Tagged: nora

Next Stop — New Zealand

We are all back to McMurdo after a whirlwind successful season. The last of the science groups left at the end of January. A few carpenters and electricians came out from town to help our camp staff of 16 take down every stick of CTAM. We pulled all the bamboo flags, packed all the boxes and broke down town as the numbers shrank. We loaded and weighed Air Force pallets set by the runway to be taken back to town. By the end we were all exhausted and missing the shower house (one of the first places to go). Plane after plane came and hauled away the pieces of our fairytale summer of never-ending day.

Shots of CTAM

In all we supported about 18 science groups. There were geologists, paleontologists, ichnologists, soil analysts, magnotelaluric studies, glaciologists, meteorite gatherers, and environmental teams, weather station repair teams, and crevasse detection teams. As the summer plodded along these groups used our camp as a base from where they would take helicopter trips out to nearby landmarks. A few groups stayed out in smaller camps of their own and used our camp to get re-supplied and local aid. Many evenings the galley rang with stories of fossils found. Petrified wood, burned forests, dinosaur bones and teeth, footprints of large reptiles and small worms, ripple marks from ancient shores, leaf impressions and long gone root and stem systems.

Together these men and women were putting together a more accurate understanding of Antarctica’s roll in Gondwana (super continent), of ancient climate and ecology. Compiling accurate lists of plants and animals that lived here, and seeing where else they live on the world and what they have evolved into. They are proving more about plate tectonics, mapping what the earths crust looks like under the Transantarctics, and getting a better understanding of what we can expect from future climate change.

It was great to get to touch and see these long frozen pieces of the past. To sit and chat and learn from the professors and grad-students that knew so much was a treat for which I am thankful.

Back in McMurdo we checked in our gear and cleaned our tents, compiled end of season reports and applied for next year. In a few days I will fly back to New Zealand. I am looking forward to being a place with smells, nighttime, animals, plants and children. I’ll spend a few weeks in NZ learning about cheese making at a dairy then head home to my own farm for the summer. This whole adventure has been wonderful, and as adventures do, it has sparked the fire for what comes next.


Costa Rica Surf Camp with Pura Vida Adventures

Remember last Summer’s Costa Rica Surf Contest winner Alissa? Well, we’ve followed her and her college gal pal Kate down south to capture the fun. Check out the wins and wipeouts of their surf education as we document their week-long adventure. All of this is possible through the generosity of our friends at Pura Vida Adventures who host all-women surf and yoga retreats. We’ll be talking more about Pura Vida Adventures, Alissa and Kate in the coming days so stay tuned!

In the meantime, click here to learn more about Alissa (last Summer’s surf camp winner).


January 14th, 2011

The weeks are flying by here at CTAM! The holidays were good though it seemed arbitrary to have them as there is no distinction between night and day or from November to December to January. Only the emails and letters from home reminded us it was that time of year. Our galley was dimmed and a feast awaited us on Christmas night. A few people played a violin, a mandolin and a guitar and we all sat around and ate until our gift exchange. T-shirts from science projects, extra female urinals, used books, massage certificates, extra lotions, hidden bags of real coffee, weather balloons filled with helium, candy and a backgammon board were among the random gifts. We had a two day weekend filled with skiing, hiking nearby on the hills, board games, snow volleyball and naps.

About five of the eighteen science groups are done and have returned to a world with nights, stars, internet, traffic and kitchens of their own.

Each day we meet in the galley for breakfast between 7-8 o’clock, followed by morning announcements, flight schedules, camp tasks assignments and stretching (usually turns into a mini yoga session). After this we drift into out daily tasks.

Some people prepare reports or grade papers they brought with them, or write essays for journals. Operators climb into machines and groom the runway and town, move gear and rocks toward outgoing flights or around camp. Mechanics fix snow machines, heaters, generators and rock saws broken in the field. Others monitor air traffic, fuel aircraft, or catalogue and build cargo pallets, clean common facilities, shovel snow and there is never ending cooking and baking. I spend much of my morning assisting helicopter operations on the camp side.
I assure that the next group of sciencetist going out is weighed, briefed and ready for loading. In the evening I meet them on return and load their gear into sleds pulled by a snow machine.

About twice a week we get an LC-130 from McMurdo, bearing fresh food, mail from town, new visitors/scientists/rotating staff. They haul away our recycling, waste, tons of rocks for analysis, and people at the end of their stay. Today weather is poor in McMurdo (though sunny and beautiful here) so a flight with 37 people from South Pole unable to land in McM is rerouting here. We are scrambling to make dinner, tent sites, chairs, outhouses and melted water meant for 62 people to accommodate 99. I have not seen so many people in two months.