Traverse tracks
    It's hard to explain the expanse and beauty down here and do it justice. Sometimes pictures come close, like this one showing the traverse tracks. Picture courtesy of Ryan Wallace.

    Let’s see…where did we leave off yesterday? We talked about the traverse and its primary mission to deliver fuel. These tractors can haul up to 12 bags of fuel each. The traverse has proven to be more cost effective that airlifting in supplies so the amounts of fuel being hauled has increased over the last few years. The technology has advanced as well. The fuel bags are made our of heavy duty molecular weight rubber as is the big tarps they sit on. When they are strapped down they can’t strap it too tight. Any guesses why?

    Tractors pulling fuel in a blizzard
    Conditions can be pretty harsh in the course of the month long journey. They make the trip in the Antarctic summer, which is our winter. That material really holds up thankfully.

    They are loosely strapped because there is liquid in their sloshing around so it needs to have room to move back and forth. If you look closely you can see the heavy netting catch at the end of the tarp to keep the bags from slipping out. This is a tough gig. These guys (women too) typically drive work 12 hour days. They drive about 9 hours and the other three is setting up camp, deicing the equipment and getting it ready for the next day. As you might imagine, a lot of maintenance is needed along the way when you are driving vehicles in such an unforgiving climate.

    Traverse housing Units being pulled on tractor
    This tractor is pulling the housing units that the team sleeps and eat in. The tractors they use are basically the type used in agribusiness and large farms. They are slightly modified for the cold weather, but otherwise you will something very similar if you travel through the farmlands.

    Snow Plow for Antarctic Traverse
    This is what I call a snow plow. They use these to fill in the crevasses that are dynamited. There are all sorts of safety precautions taken during this process. One of which is that all the crew are tethered (attached to a rope) so they don't fall in.

    Tractor pulling fuel in Antarctica
    This tractor is pulling fuel. Check out the scenery. You can see the draw to take this job.

    Tractor suited up for Antarctic work
    Now this is what I call a tractor. Very impressive. Picture courtesy of Ryan Wallace.

    South Pole written in snow to show where it has moved to.
    While the South Pole remains in the same spot geologically the ice above it is shifting each year so the marker has to be reset each year. Picture courtesy of Ryan Wallace.

    Map of Traverse Route
    This is the map of the route they take. Pretty formidable. Picture courtesy of Ryan Wallace.

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