Sunday, September 5, 2010


Life at McMurdo can really be very strange! Yesterday, only moments after I finished the previous post, the winds did calm down, so I went for a short (about 3 mile) hike with some colleagues. Along the way, we were commenting that we would probably never consider going for a hike in weather like this at home. The temperature was about -25 oC (-13 oF), but the sun was out and there was very little wind. Nonetheless, that meant (for me) wearing long underwear, my down pants, a fleece jacket, the "Big Red" parka, a hat, a neck gaiter, glove liners and mittens. I did wear my personal hiking boots instead of the ECW pair (which I find hard to walk in), along with two pairs of socks. I was actually very comfortable during the hike - even a bit too warm at times, which meant unzipping the parka and taking off the mittens. Did I mention that it takes at least 5-10 minutes to get dressed for this kind of activity?  You do get used to it after a while....

We hiked the Observation Hill Loop. This is a new trail since the last time I was here and it circumnavigates Observation Hill, a prominent peak (750 ft above sea level) on the east edge of McMurdo. I'm sure we'll have a chance to climb Ob Hill before leaving here - it's well worth the effort on a clear day. In any case, the Ob Hill Loop was very nice - great views of Scott Base (the New Zealand station that is 2 miles from here) and of the Ross Ice Shelf and mountains to the south. In addition, it was extremely quiet on the back side - at one point all we could hear was the wind. Below are some pictures from the hike.

Ob Hill,  looking up from the start of the
loop trail
The new wind turbines; together they provide 1 MWatt of power to the US and New Zealand stations.

Windblown snow along the Ob Hill Loop trail

McMurdo Station from Ob Hill Loop Trail. The helo pad is in
the foreground; the Crary Research Lab is the tan building in the
center of the photograph.

Mt. Discovery and stack of lenticular clouds
My fellow hikers, enjoying the view of the Ross Ice Shelf

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