iceman's South Pole Page

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Winter - 2006

Photo Galleries

Picture of the Week

Going South

Last Flights

Pictures from February



dome buildings 1


Mixed March Pictures

Outside in March

dome buildings 2

Galley Windows

Auroras 2006

Costume Party

cinco de mayo

BF5K race

egg oiling party

Midwinter Dinner

Midwinter Greetings

Winter Groundhandling

Medsurg 101

WM 2006

Xmas in July

Art Show


Twilight & Sunrise

Oktoberfest & Golf

Frist Plane

Aerial Pictures


Frist Hercs

February 2006

Finally back at the Pole. I had a great vacation off the ice and spent the last 2.5 months around the world, enjoying tropical beaches, diving, skiing in the Alps and paragliding.
The flight South was pretty nice my first time in a C-17 with airplane seats mounted on pallets.

The population is dropping with every plane, the exodus began. Today all the people from the QUaD team left. Over the course of the next days we will be getting pretty close to our winter-population of 64 a nice change from the crowded 270+ during summer time (which I missed this year ;)) )

The last seven summer folks left today. Winter started :)))
This evening we watched after an old tradition the two versions of "The Thing" ;))

The old gym was converted to the new bar "Dodgy Bastard" we had a grand opening with live music. February is already coming to an end, time already starts to fly. Allan and I are still busy getting our telescope ready for winter operations and cleaning up our lab and getting everything organized.

March 2006

This year I brought an old paraglider down, not that you can fly here but there is quite a bit you can practice and learn by playing with the wing. Denis, the BICEP winter-over brought his as well and now we were already outside for quite a few hours of groundhandling. Since you need 10 to 14 kts it can be become pretty chilly but it is a good workout and a lot of fun.

A few days ago we had some Sushi, well not really fresh fish, but freshly thawed ;)

Sunset at the South Pole - the only one per year, of course with a big dinner and party. Now the sky is changing colors every day.

1151 people wintered over at the South Pole so far, less than climbed Mt Everest. Bill Spindler put together a very interesting South Pole Trivia Page.

The buildings in the dome are getting cold one after the other here some impressions of the last "warm" pictures and the destruction of the Annex.

Also have a look at some mixed pictures from March.

April 2006

It's getting dark outside. There are several light sensitive experiments down here so we have to minimize any artificial light outside, i.e. blocking off all the windows in the station with cardboard. Especially the galley windows looked boring with this, so Brien initiated a galley window contest, where everybody could design their own window and the outcome was great. Now with the flags from the ceremonial Pole the galley looks great.

Yesterday we had a costume party in the galley to celebrate all the birthdays in April, it turned out to be an awesome one :))

The Annex is history, another empty spot in the dome. The demolition moved onto the upper berthing, the room furniture was taken apart, the bathroom disappeared and all the dome buildings are cold now.

The auroras are back :)

May 2006

Yesterday was cinco de mayo and we had three nice little piñatas and a little party in the galley. Since it was also a Friday we played radio darts as well :). So what is radio darts - simple we play darts with the other stations on the continent mostly with Scott-Base the Kiwi station and McMurdo. The results are transmitted via radio - strictly honor principle of course. It's always a lot of fun. In the past years we had quite a few other stations join in as well, maybe we can get some more this year as well.

Today we had the 2nd annual BF5K race. With the new station we have long hallways and the idea came up last year to have a 5 km race (3 mi) in the hallways. But one needs a sponsor who drinks his beverage of choice for each 3 laps the runner completes and 5 km are 18 laps ;). Of course runners have to be in costumes.

I finally got the pictures of the week updated again so here they are

June 2006

It's June already, time is going by fast. Another 3 weeks and it's already midwinter.
We just had a heat wave, only -38°C, if the wind comes form the Weddell see it's normally much warmer and the temperature goes through the roof (at least for down here) take a complete cloud cover and it feels like summer. Of course it's bad for our observations and so I don't like it, you even open your parka since you feel too warm walking around outside.

Yesterday we had a big egg-oiling-party. If you oil eggs with normal vegetable oil you can keep them up to a year at room temperature. So we had a little party going to oil the eggs we still have left, and I just counted them: 78 boxes with 6 trays each and 30 eggs per tray, now you can do the math, yes there are about 14000 eggs left ;) that is pretty amazing. So whenever there are tasks like that you put up a notice and most of the people on the station will show up to help out.


