Lake Bonney

December 4th, 2001

I'm about 10 miles further inland than Lake Hoare. I'm staying with two other guys in a tiny cabin on the lake surface itself. This picture is taken from that little shed toward the camp. The rounded quanset hut looking thing is called a Jamesway. That's where I'm sitting as I write this note. This one was built in 1951, absolutely Korean War era. We have dinner and communal functions here. Otherwise, we cross the ice field and go sleep in our bags in the little red shed on the ice.

I'm staying with Tony and a writer named William (Bill) Fox who is doing a book on the way the environment impacts our evolution and perception. He's an incredibly interesting guy--has been a Hollywood stunt man in James Bond movies, mountaineer, writer, published 13 books of poetry, lots of interesting things to talk about.

Yesterday we went on a 4-hour hike out to several glaciers. I got some very good pictures but the bandwidth here is so low. It's a miracle there is any connectivity at all. Yet we have a telephone and a 10-base T network via microwave back to McMurdo.

The three of us guys are here with a science team from University of Montana. They're "limnologists" which means they study inland lakes. They wake up at 5AM and drill holes in the ice. They sample the underlying lake water and filter it for organisms. Their work is part of the LTER (long term environmental research) project that's happening over a number of years here in Antarctica. The team consists of a senior scientist and his four assistants, most of whom are post-doc grads who fought tooth and nail to get this assignment. Their CD players spew Motown and they look you right in the eye when they speak to you, playing a mental game of don't-look-away chicken. I find it hard to do with the women. Perhaps it's a cultural bias that says when you stare into someone's eyes it means something more than simple communication of fact. They seem to sense the discomfort us FNGs have and do it more frequently to emphasize the point.

This morning they were all up at 5 drilling ice cores. Back for breakfast at 8:30A. Then out again to spend the day analyzing their results.

Today they offered us the use of their big Polaris ATV. We'll probably take it and drive over to one of the more distant glaciers further inland. It's colder, windier, and more beautiful here than Lake Hoare.

This is what it looks like inside the Jamesway. It's very warm in here:

Bill Fox looks at a big ventifact rock. The curvaceous form of the rock comes from continuous scouring by windborne sand over millions of years.

On the left is Bill's companion, Piffle. Piffle has been all over the world. Now Piffle is on a glacier.

After we hiked about 3 miles we got to a ridge and met this sight. I realize it's impossible to express the grandeur of this image in any kind of film or digital photography. Here's why: if there were a person standing at the foot of the glacier in the center of the picture, he or she would be entirely invisible in this frame, occupying the size of no more than one or two pixels. The lake and the glacier scarp are probably 1.5 to 2 miles away. The scarp of that glacier is nearly 70' and lined in crevasses you can see as undulations.

Tony and Bill stand at the foot of a blue glacier. The wall of ice in front of them is probably 40 to 50 feet tall. The ice flows over a ridge nearly 9000' high and ends here in the valley.