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    Image courtesy of NSF.

From: Bob Bindschadler
McMurdo Station, Antarctica, December 26, 2007

Christmas in McMurdo

Here's a Christmas card from Antarctica. I had hoped to be farther toward our goal of the ice shelf, but an airplane (a refitted DC-3) we were counting on to move our cargo had an "incident" and is out for the season. In its place, the larger cargo plane (a ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules) may be able to land close enough to the ice shelf we want to go to that we can still complete our season. This change has caused delays because the potential landing site must be checked out carefully for safety (no crevasses) and snow conditions (not too soft, not too hard and not too sticky) before the "Herc" will attempt to land.

Our cargo is all packed and we are ready to be flown out to the larger WAIS-Divide camp, but these delays have forced our group to spend Christmas in McMurdo. It was a two-day holiday and a chance for the hard-working folks here to relax, party and relax some more. As luck would have it, there was a medical emergency at South Pole that forced a flight to bring the injured person to McMurdo and, after evaluation, flown immediately to Christchurch, New Zealand. Some of the air crew grumbled about having their holiday disrupted, but with everyone here the job gets done when the job must get done. They are great support.

For us, the wait is on. Unlike the "old days", there is a reasonably good Internet connection to stay up to speed on office work back home and there is always the unfinished scientific paper to work on. Even more valuable is the chance to have some relaxed discussions with the diverse set of scientists here. Even though we aren't able to execute the program we came here to do, we will make good use of our time while waiting.

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