October 16th, aboard the USAF C17
After spending yesterday at the Clothing Distribution Center (the other CDC) training and getting outfitted with extreme cold weather (ECW) gear, we headed out to dinner under our sunset of the year. With a 0515 reporting time to fly the following morning, that left just enough time for a few hours of sleep among the final packing and music/software downloading. This morning we woke up, climbed into the super shuttles, and headed back to the CDC to check in our luggage, get one more briefing and don our ECW for a 0900 departure. In the C-17 it’s about a 5.5 hour flight to the ice, most of it over the wind whipped southern ocean, but with about an hour or so to go the shear white of Antarctica comes into view as we fly past glaciers, mountains, and great tongues of ice that spill off the continent into the Ross Sea on approach to McMurdo Base.
Once we land it will be off to another briefing to get room and Crary lab keys, a few hours of dragging gear into our lab before heading off to dinner and much-desired sleep behind the blackout curtains in the dorm. Day two will begin a week of training and acclimation to life on base as the eight of us work to get Icefin up and operation as soon as possible.
Update: we’re here!
I wrote the above bit a few days ago while on the C17 but am pleased to report all eight of us are on ice! It’s bad luck to assume that the plane is going to land even if you’re in the air- a ‘boomerang’ return to Christchurch is always a possibility if the weather turns. The first steps out on the ice runway into the -25 °F air are always a pretty special moment, and a great photo op on a beautiful day-
Off to more trainings as we get all the gear and knowledge we need ahead of heading out on the sea ice.