What a gift to be in Antarctica this Christmas! It is something that I'll never forget. With all the glaciers and snow around, there was no question that we'd have a white Christmas.
View of the mountains across the Beardmore Glacier from our camp on Mt. Kyffin. My tent is the one on the right.
On Christmas Eve, we received notification from MacOps (the radio command center in McMurdo) to tune into the high frequency radio at 7 p.m. We set up the radio, which is quite the process. It involves stringing up two antennas that are both perpendicular to the direction of the broadcasting station. The radio is in a monstrous case and is similar to the radios that ham operators use. Our radio looks as if it was made and used in the 1950s. At 7 p.m., we tuned into MacOps to find they were singing Chrismas carols over the radio. McMurdo actually has a choir and they sang two carols. Then, they turned the radio over to the South Pole station, where the people stationed there sang two carols as well. One of the South Pole carols was the "Twelve Days of South Pole Christmas" where they modified the lyrics to fit the South Pole. After these two groups, other field expeditions were invited to sing carols. CTAM and one other group in Antarctica's Dry Valleys region sang to us. It was all quite amazing to hear these reminders that it is Christmas time over all the miles. To know that the voices coming from across the airwaves from the Earth's geographic South Pole sent chills up my spine. What an outstanding present! (Once I return home, I'll post a recording of these carols on my journal.)
The HF radio we listened to Christmas carols from all around Antarctica on.
Because our field time has been shortened due to delays in getting out of McMurdo, we worked on Christmas. We hiked up the side of Mt. Kyffin to collect samples. Most of the time was spent hiking, with sample location and collection only being about 15% of the day. It was fantastic to be out enjoying the lovely weather - I suspect it has been nicer here than for many of you at home. Yesterday we had a high of 34F and just a very light breeze - about 2 mph.
While crossing a snow field, I noticed this delicate little snow bridge. It's about 9 inches tall.
When we got back from the field, we found Maurice cooking Christmas dinner. He had cornish game hens in the pressure cooker and was working on the remainder of the feast. It smelled like home. We had quite the dinner: cornish game hens, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, carrots, asparagus, cranberry jelly, and for dessert, blueberry turnovers!
The fantastic Christmas dinner that Maurice cooked for us. The color is a little off because we're inside the cook tent where all the light is yellow.
Afterwards, we opened presents from Twit and myself. Twit gave everyone some type of candy. I had crocheted some snowflakes and gave them to everyone. They promptly hung them up in our cook tent for decorations. After presents, we had coffee and some Christmas fruit cake Maurice had brought from his aunt in New Zealand. We then played a round of the game "Apples to Apples". After the game, Gordon set up his camera and tripod and we took group Christmas photos. We took three different poses: one in color where we're smiling; one in black and white where we all had to look very serious; and then one where we're in "explorer" poses.
Maurice is concentrating intently on cutting the Christmas cake.
Group Christmas photo (left to right: Twit Conway, Maurice Conway, Perry Spector, John Stone, Lesley Urasky, Brenda Hall, and Gordon Bromley)