Archive for the ‘In the field’ Category

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Seals seize bridge

December 18, 2012

Terry writes:

Tue 12/11: After the event yesterday, I decided to replace the ten AMIGOS3 (Flask Glacier) and ten AMIGOS4 (Scar Inlet) images acquired at both sites at 17:00 UTC (14:00 Rothera) with ten images acquired at 11:00 UTC (08:00 Rothera). Although these 11:00 UTC images wouldn’t show up in Rothera until after the pilot’s weather briefing at 07:45, they would still be useful as a verification of any previously reached decision whether to fly or not to fly to the Larsen B region.

Thu 12/13: Daniel Farinotti and Ash Fusiarski returned last night from their camp at Starbuck Glacier after a two week stay. They collected almost 200 km of radar data. Meanwhile I’m still waiting for a weather window for another return to Cape Disappointment and/or Leppard Glacier.

An elephant seal has parked himself on a short bridge over a utility coduit between Admiral House and New Bransfield.

An elephant seal has parked himself on a short bridge over a utility coduit between Admiral House and New Bransfield.

The seal's presence forces gators to make a detour.

The seal’s presence forces gators to make a detour.

Builder Jim Scott confronts the seal, which wasn't intimidated enough to allow passage.

Builder Jim Scott confronts the seal, which wasn’t intimidated enough to allow passage.

Sun 12/16: Cloudy weather over the Larsen B region has prevented any flights since Daniel and Ash returned last Wednesday. I spent the day preparing a set of AMIGOS-6 and LPRT cGPS installation instructions for Tamsin Gray and Chris Buckley, who have graciously offered to perform the the work in case I am unable to get a flight before I have to leave on Thursday.

Mon 12/17: Not flying today due to cloud layer over Scar Inlet creating a low contrast surface. AMIGOS images showed evidence of clearing to the northwest, but satellite images showed the band of clear skies closing rapidly. Will try again Tue and Wed. AMIGOS-6/LPRD training session for Tamsin and Chris scheduled for Tuesday (if I don’t fly). Still scheduled to leave Rothera for Punta Arenas on Thursday.

An attempt to keep elephant seals off the bridge by parking an empty trailer on it has failed. Now instead of a single seal, there bridge has been claimed by as many as three or four at a time.

An attempt to keep elephant seals off the bridge by parking an empty trailer on it has failed. Now instead of a single seal, the bridge is claimed by as many as three or four at a time.

Tue 12/18: Unable to fly today due to a layer of cloud at 10,000 feet over Scar Inlet thick enough to reduce surface contrast just enough to make it not flyable to Cape Disappointment. But Daniel and Ash flew to Flask Glacier (for which AMIGOS-3 showed better contrast than AMIGOS-4 on Scar Inlet) to do their final radar work. Trained Tamsin and Chris today on AMIGOS-6 and LPRD work, and am confident they can probably do a better job than me due to their extensive experience maintaining BAS automatic weather stations. Decent chance of flying tomorrow to Cape Disappointment and possibly on to Leppard Glacier.

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Skunked

December 10, 2012

Terry writes:

Fri 12/07: Called my son Jeff and talked to my grandsons Jack and Jude. Wished Jack a happy birthday.

Terry talking to his granson Jack on Jack's birthday from Memorial Hill.

Terry talks to his grandson Jack on Jack’s birthday from Memorial Hill.

Sat 12/08: Warm and no wind, so ran 8 laps (9 miles) on the runway. Neil Malcolm hurt his back skiing over the cornice coming out of Stork Bowl. He had to be taken back to the station via Snowcat, then airlifted to Punta Arenas on the Dash-7.

Sun 12/09: Stretching video on the Old Bransfield porch with about 6 others. Roger and Sharon Duggan returned from the field this evening, so Roger will go back to being my field assistant for the Cape Disappointment trip. Forecast for tomorrow is for good weather over the Larsen B region. Early morning AMIGOS-3 and AMIGOS-4 images showed lots of fog over Flask Glacier and Scar Inlet, but then later images showed clearing.

