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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A day at the beach

Our flight on the legendary DC3 to the South Pole has now been cancelled.  Too bad, because I was looking forward to the low altitude flight through the Tansantarctic Mountains in the unpressurized cabin.  It now looks like we will be flying one of the Hercules (the monstrous ski-equipped LC-130) on Thursday or Friday.

The white beach in McMurdo sound

So I took advantage of this extended stay in McMurdo to spend some time at the beach, one of my last chances to see the ocean for the next 12 months.  We have a beautiful white snow beach here in McMurdo.  You can even see waves in the ocean, but they are frozen, and they are not really waves, but rather undulations produced by stress in the sea ice.  I sat down for an hour on a rocky outcrop wearing my big red parka and reading my book in 10 F (-15 C) temperature, enjoying the view and reminiscing my last trip to the Pacific Ocean in Carmel, California, only two weeks ago.  I am reading K2, a book by Ed Viestours on the climbing history of K2, and yesterday I was on the chapter about the 1909 Italian expedition of Luigi Amedeo of Savoia, the duke of the Abruzzi.  It was 13 years ago that I was staring at the Abruzzi ridge from K2 base camp, high on the Baltoro glacier, and now here I am, close to the bottom of the earth, immersed in a different but equally enchanting frozen landscape.

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