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E-mails track journey to South Pole

Messages that Tom Lyman sent to family and friends serve as a diary of the South Pole Traverse team's final summer in Antarctica. The convoy spent 67 days making the 2,056-mile roundtrip journey from McMurdo Station to the South Pole. Here, unabridged, are those e-mails.

ICE Letter #1
October 19, 2005

Disclaimer: This is the first of a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project. I hope you will enjoy these descriptions of McMurdo, Antarctica in general and the preparations for this project.

The Project: The South Pole Traverse is in its fourth year. It is an attempt to prove out a safe route from Mcmurdo Station on Ross Island to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and return to Mcmurdo. Its purpose is to relieve aircraft deliveries of heavy supplies, principally fuel, and equipment by transporting these across the Ross Ice Shelf, the Transantarctic Mountains, and the Polar Plateau to the South Pole station. In the process, to deliver two Caterpillar D8R tractors and a very large snow hauler to the South Pole where they will remain. More on this later.

McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project

Well, I'm here at McMurdo Station which is on Ross Island at the head of McMurdo Sound. Latitude: 77.88°S; Longitude: 166.73°E 8:00 pm, (20:00) New Zealand Time.

The island is formed by the Erebus Volcano which rises, steaming, twenty miles south of us. Occasionally, a large mixture of steam and ash is released and that can be quite impressive.

So far, the weather is amazingly good, around -5 to 12 degrees F, which is quite warm for this time of the year. Even the Pole Station set a high temperature record for the date yesterday. Such good weather may not last but the season (Spring here in Antarctica) is definitely progressing.

The trip down to New Zealand from Los Angeles to Auckland on the North Island, then to Christchurch on the South Island was long, LONG, LONG although quite smooth and without any delays. After a day and a half in Christchurch for paperwork and orientation, we had a five and a half hour flight to the sea-ice landing strip at McMurdo. The plane was a US Air Force C-17 Loadmaster, a huge cargo plane but outfitted with airline style seats facing forward instead of the usual jumpseats along the sides of the fuselage as in the older aircraft. The planes are managed by the Military Airlift Command and flown by crews from the New York Air National Guard. Our crew had just gotten back from ferrying supplies and personnel to and from Iraq. Needless to say, they were very happy with the New Zealand gig.

I got to spend a half hour or more on the flight deck chatting with the pilots and crew and watching the South Pacific and then the Antarctic seas slide by 30,000 feet below. As we approached the coast of Antarctica, a few large icebergs were visible though a broken cloud layer.

The first few days here have gone smoothly. I know the routine, the layout of the place and "the drill," so it has been much easier to get things done. I've had lots of little odd jobs such as pulling climbing equipment, radios, medical supplies, etc., from the Central Material Stores. As Safety Supervisor for the Traverse, I will have to sign for the morphine and other drugs in the medical kit … hmmmnn! I also spent some time today refamiliarizing myself with the Ground Penetrating Radar system we use to scan the route for crevasses.

Did I mention that my Parka this year is dark green, not the standard red. The green ones are issued only to the "Polies," and this year to those of us on the Traverse Project.

Now, as I write this, I am sitting in the "Coffee House," one of four bars in McMurdo. This one is non-smoking and serves only various types of coffee and espressos and wine, no hard liquor. Hard liquor types go to the "Southern Exposure," a smoking, free-for all, "down and dirty" sort of place.

It seems very odd to be here, it's just like "… dejavu, all over again." If you want to play chess or bridge or scrabble, this is the place to go in the evenings. I recognize a number of people from the last time I was here in 2002-2003. In the evenings it is a crazy mix of college kids, older scientists, grizzled adventurers, helicopter and fixed wing pilots, sailors and many other types.

My room is in an "Orwellian" looking, three story brown barracks (one of four identical structures) Building 209, Room 301. Very much like a college dorm room with a semi-private bath shared with the next room. (Have to remember to unlock the door to the other side when through) Compared to what I had last time I was here, it is roomy and quite comfortable. In terms of room assignments, of course, it helps that I'm not a "newbie" or a "FNG."

My roomate is an icthyologist studying shallow bottom feeding fish in the sound mostly off Cape Evans. I've been invited to join him next Sunday and I probably will, weather permitting.

There is very little snow right here at the station so it is quite easy to walk around and tomorrow I plan to hike over to Scott Base, the New Zealand camp just over the hill about a mile and a half away. There is a shuttle service but there aren't many other places to walk that aren't on ice or snow. The "Kiwis" have a much smaller station with a small cozy bar and a small store selling mostly made-in New Zealand clothing, fleece jackets, hats, etc.

As for station life, the food is plentiful and, for cafeteria food, is really quite good (Marian Take note!) with variety, vegetarian dishes and, often, different types of salads. Mail comes about once a week or whenever there is a flight from Christchurch. Once on the Traverse, our mail will be forwarded to the South Pole Station for us to pick up there. There is a gym, bowling alley (human pin setters), all manner of clubs, language classes, reading groups, health buffs. You can find almost anything that suits.

There is a great deal of camaraderie among the people here, especially among the various occupations such as the "Fuelies," aircraft refuelers, "The Galley people (food service), the IT crowd, The Heavy Shop mechanics, the Field Safety and Training Group (FSTP) and, of course, the South Pole Traverse team.

Well, that's about it for now. Stay tuned!

Tom Lyman


ICE Letter #2
October 28, 2005

Disclaimer: This is the Second of a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project. I hope you will enjoy these descriptions of McMurdo, Antarctica in general, and the preparations for this project.

The Tractor Train for the South Pole Traverse is being assembled on the sea-ice just in front of the McMurdo Station here on Ross Island. At this time, the annual sea ice is at least seven feet thick. The Traverse will consist of a mammoth mechanical caravan, … so incredibly removed from Amundsen's, Scott's and Shackelton's wooden sleds and dog teams that it is unreal.

The heavy tractors have names, "Elephant Man," "Quadzilla," "Fritzy." These are huge machines, the heaviest, the D8R, weighs 86,000 pounds. They will be hauling some 28,000 gallons of diesel fuel, a two-unit electric generating plant, living module, food stores, mechanics' toolshop, etc. Now you can see why crossing snow-bridged crevasses is done with such care. Altogether, the equipment, living modules, tractors, fuel and sleds weigh almost eight hundred thousand pounds.

Check out this weblink to see the rationale for this Project with pictures of "Mongo," one of the huge crevasses I rappelled into during the project's first year. At the bottom of this crevasse, I was actually 33 feet below sea level. Thanks to my friend Sean Keefe for finding this site

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/Crevasse/crevasse.html

Yesterday, I sort of "guided" a group of "newbies" on a hike over to Scott Base, the New Zealand station, about a mile and a half over the hill from McMurdo.

What's the attraction? Besides the blonde who manages the store, the Kiwis operate a tiny little shop where you can get excellent New Zealand made fleece jackets, hand-crafted socks and sweaters, along with various knicknacks, gewgaws, and gimcracks with the "Scott Base" or "Kiwi" logo, all of which are cool, none of which are essential. Collectively, the newbies bought several hundred dollars worth of patches, shot glasses, hats, and other junk with penguins on it.

Pressure ridges in the ice have formed just offshore of the New Zealand station. At first, the jumbled blocks of ice don't look like that large. Then you notice the Caterpiller D8R bulldozers parked on the transition from land to ice and you realize just how massive the ice blocks are. In comparison, the "cats" look like matchbox toys.

It was a good introduction to Antarctica for the newbies. During the hike, the weather changed from quite mild to atrocious in about ten minutes. A three mile round trip doesn't sound like much, but in your heavy ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear and with a constant headwind of 50-60 mph and at -15 degrees, it gets your attention.

This week I will get training from the medical staff in how to inject drugs with a hypodermic needle (for emergencies only, of course. We'll have to see if extreme boredom on the Traverse counts as an emergency). This involves injecting saline solution into an orange, then into myself. What a blast! Don't you wish you could do this?

Yesterday, two ski-equipped Hercules C-130 aircraft made it to the South Pole to swap personnel. They brought winter-over crew back to McMurdo and left summer season crew. The third plane had to turn around without landing as the temperature at the pole suddenly dropped to -55 below zero with strong winds.

Sunday evening, October 24: The station is at Weather Condition Two. The temperature is still mild, about 12 degrees above zero but the wind is steady at 50 MPH with gusts to 80 MPH or more. What loose snow there is on the ground is creating a ground blizzard. Really impossible to see more than a few feet. If we go to Condition One, it's a "lock down" which means no travel, even between buildings. Fortunately, the dormitories are warm and cozy, so lots of reading, the "Bourne Identity" on DVD for the 22nd time, listening to tunes on the iPod, paper cups of New Zealands's best Chardonnay, and dozing off. Listen, It's a dirty job, but hey!, … somebody's got to do it!