Mon 12/10: Both AMIGOS-3 and AMIGOS-4 showed clear skies in their respective 6 am images, which, together with a favorable forecast, meant we were flying. Pilot Doug Pearson and field assistant Ian Hey took off at 8:50 to take Daniel and Ash to their Scar Inlet GPS site. We followed them at 9:00 with pilot Al Howland, Roger, Jim, Phil and me. As we got over the divide, we could see low clouds over the Larsen C ice shelf, and at 9:40, Al told us that Doug and Ian had turned around. Our target was a few hundred feet above the ice shelf, so we kept going. As we crossed Leppard Glacier at about 10:00, we could see that the location of LPRD cGPS was very close to the edge of the clouds. As we approached Cape Disappointment, we could see that the clouds were thickening appreciably. We made three passes over the cape, and with each pass there were fewer breaks in the clouds, so Al abandoned the search for a safe landing site at about 10:45 and we headed back to Leppard Glacier. As we crossed Flask Glacier, I could see that the AMIGOS3 view of Bildad Peak would be completely fogged out, when it had been completely clear just a few hours before. By the time we got to Leppard at 11:05, it was worse than Cape Disappointment. We didn’t even circle, we just headed back to Rothera. As a consolation, Al went a bit west of the shortest route back which took us through The Gullet. It’s a narrow channel between Adelaide Island and the mainland that is used for ship passage when the sea ice conditions are favorable (they aren’t at the moment). We flew through the Gullet below the level of the peaks that line the sides. Quite a spectacular ride. Got back at 12:20, just in time for lunch, copied some photos, wrote this report, and then got to take a boat cruise in the evening. We’re still on the list for another possible attempt on Cape Disappointment, but the forecast for tomorrow is poor.

relatively clear view of Bildad Peak at 6 am.

A relatively clear view of Bildad Peak is seen at 6 a.m.

fogged out view of Bildad Peak 6 hours later at local noon.

A fogged out view of Bildad Peak is seen at noon, six hours later.

cloudy view of Flask Glacier taken about an hourbefore the previous noontime image of Bildad Peak.

Terry snaps a cloudy view of Flask Glacier taken about an hour
before the previous noontime image of Bildad Peak.

relatively clear view of CapeDisappointment at 6 am.

A relatively clear view of Cape
Disappointment at 6 a.m.

Cape Disappointment intermittentlypeeking out of the clouds 6 hours later at local noon.

Cape Disappointment intermittently
peeking out of the clouds at noon, six hours later.

AMIGOS6 site somewhat cloud obscured justbefore landing attempt called off at 10:45 am.

AMIGOS-6 site somewhat cloud obscured just
before landing attempt called off at 10:45 a.m.

glacier covered peaks on the eastern side of theGullet.

Glacier covered peaks on the eastern side of the
Gullet.

arched ice berg seen during evening boat cruise.

Arched iceberg seen during evening boat cruise.

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Testing AMIGOS-6 in Rothera

December 6, 2012

Terry writes:

Thu 11/29: Spent the last two days sorting through email, pictures from  the field and writing the daily reports since my last posting on  11/19.

Sat 12/01: Spent the last two days moving equipment from the hangar to the Old Bransfield lab and preparing to bench test AMIGOS-6. Noticed that a bolt and washer assembly that fastens the camera assembly to the enclosure had come undone, probably during transport. Was able to retrieve all the loose parts from inside the enclosure. Performed as Terry and the Disappointments with me on electric guitar and vocals, Roger on bass, Adam on sax, Chris Buckley on electric piano, and Rob Green on drums. We ran through three numbers as the opening act. We were okay. Not great, but okay.

Sun 12/02: Powered up AMIGOS-6 using the Compact Flash (CF) chip I had  created in Boulder just before leaving. Quickly realized I was missing  some files, so reverted to the original CF created last year. Copied  all data and program files from the original CF to my 8 GB thumb  drive. Made slight modification to one program file to all allow the  camera to operate when no light sensor is present. Successfully  acquired some photos in the lab using the small 12 volt gel cell  battery I use for standalone Iridium field communications.

Tue 12/04: Finished testing AMIGOS-6 including running it overnight and uploading backup files to NSIDC. Tore down the test setup after taking some photos of it. Brainstormed with Tamsin as to how to strengthen the tower with components available in Rothera. Plan is to retain the existing rock basket guy wire anchor concept that has guy wires extending from each of the 3 triangular tower vertices. We will rebuild the central basket that failed, replace the upwind basket with a new wire box basket, and add three additional wire boxes each anchoring one of three 10-foot outrigger poles that will extend along the ground and along each of the 3 sides of the tower’s triangular base. We will use six identical brackets, two for each tower base strut. Each bracket has a 1.25-inch coupling that fits over each 1 inch tower strut, and a 2.125-inch coupling that fits over each 2-inch outrigger, with each smaller coupling rotated 90 degrees to the larger coupling. The plan is to first disassemble the current tower basket anchor and replace the failed upwind circular anchor with a new box anchor. Before raising the tower, we will fit two brackets over the bottom of each tower strut. Then we raise the tower, and adjust the guy wires to hold the tower vertical. Then we will fit the outriggers through the larger couplings in each bracket with the other end of each outrigger extending through a new box basket. We’ll remove the three broken connectors (two solar, one power) from the battery box, and simply feed the corresponding 3 wires directly into the box and the charge controller, using tie-wraps for strain relief.

AMIGOS6 test system on the Old Bransfield porch.

AMIGOS-6 test system on the Old Bransfield porch.

High-resolution Nikon thumbnail imagetaken my AMIGOS6 test system and succesfully transmitted to NSIDC. High peaks are 7300 foot Mount Liotard on the left and 7600 foot Mount Gaudry on the right, the two highest peaks on Adelaide Island.

High-resolution Nikon thumbnail image taken by AMIGOS-6 test system and succesfully transmitted to NSIDC. High peaks are the 7300-foot Mount Liotard on the left and 7600 -oot Mount Gaudry on the right, the two highest peaks on Adelaide Island.

Outriggers assembled on Old Bransfieldporch. Short upward protruding pieces represent the ends of the vertical tower struts.

Outriggers assembled on Old Bransfield porch. Short upward protruding pieces represent the ends of the vertical tower struts.

One of four new baskets that fold flat fortransport, and are then assembled and filled with rocks on site. Three will serve as outrigger anchors and a fourth will replace the failed upwind guy wire anchor.

One of four new baskets that fold flat for transport, and are then assembled and filled with rocks on site. Three will serve as outrigger anchors and a fourth will replace the failed upwind guy wire anchor.

Wed 12/05:  Copied AMIGOS-4 data and program files from the CF to my 8 GB  thumb drive. Moved equipment to the hangar. Found out that the GA for  Cape Disappointment will be Ian Hey who just returned from four weeks in  Ablation Valley with Mike Hambrey and Bethan Davies. Tamsin won’t be  able to go with us, but instead we will be accompanied by Builders Jim  Scott and Phil Harle.

Thu 12/06: Ran 9 miles and wrote this report. Logged onto AMIGOS-4 and  removed file /mnt/gpio/NEED_ETH needed for on-site debugging, and  whose removal should reduce the average current load on the system and  hence increase average battery voltage (this just in: the average  current appears to have dropped from about 0.22 amps to about 0.11  amps due to this change). We are now waiting on weather on a  day-to-day basis for going to Cape Disappointment where weather has been bad since our visit a week ago. A visit to Leppard Glacier to  raise the solar panels on LPRD cGPS will probably be done in  conjunction with the pull-out of Daniel and Ash from nearby Starbuck Glacier next week.

