Working in Antarctica

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    Everything seemed to go very well on tuesday.
    The doctor said everything seems fine and the psychologist said the same thing.
    I have to wait a few days for the psych tests to be checked and for my ekg results, and tb test to be finished in order to be to be cleared but I’m hopeful I will be pq’ed this week.
    Regards to all,
    Prairie Dog.


    Haven’t posted here before, but have just been reading though this entertaining thread and thought I’d drop a line.
    Prairie Dog,  just wanted to say good luck to you on the psych tests and EKG results, I’m sure you’ll do fine. And, I wanted to say that I’m highly jealous of the adventure your about to have down south (and that I’m green with envy just knowing that some of the members of this site are in Antactica). I hope you cherish it all!
    I just don’t have any useful skills to warrant me being sent to Antarctica, except for being able to drink a lot and act like a fool, and I’m sure that wouldn’t help much down there. (Except maybe to entertain anyone watching me)
    Anyway……I’m just babbling now.
    Cheers, and have fun doing something not many of us get a chance to do.


    Hi Kasei
    This is Kasei from Antarctic Traveler?  You seem to have a keen interest in coming down here. You would be surprised at how many unskilled jobs are available down here. McMurdo is the largest base in Antarctica and is open to US citizens and any one else with a green card (work visa). I didn’t catch what your nationality is , but the chances are that whatever country you live in  will have an antarctic base.
    McMurdo is a bit like a small town. They need everyone. The most applied for job down here is probably a GA (general assistant)  It’s the ultimate unskilled labor job in antartca. It’s also the lowest pay, but there are some benefits. For starters you can only be a GA for one year. In that time if you want to come back you need to network, visit work centers, get trained in something and make it known that they are better off hiring you the next year than someone totally unknown. Chances are if  you make a name for  yourself as a hard worker, then everyone will want you back.
    The bad side is that it can be a miserable job. You will do the work that no one else wants to do. Shoveling snow, chipping ice, cleaning up messes etc. The good side is that you will do it everywhere. It doesn’t happen every  season or to every GA, but there is a much greater chance for a GA than for me that you will be flown all over antarctica to do your menial task. Chances are I’ll never see the dry valleys, Ice Stream C, Byrd Field  Camp, etc. but if they need help with cleanup or shoveling snow, there will probably be a GA flown in to help. Two years ago the seal researchers needed someone to help catch seals and tag them. There was a GA to help. Granted the rest of the time you’ll be chipping ice off u-barrels, but in the end y ou’ll probably say the experience was great. Since it is unskilled it tends to be young college age kids. Probably the most educated group here. They are usually full of vitality and are a lot of fun to be around.
    Other unskilled jobs are Galley attendents, DA’s (dining assistant) janitors and workcenter GA’s, and several admintrative assistant jobs (if you have computer skills).
    Let me know what you are doing for a living now and I’ll let you know if there is anything here that comes close.
    mike in McMurdo


    [font=Arial Black, Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:v84ftexj]Prarie dog[/font:v84ftexj],
    You haven’t mention taking the dental yet. That exam can be a killer. If there is one thing hard to deal with at the south pole it’s a tooth ache. The winterover doctor at McMurdo last year got a couple of weeks of dental training, but still laughed that they should have hired a dentist and give him a couple of weeks of medical training.
     In the last couple of years the dental PQ process has become pretty tough to pass on the first try. The each of my first 2 years I flunked and had to have a deep cleaning done before they would pass me. The third year the said one tooth was too loose and had to come out before they would allow me to winter. This year everything was great.
    Dental is a long process because after the exam with your dentist, the results get sent to Denver where another program dentist reviews the x-rays and decides if you need more treatment.
    IF you haven’t done the dental yet get going.
    I was telling Lorie at breakfast this morning about your earth home and she said she would love to learn about it. She reinforced my belief that any seminars you would put on about your home would be well attended here.
    [font=Arial Black, Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:v84ftexj]Cold Feet[/font:v84ftexj]. Good to hear from you again. You must be warming up finally. This has been a weird winter here so far. We hit  an all time record of May last week. 27.1 degrees F. In May of all things. The storms that have accompanied the warmer weather have been horrendous. Most years there are one or two condition one storms in a whole season. We’ve had 5 already this year. The NSF manager who has been coming down for many years says he has never seen weather like this before. 
    Read the thread above to find out about the bears.
    mike in mcmurdo


    Thanks for the good thoughts….. I’m looking forward to my time in Antarctica with a mixture of mostly excitement and a little dread .
    I understand that there are jobs of every description on the ice especially at Mcmurdo.
    A fair amount of drinking seems to go on at Mcmurdo and Pole but it is discouraged by Raytheon .
    The day I applied for this job, I quit drinking and started an exercise/diet program.
    After seven weeks I feel so good I may not go back to my old less healthy ways.
    I’m starting a intensive program of yoga to try to physically and mentally prepare myself in order to not just survive the experience but to get the most benefit from it.
    I’d hate to go down there and just work and sleep.
    Working outside all summer at Pole will be a challenge but I hope that my preparations pay off and that I will have the energy to participate in the community and enjoy my stay.
    Prairie Dog.