Note: Email is great, we will have limited access even on the traverse with the Iridium Phone Service. I can send pictures (a few) but I can't receive mail with any photos or attachments of any kind. There is simply not enough bandwidth. All communications here are through satellites and the science projects take huge amounts of bandwidth leaving little for regular email. So, please don't try to send me pictures. I'll see them when I get back.

The best email address for me until I get back to Montana will be: Thomas.Lyman@USAP.gov Although TomLyman@AOL.com will also work.

Regular Mail:

Thomas G. Lyman, RPSC
McMurdo Station
PSC 469 Box 700
APO AP 96599-1035

Well, that's about it for now. Stay tuned!

Tom Lyman
McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #3
October 31, 2005

This is the Third in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project. I hope you will enjoy these descriptions of McMurdo Station, Antarctica in general, and the preparations for this project.

Friday. The weather on Ross Island here in Antarctica continues to be excellent. The sun is bright and, as long as there is no wind, it is quite comfortable at the station or out on the sea ice. After several weeks here, it no longer seems strange to have twenty-four hours of daylight.

Saturday. The air, however is still cold, zero or below. This morning we saw the "Phanta Morgana," a mirage caused by refraction of light on layers of extremely cold air. It is a phenomenon named for Morgan le Fey, the "shape-shifting" acolyte sorceress of the Wizard Merlin in the Arthurian Legends. It made the Royal Society Range, sixty miles away across McMurdo Sound, appear to be floating in air with no connection to the earth at all. Twenty minutes later, the peaks appeared to have grown trunks, like trees, with summits the shape of mushrooms.

One of the big projects this week for Traverse preparations was to have a first aid/medical procedures review with the staff of the McMurdo Medical Clinic. Barbara Britell, a Physicians' Assistant, gave an excellent short course in the use of supplemental oxygen, the new portable defibrulator, the use of some new cervical collars, and the proper use of a backboard and litter (everything is now attached or secured with Velcro Tape.) A very worthwhile afternoon.

Another big project was to fill and test a 2000 gallon fuel bladder cargo-strapped to a thick, red polyethelene sled, an outsized version of the ones children use. Two of these will be pulled behind one of the tractors. On the traverse, these will serve as reserve fuel supplies along the way. If they are as successful as we think, they may replace most of the much heavier steel tanks that are commonly used to supply Avgas and diesel fuel to field camps and the late season ice landing strips. Since they weigh very little, they could be pulled by a pickup truck along the ice roads rather than requiring the use of a bulldozer or tractor. Overr the season, this would allow a significant saving of fuel.

Yesterday, I realized that I was in serious gastronomic peril! (No, … not what you're thinking.) It's just that I learned that Scott Base (the Kiwi Station over the Hill) is well supplied with Cadbury's Dream, a gorgeous, smooth white chocolate that is the best I've ever tasted. (Bev Ross, are you paying attention to this.) I'm certainly going to have to stock up for those long days on the traverse.

Two visiting research teams from France and Italy arrived yesterday. They were outraged when they learned they could not bring wine to the dinner tables in the Main Galley. "Sacrebleu! … C'est indigne, effroyable. Manięre gussier, … discourtois, … odieux, … sordide!" Well, so much for international relations. We're not supposed to like the French anyway.

Tonight is the big Halloween Party in the gymnasium. It can get very rowdy. I think I will have a quiet glass of wine at the Coffee Shop.

Sunday. Jason Weale, the engineer from CRREL and I went on a hike to Castle Rock, a stark outcrop of volcanic rock about 3 miles along a ridge from McMurdo. The day was excellent. A bit cold and windy, but clear. This hike takes you very close to the lower slopes of Mount Erebus.

Monday. More tractor testing on the sea ice out on the Windless Bight. This morning, Mount Erebus is sending a plume of ash, smoke and steam, 1500 feet above the crater. Impressive. Somehow the scene is very "primitive" looking. I'm reminded of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, probably from seeing that Walt Disney animated film about a thousand times.

Stay tuned! More later …

Tom Lyman
McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #4
November 5, 2005

This is the Fourth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project. I hope you will enjoy these descriptions of McMurdo Station, Antarctica in general, and the preparations for this project.

We have recalculated the total weight of the South Pole Traverse including the tractors, modules, fuel, snowhauler, and various accessory sleds. It is over 931,000 lbs. This is the definition of "Industrial Strength," certainly the largest and heaviest tractor train ever to attempt a full roundtrip traverse from McMurdo to the South Pole. Our "launch" date, November 11, is fast approaching.

Yesterday, lunch in the Galley at a table full of bearded veterans of years here in Antarctica. Several of them know Sir Edmund Hillary personally. Hillary, by the way, was the first to reach the South Pole by vehicle in 1958 using modified Ferguson farm tractors. He is not in favor of our attempt, which he sees as potentially opening up too much of the interior to human activity and thereby negatively impacting a fairly pristine environment.

(I don't know what he's talking about. People certainly haven't screwed up anything else!)

Thursday, November 3, 2005 We are in and out of "Weather Condition 1." No travel allowed. Out on the Ice Runway, six, four-engine LC-130 Hercules aircraft are parked in a row. Their wings and vertical stabilizers (painted bright orange) are visible above a roaring ground blizzard.

In the afternoon, I helped launch a balloon to measure ozone levels in the Polar Vortex. The helium-filled balloon carries instruments to 35 kilometers or so, radioing back data.. When it "pops," the instruments parachute back to earth (ice, in this case) but are rarely recovered because they fall mainly on the Ross Ice Shelf. Even though the package has a GPS receiver to indicate where it lands, once the batteries fail, it can be hard to locate. The package weighs only about four lbs and is often carried for miles over the snow by the winds.

Thursday evening, "American Night" at Scott Base, the New Zealand Station. I went with several friends from New Hampshire and Wyoming to have a farewell drink at the cozy little Kiwi Bar. Their research completed, they are leaving for home tomorrow, weather permitting.

I know, I know, … this doesn't sound very adventurous or "desperate," or like a titanic battle against the forces of nature! Well, mates, … right now it isn't! However, later on we'll be hundreds of miles from such small comforts. I'll have to find solace in my collection of Lee Van Cleef movies and an occasional shot of "Beam."

Stay tuned! More to come …!

Tom Lyman
McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #5
November 8, 2005

This is the Fifth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project. I hope you will enjoy these descriptions of McMurdo Station, Antarctica in general, and the preparations for this project.

By now, I'm sure you think that Antarctica is nothing more than grizzled adventurers swilling "grog" when they're not driving giant tractors, hauling fuel bladders, and moving other "big, dumb stuff" from here to there across the ice.

Not true. Although there are indeed many old guys with beards that would shame, (SHAME, I say), Osama bin Laden and his ilk, there are many other types here.

For example, The National Science Foundation sponsors the Artists and Writers Program which provides for a wide variety of writers, artists, cinematographers, and even poets to come to Antarctica. The idea is for them to produce works that portray both the remarkable landscape, wildlife, and the research that goes on here in ways that are both more aesthetic and accessible to the general public than, say, "Statistical Analyses of Observed Variations in Isotope Values in Ice Cores From The Siple Ice Dome Complex, 1989-2003 …. .zzzzzzzz … ZZZZ ….zzzzzzzzz, …What?, …Oh , sorry! Guess I dozed off there for a second. Hey, this is important stuff!

Tuesday, just before we leave for the South Pole, I will give another session in crevasse rescue to the Traverse crew. We'll use the Crevasse Simulator," a twenty-foot deep trench cut in the snow and sea ice with a bulldozer.

Real crevasses come in several types. The ones we've seen on the Ross Ice Shelf are created by titanic shearing forces. They're huge, can be miles long, and are essentially bottomless. The ice sheet here is at least 800 feet thick. They are also extremely cold, often sixty or more degrees below zero. Continued shearing can keep the crevasses open at extreme depth. They're really scary!

Alpine crevasses are somewhat different. They are caused by the continual creep and flow of ice downhill, especially over a convex surface which stretches and cracks the ice at the surface and often breaks it into unstable blocks called seracs. This type is normally not extremely deep and they are apt to be visible near the surface as the snow bridges sag and often collapse as the crevasse widens. These often appear in swarms. They're also really scary!

Since there are eight of us on the South Pole Traverse Crew, there will always be enough manpower to haul someone out of a crevasse quickly using a simple pulley system.

