Setting up camp 184 miles from the South Pole

by | 1.28.2011 at 3:12pm | 3 Comments
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We fly from McMurdo to our first base camp, named CTAM, which stands for Central Transantarctic Mountains. This camp is set up by the US National Science Foundation every 5 to 10 years, with input from scientists on the cutting edge research that can be done in the region where it is set up. An idea for having the camp is to make central Antarctica more accessible every once in awhile to scientists who want to carry out research in remote parts of the continent, such as our team. Otherwise, many of these areas are too hard to get to from the larger more permanent bases and camps such as McMurdo.

Tent city at the Central Transantarctic Mountain Camp

Here we will gather all our things, organize our gear for the final time, and then go to our remote ‘deep’ field sites to work. This is the third largest camp on the Antarctic continent this season, and is helping various science teams carry out research, such as in biology and on fossils, geology, and on the ice sheet (for example, how it flows). The camp allows teams such as ours to reach by helicopter and twin otter plane more remote locations this year in central Antarctica, which is normally very difficult.

First, Kathy and Mike R fly to the first of our major camps, at Mount Howe. The next day, Mike K and Nicole fly.

Loading gear (including a snow mobile!) into the Twin Otter to fly to the Mt Howe Camp

We use a twin otter plane to take all of our gear, including a snow mobile, and only two people can go at a time. The trip takes about two hours each way. This is the first time Mike K and Nicole really get to see Antarctica. The flight is one of those unique experiences of a lifetime as we fly over the mountains high enough to poke through the Antarctic ice sheet. Upon arriving, camp is set up (fortunately Mike and Kathy get much of this done the first day), including two three Scott tents and a mountain tent. One Scott tent is our bathroom – one of the most important tents to go up! Mike K’s tent will act as a dining room and kitchen.

Flying across the Transantarctic Mountains - a unique experience of a lifetime

Using a GPS, we figure out the South Pole is only 184 miles from our camp. Less than 3 hours if we are driving on an interstate in the US.

Mike, Kathy and Nicole

Setting up the camp at the Mt Howe field site

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3 Responses to “Setting up camp 184 miles from the South Pole”

  1. This is an incredible post! What an experience this must have been camping on the South Pole. Love this blog and looking to hear more about this. I’m way too chicken to be hanging at or around the bottom of earth

  2. [...] are back at the CTAM (Central Trans Antarctic Mountain) camp. Gas station in [...]

  3. [...] decide today is the last day for our camp, and we pack up and drive back to our base camp, the Central Transantarctic Mountain camp (CTAM). A sadness in a way, because it was our cozy home for a week. We ate, slept, and joked around here [...]

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