IceTrek En Route to Boulder, CO, USA: 20 March - 27 March

Please credit the National Snow and Ice Data Center for image or content use.

27 March

The return trip of the IceTrek team continues. Ted writes:

"The ship Irizar finally made port at Ushuaia early on the morning of March 25. A 4:30 am, the IceTrek team was told to move their cargo to the offload area and disembark. It was the start of yet another big day for us

We waited on the quay in the pre-dawn twilight, and after some time a large net containing all our gear was hoisted ashore. As dawn broke over the city, we could see the stunning mountain ranges that surround Ushuaia, already touched by the first snow of the coming season

We were met a short while later by the port agents, Navalia Inc. of Punta Arenas, with a truck to bring our gear to Argentina customs for re-inspection and approval. We set out in another van provided by Navalia to cross the Patagonian countryside towards Chile. Our driver was Sergio and translator/guide was Maria ("Call me Mary," she said).

We departed shortly after 12 noon for Punta Arenas, and crossed the Chilean border at 4:00. A short while later, we took a ferry across the Straights of Magellan. As Rob noted, this more or less completed the set of transport methods we used on the trip: feet, car, jet aircraft, taxi, train (at the airports), van, C-130 Hercules, Twin Otter, Bell 212 helicopter, Sea King helicopter, ship, van, and now, ferry. The only ones we missed were snowmobile and zodiac. Darn.

Rob Bauer departed on Sunday for Denver, with plans for a much-deserved vacation. That leaves Ronald and me in Punta Arenas. Here, we are waiting on delivery of our science and camping gear via truck so that it may be returned to NSF/Raytheon."

Latest word is that Rob has arrived in the United States, and Ted hopes to be back in Colorado towards the middle of the week.

Unloading gearThe gear is unloaded from the Irizar.

UshuaiaThe beautiful vista from the town of Ushuaia.

UshuaiaAnother view of the mountains near Ushuaia.

Pick-up crewThe crew that picked up Ted and Ronald to take them to the airport.

Chile borderHello Chile, goodbye Argentina. The sign reads "Welcome to the big island Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), Chile."


22 March

The IceTrek team is crossing the Drake Passage. Ted writes:

"We departed Orcadas yesterday afternoon, and are now churning our way through the Drake Passage. The Drake is famous for rough seas and high winds, and it is living up to that reputation to the fullest on this fine southern autumn day. Winds are 30 knots out of the west and the swell is about 4 meters. The ship is literally pounding it's way to Ushuaia through the surf.

Life aboard ship under these conditions is bit frazzeling--first, you're fighting sea sickness. Everyone is, even those seemingly immune; headache is the main problem, and a sense of annoyance with every-thing. And of course nausea, although I think our team has yet to have anyone get sick.

A trip from the room to the cargo hold, or to the bridge, is a real work-out, as if the hallways are filled with invisible professional
wrestlers with a grudge against glaciologists. You arrive at the bridge (4 flights of stairs up) panting, and probably with one new bruise from a railing and a scratch from trying to catch something as it falls from a shelf or from someone's hands.

I attach a pair of pictures to give you some idea of the power, might against might, that represents the passage of the ship through the swell. The pictures are taken roughly three seconds apart.

Photo from shipThis photo is the first of two that Ted took three seconds apart aboard the Irizar.

Photo from shipThis photo is the second in the series that Ted took to illustrate the power of the Drake Passage swells.


21 March

It's afternoon, and the IceTrek team writes that the Irizar is about to start across the often rough waters of the Drake Passage. The team is still excited about the successful deployment of equipment on A22A, but is definitely looking forward to coming home.

20 March

The IceTrek team is on its way home!

Rob writes, "We're now steaming north for Orcadas Station, leaving Antarctica behind. With any luck, we'll be reaching port in Usuiah, Argentina, sometime late Thursday or early Friday...we just need to cross the stormy Drake Passage with it's big waves and winds. We're already feeling the ship pitch and roll."

Team photoRob took this team photo just before the A22A deployment. Left to right: Ronald, Juan Carlos, Yevgeny, Ted, and Rob.