It's midwinter, one of the biggest celebrations on the continent. The sun is 23.5° below the horizon and will work it's way back towards the Southern hemisphere. In three months the sun will back at the horizon - sun rise.
We had our big midwinter dinner already on Friday the 16th since it was followed by a two day weekend.

Every station in Antarctica sends greetings out to the other stations inviting them to join them for the midwinter celebrations (of course everyone knows it's impossible ;) )
And there are all the official letters from government offices etc. here is the letter from the White House.

1000 miles and more - the other day when I was walking out to our telescope which is about 1/2 mile (800 m) away from the station I did some calculating and came to the result that I walked at least a 1000 miles over the polar plateau in the years down here, that is already more than to McMurdo. And I will keep walking every day :). Once the sun is up I will use the skidoos more often again, but now the walk under the starlight sky with auroras is just amazing.

QUaD is now in its second season and the first papers should be published soon. But here is already some more information about QUaD

Another crazy thing - what do you expect :) Groundhandling during summer time at these temperatures might seem crazy to some, but try it now in the dark of the winter - and it wasn't done before :)
To get some decent pictures of it as well it took me several tries and I had to wait for the right conditions. I won't ask for much but I need moonlight, a clear sky, auroras in the background would be nice and of course a wind of around 11 kts, which happens not too often during winter. But last week the conditions where pretty close to that and I finally got the shots I wanted, but in the dark, at temperatures down to -70°C (-95 F) most of the time by myself it's not as easy. Have a look at some of the pictures and read more about it :)

July 2006

No planes for 8.5 to 9 months, even in a medical emergency an evacuation of a patient would take at least 2 to 3 weeks - from the International Space Station it would take only a few hours. So besides our thorough screening there is always the chance of accidents or unforeseen illness, for some of them like an acute appendicitis a medevac might be out of question so only a surgery here at the South Pole will work. Since we only have one doctor and one physician assistant, our Doc Will Silva trained a few of us to assist him in such a case. For me it was the third time going through this interesting training.
The last weeks we had twice a practice surgery on models Will made. My job is the surgeon assistant. To be more realistic during preparations we had to volunteer patients.

It finally hit -100 F (-73.4°C) early this morning, and of course some people made the run for the Pole to join the 300 Club - the sauna is heated to over 200 F (93.3°C) and you stay in there until you think you melt, than only wearing shoes you make the dash for the Geographic Pole about 150 m away from the station. The temperature difference is 300 F - therefore you join the 300 Club ;) - sorry no pictures :)
I was asleep this morning but I done my share in past years ;).

The soccer world championship is over, and the results even made it to the Pole ;). The euphoria that caught whole Germany even caught up with me down here. So after the game against Argentina I went to the Pole and made a few pictures with the German flag, after all I'm the Southernmost German on the whole planet and probably the coldest - the temperature difference to Germany was roughly 100°C (180 F) every day during these four weeks ;)

While everybody is sweating up North we are going the opposite direction and temperatures for the last days are below -100F (-73.4°C) with the coldest temperatures this year so far reaching close to -77°C.
It's already one month past midwinter and back then we had movie festival here are links to two great movies Denis made :) enjoy and don't miss it :)

And while looking at some links there I found that someone posted the movie Larry and I made last year as well, I didn't even know about it. But since it's already out there here a link as well. It is a timelapse movie about the construction of the A4 wing of the new station and summer other happenings down here :)

Another old tradition is to have xmas in July :) - it's cold, dark and we got lots of snow - so why not :). We had a big dinner and even a gift exchange afterwards.

August 2006

Time is flying - nearly a month since the last entry. By now there is a faint glow on the horizon and in just over 4 weeks the sun will be rising - for the only time per year.
First of August we had some incredible auroras, I updated the ones from June and July and August will follow soon - we have about 10 more days for auroras then it will be to bright. After a very cold and stable July August weather is quite erratic and a few days ago we had storm with up to 41 kts and a resulting heatwave of only -38°C (-36 F). So we are hoping for some more nice cold days, after all August and September are the coldest months.

