Winter on the Ice -March to August 2011

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August 10th 2011
Published: December 30th 2011
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last sunset gatheringlast sunset gatheringlast sunset gathering

on the last day of sunlight for nearly 5 months, this past April (2011) many of us gathered up on castle rock a few miles from Mcmurdo to see the last sunset till August 21st. winter has started!
(apologies as this was actually posted Dec 28.11--I had not updated so now getting back on track!)

My third winter on the Ice, we had a station population of 151, later 149 due to emergency medical evac of personel (they are now fine!) Lots and Lots of snow, oddly enough not that frequent in Antarctica; and some good *& kicking polar storms. But also much warmer than normal winters-this makes for rough weather. Sadly 3 Norweigian sailors were lost nearby in our first storm of winter, the crew of the Berzerk 2.

Winter on the Ice is alot of solitude, reflection and close alliances with your fellow winter -overs. We work very hard, long hours but enjoy our free time, as we are alone for 6 months. yep, internet and tv we have, but the nearest city is 2200 miles away. the darkeness and cold are a source of both amazement and sadness. For me walking under the unfamiliar stars at noon is incredible, remember - we're looking directly 'under' the earth. We may have auroras and even more spectacular necreus clouds. And walking to work in 75 MPH winds(while sheltering your mug of coffee!) has its
camera troublescamera troublescamera troubles

hoping to get the last sunset, my camera freezes up! sitting in the snow talking to it seemed to help!
way of spicing up the work day. The winter isolation brings out the creativity and crazyness in so many people, you learn what an imagination can do at work and play. Even though you go into a sort of hibernation from time to time (remnant from when we had tails I guess, the 'thousand yard stare' when people get together it all goes away. The setting of the sun and its rise 5 months later are the pivotal events in your polar life, interupted only by the Midwinters Day celebrations, a sort of Christmas and new Years in one. A big feast, party and a jump through the ice into the sea! We reflected this year on those men who exactly 100 years ago spent a long bitter winter very very close to where Mcmurdo was built, in digs far far less comfortable than ours. they were preparing to be the first explorers to see the South Pole. they made it-but were not the first, beaten by 3 weeks. They died on the return journey, 110 miles from 'home' , the members of Capt Scotts Antarctic Expedition.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


medical vanmedical van
medical van

every morning after a snowfall I put a smiley face on the medical van, thye never knew who was doing this for 6 months...!
Midwinters DayMidwinters Day
Midwinters Day

a tradition on the Ice, midwinters day, feast and parties, and greetings from our fellow antarctic stations from other countries
antartic explorersantartic explorers
antartic explorers

we decorated the galley with hand made lights and flyers of the deeds and tragedy of antarctic explorers , after all it was the 100th aniversary of Amundsen and Scotts 'race' to the South Pole.
snow chariotsnow chariot
snow chariot

clearing the ice roads in winter is more an adventure than work, in 24 hour darkness and on a continent with no cities, towns or paved roads, a few miles from the station you feel as if driving a rover on mars....I love it!
chow down!chow down!
chow down!

when its cold and dark it time to eat to keep your spirits up, view of the Galley (dining hall) Mcmurdo Station
winter-over shirts!winter-over shirts!
winter-over shirts!

Mcmurdo has its many traditions, one is the winter over shirts, in this case making our own in the hallway!
recreation boardrecreation board
recreation board

its dark, its cold, youre in antarctica and your stuck for 6 months-still plenty to do, just look at the station rec board and pick something!
polar plunge 2011polar plunge 2011
polar plunge 2011

midwinters day -july, over to Scott Base, the Kiwi station and into the frozen sea we go, water 28F, air -15 F and dark! this year I cheated and wore a wetsuit instead of the usual birthday suit!
necreus clouds over mcmurdonecreus clouds over mcmurdo
necreus clouds over mcmurdo

a sign the south polar winter is ending, mid august. the sun below the horizon still but high ice clouds acting like a prism--its awesome!
the sun comes back.....the sun comes back.....
the sun comes back.....

in mid august the sun comes back, after having set in april. Oddly enough it brings the coldest weather, temps in the minus 40, windchills far below that, but you can still feel the amazing heat on your face when it pops above the horizon.
more necreus!more necreus!
more necreus!

checking the clouds, parking the Pisten Bully rover to take a pic!
view towards Mcmurdoview towards Mcmurdo
view towards Mcmurdo

the amazing light as the sun eases back over Antartica--the long winter is over!
headed up the 'rock' headed up the 'rock'
headed up the 'rock'

like a lifeboat on tracks, the Pisten Bully vehicle waits, warm and cozy for us to return after checking the view, well below zero and far from home.
surfer on icesurfer on ice
surfer on ice

as a surfer, Id been without waves for months. The sun coming back meant Id be back on the water in a couple months, so in this spirit my friend Jerry took this pic.
and theres old sol...and theres old sol...
and theres old sol...

pic of me and a coworker, sun above the sea ice of Mcmurdo Sound. Pic by Ken Klassy

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