The other day, I encountered a young woman in Crary Laboratory reading a pamphlet entitled "Crevasse Rescue for Dummies," or something like that. She was a graduate student attached to a research project in the famous Dry Valleys. She informed me that they were going to learn everything about crevasse rescue that afternoon in "snow school" so they'd be prepared for any eventuality. Wow! Amazing! Wish I'd taken that class! … Come to think of it, I taught that class when I was here several years ago with the Field Safety and Training Program. Seems like I said " … stay roped up, even when you go out to pee. Crevasses are deep, cold, dangerous and scary. Do everything you can to stay out of one!"

Sunday Night. I've been invited to join the Farewell Party for the French Long Duration Balloon Team. In spite of our current Administration's warnings to avoid the Frenchies and order "Freedom Fries" instead, they turn out to be very nice guys, smart, funny, personable, and seemingly not at all a threat to our national security. Remerciez Dieu!!

Au revoir …

Tom Lyman
McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #6
November 11, 2005

This is the Sixth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project. I hope you will enjoy these descriptions of McMurdo Station, Antarctica in general, and the preparations for this project.

The title of this Ice Letter is "Women in Carhartts." No particular reason, I just like the sound of it.

In fact, about one-third of the 1100 plus personnel here at McMurdo are women, Women of all ages and backgrounds. They are working as aircraft fuelers, forklift operators, shuttle drivers, secretaries, firefighters, … you name it. A very diverse mix for sure. For safety reasons, most wear their hair up under a watchcap or bandanna and are always wearing brown or black insulated Carhartt work pants and jackets with pens, tape measures, wrenches and the ubiquitous handy-talky radio protruding from every pocket (and there are a lot of pockets!)

Today I talked a bit with Kathleen Heideman, the NSF "Poet In Residence" for this season. You can see a bit of her work at this web address www.orebody.com/ice. Says quite a lot about the National Science Foundation that they would provide for artists, writers, and even poets to spend some time here working next to Caterpillar Drivers, meteorite hunters, ice core drillers, astronomers, LC-130 and helicopter pilots, and so many others.

This evening, Shaun Norman, my mountaineering partner on the first year of the traverse and I went over to Scott Base for supper. The Kiwis have a much smaller dining room seating perhaps forty people. After dinner, each person washes his own dishes. Pictures everywhere of British and New Zealand notables and explorers, enticing scenes of pastoral New Zealand, sheepherders with their "collie dogs" (are you getting this, Jenny) and even HRH Elizabeth II in her younger years. A last rum and coke in their cozy bar then back to McMurdo to finish this letter.

Tomorrow morning, right after breakfast, we get shuttled out to Willey Field, the alternate, late season ice landing strip where are tractors are parked. Then, at precisely 11:11 am, the eight of us set off for the South Pole. It's southeast of us, about 800 miles as the Albatross flies, but about 1100 as the tractors drive.

How long will it take? We don't know. If the equipment works flawlessly and the snow conditions are favorable, we could be there well before Christmas. The return trip should be faster. Some of the return trip, on the Leverett Glacier, will be downhill and much of the fuel will have been used up by then, lightening the load. I'm hoping to ski some of that.

I will be in the lead vehicle, a smaller tracked vehicle called a Pisten Bully, with Greg Feleppa, a young, former Captain in the Marine Corps. He'll be driving most of the way and I'll be operating the Ground Penetrating Radar System we use to warn us of crevasses under the snow. At times, we may be twenty or more miles ahead of the heavy tractor train.

Our first night out will be at the edge of the Shear Zone, where the Ross Ice Shelf really begins. After that, imagine a featureless white plain the size of France, white snow, blue sky, … that's it for about 800 miles before we reach the base of the Transantarctic Mountains and the bottom of the Leverett Glacier.

I will try to continue the Ice Letters but they will be less frequent and shorter as we will have web access only through an Iridium phone service data link.

While on the traverse, email to me can be sent to SP.Traverse@USAP.gov Please put "FOR TOM LYMAN" in the subject line because all eight of us share the same email account and (possibly) others won't read it.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #7
November 13, 2005

This is the Seventh in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project. I hope you will enjoy these descriptions of McMurdo Station, Antarctica in general, and the preparations for this project.

The South Pole Traverse has departed McMurdo Station and is now on the Ross Ice Shelf at coordinates 78 degrees, 02.894 minutes South Latitude, 168 degrees, 21.454 minutes East Longitude.

We left on Friday under a perfect, blue sky with no wind and mild temperatures. Saturday we woke to a howling gale with ground blizzard and we were forced to stop the tractors and camp in our living modules for the night. Visibility, zero. Today, Sunday, November 13, it is clearing rapidly, with no wind and again, mild temperatures.

While the rest of the crew moved camp toward the south, three of us had to return to McMurdo to pick up special trail marking flags on 10 foot bamboo poles, 1500 of them. They arrived in McMurdo by C-17 from Christchurch half a day late. We will need them later on. We rode in "The Elephant Man," a huge Caterpillar tractor with a six-man crew cab, . a total distance of over 60 miles. Not much fun as it rides like a, . well, like a huge Caterpillar Tractor!

Tonight Greg and I went skiing. We had checked out telemarke skiis from the Berg Field Center at McMurdo and will use them off and on to get a bit of exercise. Quite amazing to be skiing in Antarctica. The snow is quite nice but, of course, the ice shelf is as flat as it can be with only occasional drifts and wind-created, dune-like formations in the snow called "sastrugi." There are crevasses in this area, so we ski only on the tracks created by the tractors and sleds. The outboard skiis on the dual fuel tank sled array actually create a decent track to ski on.

Earlier today, we saw a lone Adelie penquin scooting along on the snow on its belly, 30 miles from the sea, heading across the ice shelf to who knows where. He was heading inland, away from the ocean. It was tempting to pick him up and turn him completely around, pointing the little guy in the direction of Cape Royds but, of course, we didn't. Wildlife here is to be left strictly alone.

That's it for now. Next time, description of the living modules and food!

While on the traverse, email to me can be sent to SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Please put "FOR TOM LYMAN" in the subject line because all eight of us share the same email account and (possibly) others won't read it.


ICE Letter #8
November 20, 2005

This is the Eighth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position on the Ross Ice Shelf is now 82 degrees 02.668 minutes South Latitude, 178 degrees 30.617 East Longitude.

Today I took a hot shower! Feels Great. Yes, the living modules include a very small shower stall. The electric snow melter provides an adequate supply of quite hot water for showering and occasional washing of clothes. It's a cute little washer and dryer all in one unit, made in Italy. Europeans definitely do appliances better than anyone else.

Electric power is supplied by two, 30KW Cummins diesel generators in the Energy Module. Only one is needed at a time, but they are cycled each day to keep them in good shape.

The toilet, . what to say about the toilet? Inquiring minds probably want to know. Well, it's an "Incinolet," an electric toilet that literally incinerates paper and everything else to a fine grey ash. Very sanitary and leaves almost nothing to dispose of later. Shackleton didn't have one of these. No, he really didn't. We're quite sure, although Brits famously don't like to discuss such things. Rather, in their journals, they would wax eloquent on which dog they would be having for dinner that night.

We are now over 300 miles from McMurdo on a route of 1048 miles. Our progress today was just over 71 miles. A record for one day's travel with a heavy tractor train. I will say that my job looking for crevasses with the Ground Penetrating Radar System is quite tedious. When the sun is shining, the computer screen is hard to see, even inside the cab of the Pisten Bulley. Greg Feleppa and I are usually 4 or 5 miles ahead of the main party, checking the route and replacing flags as needed.

This is the most elemental landscape you can find on earth. Flat, white with either a flawless blue sky or flat, white with a flat, white sky. (Imagine being trapped inside a pingpong ball. Those of you who are old enough will remember a TV show with Patrick McGoohan, called, "The Prisoner.")

The food is mainly prepackaged meals (for eight) that need only heating and for the most part, are really quite good. A company in New Zealand supplied these and we are impressed with the variety and the quality. Our living module contains a well-equipped kitchen with Super Powerful Microwave, propane stove and oven, refrigerator (I know, . but don't bother to ask!) and compactor for trash and garbage. In case you are wondering, we don't throw our garbage in the nearest crevasse, we pack it out.

We did see the first of the Coastal Mountains today, well over 100 miles away. A welcome sight. "Land Ho!" Remember, we are on a frozen ocean. They were probably peaks in the Queen Maud Range Range.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #9
November 22, 2005

This is the Ninth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position on the Ross Ice Shelf is now 84 degrees 18.176 minutes South Latitude, 169 degrees 37.285 West Longitude. Less than Six Degrees NORTH of the South Pole.

Today we woke up to howling wind and zero visibility. So, . coffee, and back to bed. Strange weather. The temperature is very warm (for here) about 24 degrees Fahrenheit. While pleasantly warm, it makes going difficult for the tractors. McMurdo Weather reports a large low pressure system over the Ross Sea and more of the same for the next two days.

