Polar expeditions linked to ‘madness’

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  • #7881
    Been There


    In my years of expereince, and that’s more than most in the program, I can only recall a couple folks who didn’t want to go “home”. As others have pointed out, the routine on the Ice can become comfortable and you don’t have to worry about much, other than what day of the week it is and believe me, sometimes you forget. I have had a very few rare times when an individual had to be encouraged to get their bags packed for their flight north but I could count the number on one hand and I have been in the program for more years than I care to count.

    Agree with Mike, it can be stressful returning to the real world. Havingto buy gas for your car, pay rent and buy food can be a shocker if you have not done it for a year.

    Some folks that winter express a desire to stay on for the summer season but in my experience none of them can make the adjustment from the winter routine back to the crazy summer pace….Mike and others can give more details.



    Hey Jim,

    For the most part I agree with BT — people are usually ready to leave at the end of the season, mostly because a new crop of folks arrive, cause commotion, and generally disrupt the routine for the outgoing crew. By the end of the winter you’re so mellow that the new people appear to be operating in frantic high speed (it’s annoying).

    Having said that, the first time I left Palmer I didn’t want to go — after 10 months. In retrospect it was a crappy season but I didn’t know that, and I didn’t want it to end. There was also a 13 month gig at McMurdo where I was there long enough to attend two Halloween parties… I was so comfortable in the job that I absolutely didn’t want to go. In fact a volunteered (successfully) to stay a couple weeks longer. I’m a special case, however, because my job lets me ‘get away’ from most of the station, and I was messed-up before I even went to the Ice.

    Been There


    You always seem pretty normal to me, but I guess I have a different view on all things Antarctic….that happens after a couple years, say twenty or more.

    Baghdad Jim

    The first job they offered me in ’06 was Air Trans super that paid a whopping 34k a year….but it was only a summer contract. A far cry from a solid year. I remember thinking that my delivery driver in Anchorage made more than that a year and almost half was tax free, (pizza franchise).

    I always knew the ice was one of those places that I would have to goto, regardless of the pay. I put it off for so long that I had a near meltdown the other day when the power went out and there wasn’t a breeze to be had. It’s much more humid here than in Iraq.

    I know it’s a pipe dream, but it would be nice if they would allow long-term types to settle in there. Raise families (or not) and freakish looking ice-babies.


    BT I think things have changed over the last 10 years.
    Ever since Raytheon came in, McMurdo has become more businesslike. All in all they are fairly professional. As a result the people who are coming are more business oriented as well.

    When I first started, the program was almost a drunkfest of young partygoers escaping from corporate life. By and large they are running away from this program as rules and regulations and responsibility become the norm.

    In my opinion, the people who had the hardest time in the winters were the ones who drank away their sorrows.

    Today the background checks, enforced pych evals, and general crackdown on alcohol abuse has changed the picture from the previous 10 years. It’s now a place with standards. No more junk fashioning things together. One person can come behind the next and continue working. It is a place that professional people find comfortable, which is very different from the last contractor.

    The people who can’t handle a winter/summer know it. The rest I think would have little trouble.

    Been There


    I agree things have changed for the better. I remember talking to you some time back about the increased screeningld, that some of the old hands objected too. You told me if folks could not pass the screening it was OK with you since you would rather not winter with those folks.

    Remember I started in the program long before you and everyone else on this board. In the early days the bars, five of them, opened at 4:30 in the afternoon and you went from work to the bar and maybe you made it to dinner.

    I am glad to see the changes, I just would like the contractor to not be quite so impersonal….rayjobs is a good example. But I guest it’s a sign of the time and all big companies have something similar.


    PS Building that shed is a three person job 🙁 Trust me I did one years ago. Big pain in the butt!


    yeah we had some good conversations. I remember the one about how people used to be loyal to the program and how that was diminishing. Still I like the safety standards and procedures now and the standard HR ways of handling problems. ASA seemed to me to be a bunch of little Napoleans sitting on their stools firing off orders and firing anyone who they didn’t like. Too many people with too much power and big heads to go with it.

    I call myself a disfunctional non drinker. Meaning I have a beer or wine now and then. I hate being around drunk people, so the whole drinking environment change suits me well.

    That shed is a big PITA. I just need a sunny weekend day to finish it. This week is the Aleutian Goose Festival. I volunteered to help. Hopefully it’s rainy on Saturday so I don’t feel so bad about putting off the shed for another week.

Viewing 7 posts - 16 through 22 (of 22 total)
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