11. Nov.6, 1998, Friday:
Pirrit Hills Camp
The south wind blew itself out by noon and we had very calm conditions with the hope of sun later on. This was to be our good weather day, and we set it up for Pascal, Chano and Liam to make a long traverse into the lower bowl, while Bufalo and I would do our best to cover the upper bowl. Sure enough, at 2 or 3 p.m. the sun came out and suddenly the world was wonderful. I could see endless arrays of granite fragments, but scanning the scene, saw no meteorites. Covered a lot of ground in the sunlight, and found no meteorites. Collected a suite of granites for the heck of it (souvenirs). Pirrit Hills forms an imposing mass which appears to be the top of a batholith, judging by the crystal size. I have never before seen a batholith. It has a number of conical summits and seems to have strata-like fracture sets that reminded me of the distant lunar highlands as seen from Apollo 11, except that these fractures (or strata) are curved. They may be pressure-release fractures developed as the batholith became progressively closer to the erosion surface and was finally exposed. But no meteorites. Eventually Pascal's team got back and Pascal said, "Zip! That's my report." One word said it all.
The wind changed and blew from the north. Both Chano and Bufalo phrophesied bad weather, and it came quickly with falling snow. We crawled into our tents to wait it out.
We had had no communications with Patriot Hills during the time we had been out there. Apparently the area is problematical for hf communications. Our arrangement for this eventuality was that after three days of nonreporting they would come and get us -- weather permitting, of course...
At dinner, we learned that today was Commando Day, which celebrates the formation of the Chilean Commandos as a branch of the armed forces. We got to talking about the armed forces and Chano said that every member of the armed forces took on a pseudonym that represented how he thought about himself. It was easy to see why Bufalo was called that - he greatly resembles one! Chano's combat name is Boa because he strikes and clings tenaciously. The senior pilot calls himself Misterio - no one knows why.
Chano showed us a lot of photos of his family and a sheet of coupons for garbage collection at his home in Santiago that he took with him by mistake. He laughed about the mountain of accumulated garbage he expected to find when he got back. Altogether, it was a convivial evening. We crept back into our tents to await better
weather and rescue. This was getting old.
Patriot Hills Camp
The robot did not start today. It seems that yesterday's cold temperatures prevented an easy start and the battery was drained. There are two design changes that could help these situations: an external plug to run the heating inside the robot and recharge the battery, and electric heating to warm the generator and facilitate the cold start.
There was no news from the away team. Apparently the hf comms are not working. Alex talked to Comandante Moya, the twin otter planes' commander, and we stand with the plan of fetching them starting tomorrow unless we hear from them and they want to stay longer.
Alex is worried about Nicolas, our good French friend. He has not slept much in the last few days and he seems to be cold. His extreme concern about his agenda prevents him from sleeping and his effectiveness has decreased. Alex talked with him, and at least now he understands better what is happening and agrees to sleep some now and then. Comandante Mora ordered him to sleep in the kitchen tent to warm up a little. They went to sleep very late, after preparing susages and bread. It was a nice breakfast and they invited Comandante Mora to join them, thus avoiding criticism the next day for the unauthorized meal.