For the past eleven days, I have been riding in the lead vehicle, a German built Pisten Bulley. This is the type of tracked machine you might see grooming slopes at your local ski area. It has a Mercedes-Benz engine but is extremely uncomfortable to ride in for long periods of time, typically ten hours a day.

I have been watching the computer screen attached to our Ground Penetrating Radar system that can discern cracks, voids, and crevasses twelve meters below the surface. So far, the strata has been consistently flat. As we approach the coast and the glaciers descending from the Trans-Antarctic Mountains, there will be more likelihood of large crevasses. We will have to be careful! Also, an ice sheet is different than a glacier. The processes (mechanics) that produce cracks and fissures are somewhat different.

The wind is strong enough to actually shake our comfortable living module. One can only imagine how early explorers fared in their canvas tents and snow caves. The dogs, apparently, just curled up and went to sleep in the snow, sometimes having to be dug out of frozen drifts in the morning.

We have reached a point where we are close enough to the actual coast of the Antarctic continent that we can see the mountains ahead. In fine weather, they glisten with weird reflections and at such a distance, the ice takes on hues of reddish orange and gold. It is a beautiful but not a friendly place. The mountains here are not just snow-covered, they are draped, submerged in ice. I find myself longing to see some rock, anything other than perpetual snow and ice.

More later. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #10
November 29, 2005

This is the Tenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position is now 85 degrees 22.671 minutes South Latitude, 150 degrees 47.388 West Longitude. In a straight line, we are just over 300 nautical miles from the South Pole. (For those of you who are non-mariners, a nautical mile is equal to one minute of latitude along the Prime Meridian or 6076.1 feet). At this latitude, we can cross meridians (longitude) in a matter or hours.

After two days of high winds and ground blizzards that reduced visibility to zero, we have had two days of perfect weather. Blue skies, light breezes, with air temperatures in the mid twenties Fahrenheit. We have progressed nearly 100 miles over the last several days and are now actually on the Antarctic continent for the first time during the traverse. (McMurdo Station is located on Ross Island)

For two days now, we have "cruised" (at a blistering 7mph) along the Amundsen Coast of the Ross Sea. Thirty to fifty miles south, the various ranges of the Transantarctic Mountains form a continuous barrier between the Polar Plateau and the Ross Sea. Many of the peaks are well over 14,000 feet with truly spectacular rock spires and walls thousands of feet high. The climbing here would be fantastic if you could only get to it. Dozens of glaciers cut through these mountains, many of them tens of miles wide. The Beardmore, the Nimrod, the Scott, The Amundsen and many others, carry ice off the plateau and down to join the gigantic Ross Ice Shelf.

The mountains have majestic, inspirational, or historically important names such as Prince of Wales Peak, Mount Gould, Queen Maud Peak, Amundsen Nunatak, The Executive Committee Range, . Whoops! Unfortunate, but true. Sounds like payback for a leave-of-absence or a generous research grant!

Today we reached the bottom of the Leveret Glacier, our route up to the Polar plateau and, eventually, the South Pole. Here we found the Caterpillar D8R bulldozer that had been left here last year due to lack of fuel. Our mechanics will clean the snow out of it and get it started. Then, it will help haul some of our heavier cargo and relieve the load on the other tractors. This dozer will be left at the South Pole Station to help in clearing snow. Since it is too heavy to be flown in the LC-130 Hercules aircraft, it had to go overland(overice).

After a long day in the cab of the Pisten Bully watching the Ground Penetrating Radar screen, I went for a walk of a mile or so across the ice. Phenomenal weather. The snow here is very hard and easy to walk on. Fifty miles away, glaciers flash an orange sheen in the sun. At 8:00 pm, it is at its lowest point in the sky, corresponding to about 9:00 or 10:00 am in Montana. Right now, we are about as remote as anywhere on the planet. It is still about 420 miles to the Pole and of that, about 200 miles are as yet unproven.

EXTRA, EXTRA, Late breaking NEWS! After six hours of heating with a Herman-Nelson portable engine heater and a bit of coaxing, The D8R roared back to life. Tomorrow is another day!

That's it for now. Stay tuned. If your are missing any of the series, please let me know.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #11
December 4, 2005

This is the Eleventh in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position is now 86 degrees 02.177 minutes South Latitude, 142 degrees 12.876 West Longitude. In a straight line, we are just over 290 miles from the South Pole.

We have arrived at the top of the Leverett Glacier on the very edge of the Polar Plateau. Our elevation is 7600 feet and we have reached the farthest south that the Traverse Project had achieved last year in January.

The headwall of the glacier is steep enough that it required shuttling fuel tanks and other gear up the final six miles. The tractors are powerful but they can't get sufficient traction in the soft snow here. Just below the edge of the plateau, over seven feet of snow has accumulated since last January. Up on the plateau, however, we expect the snow surface to be harder.

This is a bizarre experience. I am lying in my bunk (top bunk) typing this on my computer, listening to Nanci Griffith and Joan Baez on my Ipod while the generators in the energy module are humming merrily away.

Supper will not be freeze-dried K rations or MREs. It will be very much like we'd have at home. I'll ask Pierre, but tonight's menu, I believe, will probably be -

Soufflé au pain et au fromage de Saint-Jacques de Montcalm
Brioche ŕ la crčme aigre
Chablis Grand Cru, Les Preuses, Jean Deauvissat 1998
with Tarte aux pommes et ŕ l'érable and Cafe Royal o Mit Schlag

So, "Is this a great country, or what?"

Working outside today was brutally cold, at least 55 below zero with wind chill. Even though the sun is out in a clear blue sky, there is virtually no visibility due to blowing snow on the surface. In the living module, however, it is warm and cozy. Not my turn to cook tonight so I will listen to music for awhile then be lulled to sleep by gale force winds rocking the module. Tomorrow it's all new territory as we try to thread a line between the Reedy and the Scott Glacier icefalls.

That's it for now. Stay tuned.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #12
December 1, 2005

This is the twelfth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position is now 86 degrees 34.483 minutes South Latitude, 136 degrees 10.582 West Longitude. In a straight line, we are just over 200 miles from the planet's South Pole.

For the past two or three days, we have had very difficult weather conditions. The temperature this evening is about 22 below zero with a wind of 35 knots steady and gusting to 50 knots. Imagine the wind chill. (Do the math) Visibility, zero. This is the true Antarctic experience.

I was doing some trail flagging today, at least for a few hours when the winds relented. This involves placing 10 foot bamboo poles with 12 x 10 inch nylon banners every quarter mile. By the time we reach the pole,  there
will be a flag every quarter mile between McMurdo and the South Pole Station, 1048 miles. (Do the math)

It is assumed that, eventually, regular traverses from Mcmurdo will use this route to ferry heavy supplies and fuel to the South Pole Station. In marginal weather, the flags will indicate a safe, proven route, one that has already been scanned with Ground Penetrating Radar and is free of crevasses.

We are now traveling over a part of Antarctica that has never been crossed on the ground before, either by vehicle, ski, or dogsled. This is truly new territory. Our route was planned from satellite images, one aerial reconaissance, and what sketchy maps were available from the USGS and other agencies. Not much to see up here on the plateau, other than sastrugi and
strange patterns in the snow. Occasionally, there will be ice-halos or sundogs or other odd atmospheric phenomena.

One of our crew has a girlfriend who works at the pole station. Guess who's counting the days, hours, and minutes until we get there. We've now been on the trail exactly one month. The days are pretty routine. Wake up at six, have coffee and something for breakfast, then travel until noon, lunch, and continue on until six or seven pm., supper, write, read, sleep, wake up at six, have coffee, .

you get the picture, I'm sure. Our lead vehicle (Pisten Bully) is somewhat faster than the tractors, especially the D8R bulldozer, so we are often several miles ahead by the end of the day.

I'm in my bunk as I write this, listening to the wind howling outside. I've got to admit, I'm happy to NOT be in a Scott tent or a snow cave tonight.

That's it for now. Stay tuned.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #13
December 12, 2005

This is the thirteenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position is now 87degrees 00.005 minutes South Latitude, 135 degrees 00.712 West Longitude. In a straight line, we are just over 200 miles from the South Pole. (180 nautical miles) From here, our proposed route will follow the 135nd meridian straight south.

The going is extremely difficult. At over 8000 feet, the air is very cold and the wind is relentless. Furthermore, it packs the snow surface into very hard ridges and drifts called sastrugi. (We have other names for them such as #@$$&%!! and **&&*&^$#!). When it is cloudy, the flat light on the surface makes these almost impossible to see and you drive right into and over them making for a very rough ride. We have had several serious breakdowns with equipment but, fortunately, our mechanics are the best and we have a large stock of tools and spare parts.

