It was spectacularly beautiful outside when we headed out with the instructors of the Field Safety Training Program (FSTP) to wrap up our final in field sea ice training. The class was small, about 10 people including Andrew and I, and included a diverse group of skilled workers from all over station. We all piled in the FSTP hagglund and headed out of McMurdo Station for the sea ice.
We started out practicing how to make ice anchors (V-shaped holes in the ice that we pass rope through) to make sure ourselves and our gear doesn’t get blown away in rough weather. Then we all profiled a small crack together with the instructors and popped in our dive hut so everyone could visualize just how thick the sea ice is right in front of station. Next we traveled to Hut Point to profile our first major pressure ridge crack. We cleared layers and layers of snow (shoveling and more shoveling) to get down to the sea ice before we drilled a series of holes perpendicular to the crack taking measurements as we went along to map out the profile of the crack.
These measurements allow us to determine which types of vehicles are safe to cross. One of the major cracks that form every year around hut point is named Big John after the big john tractor which fell through years ago.
The course ended with a trip out to the ice runway road where we got to take a look at some very unusual cracks around the permanent ice shelf and the multiyear ice intersection. We were basically about a half mile out to sea with impressive views all around, which was easily my favorite part of the day, because we got to see a different perspective of Ross Island and the surrounding areas.