Reconstructing the Past Climate of Central Alaska Journals

One Last Logistical...
On Saturday, we considered heading back down to Anchorage in the afternoon to pick up the U-Haul, but we still had much to do with organizing equipment. So, we continued our packing and gear logistics and planned one more final event. Talkeetna Air Taxi and Denali National Park Rangers and the remainder of our team decided to have a pot luck cookout at Talkeetna Air Taxi headquarters. Erich, Mike, Liz, Sam, and I cooked on available grills as our way of saying thank you to all the folks who helped over the past six years. It was a grand event with beautiful weather. The party went from 6 pm -10 pm on the TAT deck looking out at all the planes on the runway. The owner of TAT, Paul, and his family, were very gracious in providing the space and time to help us host a cookout with...
After some final finishing touches that Erich and the others made on the second MET station at base camp (we had the same MET station there from May 2008 to June, 2012), and loading the three large twin otter airplanes with the rest of the gear, the final flights made it down to Talkeetna on a TAT flight. Dave, Brad and I had already taken a shuttle down to Anchorage to pick up a rental car and U-Haul which we would use to go back to Talkeetna for transporting the rest of our equipment and personnel down to Anchorage. In Anchorage, we would use RELO cubes to again return ship our equipment back to New England. We ran into one minor challenge, however. I had reserved a U-Haul and was supposed to get a call back with an exact pick-up location. It turned out that the U-Haul was not...
Time to Leave
It's time to get everything down from Mount Hunter and back to Talkeetna. Wow, did it go smoothly! The plan was for the helicopter to show up around 9:30am and start taking 700-1200 pound sling loads from the Hunter plateau down to Kahiltna Base Camp. From there, Talkeetna Air Taxi was supposed to fly all the cores and equipment back down to Talkeetna. Dave and Tim would fly with the first load from base camp to help move cores and equipment around in town. Mike, Brad, Dom and I would stay on Hunter to create sling loads. Erich, Liz, and Erich’s recently arrived undergraduate student from Dartmouth, Sam, would move sling loaded items at base camp. Sounds simple right? Brad's Tent with some amazing clouds off in the distance over Mt. Huntington on the morning before our final...
Mount Foraker from Middle Hunter ridge
Tim asked me today how many km of radar data I have from this site and this got me thinking this morning while waiting for Tim and Dave to get picked up. I am on call with the land/air radio, VHF radio, and satellite phone to communicate with Erich at base camp for updates on weather, helicopter status, and when Dave and Tim may leave. The sling loads are ready to go and Dave and Tim are packed so now I can sit here and either process MORE data OR write a blog to update everyone. My eyes are tired of looking at radar data on the computer and I feel that a blog might be in order...so a blog it is... Tim got me thinking… I am closing in on two total months of time up here at the drill site between this year and two of the seven previous seasons I’ve had here in Denali. The grand total...
Tim Before
Seth sent me some news yesterday. They will be dismantling the core camp on Mount Hunter in the next day or so and are now waiting for good helicopter weather to move the cores to base camp. I have asked Seth to keep sending any pictures he can, but we need to understand that this a crucial time for the team. The stress of drilling is over, but the stress of getting the cores safely to Colorado has just begun. With big transitions afoot for everyone it looks like it was time for some spiffing up. Tim Before Yes there was a face in there after all. Photo Credit: Tim Pretty sporty looks for Tim, Seth, Brad and Dom. I guess Dave wasn't that hairy as he is not in the shot. Photo Credit: Seth Almost there! 185 meters on core # 2! The team is HOPING for one more day of...
Mount Hunter Summit is a pretty mellow 40 minute ski from the drill site. We pretty much needed to do it. Enjoy the picture. Mount Hunter summit shot: Seth, Tim, Dave, Brad & Dom. Photo by Seth Campbell
Flowing Clouds
"Final Thoughts" just doesn’t work as a title for some reflective writing about my time on the Kahiltna Glacier, because my guess is that I will continue to debrief the PolarTREC experience in my own head for weeks, months and perhaps even years. The acclimatization climb on Kahiltna Glacier went beyond my wildest dreams. Since I was traveling to something that was totally beyond my scope of understanding and experience I really had no expectations, only intense anticipation. I really had no clue as to what I was up against. What is real, however, is that I know that my perspective and outlook on life have been permanently changed and the sheer magnitude of Denali continues to take my breath away. It's my belief that you can't stand at a place like this and not be changed in some way...
Dave drilling a shallow core from one of the pits.
Well things are still going pretty well minus three feet of fresh snow over the past few days. With the winds we ended up with some pretty nice snow drifts in camp, one almost completely covered Dom's tent by the morning of the 4th. The snow fencing was on the west side of camp to catch the prevailing wind (but storm winds AGAIN came from the east = snow fence is useless so far!). We are all looking forward to the MET station data to see if the year Dom and I were up here was an anomaly when all the storms came from the west or if this year is a wacky one! The sun poked out today which allowed the outside team to finish off our last shallow ice core drilled by hand. (I am calling the teams the inside and outside teams now; Inside team = Mike, Dom, and Brad drilling the deep core and...
Reaching Bedrock on the Divide
Well, the big news as of yesterday was that Mike, Brad, and Dom successfully drilled to bedrock at the ice divide for a total depth of 208.24 meters! Our goal was 200 meters which means we surpassed that goal and can still see some nice layers in the ice. Dave, Tim and I also hand drilled a shallow 16 meter core over the last of couple days that we will use to create an estimate of spatial variability of accumulation. Think about snow falling in a forest... Some areas have really deep snow, others have almost no snow... glaciers can be pretty similar so we want to know if there is any big spatial variability of snow accumulation over the divide which will be important for core analysis and future predictive models. SO.... today is a big day off for all of us. We are all tired...
Mike at work in the drill tent
Hi Everyone, I'm now home in Maine and have had a great first few days back in the classroom. I'm not at school tomorrow, however, as I am taking a group of 8th graders on a backpacking trip in the New Hampshire White Mountains for the weekend. It's going to be quite warm....in the 80s. My wife made a great comment earlier tonight...that I have had more than a 100 Degree F shift in temperature between now and the coldest night on the acclimatization climb. Seth was finally able to send some pictures from the Mount Hunter Ice Divide that show a little bit about the drilling operation, and yes, there are some shots of the core. It sounds like the work is going well and my guess is that they might be done one 750 foot core and will now work for another one. I hope they don't run out...