The Caterpillar D8R, our most powerful tractor, was unhooked from the living and energy modules and today was used to carve a smoother way for several miles through some of these sastrugi. Amazing to think that this machine has been driven almost a thousand miles across the snow and ice of Antarctica from McMurdo.

What does it look like, here on the Antarctic plateau? I’m sure you want to know, so the best way will be to form a mental picture. Let’s see, … okay, picture this.

You are standing on the southern coast of Ireland watching the stormy Atlantic from high, rocky bluffs, (getting into the mood now?) "… Herself, standing there, sad, bereft, looking out on the cruel sea and wondering where himself’s small dory was, her long hair streaming in the wind and her sad blue eyes …" Whoops! Sorry, got carried away there. Ireland is so romantic.

Okay, back to the stormy Atlantic. Now imagine it frozen in an instant, whitecaps, spray, foam, and all, turned to crystalline white. That’s what the Antarctic Plateau looks like. For hundreds and hundreds of miles, a terrible whiteness. Glacial ice is often many shades of blue, but up here on the plateau, it is all snow, just white and several shades of gray.

Several people have written back to ask what a "sundog" is. It is an optical effect caused by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals in clouds or in blowing snow. Usually there are two, one on each side of the sun, but in the cold air of polar regions, it is not uncommon to see four to eight sets, or more. They can be quite brilliant, like short sections of a rainbow. Sometimes, high clouds form many halos around the sun and where these intersect, the sundogs can be especially brilliant, even startling.

Someone wrote to ask what the "Southern Cross" was. Well, take two parts orange juice, three parts rum (more if you have it), ice (Oh, Brother!) a spoonful of brown sugar and mix in a cheap plastic cup that is decorated with cute penguins (critical). Drink! Repeat several times! There you have it.

And you thought I was going to mention a famous Southern Hemisphere constellation. Well, there are no stars visible here during the austral summer because at this latitude, we have twenty-four hours of sunlight.

Weather reports, another topic of extreme interest. We can get them from McMurdo through the Iridium phone service. They go like this. We call and ask for a report pertinent to our position. They ask us what the weather is like where we are presently. We reply, "cold and windy." They reply, "probably going to continue cold and windy." Remarkable!

By now, my friend Shaun Norman should be sheparding a group of meteorite hunters on the blue ice of the upper Nimrod Glacier. Ablation (look it up!) exposes meteorites which have fallen onto the snows and ice of the Antarctic Plateau. Over the years, thousands have been found there. It is one of the most productive areas on earth for meteoritics (the study of meteors.) Meteorology is the study of weather. Now you’ve got a leg up on your friends at Trivia Night or those clowns on NPR’s "Sez You!"

If anyone who receives these letters is missing any from the series, just let me know and I’ll send them to you.

That’s it for now.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #14
December 16, 2005

This is the fourteenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position is now 87degrees 42.005 minutes South Latitude, 132 degrees 00.000 West Longitude. In a straight line, we are just 149 miles from the South Pole. (129.4 nautical miles) From here, our proposed route will follow the 132nd meridian straight south. We are now 900 miles from McMurdo Station.

My turn to cook supper and I get to choose, so, .PIZZA, with extra sauce and mushrooms. Yummmmm!

We're all getting "Pole Fever." It's been a long haul and as Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over, till' it's over!" We really, REALLY, REALLY want to get to the Pole before Christmas.

We are now at an elevation of just over 9400 feet. Antarctica is the highest, coldest, and driest continent on earth. Very little snow falls on this part of the plateau, but none of it melts, ever. Some is blown away by the terrific winds and some is lost to ablation, but over millennia, the ice has built up to a depth of several miles. Occasionally, a small, forlorn bit of rock juts up as a ridge or nunatak, kept free of snow by the constant winds.

The surface snow and ice continues to be exceedingly rough and its taking a toll on our tractors, equipment, and personnel. Driving over these hard ice sastrugi is, without exaggerating, like driving over railroad crossties in a "junker" pickup truck with two flat tires, one missing wheel and the fourth made of steel but shaped like an octagon. Now imagine doing that for three hundred miles or so.

At 86,000 pounds, the D8R bulldozer has the muscle to crunch through the sastrugi and drifts, though slowly. It is equipped with a massive snow blade that is fifty percent larger than a normal sized "dirt" blade. The bottom of the blade is fitted with a row of sharp teeth that help to break up the icy crust. "Stretch" Vaitonis, the operator, has to be very careful, however, not to get the machine stuck in occasional pockets of softer snow. The other tractors might not be able to pull him out.

After an especially exhausting day, the Traverse Crew is fond of saying, "They didn't mention this in the brochure!" They're talking, of course, about Raytheon Polar Services, our employer, the company that manages all this for the National Science Foundation.

People have been curious about what time zone we are in and what calendar reference we use. We use New Zealand time here in this part of Antarctica. Also, even though we are now in the Western Hemisphere (132 degrees W) having crossed the 180 degree meridian, we stay with McMurdo and new Zealand calendars so we are one day ahead of the United States, the "Kiwis" (New Zealanders) being on the other side of the international dateline.

Another question often asked is, "Why do you flag the route? Why not just use GPS?" The problem is, we are on moving ice. A proven, safe route will travel with the ice, in some areas, meters a day. GPS positions don't change as the ice moves past. So, a few years from now, crevasses could "drift" into a route marked only by GPS waypoints.

What do we do after supper each day? Write letters, talk, read. I just finished reading "Bad Dirt," by Annie Proulx. Stories of Wyoming, the land, and the people who live there (or try to!). If you haven't read it, go get it right now! She also wrote "The Shipping News." Stunning, marvelous writing.

The temperature at the South Pole today was 7 degrees Fahrenheit above zero. This is only one-half degree from the record high temperature and they have been setting new daily records all week. Here on the plateau, it was 18 degrees Fahrenheit, with no wind for a change.

This afternoon, we were treated to another display of "Sundogs." In late afternoon, the sun is about 45 degrees above the horizon. But, through a light haze of ice crystals, there was a very pronounced halo around the sun. Sundogs often occur on opposite sides of this halo. However, this afternoon, where the halo appeared to touch the horizon, there was a third sundog that looked like a second sun just coming up over the rim of the world.

It's hard to describe what it's like to look in any direction and see absolutely nothing. Very much like being on the high seas, except no seagulls, no moving waves, no clouds on the horizon, no stars, no moon, nothing! Just white snow that meets the horizon everywhere you look.

That's it for now.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #15
December 20, 2005

This is the fifteenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position is now 88 degrees 46.136 minutes South Latitude, 132 degrees 00.022 West Longitude and our elevation is now over 9750 feet. We are less than 100 miles from the planet's South Geographic Pole. Tomorrow, we will cross the 89th parallel.

This letter is dedicated to all my classmates from good 'ol Westwood High School. If you don't remember me, I'm sure you will remember my dad, Tom Lyman, Sr. Most of you would have gotten your driver's license only after taking Drivers' Ed with him. Remember those hideous Massachusetts insurance rates without it!

First, let me say I appreciate Dick Vaughn's forwarding of these Ice Letters to others who may find them interesting. Also, I think they may have appeared on Gordy Howe's website. I also appreciate the emails that several of you have written. Occasionally, our email server in Denver, Colorado refuses to accept certain email addresses and bounces these ICE LETTERS back. If that happens to you, I hope you can pick them up from others who did receive them.

I'm sorry I can't send any pictures through our Iridium satellite phone service but I hope to include a few with the next letter which I can send from the Pole Station. There is much greater bandwidth there.

Over the years, I've been on many long jaunts, including five months in the Himalayas, but this one seems especially long, primarily because it is .1048 miles one way (at, typically, 3-7 mph), and because each day is so much like the one before. We have been on the trail about six weeks now and we think it will take about three to return to McMurdo on the coast. Very few expeditions these days take this long.

It seems like everyone today (including me, of course) has been conditioned to want "to be there now," have faster web surfing, instant gratification, and all that. "We want it ALL, and we want it NOW!" Come to think of it, was that our class motto? Oops! Sorry. Guess that was the Red Brigades.

Oh well, you know what I mean. Even many commercial adventure travel companies have recently had to tailor their trips to the "ten day to two week" schedule to accommodate their clients, many of whom simply will not accept anything longer.

This has indeed been a long trip but in the days of Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and others, an expedition often took years. Think of how long Darwin spent on the Beagle. The hardest thing, of course, has been to be away from home and my wife, Jennifer, for so long. I'm not sure how those old guys did it.

(So, Sean (Rosemary) Keefe, How is NASA and its Astronaut Corps going to handle years-long manned flights to Mars and beyond. Yes, how? Inquiring minds want to know. (and right NOW, please!)

The snow conditions continue to improve but the increasing altitude degrades the tractors' performance. In addition, the fuel we are using is JP8, an aircraft jet fuel, which is cleaner and more "environmentally correct" but provides about ten percent less power than regular diesel fuel. This is partially so that if a Twin Otter aircraft were to land anywhere near us, in an emergency, they could use some of our fuel after careful filtering. It is also part of NSF's "one fuel policy" which does make a lot of sense. Only snowmobiles and regular pickups back at McMurdo use "mogas" or "premix."

My position on the crew is Safety Coordinator and Mountaineer, in case we encounter any crevasses. We haven't, and at this point I doubt if we will, because the ice up here on the plateau is very stable and thick. Yesterday, however, we felt a sudden jolt and shudder even in the tractors. It could have been an earthquake but these are very rare in Antarctica. More likely it was a "firnquake" which can occur when hundreds or thousands of acres of snow or firn suddenly collapse an inch or so as fragile ice crystals consolidate into a more compact layer. Scary, but not dangerous!

Seasons Greetings To All of you. The next email you get from me will be, hopefully, from the South Pole.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #16
December 23, 2005

This is the sixteenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Hurray!

We reached the South Geographic Pole at 3:31 pm, New Zealand Time, on December 22, 2005.

Our position is now 90 degrees 00.000 minutes South Latitude, elevation is 9305 feet above mean Sea Level. Since all meridians of longitude meet at the geographic pole, the longitudinal coordinate is meaningless.

The weather is superb. A Pale blue sky, bright sun, and no wind. The temperature is -12 F degrees below zero. A truly amazing day. A small party from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station arrived to meet us about a mile out from the station. "Bigwigs" from the National Science Foundation, the South Pole Station Manager, and a photographer from National Geographic.

The 24th and 25th are days off for us as well as most of the station personnel. It is still a busy place, with three or more LC-130 flights from McMurdo a day bringing in personnel, mail, construction equipment and supplies and taking away personnel, outgoing mail, and various types of garbage and debris from the many construction projects.

The station here is much larger than I had imagined. The old "dome" is being dismantled as the new, much larger station is being completed. Since this is an American installation, naturally everything is bigger and better than it was. The "Galley" looks like any large school cafeteria with lots of stainless steel, huge coffee urns, bowls of fruit. (Guess what it costs to get a fresh avocado from California to the South Pole?)

Since it is Christmas, the cooks made an impressive gingerbread house among other decorations and baked many, many pies.

The computer lab is extremely impressive. However, here at the pole, the communications satellites are only visible about 8 hours a day so internet surfing is currently possible only from about midnight to 8:00 am. While we're here, I'm getting up at 9:00, thank you very much. (On the trail, we normally get up at 5:30 unless the weather is too extreme or visibility is zero.)

December 24, 2005

Station weather this morning is: Temperature, -13 F with a wind chill of -39 F. A thin overcast but it looks like clearing from the East. (That will be the Northeast, of course, since every direction from here is North.)

Tonight is Christmas dinner for station staff and the Traverse crew in the main Galley. We're in the 2nd sitting. Tomorrow I will attend be a short church service. Right after that, will be the traditional "Around The World Race." I'm entering to score a "T-shirt." ( I gotta' have it.) This race makes several loops around the South Pole Monument, crossing every time zone and every meridian of longitude in about twenty minutes.

There are many major science projects going on here. The "Ice Cube" deep ice drilling project, the construction of the 10 meter telescope, atmospheric studies and a host of smaller projects. Of course, the whole station is here to support science that can't be done anywhere else.

The station itself is a collection of older Jamesway huts, smaller outbuildings, the New Station Complex, fueling depots for the aircraft, a "heavy shop" for vehicle maintenance and repair, various science support and communications facilities, and many acres of construction materials and "retro" containers on pallets. Beyond the station, the Antarctic plateau stretches away endlessly in every direction, featureless and white. There is nothing at all to see beyond the antenna fields. The horizon is literally eight miles away. On the way in, we could just see the top of the station radar dome when we were 8.2 miles from the pole.

About 75 people will "winter over" here at South Pole. (I will not be one of them!)

During the summer season, however, there are several hundred at any one time, the majority involved in construction, maintenance and science support.

Do you want to spend a few months here as a fork-lift operator, painter, cook, IT specialist, general assistant, cook, or lab tech? Find the Raytheon Polar Services website and drill-down to "Job Opportunities in Antarctica." I've met a number of recently-retired men and women who signed on for the summer season here, mainly for the adventure. One woman I know from Jackson, Wyoming worked as a hotel clerk back in the states but signed on as a "General Assistant." After a half-day of training, she is now a fork-lift and bulldozer operator and loving it. No union cards or licenses required here.

The Traverse crew will be heading out on our return trip to McMurdo, probably on Tuesday. More to come!

Seasons Greetings To All of you.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #17
December 28, 2005

This is the seventeenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

After three thrilling days shoveling snow, and hitching and unhitching tractors to big sleds and living modules, we have unanimously decided to leave the South Pole and head for lower altitudes and warmer climes. We had a warm reception here by the station personnel, all of whom were very helpful but to be very blunt about it, the South Pole is COLD, snowy and there's not too much to see.

There is some very interesting research going on here, of course, looking for neutrinos or faint whispers of microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang, . that sort of thing. I wish I had a Ph.D. in physics or astronomy so I could understand it all but the scientists here (everyone calls them "Beakers") are extraordinarily excited about their work and very patient in explaining it to lay people. Lots of amazing, cutting-edge research going on throughout Antarctica, in fact.

I spent some time talking with the chief pilot for the British Antarctic Survey. He lives in the Falkland Islands during the off-season. Their "Twin Otter" aircraft is painted a distinctive bright orange and is normally based at the British base at Rothera on the Antarctic Peninsula. We discussed flying times and fuel loads to reach isolated points along the traverse route should the need arise for an emergency evacuation. In emergencies, the various nations with a presence here work closely together to effect rescues and support deep field camps.

All day yesterday, the LC-130 Hercules aircraft having been arriving from McMurdo. Five or six flights have come in carrying supplies and some personnel and transporting others back to McMurdo. I may have mentioned that the National Science Foundation contracts with the New York Air National Guard to handle this flying of heavy cargo from the coast to the Pole.

Begin Factoids:

The "official" elevation at the South Pole is 9315 feet above MSL (Mean Sea Level) or 9301 feet if you look on the "official" souvenir postcards, or 9305 feet if you look on the "official" sign at the South Pole Monument, or . well, you get the idea. It's somewhere around there.

Because of the "stacking effect" around the equatorial region, however, the atmosphere is somewhat thinner over the poles and the equivalent "physiological altitude" here at the South Pole is around 10, 576 feet.

The average annual temperature here is -49.5 C (-57.1 F) with a record high temperature of 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit recorded in 1978.

The Traverse delivered over 200,000 pounds of equipment, parts, and supplies to the station here, the equivalent of eleven LC-130 flights.

Enough ethanol is consumed here in one month to float the "Queen Mary" along with the entire Brazilian Navy! (Just kidding, . but seriously, .!)

End Factoids:

Today, I went on a tour of the ice tunnels that have been carved under the station and which serve as conduits for utilities and electric cables. There are several thousand feet of these tunnels, about ten feet in height and five feet wide. The temperature down there was sixty-one below zero. Any way you cut it, that's seriously COLD! (Tonight, I'll be dreaming of Costa Rica, Chico Hot Springs, and the Sahara Desert, for sure.)

Presently there are about 275 people working here. About 70 will "winter over" to maintain the facilities and continue some research projects that can't be automated. After February, air service is suspended, so those who choose to stay through the Austral Winter, have to be REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY sure they want to do it.

I believe that all who winter over here at the South Pole have to pass a psychological evaluation. (After all, you wouldn't want Jack Nicholson or "Norman Bates" roaming around in the showers and the cold, dark passageways, muttering to themselves, now would you?)

Well, that's all for now. More to come as the Traverse Crew heads back for McMurdo Station.

Happy New Year.

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #18
January 2, 2006

This is the eighteenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Our position tonight is 87 degrees 41.177 minutes South Latitude, 132 degrees 00.000 West Longitude. In a straight line, we are just over 160 miles north of the South Pole.

The Traverse is now well on its way back to McMurdo. It is smaller (by two tractors) and lighter so we should be able to continue to average over fifty miles a day, sometimes more. Also, as we descend down the Leverett Glacier and onto the Ross Ice Shelf, the higher air pressure should enhance the tractors' performance, significantly increasing speed and tractive power.

