Location: WAIS Divide, Antarctica
Time: 11 pm
Lunch: Meatloaf, lentil loaf, mashed potatoes, and turkey sandwich.
Supper: Trail mix on a plane & an apple.
5:30 PM – Check in and take a shuttle out to Willy’s Airfield.
6:00 PM – Board plane.
6:30 PM – Take off.
6:40 PM – Loadmaster (the guy who loads the plane & takes care of the passengers) offers coffee to everyone on the plane.
7:10 PM – 23,000 ft high and just saw a gigantic crevasse.
9:30 PM – Starting the descent.
9:45 PM – Landed at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide!!!!!
I finally made it to WAIS Divide!! The LC-130 flight was again very enjoyable. The crew was very friendly and I was surprised that the loadmaster even offered in flight drinks! They even figured out how to regulate the heat on this plane so that it wasn’t too hot. There were only 5 passengers, Marie, Susanne, two other twin otter pilots and myself. The twin otter pilots will be working out of WAIS divide and stocking a resupply depot for a science expedition that is traversing across the WAIS. Our flight is mostly full of cargo, with most of it being equipment for the ice core drill.
Flying out of McMurdo, we quickly left all topography behind us. After only 40 minutes the horizon was a perfectly flat line. Then, the flight crew pointed out this gigantic crevasse in the ice sheet. I’m actually not really sure it was a crevasse because it was so big, but I don’t know what else it could be. It is hard to judge size from 23,000 ft in the air, but the crevasse (or whatever it was) looked like it extended many miles and must have been hundreds of feet wide. I wonder if there is a slope change at this point? I should have asked the pilot for the lat/lon of this feature, but I didn’t. Hopefully I’ll remember to do it on the way back. During the rest of the flight I listened to the first CD of The Audacity of Hope by our President-elect, Barack Obama (thanks Ariel, Rachel & Coleen for sending it to me!!) which was a great way to spend a couple of hours in a noisy plane. Looking out of the windows the ice sheet looks like a vast white ocean.
We landed too late in the day to set up our tents, so we are sleeping in a jamesway. Jamesways are a cross between a building and a tent: they have a rigid structure that is in the shape of a half oval covered with a very thick canvass material. The jamesways here all have diesel burning stoves that are left on all the time, so we are plenty warm. The weather when we landed was clear blue skies above us with some high clouds off in the distance. It is noticeably colder, but there is no wind.
That’s all for now. Its been a busy day. I’m so happy I FINALLY made it here!! It has taken me exactly 3 weeks to travel from Portland, OR to WAIS Divide.