After we returned to Onset-D camp we managed to go out on one short boondoggle to the Byrd Surface Camp, which was about 140 kilometers from Onset-D. Four of us hopped into one of the Twin Otters at Onset-D and set out for 80 degrees south, 120 degrees west.
The Twin Otters can carry about 20 passengers, except the ones in Antarctica have most of the seats removed for hauling cargo.
The scenery was pretty spectacular. Above is a picture from about 500 meters up, which was the normal cruising altitude for the Twin Otters.
Loved those mountains. (Please don't adjust your monitor. Bob is just going snow nuts. There are no mountains out there, and there wasn't anything terribly interesting in the picture above, either.)
During ancient times in Antarctica -- the 1950's -- a permanent camp was
established in West Antarctica called the Byrd Surface Camp. It was named
after Admiral Richard E. Byrd who began exploring Antarctica, mostly by plane,
in 1928. Small crews wintered over there in the 1960's. It was kept running
for many years, but was then abandoned in the 1970's. The original buildings
are buried more than 30 meters under the surface and are not accessible. The
camp is resurrected, as a shadow of its former self (no wintering over for
sure), from time to time to support projects in the area. The most recent
time before this season was the 1999-2000 season.
You can't really tell from the pictures above, but the camp, because of previous buildings and equipment being left behind that have been drifted over with snow, sits on top of a large mound about 10 meters above the surrounding plateau. It's what happens when you leave things laying around in Antarctica.
Above is the Jamesway that was set up in late 1999. It is now more than half buried, and I'm not sure if that is how much drifting there has been since 1999, or if all of this drifting just happened this season. It's not difficult to imagine that it all happened this season.
When we got there the camp was unoccupied. The last scientific project, and all of the camp staff, left shortly after Thanksgiving 2002 at about the same time that we left Onset-D on our road trip. The door to the Jamesway had been locked and sealed up and we had to go in through the hatch in the top of the vestibule to get in and unlock it. We weren't sure who they thought was going to break in when they locked it, or why they thought a locked door would keep someone out of a canvas tent.
A little bit of everything was still left inside ready for next season...I guess. At the far end you can see that even though the entrance was sealed up some snow still drifted in through the cracks and into the vestibule.
The last project to leave left behind a GPS base station and power system. So that no one would have to come all of the way out from McMurdo to collect the equipment we popped over and picked up the equipment for them.
Old Glory hangin' in there.
DIRECT LINKS TO PAGES:
THIS IS SUMMER?
HAPPY CAMPER SCHOOL
JUST PRACTICING I
JUST PRACTICING II
JUST PRACTICING III
BLACK FLAGS I
BLACK FLAGS II
BLACK FLAGS III
THE KIWIS ARE COMING!
AND AWAY WE GO!
THIS IS IT?
AN EXTRAVAGANZA OF SCIENCE
WHERE WERE WE?
LINE SHOOTING 101
OTHER CAMP STUFF
GPS CONFLUENCE GEOCACHING PHOTOGRAPHY
BYRD SURFACE CAMP
PACKING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW...
THAT'S ALL FOLKS!