The time of the auroras is over. Personally I love the night sky more down here than the daylight, the next weeks until sunrise will be very nice as well and every day will be different. Quite strange after months of darkness quick changes in the sky are quite astonishing ;). In the beginning the change in brightness is very small, but after a few days one starts to recognize colors again outside whereas before everything was just in scales of gray.
Now with the last full moon the shadows are fighting each other from one side the dawn form the other side the light of the moon, but the moon lost pretty quickly and in a few days it will be hard to see even the brightest stars.

August was an incredible month for auroras - wow. Some of the best auroras I have seen - and that is solar minimum :) I took about 1700 aurora pictures just in August ;) don't miss to check out some of the highlights

September 2006

Some cloudy days obscured the view on the sky in the last days, but it's still getting brighter. On Sunday the window covers in the galley were removed. The light sensitive experiments are off now. As every year we have some very talented people here. A lot of them use the long winter night to be creative and produce some amazing stuff. So we had an art show on Sunday.

The weekend before we had Highland Games with a dance performance of the Scottish dance class and some caber toss outside.
In the last weeks we also made good use of our gym and played 3 to 4 times volleyball a week, in the next days the gym will be closed to get it's final floor and then we won't be allowed to use it until summertime - so we don't break anything ;) - not us the gym of course.

The Sun is up, daylight for the next 6 months :) but some definitely got carried away :)) The sunrise was nice and due to refraction in the atmosphere we could see signs of the sun a few days before the sunrise. On the 23rd in the morning we could witness the solar eclipse it was only a small part down here that was obscured by the moon and the sun was so low at the horizon an therefore distorted that we had to watch it for a good hour to make sure it was the eclipse and not just some clouds.

October 2006

Already October and by now I already spent 60 months at the South Pole - 5 years down here that amazes even me ;)
Last weekend we had of course our Oktoberfest and Sunday the first "South Pole open" our first golf tournament was hosted, it was a lot of fun also it got bloody cold after playing at -62°C for two hours and after about an good hour my glasses were so frozen that I always had to ask where my golfball was :)

Station opening is getting closer and we are preparing for the Invasion. This is how it feels, station population triples suddenly you get kicked out of your room and your status changes from "winter-over" to "left-over" so I hope the temperatures stay nice and cold so the planes can't land for another week and we have some more peace :).
Hardly anybody spend as much time at the Pole as I have now, but they still kick you out of your room for the last two, three weeks, but when I return end of January do you think I can kick anybody from the summer folks out of their room for the last two weeks - nope. At least a week of delay for opening would be nice, sorry for the folks who are desperate to leave :).

Dan, one of our cooks put together a statistic what the 64 of us consumed during the winter (Feb 21st until now) - pretty impressive, I know for sure I didn't had 355 eggs but I also know I had much more than the 132 blue cups of milk :))

5428 pounds of Beef
22720 Eggs
1527 pounds of Fries
3948 pounds of Pork
2811 pounds of Poultry
2457 pounds of Seafood
82 cases of Cold Cereal
1590 pounds of Cheese
1170 pounds of Butter
2638 pounds of Canned and Frozen Fruit
24300 slices of Pre-Made Bread
418 lbs of Meatless Protein (Tofu, Tempeh, TVP)
39 gallons of Ketchup
11520 blue cups worth of Orange Juice (blue cup is 16oz)
8450 blue cups worth of Milk (blue cup is 16oz)
432 gallons of Ice Cream (after air is added by the ice cream machine)

If you divide that by 64 (assuming everybody had an equal share which of course is not true)

84.81 pounds of Beef
355 Eggs
23.86 pounds of Fries
61.69 pounds of Pork
43.92 pounds of Poultry
38.39 pounds of Seafood
1.28 cases of Cold Cereal, so about 18-20lbs
24.84 pounds of Cheese
18.28 pounds of Butter
41.22 pounds of Fruit (This doesnt count Freshies from beginning of winter)
380 slices of Pre-Made Bread
6.53 pounds of Meatless-Protein (But of course this number is much higher for those that eat it, since most dont)
.6 gallons of Ketchup
180 blue cups of OJ
132 blue cups of milk
6.75 gallons of Ice Cream

Healthy isn't it :) - of course that is not the only things we consumed (the vegetables are missing) and besides that we also have a little greenhouse which puts out an amazing amount of salad and cucumbers, and a few tomatoes etc.
I never had so much salad in my life than in the last 2 years down here :))

The first plane made it to the South Pole on the 20th, it was a Basler - a turbo prop DC-3 which was on transit to McMurdo. So it wasn't one of the Hercs bringing in all the new people, instead the offered to take to passengers to Mctown and two of our guys who had to leave urgently got onto the plane.