    Hey mike and lori,
    Satindoll here again and I too have been watching the chatter….
    well at the moment i work for TSA, airport security….(need any one frisked?), but i also am an experienced cook…   worked in catering, and partys for so long that i can make just about anything out of anything  (and my mother was a french cook)  
    plus i was a carpenter and construction worker and know my way around a tool shop… was a fabricator with wood and plexy…..   
    let me see…  i raised 5 kids, and know the best deal in town… so i can procure….   and get the best rate…and best of all…. a pro at creative financing….
    have known to put in my time as a sectry…. and office duties….
    was a newspaper editor all during my college days… (last grad class of ’99)
    for 4 years and can write and edit….        
    also love to laugh and be amused…..
    gratefull for life also…..
    love and hugs to you all……  
    satindoll   (from florida)   


    Sounds like you are adaptable enough to work down here. Plus it doesn’t sound like moving away from everyone you know would be a great problem for you. Your chances of getting hired this year are slim. Most of the hiring is already done for the next year, but people drop out all the time. One of the guys I work with was given a call in January and asked if he could get his affairs in order and be down in 2 weeks. It doesn’t happen a lot but who knows.


    Hey Mike and Lorie,[/font:8iwh4o73]
    And everyone else on the list.. I have been reading all the good things about some of the folks on the list who are trying to or might be going to the ice this next season..[/font:8iwh4o73]
    I have 2 seasons under my belt, as a Firefighter at McMurdo. Mike and I have both had some time on the ice as Ham Radio operators.. [/font:8iwh4o73]
    I miss the ice and don’t know if I will be back the next season, in the 12 months I have spent there I must say it has changed my life, it gives you something to think about… [/font:8iwh4o73]
    I have been interviewed for job as Director of Public Safety Training for the local community college. so I don’t know where this will lead…[/font:8iwh4o73]
    Mike are you on HF at all??[/font:8iwh4o73]
    Chris Post[/font:8iwh4o73]
    Antarctic Fire Department 01-02  02-03[/font:8iwh4o73]
    Chris Post
    Lehigh County Emergency Management
         Allentown, PA
    United States Antarctic Program
         McMurdo Station Antarctica



    Today was a good news/bad news kind of day.
    Raytheon medical called to say that their dental reviewer wants me to have my remaining two wisdom teeth out and my bitewing xrays redone. My own dentist felt they should be left in place and only removed one wisdom tooth.
    Now I have to go to an oral surgeon to have the other ones removed 🙁
    You were right again Mike…….
    The good news is I’ve passed everything else so I’m just two teeth away from the south pole ….yahoo! or was that yee haw!
    A confused but happy Prairie Dawg in Colorado.
    ps  How are things going in MacTown?


    Hey Chris
    I was wondering what happened to you . I had my 50th birthday party here the other night. It was pretty nice. Lorie got everyone to send photo’s of me from throughout the years. Most were from my family but several from friends. I have to find some time to write everyone and thank them. Winter is progressing. It’s been dark for about a month now. Morale is still pretty good although they are enforcing some of the rules a little more than normal and it’s having an effect. It’s still too early in the winter to guess where it will lead to. We’ve been deluged with storms this year. We’ve had something like 5 condition one storms already this year. Max winds at the sat station on the hill have peaked around 105 mph. The roofs of the heavy shop and 155 began to rip off but they were able to get patches on and fix them. Hurry for the UT’s. I’m running trips again this year but not as much without  Clark. That’s another rules thing. Paperwork for the trips. We are becoming corporatized.
    HF radio is getting pretty dead with the darkness. It’s hit or miss some days good most days the radio is dead. I’m going to be trying to reach my Dad’s retirement home at 11pm your time on your Saturday nights so listen in. The frequency is still 14243.
    Keep in touch and let us know how the job search is going. Lorie and I are taking off a year after this winter. I think we’ll be driving from Baltimore to  California via the southern route sometime after Christmas. Maybe we”ll get up your way to visit.


    To D Welch
    We are alive and well down here at McMurdo Station. I’ve been keeping this message board going for a couple of years now just to answer peoples questions about living down here. Feel free to fire away.


