Mini Wadhwa, ANSMET Systematic Search Team, Larkman Nunatak, January 2, 2013
The beginning of the New Year is usually a time for reflection and making lists. Since we have a tent day today (see photo of the whiteout conditions in camp earlier today), this is exactly what I set out to do for today’s blog post.
My experience with the ANSMET program is somewhat unique. Like many others before me, I happen to be an ANSMET veteran. However, what makes my experience different from that of other ANSMET veterans is that I happen to have the biggest “delta T” between my trips to the ice. More specifically, the last time I was part of an ANSMET team was exactly 20 years ago, when I was only a third-year graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis! I count that experience among the high points of my life. I would have been back sooner but for my professional and personal circumstances that conspired to make it unfeasible until now. In any case, in keeping with the tradition of reflection and making lists at the start of the New Year, I reflect back on my experience of twenty years ago and give you my list of top 10 favorite things about the ANSMET 2012-13 season compared to the 1992-93 season:
#10: Reliable (and fast!) skidoos. Given that I have trouble keeping to speed limits in my normal life (believe me, I have the speeding tickets to prove it!), I certainly appreciate the fastness of the Skandic skidoos that are our workhorses here. But more than anything else, it is the ability to start these beasts up with a minimum of fuss each morning that makes them so endearing compared to the older models of twenty years ago.
#9: A skidoo fueling station with a manual fuel pump (the beloved “hurdy-gurdy”!). I still remember (with fear and loathing) the awkward jerry cans and funnels that we had used to fuel our skidoos in the days of old!
#8: Wooden flooring planks for the Scott tents, which keep our tent floors level and much better insulated against the cold.
#7: The “shower” tent. While having this facility does not prevent my wet hair from freezing solid after the brief sprint back to my tent, it is still wonderful to have a real shower-like experience on a weekly basis.
#6: The “science” tent, a place for the whole team to gather together for meals, discussion and “Settlers of Catan”.
#5: A camp oven. This resides in the science tent (see above), and has provided such major miracles as a 14 lb roast turkey for our Christmas dinner and pepperoni pizzas!
#4: Propane gas stoves. These represent a quantum leap over the liquid fuel Coleman stoves of twenty years ago that had to be flung out of the tent occasionally due to their propensity for unexpected and spectacular flare-ups.
#3: The miracle of electricity! The solar panels for each tent allow us to power our computers and camera batteries (and to listen to music and watch movies on tent days like today!).
#2: Easy access to satellite phones. The ability to keep in regular contact with family and friends is a huge morale booster.
And, finally, at #1 (drumroll, please!): The poo tent! Enough said.