Antarctica: February 2006


So that's what's in the emergency laundry room...a dryer with a Pete inside.


The last Pole party for the summer season...

Caesar was polling people on what country they thought this flag is from. (He didn't know, and I still don't know. But if you do, email me!) [05-Feb-2006 update: a friendly websurfer tells me it's the Armenian flag]

Lots of people celebrating the end of the season.

It's Robert!!

Blurry red lights in the summer camp lounge.

A ton of people hanging out at the bar.

Shiny green lights near the entrance of the jamesway.

Caesar's going crazy.

This is the most number of people I've ever seen packed in here.

A nice warm glow in the tent...


Misty and Kyle...not fighting :-)

Dainella's showing some embarrassing video footage from last year.

Pete wants to see too.

Pete spelled this all by himself!

Dr. Bahls.

Misty casually picking Pete's nose...

Spelling out more useful things with the Scrabble letters.

Misty and Nathan being friendly...

...or not.

Some sort of human pretzel.

I think Nathan conceded defeat at this point.


For tonight's Superbowl party, the kitchen roasted this pig.

(Luc, wil je een varken koken, of heb je liever nog vis?)

Lots of people gathered in the galley to watch the game.

Pete's leaving tomorrow, so we decided to pick up a radio from comms and explore the ice tunnels.

Lots of shiny blinky lights!

A view of one of the tunnels. You can't tell because I used the flash here, but it was pitch black where we were standing.

Perhaps this was leftover from a previous Superbowl party? A relic from the 2003 winterover team.

Another hidden artifact in the tunnels.

It's cold in the tunnels...we found a thermometer that read -55 C.

I got frosted up too.

The tunnels are reminiscent of a particle accelerator, except there's no curvature and there's a faint smell of sewage.

One of the pipes carries water, and the other carries waste. One last look back...


I woke up to the sound of the C-130 outside, and I dashed outside to say goodbye to Pete and Hien.

The outgoing passengers waiting to board the plane.

Today's flight is packed full, and I think my flight on the 15th has even more people.

Bob and Hien!

John and Hien in the crowd of people.

It's funny, after awhile you find it normal for people to dress like this around here. :-)

The outgoing passengers waiting just outside the elevated station.

Bright noontime sun on a beautiful day.

Denis, Hien, and John. This is the first time I've seen Hien wear the big blue boots during his entire time here.

The South Pole station international terminal. A bunch of us went inside the black box to warm up.

Hien got sucked into a Pole tourist trap at the last minute.

Finally people start boarding the plane...

A second plane landed shortly before. I'm not sure how they're going to squeeze everyone in there.

It's sad to see everyone go...

The second plane in the distance.


Two days left... The platypus left a long time ago, but its sign is still here.

A streak of light outlining the horizon.

Looking up inside the beer can. Industrial heaven.

A very chilly hallway.

...and a ladder that wanted to be climbed.

A spotlight at the top of the ladder.

A maze of heating pipes. It's pretty warm up here...

...but there are still lots of scary looking ice formations.

More holes in the roof.

This place reminds me of the guts of an alien. (Not that I have experience with these sorts of things.)

A giant mutant worm.

No, this place isn't scary at all.

Beam me up!

Looking down, off the edge of the roof.


Less than 24 hours left... Bag drag was a zoo because of the crowded flight tomorrow.

Alison and Greg weighing bags and people.

I finally made it over to Tom's jamesway and took a photo of the pee jug. (Mom, this picture is also for you.)

A message on the jamesway wall.


My last day at the Pole... My flight out is a straight-through flight, i.e. I don't spend the night in McMurdo, and I arrive in Christchurch about 12 hours after leaving the Pole. In those 12 hours: the ambient temperature rises by 100 degrees, humidity goes from zero to something that makes me feel like I'm going to turn into a prune, and day becomes night...for the first time in 83 days.

A last view of Skylab and the dome. Skylab was gutted and turned off this season, and will be gone next year. The dome was used for the last time this summer and is going to go cold for the winter.

I cheated and went into the greenhouse today. The smell was amazing...I touched a plant and could smell it on my fingers for hours afterwards.

Lane and his babies.

I finally solved the mystery of where the good music was coming from in the hallway.

My last few minutes in my room: a record of the weather conditions two days before the soft close of the station.

Waiting out on the flight deck, I got sucked into the same tourist trap that Hien visited before.

We're waiting for them to unload cargo from the plane.

In the meantime, lots of people are saying goodbye.

The shadows are getting pretty long these days.

A last look at the dark sector. Goodbye BICEP!

Robert is going to spend the winter here playing with his satellites.

This guy from National Geographic is filming us.

Another view of the crowd. Chris is clearly appropriately dressed in ECW gear.

Still waiting for the plane...

I got ambushed by Joey outside the South Pole international terminal.

Joey's happy to be returning to civilization.

Lots of big orange bags piled up outside.

Denis also wants his picture taken with the girl and the penguin.

Kiwon and John are amused.

Joey wants a turn too.

George looks like he's staring longingly at the plane. Yet another brave soul who's wintering.

Finally, it's time to go.

Slowly, we pile into the plane...

...and take off shortly afterwards. Just watching the station pass out of view from the window.

The plane isn't nearly as packed as I thought it would be. There was actually quite a bit of room to move around.

Looking forward to ditching these heavy orange bags.

A tangle of Carhartts.

We arrive at McMurdo after a short flight. The back hatch is open for combat offload of the cargo (the pallet is pushed out onto the snow while the plane is still moving). Pretty cool.

Exiting the C-130 at Willy field. McMurdo is nice and toasty in comparison to the Pole; it felt like a warm summer day.

We're all amazed by the features on the horizon. A view of Mount Erebus in the distance.

The beginning of a long wait for the next plane. We're all pretty hungry at this point...and were fed some fabulous sack lunches consisting of expired fruit juice and not-quite-peanut-butter sandwiches. Yummy!

Finally, after a few hours, our ride arrives: a monster C-17 plane.

Enjoying my last few minutes on this continent.

While we're all busy taking photos of the plane, a curious skua stops by to check out somebody's bags. (Whoa, wildlife!!)

I hope it enjoys the sack lunch more than the rest of us did.

After offloading the cargo and refueling, Ivan the Terrabus takes us over to board the plane.

The inside of the plane is ridiculously huge. This is a view looking towards the front from where I was sitting.

Unlike the C130s, C-17s have real seats (and a real bathroom!). Joey's happy about his comfy chair.

Looking towards the back of the plane where the cargo is stored.

The parkas make pretty decent sleeping bags.

The full length of the C17 interior. Wow.

By random luck, I ran into Harry again -- the metalsmith who I briefly visited when I first passed through McMurdo.

Another view of the plane interior.

All of our checked bags are palletized and strapped together into a monolithic cube at the back of the plane.

The view of the clouds outside the window is beautiful.

Something strange happened -- the light outside began to fade.

Everyone was thrilled to see the first sunset in months.

After a 5-hour flight, we arrive in the warmth, humidity, and dark. It all seems like a surreal dream.

And now for something completely different...

What to do after getting off the ice...? Immerse yourself in green.

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