Sunday, 27 January 2008

Hinge Zone 2: The Trouble with Trimbles

The bulk of my work is done, now. I've got five out of six of my devices working in the field, and the last one is sitting outside the window, ready to go at my leisure. This last device will be located at the Halley VI site, which is ridiculously easy to get to. The route between Halley V and the eventual location of Halley VI is a 12km groomed version of the M25/401/I75.

However, this week it was time to finish our dark business in the hinge zone. We had more great weather, so Rich and I geared up for another day of linked travel to make our measurements at the boringly-named "Site 6". That was the one that bad weather had cut short our last time.

It had been a long time since my last measurement, though, and I had to scrabble around the Simpson gathering and testing the Trimble GPS devices, some of which didn't work - memory card problems, bad cables, etc. (NB - Trimbles are great - but we jury-rig them a lot.) By the time I had them all working, it was 2pm. So a late start. I thought of this blog title while fixing them - if you get the reference, you're an old-school geek.

Anyhoo. The trip to Site 6 was loads better than the last time - perfect contrast, and much practice in linked travel meant we could go along at a decent speed. And Site 6, for all it's dull name, was surprisingly beautiful! In the Hinge, which is where the ice shelf meets the mainland, there is pressure in the ice that throws up crevasses, canyons, and generally "hilly" territory. Not expecting this, I didn't bring my camera - but Rich did, so I'll be getting some pictures soon. While we waited for the survey readings, we roped up and wandered in and out of some of the canyon-like features.

Meanwhile, back at base, this past week has seen some of the strain of overloading a base with too many people. Snowmobile petrol is getting scarce - when we got back from the hinge, we could only half-fill our tanks. Yesterday, one of the generators overheated and the power went out (and fire alarms went off). But the biggest strain is on the poor melt tank. It can't keep up. We throw snow and ice into it three or four times a day, and it doesn't have time to melt before it needs more. As a result, the tube gets jammed. Management is pleading for all of us to limit our showers. I think I'll start having sponge baths at the Simpson (we have our own melt tank that serves four of us).

Well, at least the Internet is still worki|¬~NO CARRIER


Lynne said...

I'm quite please to know that I'm an old-school geek...and curious to know if Trimbles reproduce as quickly and dangerously as Tribbles?

On another note, it's effing cold here. Much colder than where you are! A proper Edmonton cold, with actual -40 and a wind chill to render you sterile. Whee!

Nicole said...

Yeah, what she said. I would like to point out... your weather projections at Halley range around -10C from what I can tell... whereas we are ranging around -40C for the next couple of days. We also have less sun.

How many days left?

Nicole said...

...although our tanks are working just fine, thank-you.

Ryan said...

You speak of less sun like it's a hardship. I humbly submit that you have not experienced the neverending assault on your eyes where you wear sunglasses under tinted goggles and still end the day with bloodshot eyes.

But yes, the weather here is pretty pansy. I keep telling people about Edmonton and say that life here is pretty easy, temperature-wise. (The summer people, that is; the winterers would give you a serious run for your money.)

Lynne said...

I don't envy the winterers! Surely they're made of sturdier stuff than I.

And not all 'tanks' are working well around here! Lots of burst water mains leading to flooded intersections which quickly freeze. I think the Oilers should play an exhibition game on the corner of 118th and Gretzky Drive.

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