Boarding in Christchurch

Boarding in Christchurch. Photo: Sarah Greenwood

We made it! Boomerang bags were not needed, though it was apparently a close call. We landed on McMurdo Ice Shelf (a tongue of floating ice, a couple of hundred metres’ thick over nearly a kilometre of water to the ocean floor) in snowfall and pretty sketchy visibility.

With smiles and excitement all round – even the old hands, I suspect – we piled out onto the snow. ‘Town’ was fairly bewildering at first. “It’s just round that khaki coloured building over there”… as I looked out on a mass of brown industrial looking sheds and containers and dorm buildings.

Two days later and it feels like I’m getting the hang of things, and it’s a shame we’re not here for longer – there’s hikes to do, ski trails to explore, penguins to track down… they are noticeably absent around the station right now, just some seals lazing the days away out on the ice.

The station area is a strange mix of industrial drab, engineering surpassing the challenges of the wilderness, and breathtakingly beautiful, depending on which way you’re looking (literally and metaphorically). The view from the library window of the Crary Lab is simply captivating, it draws you in and doesn’t let go. Mt Discovery and the Royal Society range loom in the distance across the white plain of sea ice, with wispy banks of cloud drifting around through the day so the view never seems to look the same – there’s always a glimpse of something new. My office view back at IGV just isn’t going to cut it!

We’ve spent the last couple of days checking sea ice conditions, rehearsing plans and strategies, discussing lab space and geophysics protocols. Tomorrow we move from our dorms on the station down onto the boat. Time to finally move on from the planning, and get to work!

Transantarctic Mountains

Transantarctic Mountains from the inbound flight. Photo: Sarah Greenwood

Nathaniel B. Palmer

Nathaniel B. Palmer breaking ice on the way into McMurdo to meet us. Photo: Sarah Greenwood