Icefin Team on Ice!

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-


Britney and Josh are pretty thrilled to be here!


The C17 on the new ice shelf runway ‘Phoenix’ after a great flight down to Ross Island from Christchurch

Off to more trainings as we get all the gear and knowledge we need ahead of heading out on the sea ice.


5 responses to “Icefin Team on Ice!

  1. CentralAZ student here. So glad to see that you all arrived safely! Do you guys have to wear a special type of shoe while there?


    • Hi Tiffany!
      Nope, just warm boots! It’s recommended to bring a pair of sneakers for town and a pair of boots for walking. They also give you a pair of ECW boots – the white ones many people have in the pictures are called “bunny boots”, and they’re rated to like -40F. Some people get fancier ones made by a company called Baffin, which are rated even lower. And they offer stabilizers to put over boots if you need a little more traction on the ice.
      Thanks for reading!


  2. I am a Central Arizona Student. Does this cold weather gear really keep you that warm? It has to be hard to breathe when it is that cold. Good luck on your adventures and I look forward to reading all the updates!


    • Hi Kristine!
      The cold weather gear we have varies in warmth, but the real trick to staying warm in the cold is layering. Generally, a non-cotton base layer is worn right against the skin to retain a layer of warm air against the skin and wick moisture away (cotton retains moisture too much), then a mid layer is worn for warmth, maybe a fleece or sweater, followed by an outer layer, like a jacket. These can easily be mixed and matched for warmth. On a cold day, I might wear a silk liner layer, a merino wool base layer, my trusted hoodie, a fleece, and then Big Red (the famed red parka). Big Red is given to us; it’s a Canada Goose specially-made down parka with a dozen pockets and 30 years of technology and lessons-learned in it that’s super warm and fluffy. Most of the rest of the gear is our own. The cold air doesn’t necessarily make it hard to breathe, but it’s definitely more work for your body to do so!
      Thanks for stopping by!


  3. CentralAZ student here, it must be beautiful out there but scary at the same time. When you can look all ways and see nothing but white, wow! Hope you all stay safe out there!


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