The snowfields of the permanent ice shelf meet the cravasse filled slopes of Erebus.
For the last two days, Rory and I have been staring through microscopes. I’ve been enamored with the microscopic world while he has been counting little glowing dots in the dark. But I think we both have been thinking about our hike that we took last Sunday.
The walk to Castle Rock is along a ridgeline right above town. The entire route is flagged making it safe to travel and it is constantly monitored for shifts in the ice that would make it unsafe. There is even a safety shelter that you can see as a little red dot. As the weather here can go from this (calm, no wind, warm at -11C) to hurricane force winds and wind chills down to -70C in less than an hour. Anytime you are more than an hour from the station you must have a way to shelter yourself and survive such a storm.
This is the goal. Castle Rock. It is only a 3 mile hike but that takes a bit longer than it would elsewhere since we have to be dressed for the occasion.
Later in the season there is a route to the top of the rock but right now we can just hike up to the saddle before the climb. Here is Rory doing just that. The real challenge that day was not getting too warm! With the sun out and no wind I didn’t even don my Big Red (i.e. red coat) and instead sweated away in a fleece. Rory wore his Big Red as a cape.
This is the view north. You can see an ice tongue off as a different shade of light about half way to the islands. That ice tongue causes many cracks in the sea ice that we have to monitor as we travel around. The islands are Tent Island, Inaccessible Island, and then Big and Little Razorback islands before the north end which is Cape Evans and one of the sites we occasionally dive.
The Expanse Looking South. The next stop here is the south pole. Flat. White. Snow and Ice for miles. This is the view the initial explorers saw as they attempted to tackle the continent at the turn of the last century. It is still an awe inspiring view and so close to where we live and work now.