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Rothera to Cape Framnes cGPS

November 27, 2012

Terry writes:

Got the go ahead for deployment to Cape Framnes and Leppard Glacier cGPS sites. Will also support Daniel Farinotti’s deployment by carrying a half load of the required 2.5 plane loads of equipment and supplies to his Starbuck Glacier camp. We again had Ian Potten as our pilot and Roger Stilwell as GA, but substituted communications manager Adam Bradley for GA Ash Fusiarski since Ash is Daniel’s GA. We took off from Rothera at 9:10 a.m. and headed for Cape Framnes at the eastern tip of the Jason Peninsula which divides the Larsen B region, including the last remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in Scar Inlet, from the still intact Larsen C Ice Shelf. The CAPF cGPS system needed a replacement of its GPS receiver.

Aerial view of the Cape Framnes continuous GPS systemperched on a rocky outcrop with sea ice in the background. Photo courtesy of Roger Stilwell, used with permission.

Aerial view of the Cape Framnes continuous GPS system
perched on a rocky outcrop with sea ice in the background. Photo
courtesy of Roger Stilwell, used with permission.

We arrived at the cape at about 10:35 a.m. and quickly spotted the solar panels powering the system perched on a rocky ledge. Ian made a couple more circling passes to try to see if a small snow patch very close to the instrument would be usable as a landing site as opposed to the more obvious site about a mile away up a blue ice slope to a much larger flat, snowy plain. During one of the circles, Ian spotted a dark circular spot down just above the sea ice a few miles southwest of the instrument. He suspected it could have been a penguin colony, and as we approached it became clear that it was a breeding emperor penguin colony containing a few hundred adults and chicks.

Hundreds of emperor penguins, including large darkadults and smaller lighter chicks, just a few miles southwest of the Cape Framnes cGPS.

Hundreds of emperor penguins, including large dark
adults and smaller lighter chicks, just a few miles southwest of the
Cape Framnes cGPS.

Ian stayed a suitable distance and height above the colony to avoid stressing the birds, but close enough that we could obtain some photos that could be used to count the number of individual penguins. After a couple more passes, we finally landed at 11:15 a.m. at the more distant but safer site about a mile from the instrument. We donned ice axes and crampons and were able to cram all the necessary equipment and tools into our rucksacks and proceeded downhill toward the instrument. At first we tried staying on some sastrugi to the left of the shortest path to the instrument in order to minimize our passage over blue ice. But after I stepped through a couple of thin snow bridges over some unseen slots, Roger decided to take us back to the more direct blue ice path where we could more easily avoid the obvious narrow slots. Our crampons held us well on the sloping ice and we arrived at the instrument about an hour after leaving the plane. We took some quick photos and noted that the receiver appeared to be logging data. We swapped out the defective receiver for the replacement, and then ran some tests, one of which, namely the ethernet test, was failing.

At that point we called Seth White of UNAVCO who suggested we put back the original receiver. I started removing connectors, but noticed that I had apparently bent a pin on the new receiver when attaching the multi-pin ethernet connector to the receiver. I was able to bend the pin back, re-attach all the cables and rerun the tests. This time the ethernet test passed, so we closed up the box and called Seth again. He said everything now looked good, so we packed up and headed back to the plane, this time taking the more direct route staying on the blue ice all the way. After arriving in about half an hour, Ian informed us that Andy Barker had relayed him a message from Seth that he had erroneously told us that everything was working and that the receiver was not tracking satellites most likely due to the GPS antenna either not attached or not attached correctly. Turns out he had been looking at data logged before I had discovered the bent pin, and that I must have incorrectly seated the GPS antenna cable the second time. So after a quick snack we started back to the receiver. Upon opening the case we could see that the satellite tracking LED was not lit, so we must not have checked it after fixing the bent pin. I removed the GPS antenna cable from the receiver and carefully reattached it, noting that this time it seemed to take up more threads than when I removed it, so I must have had it cross-threaded. After powering up the receiver we noted that it was now tracking satellites, so we again closed up the box and called Seth. He said he was sure he was now looking at new data and that everything looked good. We climbed back up the ice hill, noting that a new lead had opened in the sea ice to our right since our previous ascent. We got back to the plane, packed up, and took off for Starbuck Glacier at 8:00 p.m. after just under nine hours on the ground. We landed at Daniel and Ash’s scenic Kilo camp on Starbuck at 8:35 pm, unloaded their final equipment, took a few photos, and were back in the air at 9:05 pm headed this time for the Leppard Glacier cGPS.