For the past two days, the light has been absolutely flat white. We could see traces of our inbound tracks from several weeks ago and the route-marking flags, but that's all. The sky and the ground appeared identical. There was no horizon. The temperature was - 4 Fahrenheit with a light breeze. It will be good to get off the plateau and down onto the Ross Ice Shelf.

In my last Ice Letter (written at the Pole) I mentioned Jack Nicholson and Norman Bates but several people wrote back to ask who "Norman Bates" was.

I was trying to describe the South Pole Station as it will be during the coming Austral winter and had wanted you to form a mental picture of Jack Nicholson in the film "The Shinning," skulking around in that old, dark, frozen hotel with a fire axe. Yeah, admit it, you saw it and you were plenty scared!

And Norman, don't you remember the movie "Psycho," with Tony Perkins as Norman Bates, the lunatic proprietor of the Bates Motel with his big steak knife, and the cheap plastic shower curtain, and Janet Leigh taking a shower, and, .? Yes, of course you do!

What does this all have to do with Antarctica? In fact, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station might well resemble that old hotel after the summer season ends and there's only a "skeleton" crew remaining for the Austral Winter.

(Heh, heh, . get it? Skeleton Crew!, .SKELETON! . Unnerving creaks and groans as the pervasive cold creeps into the walls, and the pitiless ice, the all-enveloping ice, "THE GHASTLY ICE," . Oh, all right, . forget it!)

Am I suggesting that anyone who winters over at the South Pole is a complete whacko? Not exactly, but it definitely takes a special type of person to wave goodbye to the last airplane they'll see for a very long time, while the mercury in the thermometer drops through the bulb to hide and the sun sets, not to rise again until August and then realize that they're trapped there with that guy from maintenance who tells unbelievably stupid jokes and wears his hair in that way that they simply CAN'T STAND (Oh, God!) for months and months and months and .! (Getting the picture?)

As most of you know (If you paid attention in Antarctic History 101) the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, was the first to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911. Robert F. Scott and his party arrived just over a month later, on January 17, 1912.

Any science fiction/horror buffs out there? (How about you, Ian, or you Sean Keefe?) Try to find an old short story entitled In Amundsen's Tent, an account of what Scott's party found in one of Amundsen's abandoned tents when they finally reached the pole, all the while the sled dogs whimpering and cowering and refusing to approach the tent. It'll scare the pants off you!

What to say about Ice? It can be incredibly beautiful or as ugly as sin. It all depends on the light. When the light is flat and the sky gray, ice is dull, bleak, lifeless. There is nothing interesting or attractive about it. (There's a good reason Dante reserved his lowest circle (of ice) for the worst of the worst.)

But when the sky is blue and the sun is bright, ice sparkles and shines and exhibits every shade of blue imaginable. Then, too, you can see the forms hidden within the ice, giant crystals, intersecting planes, single hexagons as big as dinner plates, but far thinner and more delicate than the finest china. Ice is, after all, just frozen water, but here on the Polar Plateau, probably the purest water on earth. No diamonds or sapphires or aquamarines can rival the brilliance of ice under the midnight sun of the Austral summer.

Friday, December 30, 2005

We are now on the most difficult section of the return journey, the giant sastrugi fields. The snow surface is hard, which is good for traction, but extremely rough. We have another forty miles of this before we approach the top of the Leverett Glacier, downhill, and easier going. The ride in the tractors is brutal and several of the crew have stiff necks and various bumps and bruises from being bounced around for ten hours. In consolation, the weather has cleared, the sky is blue, there is no wind and it is very comfortable outside. Snow and ice is melting on the tractor treads and every dark surface.

But, believe it or not, we are now in the first days of Antarctic Autumn. By the end of January, temperatures will be much lower, storms more frequent, and I will be "redeployed" back home to the Banana Belt of Central Montana.

Sorry for my rambling, but here in the Back of Beyond, the mind wanders. It's late, the bunk is warm and inviting, and I'm going to sleep.

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.


ICE Letter #19
January 6, 2006

This is the nineteenth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position tonight is 84 degrees 48.471 minutes South Latitude, 162 degrees 01.346 West Longitude and just over 570 miles from McMurdo Station. Over the past week we have also descended from 9305 feet at the South Pole to 405 feet here on the Ross Ice Shelf. We made 75.1 miles north today.

Our trip back from the Pole has been fairly uneventful. We are retracing our outbound tracks and, along with the trail-marking flags, this has allowed us to travel even when the weather is “fairly bad” to “really bad.” (Official Antarctic weather descriptors)

What I mean by this is fog on top of snow. There is no horizon, just white on white for hundreds of miles. It is very much like flying in a small plane inside a cloud. The surface is bumpy, sometimes teeth rattling bumpy, but you can’t see the bumps because there are no shadows. Except for the trail flags every quarter of a mile or so, and the other tractors, which are often out of sight, there is no visible reference. As you can imagine, this is very tiring for the operators. Since the sun is high in the sky all day, we MUST wear sunglasses to cut the glare and yet, in these conditions, they also obscure any surface features.

Also, the temperatures down here on the Ice Shelf are now quite high, just above or just below freezing. This means the snow is very soft and presents a problem for the tractors. Point of information: People who drive heavy equipment such as bulldozers, forklifts, and huge tractors are called operators, NOT drivers. (Just thought you’d like to be in the know on that.)

So, … we are all somewhat edgy and anxious. All knives and other sharp objects were collected last night and locked away in a stout toolbox. (Just kidding!) We have been together in very close quarters for over two months now and the crew continues to be remarkably civil and polite to each other.

We found out by email today that several U.S. Senators and representatives will be visiting McMurdo next week on a junket to assess the state of Antarctic research and take pictures of each other in fuzzy parkas standing beside seals and penguins. (Don’t laugh, you’re paying for this!)

Unfortunately for them, the South Pole Traverse Crew won’t have reached McMurdo before the Senators (along with their aides, confidants, “yes-men,” advisors, sycophants, publicists, and “roadies”) depart to Hawaii, or Tahiti, or Rarotonga to continue their investigations so they will miss us, which we’re certain was the whole point of their trip. (Pity, … a case of very bad timing!)

If the weather clears tomorrow, we will get a view of the receding TransAntarctic Mountains for a day or so and then, nothing but flat ice for several hundred more miles. A day or so later, we should see, on the far horizon, the plume of smoke from Mount Erebus, the volcano that looms over McMurdo Station. After ten weeks on the trail, it will be a welcome sight.

Tomorrow is my turn to cook again. How about, … Pizza!!!!

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put “For Tom Lyman” in the subject line.


ICE Letter #20
January 12, 2006

This is the twentieth in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

Our position tonight is 80 degrees 10.237 minutes South Latitude, 173 degrees 22.565 West Longitude on the Ross Sea (Ice Shelf). In a straight line, we are just under 200 miles from McMurdo Station on Ross Island. We have been averaging about 80 miles a day for this part of the return trip.

FLASH: Weather Report (Official) Multiple weather systems over the Ross Sea will continue to generate clouds and fog over the Ross Ice Shelf into the foreseeable future with visibility next to nothing. Probability of continued weather of some kind is at least fifty percent. Odds of fierce storms disrupting already bad weather are five-to-one. (seven-to-one at Pimlico!)

Several people have written to ask about clothing for extreme conditions. The Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) in Christchurch, New Zealand, issues excellent clothing to everyone, Raytheon employees, "Beakers," NSF Staff and visitors. However, the heavy Carharts and other utility clothing are not very adaptable to skiing, rappelling into crevasses, and mountaineering so I opted to bring some of my own.

After forty years of climbing, expeditions, and skiing, I've tried all brands of foul-weather gear and outdoor clothing including North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, Mountain Hardware, and the rest of the High-Tech lines. Which would I recommend, without reservation, . Cabelas. That's right, the big hunting and fishing outfit.

Without question, their outdoor clothing is superior to every other brand I've tried. My mountain pants are simply the finest I've ever used, warm, tough, they shed snow like crazy and they're cut right for comfort and athletic fit. Plus, Cabelas' price is about one-third what the others charge. I've worn them almost daily here on the traverse and they still look brand-new.

The only downside with Cabelas' gear is color choice. Generally, their outerwear comes in black, international "rescue" orange or one of 78 different camouflage designs such as Upland Woods, Cornfield, Hickory Swamp, Evergreen Forest, etc. (They don't do purple!) I chose black and, . guess what? Their black is just as black as North Face's black. Seriously, I think their mountain pants are simply the best available for skiing, climbing (or any social gathering where Guiness is served.)

Best invention of the Twentieth Cenury, The IPOD. Weighs very little, holds lots of songs and stories, prevents insanity when driving across Canada or Antarctica, comes in a variety of colors. Worst color to choose for use in Antarctica, ."Silver Ice" or (Gasp!) "Snowflake" Drop it here, . and it's history. Go with Red or Black.

