Sorry everyone about not answering the questions promply. I’m off the ice for 12 weeks with limited internet use. My ex-college roommate Chris left a few questions that I thought might be interesting for everyone.
1)Are we government employees?- Not exactly but in the end the money we make comes from the National Science Foundation who contracts to Ratheon Polar Services for the people to run the base. Incidently, if you are interested in applying for one of the myriad of jobs down here, click on the above for their website.
2)Are there time limits on the number of seasons we can stay? For the most part once you have spent a winter in Antarctica, you will be required to take some time off. There are a couple of exceptions, but only if you have a critical job and they couldn’t hire anyone else. Other than the mandatory break there are no limits on the number of times you can return. Some have been going down for twenty years. This year will be our fourth year in a row and third winter in a row.
3) What is the average age of the folks living there? This past year the average age was 38. There is no age limit. Last year we had someone who was almost 75, and there are lots of retired people working in galley etc. The ultimate limiting factor is health. The physical can be compared to what you might undergo if you were going on trip to space. That’s because in the summer you are 3days to a week or more from a hospital in New Zealand, and in the winter you can’t get out at all from Feb to August without risking lives of the air crews that would have to pick you up. Luckily, flunking does not eliminate you forever. I’ve flunked several times for things that are not serious outside of the polar regions. Once for low calcium, once for high creatine levels in my blood, once for tooth that the dentist was not happy with. The tooth I had pulled, and the calcium and creatine tests were repeated favorably which enabled me to return with no problem.[/font:wf0k722l]
4) Are all the folks at McMurdo from U.S.? More or less. We often have a few Canadians with U.S. work permits. This past winter the linemen position was still open and at the last minute they were forced to hire a couple of linemen from New Zealand. All in all though most are from the US. McMurdo, however, is a jumping off base for a number other bases. New Zealand, Italy, and sometimes Russia all pass some or all of their personnel through McMurdo on their way to their respective national bases. [/font:wf0k722l]
5) Are there other bases on Antarctica and where are they in relation to McMurdo? [/font:wf0k722l]
There are lot’s of bases. Some permanant, but most operate only during the summer months.McMurdo supports the US South Pole station which is permanant and scores of summer research camps. Byrd Surface Camp, Ice Stream Charlie, Marble Point,and Granite Harbor are examples of summer only camps. Check” Where is Ross Island” on the front page of this website for a map with the different permanant bases.[/font:wf0k722l]
6) How long do you intend to do this, & whatever would you do after this? Good question. The best answer is I don’t know. We’ve been in this lifestlye since 1997 and the thought of traffic jams and normal life is daunting. I’m used to 12 weeks to 8 months vacation a year. It will be difficult to go back to 2 weeks. To do what we are doing we had to become debt free and that is what enables us to live like we do. Pretty much we are free to head in any direction we want. In past times with high debt, I was always terrified of being without a job. Now we can pick and choose what we want.[/font:wf0k722l]
Living in Antarctic is rough, but I know when we stop I am going to miss it and the lifestyle of being free. My guess is that we’ll do something similar somewhere else. Maybe in a National Park or another overseas base someplace. [/font:wf0k722l]
Well Chris I hope this answers your questions. For personal mail you can use the hotmail address, but I’d rather there not be a million people emailing me because I only have a limited amount of storage there. If you have any more questions that everyone would like to know then put them here. [/font:wf0k722l]
We are sitting on the tropic of capricorn in Australia. It’s hot and humid and we are storing up the warmth for our trip back to the ice.'[/font:wf0k722l]