A friend and colleague is currently wintering over at the Amundson-Scott station on the south pole. She is sending us periodic email updates on life at the station. As they come along I’ll share bits of them. A colleague of hers posts his observations on his blog. They recently celebrated their once-per-year sunset at the equinox.
There are all sorts of station closing activities I volunteered for early on. I trained for what is called “Flight Following” to man the Comms Center in the winter whenever any flights are flying farther South than 60 degrees. South Pole’s unique position on top of the plateau makes radio reception unusually clear while closer to the coast it is often obscured. So our job is to relay messages if we hear the pilot unable to reach his coast air traffic control. I also periodically do checks in the Power Plant so those people can occasionally get a day off.
It’s almost like a commune down here. Or at least what I assume communal living would have been like in the ’60s, Kind of a fun existence for a few months. But it is damn COLD! I took my glove off to operate my camera to film sunset up on the roof of the station – our daily temps are about -80 F, with windchill well below -100 F. A gust of wind kicked up after I had been filming for less than 2 minutes and I almost couldn’t make my hand work well enough to climb back down the steps. Today there is still a blister on my pinkie finger from frostnip. Human flesh freezes within a minute when exposed to that sort of cold. –South Pole Susan
I guess I won’t be complaining about the cold anymore.