Ready, set, wait
For several years we have been preparing for what seems an incredibly small window of a field season. Working as part of a six nation team we have coordinated our equipment, our personnel, our science plans, and our logistics until it seems we will even breath at the appropriate time! Our project, Antarctic Gamburtsev Province (AGAP), will map through the ice of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, imaging the sleeping giant that lies below. This sleeping giant is a European Alp sized mountain range called the Gamburtsev Mountains, discovered 50 years ago by a team of Russian scientists as they traversed across this extensive ice sheet. Difficult access and extreme weather and altitude have kept this giant hidden, untouched and unexplored, beneath the ice. Our plan will use geophysical techniques, radar, gravity, magnetics and laser to build an image of the ice surface, the ice sheet thickness, and the ice sheet bedding below.
We arrived over a month ago ready to outfit the plan, complete snow school and move on to South Pole to acclimatize for the high altitudes of our final destinations - AGAP South and AGAP North - two camps on either side of DOME A, the home of the Gamburtsev Mountains. We knew there were camps to be completed, additional Jamesways to be installed at South Pole and power generators to be planned for. We had expected to leave after three weeks. We had not expected the delays in weather, missing paperwork, and now our latest issue, inadequate power at South Pole camp, and until this was resolved no one was going to the Pole. There is no recourse, we can not move forward.
We had worried about the fuel for the camps but had not followed the plans for electrical power closely. It did not seem there would be enough power at the camp to plug in the airplane with the instruments or the stove in the galley. The camp cook is still preparing meals for 16 people on 2 Coleman stoves. The food is apparently good but the tents are filling with carbon monoxide. The lack of power might freeze the airplane engines and cold soak the instruments. A galley filled with carbon monoxide is dangerous. The cold is waring against us. We have only a small window for collecting the data. There is no denying that we have to move onto the ice sheet soon or there will be not enough time to do the geophysical survey.