Once at McMurdo station, there are a variety of tasks that must be accomplished before you can do anything else. First off, there is a whole lot of training. Upon landing we were briefed as a flight group, and as a science group that next morning. Over the next couple of days, we additionally attended training for specific things like operating vehicles, laboratory safety, environmental responsibility, and radio communications. The coffee flows like wine. Also, before you can leave the base, you have to take a short 2-day course in cold weather survival, which is called “Happy Camper” snow school. This training actually has a bit in the movie “Encounters at the End of the World”, which is a great flick if you get the chance. However, it is only necessary if you are new to the ice or haven’t been in a while. Since we took the class last year, we only had to take an afternoon refresher course rather than repeat our adventure on the ice shelf.
After our training was complete, we spent most of our time at Crary Laboratory, where most of the action takes place. In preparation for our time in the field, we washed a whole lot of bottles which will be used later for collecting stream water. All of our food and supplies were gathered and put in boxes before being delivered to the helicopter pad, where they were shipped out later along with our us.
From time to time, we inevitably have to take a break from the lab, as 24-hour bottle washing isn’t good for anyone’s sanity. There are some really nice walks around the station, and from some of which you can view a few of the resident volcanoes on Ross Island, which have intimidating names like Mount Erebus and Mount Terror.
Once prepared for the field, we boarded a helicopter and took the 45 minute ride from McMurdo to the Dry Valleys, where we were unloaded with our supplies at the Lake Hoare field camp.