Recovery part 3: Yikes; we’re sunk!
from Matt’s February 3rd update (e-mailed to us Friday 3:46 a.m.) Matt is in Antarctica recovering an instrument that collects data about cosmic rays. May the force be with him.
We sent a few things over to the smaller plane, then loaded everything … and tried to taxi over to the ski-way. That’s right, tried. Turns out the snow where we were was about 6 inches of hard crust and powder underneath, so with the plane loaded down, it just sank, and we couldn’t move. So we had to dig the plane out. Just like digging out a car but harder. And a lot more snow—the back wheel had sunk in up to the fuselage.
Now, while we were out digging, we got word over radio that there were 40 mph winds back at McMurdo, so we couldn’t go back anyway. That meant camping, which was not at all on the plan. After digging out the plane once, we tried to taxi again and it sank again, so we had to unload about 1/3 of the stuff and dig it out again. Finally we were able to get the plane to the ski-way (a good 2 miles from the instrument site). The rest of the stuff we had to ferry over to the plane by loading down a sled and pulling it with a snowmobile. It took 4 or 5 trips, though it was just one guy doing it; by going alone it went faster because he could load the sled up more.
Matt Geske, Penn State Physics Graduate Student
More about Matt’s adventure to come. Follow us as we follow him!
For more about Matt’s supervisor Stéphane Coutu, his research and teaching: http://goo.gl/LPbcN