fun to make it to every meal that camp offers for 24 hours at least once. Here is how it went:

1:00 am Meal # 1: “Midrats” – French toast with real maple syrup (thanks Spruce!).
3:00 am Meal #2: “Leftover lunch from yesterday” – Cheesy scalloped potatoes (yay!), honey baked ham, vegetables.
7:30 am Meal #3: “ Breakfast” – Egg bake with roasted red peppers, baked potato squares, and bacon.
10:00 am – Went to bed at my “typical” bedtime.
12:30 pm Meal #4: “Lunch” – Grilled turkey and cheese sandwich, mashed
potatoes, and tomato soup. It was really hard to get up at this time…my body is used to sleeping for 6 more hours.
2:00pm – Went back to bed but couldn’t sleep. My body is going berserk trying to digest all of that food, so I just laid there and rested.
5:30 pm – Finally fell asleep.
6:30 pm Meal #5: “Dinner” – Leftover Middle Eastern Food from last Sunday: Stuffed grape leaves, green beans & lamb over rice, lentil soup, and kibbe. It was really hard to wake up after I FINALLY fell asleep. My stomach is starting to hurt now.
8:00 pm – I went back to my tent to try to get some more sleep. Again it took me a long time to go to sleep. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this…but there is only one meal left…I can do it…
10:30 pm Meal #6: “Night Shift Breakfast” – Eggs, bacon, toast, and a fresh nectarine (!). I finally made it! Wahoo!! I am soooo stuffed…at least I know I’m not going to get cold at work tonight.

Notice that the largest amount of time between meals was only 6 hours between lunch & dinner, and this is when I was supposed to be sleeping! Well, needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep! In the end it was worth it because I got to hang out with a lot of people who I usually don’t get to see (since I’m usually asleep) and I got to eat lots of good food. But, I don’t think I’d do it again anytime soon.

In other news, a plane came today. It brought freshies and it took away some people. One of the three people that left was Anaïs, and I am very sad to see her go. She has been such an integral part of life here at WAIS that I’m not sure what its going to be like now that she is gone. She has been the inspiration behind so many fun events in camp: the Olympics, she oversaw the construction of the three walled snowpit and the igloo, and she was always there if anyone was having a bad day or needed help with anything. She is a fantastic story teller, could get anyone to laugh, and knew a ton about the science that is being done at WAIS and could explain it in a way that anyone could understand. Anaïs, we miss you already and wish you safe travels on your way back home!

2 Responses to “Taking on Two Challenges”

  1. Aunt Ginger & Uncle Dave Says:

    Hey Logan,
    I loved the story of your ‘channel making’ between the two pee holes. Reminds me of some stories Uncle Dave has about his CE summer camp… But, where is the picture of it?
    Did you get to hear the inauguration speech?
    love, A. Ginger

  2. Kirk Says:

    Logan! This is awesome! Pee flag!! I love it. Keep on keepin on man! Well done.


Leave a Reply