South Pole Jaunt

 

New Years day biking to the New Zealand base

Scenery flying to the South Pole

C-130 landing on skis at the South Pole

South Pole research station

Geographic South Pole marker

Touring the -60F ice tunnels

New Year's Eve Ice Stock bash

Greetings Apocalypse survivors of 2013,

The year ending with a bang as I was summoned to the South Pole to see a few dental patients and check out the facilities for a future visit. The administrators of the research station were as welcoming as a wounded wolverine and wanted me to sleep in a Quonset hut away from the main building with an outhouse and to leave on the next flight home, but my medical buddies told me to ignore them and stay in the medical suite with a cozy hospital bed and bathroom with running water a few feet away. I was more than happy to stick it to ‘the man” and make myself at home for 3 days and managed to see some dental patients, play a little ping pong and ski around the base, especially enjoying the loop around the 24 hours of time zones when you circle the marker for the geographic south pole at the bottom of the rotating planet. Another highlight was touring the underground ice tunnels for water and waste that were dug 10 years ago with walls and the ceiling that are slowly closing in, so claustrophobics need not apply. It’s a steady 60 below zero down there, which is cooler than the summer temp of -35 but warmer than the minus 80 to 100 in the dark winter months. The 9300 foot elevation is mostly the thickness of ice at the Pole, so the ski report would read something like a few inches of powder on top of a base of a mile and a half of ice, which beats out the best conditions in Colorado for a solid base. I actually missed my little bed at McMurdo, so I returned in time for the annual New Year’s Ice Stock Music festival and listened to 11 bands play until 1:00 AM last night. The party included great music, a Chili cook-off, some Frisbee fun and hanging out in the sunlit, cold climate for 9 hours with a little drinking and socializing going on all night. Today I woke up to sunny, clear skies for the first day of 2013, so I found a bike and did some touring to see friends at the New Zealand base a few miles down the road. It was a great way to start the new year, but tomorrow it’s back to work with a root canal to start the day and a fairly busy dental schedule the rest of the week to keep me out of trouble. Hope your year ended well and the new one brings some good times too.

Cheers,

To the Pole and Back Bob