Fun in McMurdo

We’re waiting for our next launch opportunity. It’s a little unclear when that will be, as there are currently two balloons ready to launch: us and ANITA. ANITA rolled out today, but the launch attempt got cancelled because the weather wasn’t quite good enough. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of days.

Though we are ready to launch, we’re using this time to take more calibration data and fix up our ground software. But as our instrument and the flight software seem to be working pretty well, it means we have some time to do fun things! (And in my case, time to write about some of the fun things we’ve done since arriving here).

Observation Hill:

Ob Hill is a hill right next to McMurdo that offers some great views from the top. It’s a bit of a steep climb, but not that long. We headed up there as a group a couple of weeks ago, and I went again the other day. The views were incredible!

Mt Erebus from the top of Ob Hill. We can see the other side of Erebus from LDB.

Mt Erebus from the top of Ob Hill. We can see the other side of Erebus from LDB.

Looking down at McMurdo from the top of Ob Hill

Looking down at McMurdo from the top of Ob Hill

We could see LDB way out in the distance

We could see LDB way out in the distance

McBride taking a rest halfway up the climb

McBride taking a rest halfway up the climb, with some pretty sweet mountains in the background

Me at the top of Ob Hill

Me at the top of Ob Hill

When I climbed up a couple of days ago, the clouds and mountains looked super awesome

When I climbed up a couple of days ago, the clouds and mountains looked super awesome

Pressure Ridges:

The pressure ridges are ridges of ice formed by the sea ice and the permanent ice pushing against each other. LDB offered tours that we could sign up for, so a bunch of us went. Unfortunately, we couldn’t all sign up for the same tour. I went with Carolyn and McBride, and Brent, Alan, Martin, and Abby went a couple days later. We drive past the pressure ridges on the way to LDB every day, but they look much more impressive up close. We also got to see some seals, which is always exciting.

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Carolyn and I at the pressure ridges

Carolyn and I at the pressure ridges

Observation Tube:

 Ob Tube is a metal tube that goes through the ice and ends in a tiny room that looks out into the ocean. It’s a really neat way for people to look at the ocean and the bottom of the ice. To get to the bottom, we had to climb down a “ladder”, which was really just rungs sticking out of the wall. Towards the bottom, the rungs turn into a sketchy rope ladder (which was pretty short, so it wasn’t that sketchy). It’s pretty cramped, and Alex said he got a little claustrophobic. Because the space is so small, only one person can go down at a time. We had to wait over an hour for our turns. Looking out at the ocean and the bottom of the ice was so amazing that it was definitely worth the wait!

There's a little "apple" next to the entrance to ob tube. It's not heated, but it was a good shelter from the wind.

There’s a little “apple” next to the entrance to ob tube. It’s not heated, but it was a good shelter from the wind.

The view from the entrance to ob tube. The clouds were pretty epic that day.

The view from the entrance to ob tube. The clouds were pretty epic that day.

Looking down ob tube from the top

Looking down ob tube from the top

Here’s some photos of all of us climbing into ob tube:

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The bottom of the ice from inside ob tube. Unfortunately my camera wasn't that great at taking pictures of the ocean through a window.

The bottom of the ice from inside ob tube. Unfortunately my camera wasn’t that great at taking pictures of the ocean through a window.

The bottom of the ice and the ocean

The bottom of the ice and the ocean

Hut Point:

Discovery hut, out on hut point, is a short walk from McMurdo, and Brent hadn’t been yet, so he and I went last night. We saw some seals, as well as the hole they use to come up from the water. One of the seals was younger than the rest, and kept moving around, which was pretty cute.

So many seals!

So many seals!

The seal hole in the ice! I hadn't seen one yet.

The seal hole in the ice

The sassy young seal, as Brent called it

The sassy young seal, as Brent called it

Today Brent decided to have a Christmas party, thinking we’d all be too distracted by watching ANITA launch to get any work done. Even though the launch didn’t happen, we still had a good time playing Christmas music, eating too many cookies, and decorating our Christmas tree!

Our Christmas party spread, consisting of cookies and cider from McMurdo, chocolate from Steve Boggs, and reese's and holiday themed goldfish from McBride's daughter.

Our Christmas party spread, consisting of cookies and cider from McMurdo, chocolate from Steve Boggs, and reese’s and holiday themed goldfish from McBride’s daughter.

McBride's daughter also sent him Irish whiskey. It seemed like a very appropriate addition to the care package.

McBride’s daughter also sent him Irish whiskey. It seemed like a very appropriate addition to the care package.

Brent's sister sent us an adorable Christmas tree made out of paper. It also came with ornaments, and instructions on how to decorate it.

Brent’s sister sent us an adorable Christmas tree made out of paper. It also came with ornaments, and instructions on how to decorate it.

Carolyn and McBride putting the garland on the tree

Carolyn and McBride putting the garland on the tree

Alan adding an ornament to the tree

Alan adding an ornament to the tree

The tree all decorated! We think it's awesome :)

The tree all decorated! We think it’s awesome 🙂 Thanks, Brent’s sister!

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