Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's A Harsh Continent, Ya Know

Hut Point with Scott's Hut in the foreground and McMurdo Station behind. The four large dark buildings are the Upper Case dorms.
John, Karen, Mel and Lisa

Karen and Lisa at Hut Point with Ob (Observation) Hill visible in the background.

Saturday evening started with a small gathering in my dorm room with Karen and Lisa conducting a research experiment vital to the ongoing health and morale of McMurdo Station workers. It was a complete success.
There was a big snowstorm Saturday on station with lots of wind and blowing snow. But the great part was that it was really warm and fairly wet which was unusual. It was a bit like the Northeastern/Midwestern snowstorms of home. Lots of people were out playing in it with snowball fights, etc. Even though you would think that it snows all the time down here, it doesn't much in the summer. The ground usually consists of hard pack snow and ice, so this was a real treat.
After our research was done, some of us hiked to Hut Point. It is a short hike that goes to Scott's Hut out on the edge of the Ross Sea. Along the way Mel wanted to lay down in the deep, powdery snow, so we did. It's fine to lay down in the snow here, better if you do it on purpose and better yet if you eventually get up.
Scott's Hut is a historic monument administered by the New Zealand Historic Trust along with two other huts further away. It is preserved as it was in the early 1900's when the explorers Scott and Shackleton used it, although at different times. Scott was beaten by about a month to be the first man to make it to the South Pole by Amundsen. On Scott's return after this disappointment, he and a few others lay down in the snow and did not get up. Of course, a lot of things are named after him down here, because that is what we do. Scott Base, the New Zealand Research Station , is only two miles from McMurdo.
After the hike some of us took a sauna. Yes, we have a sauna. One sauna for 1200 people.

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