28 November 2004

Jennifer here- Today, Sunday, is our day of rest. However, we rarely rest down here so today we rested and then worked a little. After brunch, Mike and I conducted CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) profiles at 12 sites near McMurdo, Andrew set up a sponge experiment, Kathy elutriated samples, and Stacy and Bob caught up on things that invariably fall through the cracks while down here.

In the evening, we were lucky enough to listen to a very distinguished mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary, talk about his travels across the polar plateau from Ross Island to the South Pole on tractors. Many of you probably know the name Sir Edmund Hillary from his first ascent of Mt Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Following this ascent he devoted his life to helping the people of Nepal.

Hillary and Tenzing on their way up Everest
(from http://www.nzedge.com/heroes/hillary.html)

Hillary's famous photo of Tenzing on top of the world
(from http://www.nzedge.com/heroes/hillary.html)

Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on the most important leg, coming down the mountain
(from http://www.nzedge.com/heroes/hillary.html)

Few people also know that he was part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1955-58), which made the first successful overland crossing of the continent from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea with Sir Vivian Fuchs. Sir Edmund was the leader of the party that helped drop food depots from Ross Island to the South Pole. They managed this feat on tractors, which was the story he told us about tonight. He later led another Antarctic expedition, which included the first ascent of Mount Herschel.

The talk started at 8 pm and people were lining up at 5:30 in hopes of getting a good seat. After a long wait, the dining hall was standing room only and after Sir Edmundís animated story of his adventure, there were two standing ovations. He entertained a few questions and even told another unscripted story about landing a plane on an uncharted glacier littered with crevasses simply to use the bathroom. Needless to say, when word got back to the New Zealand base, the base manager was not pleased with that decision.

Sir Edmund Hillary speaking to half of McMurdo Station

The galley close to pushing fire codes

Sir Edmund Hillary on the New Zealand five dollar bill

Lets see the next day!