Roger Stilwell and Adam Bradley next to the newly repaired CAPF continuous GPS system.

Roger Stilwell and Adam Bradley next to the newly repaired CAPF continuous GPS system.

Kilo camp on Starbuck Glacier installed earlier in the day by Daniel Farinotti and Ash Fusiarski.

Kilo camp on Starbuck Glacier installed earlier in the day by Daniel Farinotti and Ash Fusiarski.

Daniel Farinotti, the scientist on the Kilo project, and my office mate since arriving with me in Rothera at the end of October. He's happy to have finally gotten into the field, and received the last of his equipment so that he can begin his ice penetrating radar survey and automated GPS maintenance work.

Daniel Farinotti, the scientist on the Kilo project, and my office mate since arriving with me in Rothera at the end of October. He’s happy to have finally gotten into the field, and received the last of his equipment so that he can begin his ice penetrating radar survey and automated GPS maintenance work.

Our next stop at 9:40 pm was at Leppard Glacier, the site of another continuous GPS instrument. Ian was able to land just a few meters from the solar panels and antenna, so Roger and Adam were able to hop out of the plane and immediately started digging behind the panels. The goal was to uncover the box enclosing the electronics in order to copy some new firmware and a configuration file to the GPS receiver.

Adam and Roger begin digging in an attempt to uncover the lid of the continuous GPS electronics enclosure. Note that the snow surface is just touching the bottom of the bottom panel indicating an acculation of over 6 feet of snow since its installation in January 2010.

Adam and Roger begin digging in an attempt to uncover the lid of the continuous GPS electronics enclosure. Note that the snow surface is just touching the bottom of the bottom panel indicating an acculation of over 6 feet of snow since its installation in January 2010.

The box is almost identical to the one at Flask Glacier that we had visited three weeks earlier. The difference was that the box at Flask was buried under a couple of feet of loosely consolidated snow, whereas the box here at Leppard was under at least six feet of more firmly compacted snow (aka firn). After almost two hours of digging by Roger and Adam, they were down about 5.5 feet below the snow surface and still hadn’t reached the top of the box, let alone uncover its entire lid which would allow us to open it.

Roger poses at bottom of the 5.5 foot hole he and Adam have dug without reaching the top of the box.

Roger poses at bottom of the 5.5 foot hole he and Adam have dug without reaching the top of the box.

We also hadn’t yet exposed the bottom of the splices in the solar panel legs and associated cables, both covered in ice, that would allow us to raise the solar panels another couple of feet or about a year’s worth of accumulation at this apparently snowy site. So we decided to call it a day and head back to Rothera. We took off at 11:40 p.m. and arrived in Rothera at 1:00 a.m.

Closeup of one of the spliced solar panel legs and associated power and Iridium cables encased in ice near the bottom of the hole.

Closeup of one of the spliced solar panel legs and associated power and Iridium cables encased in ice near the bottom of the hole.

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Rothera to Scar Inlet AMIGOS to Cape Disappointment AMIGOS

November 25, 2012

Terry writes:

After a Mexican Night dinner and party, including dancing until 3:30 am, I somehow made it to the usual weather briefing at 7:45 am. Clear but windy forecast for Scar Inlet, so probably not flying. But the Scar AMIGOS showed diminishing winds all morning, so I received the word from Andy Barker we’d be flying after lunch with pilot Ian Potten, GA Roger Stilwell, with GA Ash Fusiarski serving as co-pilot. We took off at 3:47 p.m. and arrived at Scar Inlet AMIGOS at 5:24 pm. Ian landed somewhat farther from the AMIGOS this time at about 300 meters, so after putting on harnesses, we had a 15-minute hike with Ash checking for crevasses, followed by me, and then Roger pulling a sledge carrying AMIGOS-4, our tools, and a pallet to place under the new battery box.

New battery box on its wooden pallet platform, and suspended by ratchet straps and rope and lashed to the tower.

