skip page navigationOregon State University

« Geophysics and softball | Ice Crystals on Core Handling Tray »

New Year’s at WAIS, and the second-annual Antarctic Olympics

Posted January 1st, 2009 by

Name: Logan Mitchell
Date: 1/1/2009
Location: WAIS Divide Galley
Time: 10:00 pm
Latitude: 79° 28’ 1.2” S
Longitude: 112° 5’ 6.0” W
Elevation: 1,759 m
Borehole depth: 910 m
Temperature: -21.3° C
Wind speed: 3.6 knots
Visibility: Unrestricted
Wind direction: 335°
Relative Humidity: 71%
Barometric Pressure: 28.83 mm Hg
Precipitation: None
Animals: WAIS Divide Olympians
Breakfast: None (I was asleep)
Lunch: Leftover rice, quinoa, beef tenderloin, rolls.
Supper: None (I was asleep)

Happy New Year from WAIS Divide!! Today was the 2nd Annual WAIS Divide Olympic games with 4 events: Tower building, sled hauling, sumo wrestling, and miniature golfing. The weather for the games was perfect: Mostly sunny with a few high clouds that made for a perfect background for the pictures. The Games had about 20 participants (~1/2 of the entire WAIS Divide camp) including core handlers, drillers, one of the cooks, and lots of camp staff.

First up was Tower Building, organized by Tim and Bess. For this event a team of four people had to quarry snow blocks, then carry them 10 meters and construct a tower out of the blocks. The team with the highest tower after six minutes won! Before the event started, I thought that it would be a challenge to just get a couple of blocks and that the tallest tower might only be 4’ tall. Boy was I wrong! It turned out that every group was able to quarry plenty of blocks, and the real challenge was figuring out a good way to stack them up as high as possible. In the end, the winning technique involved building a small stairway next to the tower, then at the last second standing up your highest, skinniest block at the very top. The first place team constructed a 8’ 10” tall tower! I was on the second place team, and even though we didn’t get first, I was quite proud of our 8’ 4” tall tower.

The second event was a sled hauling relay race organized by Spruce and Gifford. In this event, different teams of four people were chosen, and then given a banana sled. For the relay, each person on the team had to don a harness which was attached to the banana sled with a rope. In the banana sled was one of the other team members. The duo then had to run 20 meters, go around a flag, and then come back and switch runners. Each person on the team had to pull the sled at least once, and the first team to complete 4 rounds first won! The harnesses that we were using are the ones we use in the drilling arch and are very tricky to put on and take off. They have four buckles: one over each should and one around each leg. A couple of the teams tried to leave the leg loops buckled and step in/out of them so they didn’t have to deal with the buckles, but even stepping in/out of the leg loops was very time consuming. The team I was on quickly figured this out and after the first person went we left the leg loops unbuckled which saved us precious seconds and allowed us to capture the gold! Wow, I never thought I would win a gold at the Olympics! Many thanks to my fellow sled relay mates for making it a possibility: Ben (camp manager), Billy (head carpenter), and Jonathan (weatherman), you guys are awesome!

The third event, sumo wrestling, was organized by Natalie. In this event, two people donned large pieces of foam that were strapped to their bodies, and then began wrestling in a 3m diameter circle. The foam suits were perhaps the comedy highlight of the Games because the armholes were not spaced out quite far enough apart, so when you wore it you looked like a tyrannosaurus: big foam body with tiny short arms sticking out in front of you. The rules were that if any part of you besides the soles of your feet touched the ground inside the circle, or if any part of you went outside the circle you lost. For example, if you fell on the ground laughing at how much your opponent looked like a tyrannosaurus rex, you lost. I was eliminated early on in this event. The final matchup was between the night cook Renin (see yesterday’s entry) and Zach (an electrician). Renin tried to bulldoze Zach, but Zach was quick and nimble on his feet and was able to deftly dodge Renin’s attack, sending Renin flying out of the ring. Way to go Zach!

The final event was miniature golf set up by Dave (driller), Bill (driller), Brian (NICL), and John. There were three holes complete with snow block obstacles, ramps, snow pits, and bridges. We used neon pink, orange, and yellow golf balls and went to town! The snow was pretty rough and didn’t allow the balls to roll very much which meant that a delicate mix of power and aim was required to navigate the course. When the dust settled, Spruce had the lowest total score with 10 strokes to complete the course! Tied for second place with 11 strokes was Gifford, Dave, Tim and I!

By the time the competitions were over it was 5pm, clouds had moved in, and everyone was freezing cold, so the Olympians retired to the galley for some hot coco. Everyone was tired, but had huge smiles on their faces. Bess was nominated the official scorekeeper and tallied up everyone’s individual scores. 4 points if you got a gold, 3 points if you got a silver, 2 points for bronze, and 1 point for participation. I was astonished when Bess announced that I had the highest overall point total for the games!! In second place was Tim, and in Third was Jonathan, Spruce, and Zach.

After all of this, I needed to get some rest before my shift started, so I took a couple hour nap. When I arrived back at the galley a few minutes ago I noticed that on the white board where the final results were written down, someone was accusing me of doping. I swear though, they were just multi-vitamins!

Many thanks go to Anaïs for organizing the Olympics and making the wonderful WAIS Divide Olympics buttons that were given to all of the participants!

Leave a Reply