Friday, January 18, 2013

Mike is back on the ice!

When I left Antarctica last October 5th I never would thought that I would return so soon. My daughter Jocelyn flew to Christchurch October 10th and the two of us rented bicycles for a 6 week tour around New Zealand's South Island. We had an absolutely wonderful time of exploring the island one pedal stroke at a time. The hills, mountains, and wind were daunting but we survived. ( After the ride we flew to Sydney, Australia where we surfed and played tourist before retuning home to Florida December 1st. 

I had applied for a South Pole position as the station's Satellite Communication's Engineer. Two weeks later I was in Denver undergoing a psychological exam for Antarctic winterovers. Most of my medical and dental physical qualifying took place in McMurdo and Christchurch. A few days before Christmas I received word that I had physically qualified for the South Pole winter position.

My family flew to California for the Christmas holiday and we all were sick when we arrived home on New Year's Eve. It took over 2 weeks to recover from the flu but there was really no time to rest as there was much packing to accomplish. All of a sudden I was packed and flying west on January 11th. 31 hours later I was back in Christchurch and two days later in McMurdo. The six weeks that I was home were spent unpacking from the ice and bike trips. And then it was time to pack again.

I had never been on a ski equipped C-130 Hercules. It was quite an adventure flying the 8 hours in this turbo prop plane. It was very noisy with heavy vibration. My noise canceling headphones made it bearable. Other than that is was a pretty smooth and comfortable ride. The landing with the skids was exciting since the runway is very mushy. In fact the C-17s are not making cargo runs since the runway is in such poor shape from the warm Antarctic summer.

We were scheduled to leave for the South Pole this morning but the weather made a turn for the worse today. And since there is no flying on Sundays the next attempt will be Monday. McMurdo isn't a bad place to be stuck! It is fun seeing old faces. Several of my winterover friends from last year stayed for the summer. Since tomorrow is Sunday there is much hiking if the weather cooperates.

Holding over 400 people the Airbus 380 is the largest passenger plane in the world and loads on two levels.

Gathering my extreme cold weather gear at the USAP's Clothing Distribution Center.

Back in Speight's country!

Looking forward to my new home for the next 10 months.

Inside the C-130 looking aft.

The men's urinal. A parachute material drape affords a little privacy.

The Southern Ocean as seen from my window.

Looking aft at the ramp. The plane carried several pallets of supplies and our luggage.

My first view of Antarctica!

Looking forward.

The landing was exciting - on skis!

Mike is back on the ice! The shelf ice here is 100 meters thick and the ocean bottom 1000 meters down.

Check out the skis/skids.

Our "Magic Carpet" ride! The ice is so mushy here that a non-tracked vehicle such as Ivan the Terra bus will not operate. Instead a giant tractor drags a sheet of steel on which Ivan is towed!

We were scheduled to fly to the South Pole this morning along with John Key, New Zealand's Prime Minister.

My seat on the C-130. The webbing was pretty comfortable and there was plenty of room to walk around and stretch.

The C-130 in action with Mt. Discovery in the background.
Another snowing and blowing day in McMurdo.


  1. Mikey,
    I can't believe you are on the ice again!! You must really like darkness and cold and....kick-ass adventures!! I enjoyed your "NZ by Bike" reports with all the photos. Now you just have to go to the North Pole and you'll have covered the entire globe. I am still employed at Boeing and life in HB is probably boring by your standards....but I get closer to retirement and hopefully some adventures of my own. My shattered clavicle held up thru 6 days of snow skiing so life is good and now I need to get my butt back on the seat. I have not ridden for several months as my riding partner is waiting on a hip replacement. Lame and lazy excuse on my part...but it is the truth. For now...hang in there and keep posting. Till next long Ice Man!! Great to hear from you!!!!!!!!

  2. I am so amazed at your writing and descriptive voice that makes this experience seem so exciting. I will begin sharing it with some students and know that we will be able to talk a little by phone and email, when the Internet is available.
    Do you see the moon at all? It is full and bright tonight, probably the reason I stayed busy till later today. Kids at school were a bit crazy....
    Take care and stay warm darling!

    1. Thanks Andee. I enjoy the writing but it is more difficult here to access this website here. I haven't seen the moon yet. It is warm inside but a real struggle outside. So exhausting.

  3. Thanks Andy. Nice to hear from you again. I'm glad Boeing is still treating you well. Do you anything about batteries? The 787 needs some help. I'm glad the skiing went well.