We often talk about the cold temps and winds in Antarctica, but it is really a land (and ocean) of ice. We are lucky enough to have some of the rare mountains that rise above the ice on our doorsteps. The Royal Society Range sits right across the McMurdo sound which is on the continent (for real… we are on an island… but it is frozen to the continent so its kinda like part of it).
It is the ice that dictates our paths and activities and we spend a significant amount of time on the ice. It is a cruel mistress that we love and …sometimes like a lot less. This is a strange year, to say the least, and it has gotten off to a slow start. Over the past (as long as anyone here can remember) there is solid ice in front of the station going at least up to a feature about an hour north, and usually, ~100 miles north that sets in by July at the latest. This year, it was a short 2 weeks ago that the ice began to actually freeze us in and this has and will lead to some interesting days ahead of us.
Now cracks are a thing too. We spend a lot of time monitoring and tracking cracks to make sure we can get over them. We have sea ice training to make sure we can do this safely and work with the field safety team (Field Support and Training or FS&P) to monitor and track the cracks. However, our vehicles are designed to both cross cracks as well as have the most gentle pressure on the ice.
Looking north, there are many different features in the ice and we hope that in coming weeks the ice will solidify enough for us to head this way to our main site.
To look north and see what the ice looks like up there, we hiked over to the Hut point where Scott’s hut, from 1902 sits still unchanged for more than a hundered years.