Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ob Hill

On February 9, I hiked up to the top of Ob Hill with my friends Deke and Regina for a panoramic view of the station and its surroundings. At this point, the sea ice had started to open up quite a bit. The evening of the hike was sunny and without any wind, the best conditions for hiking in this part of the world. :)

Deke and Regina at the trailhead

Me standing next to the trailhead with Ob Hill in the background

The climb up; look at all the loose rock!

A view of the sea on the way up Ob Hill.

A small pocket of ice has begun to melt near the base of Ob Hill.

Deke and Regina at the top!

Deke views the mountains across the sea with a new pair of binoculars that I had just received in the mail.

Me looking at distant sights. I bought these binoculars to look at stars, galaxies, and other astronomical objects in the wintertime once it becomes dark; they turned out to be very useful on hikes as well.

Regina takes a picture of me taking a picture of her.

This cross was erected in memory of Robert Scott and his men who died in January 1912 on their trek back from the South Pole. Later this year will be the centennial anniversary of the first men to reach the South Pole.

The inscription on the cross is from Alfred Tennyson's poem "Ulysses" and reads "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

A plaque near the memorial.

Castle Rock was clearly visible from the top of Ob Hill...

... and it looked fantastic through my binoculars!

The sea has opened up quite a bit just north of McMurdo. Tent and Inaccessible Islands can be seen as well as the Erebus Glacier Ice Tongue (the white stripe that sticks out into the sea).

A view of McMurdo from the top of Ob Hill. You can see the supply ship docked at the ice pier on the upper left-hand side.

The ship on the water is the icebreaker, keeping the waterway open for the supply ship.

Mt. Erebus and Mt. Terror are enshrouded in clouds, but otherwise the view is clear.

Ob Hill casts its shadow towards Scott Base and the pressure ridges.

The route back down...

... was a bit sketchy. Fortunately no one slipped and fell.

Ob Hill is made up of different kinds of rock, this being one example.

One more view of the sea, the ship, and the sun.
Today, Ob Hill is white and covered in snow. It's still climbable but the winds are cold and few people make the trek up there this time of year. Perhaps on a calm and clear winter afternoon, I'll go up there and spend some time looking at the stars with my binoculars.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Second Visit to the Pressure Ridges

My second trip to the pressure ridges took place in mid-January, two and a half months after the first trip. By this point, the sun had been completely above the horizon for nearly three months, and even though the weather was dipping below freezing again at the time, temperatures in December had been in the mid- to upper-forties. As a result much of the pressure ridge area had melted and then begun refreezing.

Our tour guide leading us through the transition, the point where the island meets the sea ice. The top layer of ice was slush at this point, although it was still frozen solid underneath.

A view of Ob Hill under the hazy sunlight.

My foot fell through the slush into a puddle of water below; good thing I had waterproof boots. :)

Here you can see how the edges of the formations have frayed from slow disintegration under the warm sun; the green flags marked the safe route through the ridges.

A view of the group following the flags.

More disintegrating formations.

As we progressed through the ridges, clouds bearing snow rolled in and blocked out the little sunlight we had.

Here is some frozen flowing water.

The "puddle" in this picture was once water but has since refrozen.

Another frozen puddle with icicles handing from the formation above.

Kevin, Liz, and Meagan, three of my fellow janitors, being goofy and having fun. :)

Meagan stepped into a snowdrift and sank all the way to her hip! Fortunately the snow was deep enough that her foot didn't hit water.

Meagan taking a break by the frozen pond; this one was pretty big.

Kevin through the icicles.

This ice feature formed a bridge over the puddle below it; as you can see from the bubbles just under the surface, this water wasn't completely frozen.

This spectacular formation is one of my favorites! It looks like running, flowing water that was instantly frozen. :)

This flaky formation has a nice hole in it.

As we finished our tour, the snow began to fall pretty heavily. Here's a view of Ob Hill from McMurdo Station after we got back. The brown building in front, dubbed "Hotel California", is where I lived during the summer season.