In Antarctica…and cold weather gearPosted November 18th, 2009 by firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday I finally made it to Antarctica after waiting for a flight from Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch is the staging point for most people headed to the Antarctic continent and McMurdo Station. People head to the Antarctic Peninsula and Palmer Station usually take off from Chile.
Before leaving for Antarctica everyone is issued Extreme Cold Weather gear from the Clothing Distribution Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. The gear is bulky but definitely does its job of keeping you warm. Check out the video of me putting on all the gear.
My flight from Christchurch was on a C-17 flown by an Air Force crew based out McChord AFB, WA. Myself and the 12 other passengers flew with about 50,000 pounds of cargo which included a 25,000 pound tank of liquid helium. I suspect the liquid helium is used to fill weather balloons with gaseous helium. After 5 hours of uneventful flying over the Southern Ocean we touched down on the sea ice landing strip in McMurdo Sound. The landing may have been the softest I’ve every experienced though it was still disconcerting to think that we weren’t actually on solid ground but rather on floating ice that may be only a few meters thick.
McMurdo is a perhaps one of the strangest communities on the planet. Currently, there are over 1,000 people “in town”. Right now, I am sitting in the science library, which resembles any small town library with the exception that the view out the window stretches out over the expansive sea ice of McMurdo Sound which leads up to the Royal Society Mountain Range. It’s truly an awe inspiring sight that conjurers up feelings of being at the ends of the earth.
Myself and my team members are now waiting to complete a two day Antarctic survival school called “Happy Camper”. We expect to be in McMurdo for at least a week so look for more posting about station life as I become better acquainted with the peculiarities of this remote locale.