    I use to be stationed there (1986-1987) while I was in the Navy.  I worked at the OB Hill Water Plant,  the (then new) downtown Water Plant, & for a while in the Galley building’s boiler room.[/font:cegjolzx]
      Is the now old admin building still there, if so I also wonder if the the Winter Over Planks are still displayed on the wall?  They had the names of those who wintered over.[/font:cegjolzx]
      I wish while I was there I had taken more detailed photos of where I worked and lived.[/font:cegjolzx]
      I have my cruise books for the summer support phase (1986-87) and the winter over phase (1987).[/font:cegjolzx]
      Are they still using the OB Hill Plant?  Is the Hot Tub still in use at the OB Hill Living quarters?  Is the Sauna still in use at the Fire House?  [/font:cegjolzx]
       By the way the last time I looked at your webcam the view of the town was blury, but the bottom of the container edge was almost in focus.[/font:cegjolzx]
      That’s it for now.[/font:cegjolzx]
      Thank You[/font:cegjolzx]
       Signed [/font:cegjolzx]
       Donald Welch[/font:cegjolzx]


     I always enjoy it when I get to talk to the OAE’s. Things obviously have changed a lot since you were here. They pretty much dismantled all the operations on OB Hill. The water plant building is still there but it is only used for storage now. The living quarters are gone. I did a search looking for photo’s of the ob hill station. The bottom long link gets you to south pole dot com. The view from OB hill looking down shows 3 buildings in the early 80’s. Today the left hand building and the right hand building closest to OB hill are still there. The far building on the right was torn down a few years ago. I’m not sure which building was used for what when you were here. [/font:fb5lpl5j]
    All the water is now made in the new water plant. They got rid of the flash evaporators around 1997 and replaced them with Reverse Osmosis units that can filter the salt out of sea water. I’ve been meaning to get some photo’s of the water plant on the web page for a couple of years now. Maybe this is the motivation I need. [/font:fb5lpl5j]
    I don’t know of any winterover planks with names. I think the admin building is still in use. Is it the building next to the VMF (heavy shop)?. [/font:fb5lpl5j]
    Each of the new upper case dorms have a sauna. I don’t think there is one in the firehouse.Each winter the UT’s find a spot to set up a hot tub just for the winter. This year they have it in  a fish hut next to the firehouse with the hot tub inside. Last year it was in the hospital, but it left a white stain on the floor and it was decided not to allow it there again. In previous years it has also been down at the power plant, but for safety purposes isn’t allowed there anymore.[/font:fb5lpl5j]
    The webcam is pretty much useless at this time of year. As you can see for yourself it is dark 24 hours a day here now. I think it’s blurry because nothing lights up enough for the camera to focus on. Once the sun comes up you will be able to look around fine. In fact if you navigate to the left you get great views of Ob hill. You can even zoom in on the cross on the top of the hill. [/font:fb5lpl5j]
    below is the link to the photo’s I found. [/font:fb5lpl5j]
    Mike in McMurdo[/font:fb5lpl5j]
    I use to be stationed there (1986-1987) while I was in the Navy.  I worked at the OB Hill Water Plant,  the (then new) downtown Water Plant, & for a while in the Galley building’s boiler room.[/font:fb5lpl5j]
      Is the now old admin building still there, if so I also wonder if the the Winter Over Planks are still displayed on the wall?  They had the names of those who wintered over.[/font:fb5lpl5j]
      I wish while I was there I had taken more detailed photos of where I worked and lived.[/font:fb5lpl5j]
      I have my cruise books for the summer support phase (1986-87) and the winter over phase (1987).[/font:fb5lpl5j]
      Are they still using the OB Hill Plant?  Is the Hot Tub still in use at the OB Hill Living quarters?  Is the Sauna still in use at the Fire House?  [/font:fb5lpl5j]
       By the way the last time I looked at your webcam the view of the town was blury, but the bottom of the container edge was almost in focus.[/font:fb5lpl5j]


    Prairie Dog
    I knew it. Dental gets you everytime. You can see why I say get it done early. Those that wait until the end of the summer don’t have time to get the work done. In the end you will appreciate not having dental problems. Every year, even with the strict exams and work, there are still people who get toothaches. With no Dentist it can be sheer misery. When you see the others with problems you’ll be happy you won’t be hurting.
    There is a chance I may be staying until the end of October, so when you hit Mactown. Look me up and I’ll give you hints on how to use the computer system to find the parts you need. I helped out last years electric foreman. I think it helped him in his job. On that note, Hunter, are you still checking this site. I’d like to know where you ended up.


    Just wanted to thank everyone who shares info at this message board…. I’ve learned a lot.  I’ll be heading to McMurdo for the first time this October.  I’m quite excited, and am sticking to the paperwork and PQ stuff like glue.  I’m a bit nervous about the dental stuff.  I haven’t had my apt yet, but I do have two impacted wisdom teeth.  I’ve never had any problems with them – do you think they’ll make me take them out?  And, is that something that I’ll have to pay for, or does Raytheon cover that cost?  I’ve had one dentist say I might need a crown, but another dentist say that that tooth was fine.  I hope I can get by without having to get a crown – is that something else I’d have to pay for?  Is there anything else  I should be worried about to PQ?  How long does the whole process take?   I think I should be getting my PQ paperwork anyday now…. 

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