A day in the life of an Antarctic field geologist

image1 (3)
Rob and Demian experimenting with adding condensed milk to Oreos for additional calories

7.30am  – wake up. Think about getting out of cozy warm sleeping bag. Look at temperature outside (-15C today) then delay for 10 –  20 minutes (depending on temperature) while contemplating what fieldwork in Hawaii might be like.

7.40am – get out of sleeping bag and dress in 5 – 7 layers of clothing, depending on how loud the wind is howling outside.

7.50am – run to cook tent (empty pee bottle into barrel on the way), turn on stove, melt ice for hot drinks/breakfast. Further contemplate advantages of tropical field areas.

8.15am – eat 3 bowls of cereal with hot milk, two pieces of butter-fried bread, drink 3 cups of tea with extra milk powder and sugar.

9am – pack bag for the day. Do not forget chocolate, candy, cookies, cheese and salami, spare clothes, radio and extra socks. Brush teeth and apply sunscreen.

9am – 6pm – walk as far from camp as possible, collect samples, map, make notes and take photos. Enjoy the indescribable experience that is wandering amongst the mountains and glaciers of Antarctica. Return to camp when pack is full of rocks (~80lbs) and all snacks have been consumed.

6pm – return to camp, melt ice for drinks, drink several cups of soup, eat crackers/chips/anything in easy reach. One person prepares dinner (tonight is vegetarian peanut satay with rice noodles).

7pm – Call “Mac Ops” (the communications center at McMurdo) for mandatory 24hr check in by radio/satellite phone. Our only communication with the outside world goes something like this:

“Mac Ops, Mac Ops, this is Nussbaum Riegal [name of our camp] on Taylor Valley [name of radio repeater].”

“Nussbaum Riegal this Mac Ops, Good evening”

“Nussbaum Riegal calling for our daily check-in. We have four souls in camp and all is well.”

“Mac Ops copies all. Have a good evening.”

“Nussbaum Riegal clear.”

8.30pm – do dishes (consists of wiping off plates etc. with paper towels)

9 – 10.30pm. Drink more tea, eat more cookies (tonight was an entire bowl of cookie dough), fill a water bottle with boiling water for inside sleeping bag, brush teeth and off to bed. Contemplate another day in paradise tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *