Expedition Report from William Cassidy

Dec. 1, 1998, Tuyesday: Patriot Hills Camp

The calm continued this morning and the day was glorious. Antarctica does this at irregular intervals, and one is so thankful for the good weather that he almost forgets to curse the place. It's like beating your head against the wall, because it feels so good when you stop.

Matt, Mike and Sib took Nomad's generator out to Nomad -- this generator has been having problems too -- but by the time they got there it had frozen up again. After failing to get it started, they came back for a while to warm up and then departed to decommission Camp Crickett and bring it all back here to be packed, ready for our departure. They reported exceedingly high winds on our side of Patriot Hills and, indeed, looking across the several km between the hills and us, one could see rolling clouds of snow. The wind reached us soon enough and brought blasts of ice crystals to make life miserable again. We worked in this environment, digging out our packing crates and moving them to higher levels so that they are now sitting on the new level established by the last storm.

At 3:30 we took a break to attend a talk by Pascal Lee on Mars, illustrated with Mars Orbiter photos displayed on the exceptionally bright screen of his computer. The talk was a good one, of course, but I was struck this time as I have been impressed at other talks we have given, by the rapt attention and great curiosity of the Chilean personnel in this camp. Questions afterward are many, and discussions often are generated. This is a great group.

After Pascal's talk the wind had mysteriously died again and we actually established Inmarsat contact again with the rest of the world. We are now able to let people know that we will be leaving soon; probably on December 3rd, if the weather cooperates. We have yet to get Nomad back to the landing strip, but Matt, Mike and Sib have hopes of accomplishing that tonight or tomorrow.

 Pascal had been cutting rocks on a saw he brought with him, and was horrified to discover that a small pebble he had just cut was a meteorite. He had judged it to be a "meteorwrong" when he collected it at Pirrit Hills and now was mortified to think that he had misidentified it, and in addition had "contaminated" it with the antifreeze liquid he had been using as a lubricant. Well, we'll have to straighten it all out with the Meteorite Working Group when we get back. The good news is that we have now doubled the number of finds we have made this year.