Whew... Sunday afternoon we took the Icebreaker drill out to the side of Obs Hill, near Pt. Armitage. Then heard that our helicopter time had been moved up, so we had... until Monday noon to be done and have our equipment at the helicopter cargo office in McMurdo. We took advantage of 24-hour daylight, faced 20 degree temps and 30 kt winds and stood out on the mountain and drilled until 3am. Demonstrating most of our fault diagnostics in the icy volcanic rocks and soil. Then packed.
Yesterday, we went to the helicopter depot at 9am, checked in for weighing, and lifted off for a 90 mile ride to University Valley... past spectacular landforms, mountains, glaciers, and the Dry Valleys themselves. We were greeted by the three team members who departed a week earlier (and set up the camp). The weather was better than I'd expected... little wind, only a few inches of snow. But barren and rocky, in a horseshoe valley at altitude (5500 ft). We unloaded, set up our personal tents, and then the drill.
It is cold... ranging from -10 to -20C (15F to -5F). Not bad so far, given light winds and sunny skies. Sleeping left a ring of frost around the opening of my sleeping bag, and inside my tent on the walls. But the kitchen and work tent have small heaters. We are very water-constrained (what we hauled with us, plus melted snow) and are working in a sensitive area (so must haul everything back with us, spilling nothing). This means no washing dishes, for example... we each have our own set, and wipe them with paper towels. After all, we're living in the equivalent of a very large walk-in freezer, so nothing will grow on them.
Anyway, today we finished setting up the drill, Bolek did some sensor tuning, and we drilled a 1m hole down to some hard layer. And I have very limited text communications via Iridium link, so cannot see replies or access the web.