Several days ago we saw more penguin tracks in the fresh snow, some 450 miles from McMurdo and at least that from any known open water. The nearest, we think, must be the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. The ice front there rises at least eighty feet above the water and calves off huge icebergs the size of Rhode Island, not an easy entrance to the sea. Where the penguins (Adeles) are going, we haven't a clue. Perhaps there are closer openings in the ice shelf that actually reach the sea but have not yet been discovered. Here's a research project waiting to be funded.

We are now out of sight of the TransAntarctic Mountains and there is literally nothing to see except snow. The next landmark (one or two days from now) will be Minna Bluff or possibly the volcanic plume from Mount Erebus which, we understand, is more than usually active and is hurling volcanic "bombs" up to nine meters long out of the crater.

Stay tuned .!

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project

Through our Iridium Telephone Service, we are getting text only email at SP.Traverse@USAP.gov. Be sure to put "For Tom Lyman" in the subject line.


ICE Letter #21
January 16, 2006

This is the twenty-first in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

WE'RE BACK!

Yesterday, Saturday, at 4:00 PM New Zealand Time, we arrived at "Willey Field" the summer ice runway on the Windless Bight, five miles from McMurdo Station. George Blaisdell, the head of the National Science Foundation's Polar Programs and a small group of Raytheon and NSF staffers were there to meet us. The day was warm and sunny; the top of Mount Erebus alone obscured by clouds.

Immediately followed hot showers, laundry, real beds, and "freshies," green things like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and apples! Supper in the main galley for me consisted of a HUGE salad with oil and vinegar. Delicious! Tonight will probably be more of the same.

Just outside my dormitory window, the Russian icebreaker "Krasin" is berthed at the semi-floating ice pier. Under contract to NSF, it has already carved a channel through the sea ice so that the fuel tanker can dock to unload eight million gallons of diesel (JP8) and other fuels to supply the station's needs through the coming winter. The tanker is due to arrive on Tuesday. The Krasin is floating amid chunks of ice that it has broken out of McMurdo Sound as it created a large ""turning basin" for the tanker and following freighter to manuever in.

Along the margins of the broken channel, a dozen Weddell seals are basking in the sun. They seem to prefer lying on their backs, letting their stomachs get the full solar treatment.

Why a Russian IceBreaker, you ask? Because our own breakers are out of service due to age and damage and Congress and the Bush Administration are waffling on the funding of new ones. Three seasons ago, the Polar Sea, one of the two largest in the US Fleet, lost one of its three propellers and has yet to be repaired. The Russian fleet of IceBreakers and other "Ice-Worthy" vessels is the largest in the world and the Russians, of course, are now free to sell their services to anyone, anywhere, anytime. (Those dirty Capitalists! I thought we were the only ones who could do that.)

The Krasin is smaller and less powerful than the two US IceBreakers, Polar Sea and Polar Star but is currently the only breaker available anywhere near Antarctica. The Russians also have several enormous nuclear-powered Icebreakers in service but due to their design, needing very cold waters to cool the reactors, they cannot cross the warmer equatorial waters and are restricted to the Arctic.

This afternoon, I watched the annual Rugby match between the American and New Zealand Antarctic teams. It's played on a regulation sized "field" complete with goal posts. The playing surface is carved out of the snow and sea ice on the Windless Bight. The "Yanks" lost (again) 5-0 (zip, naught) to the Kiwis. However, everyone on our side agreed that we played an excellent game.

Immediately before the match, the Kiwis performed a traditional "Haka." This involves a ritualized charge at the enemy, complete with bulging eyes, sticking out of tongues further than seems anatomically possible, and shrieking what are assumed to be Mawori curses and deprecations calling into question their opponents' courage, parentage, and manhood. In fact, we had one woman on our team and she played more than half the game.

For those of you who are not familiar with the rules of Rugby, I'd like to explain them, . but I can't.

People, some that I know and many that I do not, have come up to the members of our Traverse Team to offer congratulations and ask how they can get involved on the next one. We're not sure how to answer them. Depending on future funding and evolving technology, this may have been a one-of-a-kind adventure.

It is clear that there are two major philosophies about building "roads," especially in remote areas such as Northern Canada, Siberia, or Antarctica. The American approach is generally to build and condition the road surface to handle standard, off-the-shelf vehicles that require minimal adaptation to cold, terrain, etc. But this means the road has to be maintained constantly. It won't do to have 950 miles of perfectly groomed surface followed by 100 miles of impassable conditions for standard equipment.

The Russian approach is to say, "the hell with the road, we design and build specialized vehicles that can take anything." This means no money or effort spent on a road surface that will be used by only a very few vehicles during each season. Instead, the money is spent building and maintaining a fleet of vehicles that are so massive and powerful that nothing, crevasses, sastrugi, deep snow or other obstacles simply won't stop them.

The Russians have plenty of old missile carriers, gigantic army trucks, and tank retrievers to start with. These have enormous wheels or tracks, a shifting lever or two and a steering wheel.

Our tractors also have computer systems that monitor fuel usage, track slippage, tractive force at the drawbar, air temperature in the operator's cabin, temperature of the operator's seat, and two hundred other things. Unfortunately, these sophisticated systems have a tendency to fail when it is very cold, or at high altitudes, or on Tuesday, .or for no discernable reason at all, and then the tractor won't start easily and sometimes not at all.

Anyway, these intricacies will all be sorted out over then next year or two, we're sure.

PLEASE NOTE: Our Iridium Satellite Phone service and email account will be discontinued later today. I can now be reached at my regular email address TomLyman@aol.com that I can access through normal Internet service from McMurdo.

Stay tuned .!

Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project


ICE Letter #22
January 18, 2006

This is the twenty-second in a series of ICE LETTERS from Tom Lyman, Safety Supervisor of the 2005-2006 South Pole Traverse Project.

McMurdo Station, Antarctica

At 12:45 PM we assembled at McMurdo's cargo handling terminal for transport to the Pegasus, white ice runway about twenty miles from McMurdo. Located out on the sea ice, this airstrip is maintained so that the big C-17 aircraft can land here. It lands on wheels, not skis. The softer snow runways nearer the station can only support the much smaller and lighter LC-130 Hercules and Twin Otters.

We had a two hour delay out there waiting for the plane to arrive and another two hours while they tracked down a problem in the avionics computer. Par for the course as far as outbound flights from McMurdo go.

Once airborne, the five-hour flight was smooth and uneventful. (Even more than "smooth" the "uneventful" part is always a good thing when flying!) There was very little outbound cargo on this flight so there was actually room to get up and walk around in the cavernous cargo bay aft. From the flight deck at 35,000 feet, the view of Cape Adair and floating icebergs was stunning.

Christchurch, New Zealand

I arrived in Christchurch this morning at 12:32 AM. January 18, 2006, New Zealand Time.

The first thing you notice when they open the doors of the aircraft is the overpowering smell of green, growing things. The next are the sounds. Not much traffic this early in the morning but some delivery trucks, the "post," and birds, warbling and chirping. After three months on the ice, one is sensory deprived. And for the first few hours, every sense is overwhelmed.

After clearing New Zealand Customs and Immigration (where you are threatened with instant death and a $200.00 fine if you have even a single apple core or half eaten sandwich in your luggage) we turned in our ECW gear at the Polar Services Center and were disbursed to various small hotels, hostels and B&B'S for the night.

Only a few days ago, we were just leaving the ice of the Ross Sea and turning toward the end-of-season parking area for our tractors and equipment. Now, after a couple of days in Christchurch to unwind, I'll be heading back to Los Angeles and on to Montana. Crazy, when you think about it.

This will be the last ICE LETTER. We're back in the real world now. The South Pole Traverse 2005-2006 is now part of the history of Antarctica. It was a privilege to be a small part of it.

I notice that articles in the various morning papers here in Christchurch are giving our traverse project "mixed reviews." Presumably, this is because Sir Edmund Hilary has spoken out widely against it and here in New Zealand, Hilary is treated like a god. He, of course, drove to the pole in Ferguson farm tractors in 1957 over a much shorter route than ours. He apparently feels that it opens up too much of the continent to further research and possibly tourism in some form. (It's also partly because we're "yanks," I'm sure.)

I appreciate all the messages of interest and support for the traverse team and myself. If you found these letters interesting and somehow missed a few, let me know by email and I'll forward the entire set as a "zip" file or, if you don't have email, I'll send a paper copy set.

I can now be reached at my regular email address TomLyman@aol.com .

Salud and Ciao,

Tom Lyman
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program, South Pole Traverse Project

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