New battery box on its wooden pallet platform, and suspended by ratchet straps and rope and lashed to the tower.

Once at the tower, Ash and Roger quickly replaced AMIGOS-1 with AMIGOS-4, which I then verified was working properly. Then Roger attacked the snow and ice covering the old battery box while Ash and I used a couple of ratchet straps to suspend the new box above the snow surface. We then excavated a space under the box into which we slid the forklift pallet. In doing so, we uncovered another narrow crevasse just a meter from the new box but running parallel to it. Meanwhile, Roger succeeded in lifting the lid of the old box without damaging it, revealing ice filling the box and encasing its four lead-acid batteries, its charge controller, and a data logger once used to collect a temperature profile down to about ten meters below the snow surface. Roger closed the old box, we lashed the pallet to the tower, closed up AMIGOS-4, and hiked back to the plane and Ian. We then took off for Cape Disappointment at about 7:35 pm.

The old battery box with its opened lid showing it full of ice and fully encasing its contents.

The old battery box with its opened lid showing it full of ice and fully encasing its contents.

A narrow crevasse unconvered by Ash while removing snow from underneath the suspended new battery box.

A narrow crevasse unconvered by Ash while removing snow from underneath the suspended new battery box.

First image taken by newly fixed Scar Inlet AMIGOS4 showing Ash, Terry, and Roger walking back to the Twin Otter to be flown by Ian to Cape Disappointment.

First image taken by newly fixed Scar Inlet AMIGOS4 showing Ash, Terry, and Roger walking back to the Twin Otter to be flown by Ian to Cape Disappointment.

We circled Cape Disappointment a couple of times, and spotted the tower. It clearly had been blown over. Ian found a landing site about a mile or so to the northwest. After the usual skis-down touch-and-go pass, Ian landed us at 7:55 pm. We decided we would attempt a repair, so we loaded most of the equipment and tools we had brought, including a spare 70-pound, 12-volt battery onto three sleds. We still had our harnesses on. Roger and I donned crampons and Ash wore skis. Roger towed the largest of the three sledges which left Ash with a train of the two smaller sledges. We headed off to the toppled tower about an hour after we had landed.

The rock cage at the base of the tower next to the damaged battery box and the top of the upwind rock cage anchor that had been dragged toward the tower.

The rock cage at the base of the tower next to the damaged battery box and the top of the upwind rock cage anchor that had beed dragged toward the tower.

The three foil wrapped cable connectors that had been ripped from the battery box.

The three foil wrapped cable connectors that had been ripped from the battery box.

At first the tower was visible, but it soon dropped below our immediate horizon as we climbed a small hill. Most of our route was over moderately sculpted sastrugi. The tower soon became visible again near the top of the first hill. We then hit a flat spot for a while, but soon started climbing again. The last few hundred meters was over blue ice, so Ash traded his skis for crampons. The sledges were a bit hard to control over the ice, but we eventually made it to the scree patch surrounding the tower about an hour and 10 minutes after we had left the plane. We took a few photos, noting that all three plastic connectors on the battery box (the two solar cable connectors and the AMIGOS power connector) had been damaged when the tower blew over. The upwind wire cage had been ripped open by its guy wire attached to the tower. We measured about 12.5 volts on the batteries, but zero volts on the load output of the charge controller whose top light was solid red. We tried hot-wiring a battery directly to the power input on the AMIGOS enclosure and did succeed in getting the computer to boot up. I was able to reset the date/time using the ethernet interface since I couldn’t get any output from the serial port.

Opposite side of base cage.

Opposite side of base cage.

Downwind side of tower showing apparently undamaged weather sensor, albedometer, cameras, and solar panels.

Downwind side of tower showing apparently undamaged weather sensor, albedometer, cameras, and solar panels.