A Twin Otter came the same day also on transit, but they were stuck here until yesterday due to bad weather in McMurdo. They were supposed to come back to the Pole this week to take the aerial pictures to look at snow drifting and construction etc. Since the weather was beautiful here, we got a chance to take the pictures and I could go up with the plane and some other photographers and take the aerial pictures.
It is always amazing to see the station from the air, but I never had such a great chance. It seems quite big when you spend another year here and only get around on foot, but once you see the little speck in the ice shelf - wow it is tiny :).

Jeff and Don, our Met guys put the weather statistics together
2006 Climatological Summary
January 1, 2006 through September 30, 2006

Average temp	 			-53.5C / -64.3F
Maximum temp				-17.2C / +1.0F on January 14
Minimum temp				-77.7C / -107.9F on July 23

Average wind speed			11.7 mph or 10.1 knots
Prevailing wind direction		Grid Northeast
Maximum wind speed			47 mph or 41 knots on August 13
Maximum wind direction		        Grid North
Average vectored wind			060 degrees at 8.2 knots

Station Pressure:
Average pressure			680.1 mb
Highest pressure			700.6 mb on August 12
Lowest pressure				655.3 mb on June 26

Average physio-alt			10618 ft / 3236 m
Highest physio-alt 			11574 ft / 3528 m on June 26
Lowest physio-alt  			9861 ft / 3006 m on August 12

Sky Cover:
Average cloud cover (8ths) 		4
Days clear				70
Days partly cloudy			126
Days cloudy				75

Visibility:				28 days with visibility of 1/4 mile or less.

Balloon flight data:
Number of soundings for the period	336
Average height of soundings		74.2 mb, or 18,001 meters
Highest sounding			3.7 mb, or 38448 meters
on the Feb. 21/00Z flight


Day 7 - The daily peak wind speed of 27 kts/31 mph breaks the previous record of 26 kts/30 mph set in 2002.
Day 13 - The daily max temp of -17.5 C/+0.5 F breaks the previous daily record of -18.2 C/ -0.8 F set in 2002.
Day 14 - The daily max temp of -17.2 C/+1.0 F breaks the previous daily record of -19.2 C/ -2.6 F set in 2002.
Day 15 - The daily max temp of -17.4 C/+0.7 F breaks the previous daily record of -18.3 C/ -0.9 F set in 1958


No records tied or broken


No records tied or broken


Day 11: The Peak Wind of 37mph/32kts broke the previous record of 36mph/31kts which was set in 1978.
Day 14: The Peak Wind of 35mph/30kts broke the previous record of 31mph/27kts which was set in 2003.
Day 15: The Peak Wind of 28kts/32mph tied the previous record of 28kts/32mph which was set in 2002.
Day 19: The Peak Wind of 33kts/38mph broke the previous record of 32kts/37mph which was set in 1980.
Day 20: The Peak Wind of 30kts/35mph broke the previous record of 27kts/31mph which was set in 1972.


No records tied or broken


No records tied or broken


Day 17: Daily low temperature of -76.3C/-105.3F breaks previous daily record of -75.6C/-104.1F set in 1968.
Day 18: Daily low temperature of -75.7C/-104.3F breaks previous daily record of -75.6C/-104.1F set in 1969.




Day 1: The Low Temperature of -75.8C/-104.4F breaks the previous record low of -75.4C/-103.7F SET IN 1995

And right now we are breaking low temperture records :)

November 2006

On October 31st the first LC-130s (ski equipped Hercs) made it in, they came 11 days late due to the cold temperatures we experienced here. For me it was nice to have some extra days and we could finish our observations and take down the cryostat with the receiver until it will put back into operation in 2 months.
Since about midwinter we could use the gym and it got it's new floor just before opening, it was awesome to be able to play real Volleyball and we had one of our last games on Sunday with the old crew before the summer people arrived. It was a really good game and a lot of fun.

The first Hercs arriving meant also for a lot of my winter-over folks to leave - some of them were quite desperate by now, but it is always sad to see them leave since they became like family over the last 9 months.

This will be my last entry until February, it is time for me to pack as well and get ready to leave on a little vacation :) - off to warmer regions :) until soon and all the best :)

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