All is great here at CTAM
All is great here at CTAM [Central Transantarctic Mountains, a single-season large camp focused on research]. My first week here we were scrambling to get ready for scientists to arrive. The first groups flew in and then we had a beautiful three day ground blizzard. Winds tore through our little camp, bringing snow from the south to collect in winding drifts around every tent/pallet/snow machine. This whole time the skies were perfectly blue and clear. It was a good reminder that I am in Antarctica, despite the galley full of various foods and new movies projected on pull down screens.
The storm cleared and we are racing to make up for lost time. Our helicopters and Twin Otter are busy shuttling scientists to various sites nearby for day or two week long studies. A C-130 comes daily from McMurdo, bearing new guests, fresh food, mail and resupply cargo.
As a general assistant I spend time organizing cargo, reforming snow steps to buildings, unloading and loading aircraft, tracking who’s where in tent city, unfreezing drain pipes, shuttling cargo around on sleds, placing signs in camp, shoveling snow from the snow mine to the galley’s snow melter, and various tasks that come up. We generally work 11 hour days with Sundays off. On Sunday we head for the mountains closest to camp for hiking or skiing. The views are splendid and almost unreal. Towering mountains in all directions rising to blue sky. Snow and glaciers lap and swirl at their bases and the sun is always bright overhead. The silence is expansive and the crunch of your footsteps on the dry snow carries for a long way.