Location: WAIS Divide field camp
Temperature: -18 °C (~0°F)
Wind speed: km/h (3-5 mp/h)
Clouds: high ceiling
Wind direction: NW
Relative Humidity: dry
Precipitation: light snow
Animals: we thought we might see a “beware of dog” sign posted by the skiway, but no such luck… it was just a piece of plywood painted black, likely for visibility observations.
Breakfast: Scones, scrambled eggs, bacon, canned apricots
Lunch: hamburgers and bratwurst on homemade bread buns
Supper: Chicken soup, cod fillets, rice, veggies, delicious challah
Yet another new reporter… Bess here, representing the Maine voice. Today was pretty long. I know, I know, you’re thinking that all our days are 24 hours long and we have continuous sunlight, right? Well, of course that’s true. But on certain days, the time between breakfast and dinner just feels longer than our 10-hour shift. Today was such a day. For me, the day began (after breakfast, yoga, and brushing my teeth) with helping prepare to dig a snow pit. My colleague John needed to dig a 2-m pit in order to look at the stratigraphy in the snow and make some physical measurements such as density. So five of us gathered our clothes, snacks, water and hot tea and helped John load all his supplies onto the sled, towed by a snowmobile. We needed plywood to cover the pit, so drifting snow wouldn’t fill it back up. We had to bring flags to mark the pit so we could find it again (and so it wouldn’t become a tiger trap to catch the next poor sucker who drove over it!). We brought shovels and saws for cutting blocks out of the snow. Other than that, Marie came along to film the whole thing and brought her video camera and tripod. So we drove away, two on the snowmobile and three piled up on the gear in the back. The pit’s location was chosen to be a couple km from camp, near one of the previous ice core boreholes (WDC-05A). And then we got to work digging.
By 11:30, we had created a lovely snowpit with four big steps leading down to the lowest level, a full 7.5 feet below the surface. One of our tallest guys, Tim, was fully buried in it. The temperature was surprisingly cold down in the pit. The snow stays around -25 C, which is about -5 F. Pretty chilly!
After lunch I headed back into the Arch as a new team of snowpit diggers went out to dig a neighboring pit (allowing us to get a backlit wall, which shows the snow layers). The afternoon consisted of basic grunt labor, nothing too interesting. I was ready to sit down when 18:00 rolled around and we got to eat dinner. As I said, it was a long day.
Our after-dinner ski was definitely the highlight of the day. Natalie, Tim, Logan and I (your reporters) headed out to the skiway after determining that no planes would be landing. The skiway is a broad, groomed track that is well flagged on both sides, perfect for skate-skiing and classic alike. We skied out to one end of the track and stopped to admire the halo around the sun. It had been there all day. Logan had the idea to take pictures silhouetted against the sky, and that’s how our fun began.
It started with stationary shots. Person on skis, holding poles to the side, smiling. Then came the low-angle shots, with the sun blocked behind one’s body, making a great dark profile. It evolved into jumping, cartwheeling, and doing headstands and handstands. Logan and I did headstands facing away from each other and managed some pretty sweet scissor kicks. Once our hands got wet from the snow, we reluctantly put our skis back on and made our way back to camp. It was a wonderful, fun evening.