Christmas time in Antarctica

Christmas at McMurdo Station Antarctica

Some of you may remember Paul Jones. He is a Montezuma resident that serves at the US Station in the Antarctic. You can read his previous story HERE.

I know that Santa lives some distance from you at the South Pole region, but how are you guys celebrating Christmas and New Years at your location.

Jones said, We are doing fine here in Antarctica, Christmas is just about the same here as at home, just that the “family” here is a lot bigger. McMurdo population is down a bit from the 1,200 maximum, many of the field science teams have returned to their respective Universities to spend the Holidays. At least 200 have left in the last few days. Right after the first of the year another group will come in and some will start new projects and others will finish up ones already in progress.

For our town, the linemen do put up a few decorations on the utility polls. Certainly not like Monte or Osky decorate, but noticeable. On Christmas Eve we will have a very nice “family type” party, lots of food and Christmas Carols, just a nice time. The mechanics totally clean out the Heavy Equipment shop and various groups help decorate the place up. It is done tastefully and is very nice. Probably the only time of the year that the shop gets totally scrubbed down. They tried the gym once and the helicopter hanger once but everyone liked the Heavy shop best.

Christmas at McMurdo Station Antarctica

On Christmas day the dinning staff serves a lovely meal. They have a 3 – 5 – 7 pm sitting and also a midnight sitting for the night workers. I will work at the water plant from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm and then race to the dorm to get cleaned up for my 7 pm meal. Hopefully the night operator, who will eat at 3 pm, will come in a few minutes early. I really do not see how the dinning staff does it. They really deserve some real credit. They do an outstanding job. Christmas day you never know what can happen. We used to have a softball tournament until a couple of years ago when there were two broken ankles and a broken clavicle during the games and all three had to be medivaced to New Zealand. Now the games are not quite so “intense”. Lots of people forget that they are not high school age any more and playing on permafrost is not like a manicured lawn. There is usually a distance race, 10 K and 5 K are common. I am too old to participate but do go and cheer on my friends.

New Years at McMurdo Station Antarctica

New Years is a little bit wilder, they used to have a big New Years Eve party but it got a tad out of hand one year and it was stopped by management. Now many groups have smaller group parties or sometimes just dorm parties. There are three bars on the base that are open also. On New Years Day we have ICE STOCK when the local music groups play on our “lawn”. This is right outside the dining hall and is very good if the weather cooperates. Iowan’s know about weather, sometimes it is good and sometimes not. Many times the New Zealand base ( Scott Base) which is about 2 miles away from McMurdo comes over to listen to the music also. It is well done and really not wild at all. Weather makes such a difference if it is fun or not.

How has your project progressed, are you still on schedule?

Jones stated, We are doing very well here at Utilities, the power plant had a fire 3-4 weeks ago which was exciting. A “turbo boost” overheated, lost a bearing seal and hot oil sprayed out over a hot running engine. Of course it ignited and the CO2 went off and shut everything down. I do not want to say went black in the 24 hour daylight but absolutely no power for nearly 1/2 hour before they could get things back running again. I was not working that day but did come in to help restart the water plant after the emergency shut down. Everything is working and we did learn a lot about both power and water operation. The water plant upgrade is nearly complete, we have lots of new equipment to replace things that were 15-20 years old. It will make a much more efficient operation of both plants, power and water.

When are you scheduled to come home?

Jones said, Just got my redeployment notice the other day, should leave the ice for New Zealand Feb. 7 but really everyone knows it could be a week on either side of that date depending upon weather and plane seats. Last year I traveled a bit and spend 10 days getting back to Montezuma. Haven’t really thought about it much at this time.

I want to thank Paul for taking time from his schedule to send updates. I hope He and all his co-workers at McMurdo Station have a wonder Christmas and a Happy New Year. – Ken

Posted by on Dec 21 2010. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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