By now it was near midnight local time and the sun had dipped slightly below the horizon. We decided to disconnect the charge controller and the entire AMIGOS enclosure, which we then loaded onto the sledeges, leaving the 12-volt battery we had brought. On the way back I relieved Ash of the smaller of the two sledges he had towed which simplified the trip across the blue ice. The trip back was down hill a bit, so we made slightly better time. We loaded up the plane, Ian took off at 01:05 am, and we made it back to Rothera at 2:25 am. Several people had to stay on the job until we landed, including Karen, Adam, and Rosie doing communication and weather observations in the tower, with Clem and Brian in the hangar helping us unload our gear and park the Twin Otter. I got to bed at about 3:30 am, roughly five minutes or so earlier than the previous night.

Terry and Ash returning from Cape Disappointment AMIGOS6, which can be seen at the leftmost tip of the outcrop just above Ash.

Terry and Ash returning from Cape Disappointment AMIGOS6, which can be seen at the leftmost tip of the outcrop just above Ash.

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Training climb of Middle Stork near Rothera

November 23, 2012

Terry writes:

Still waiting for better weather in the Larsen B region, as a fairly significant storm has been slowly making its way across the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. In contrast, the weather in Rothera has been generally superb, with clear skies and gentle winds. I’ve been running every other day or so, doing some image processing work for Ted, and playing some guitar in the evenings. But this morning I heard that my current general field assistant (GA) Roger Stilwell and radio officer Karen Fowler, who I had met in Punta Arenas, were planning a ski outing. I asked them if I could go too, and they graciously accepted.

By the time we actually set out, Roger had decided to make this more of a mountaineering training (mostly for me since Karen has more Antarctic mountain experience). So in addition to our skis, we strapped on climbing harnesses and associated jingle-jangles as well as carrying crampons. Our goal turned out to be a ski/climb of Middle Stork, a 515-meter peak just west of Rothera Station. After a short skidoo up to the Kaboose, Roger rope-towed Karen and me up a 200-meter bunny slope to practice our skiing. Karen did great, and I … didn’t fall, which considering the fact that I hadn’t done alpine skiing in several years was a great accomplishment.

After another short rope tow, we roped up and skin-skiied into Stork Bowl, including negotiating a rather steep cornice ringing the east side of the bowl. We then zig-zagged our way up the steepening north side of the bowl. I had to change from skis to crampons part way up since my somewhat inferior skins and somewhat more inferior technique kept causing me to slip. But with Roger’s assistance–helping me with my crampons and carrying my skis–and Karen’s patience, we made it to the saddle between South and Middle Stork where we stopped for lunch.

Karen and Roger also exchanged skis for crampons and we continued up the steep southeast flank. We dodged a couple of small crevasses (slots as they’re called here), and summited at about 1 p.m. The weather on top was warm and windless, thus without the usual anxiety about weather and approaching darkness that mountaineering in Colorado usually evokes. We cramponed back down to the saddle, removed the skins from our skis, and attempted more alpine skiing in the bowl. This time I had several butt-falls but no face plants, and Roger had to haul me by my rope harness back up over the cornice, back to the skidoo and more rope towing to the Ramp. Many thanks to Roger and Karen for a fantastic outing!

Terry Haran on the summit of Middle Stork, with the North Stork and Laubeuf Fjord in the background.

Terry Haran on the summit of Middle Stork, with the North Stork and Laubeuf Fjord in the background.

The calving front of Sheldon Glacier with icebergs in Ryder Bay. Taken while descending back to the South/Middle Stork saddle. Roger Stilwell in the lower right corner.

he calving front of Sheldon Glacier with icebergs in Ryder Bay. Taken while descending back to the South/Middle Stork saddle. Roger Stilwell in the lower right corner.

Karen Fowler and Roger Stilwell on the summit of Middle Stork, with the mountains north of Mount Gaudry in the background.

Karen Fowler and Roger Stilwell on the summit of Middle Stork, with the mountains north of Mount Gaudry in the background.

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Stuck again

November 19, 2012

Hopeful that I would fly today based on the early morning Flask AMIGOS-3 image, but the forecast called for increasing clouds, which did in fact materialize, resulting in flat light conditions and even lowered ceilings, both of which making the weather unsuitable for landing on glaciers and ice shelves.

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