Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

2014 Greenland Inland Traverse launches

The 2014 Geenland Inland Traverse team (L-R):  Erik Lund, Pat Smith, Robin Davies, Galen Dossin, Ben Toth.

The 2014 Geenland Inland Traverse team (L-R): Erik Lund, Pat Smith, Robin Davies, Galen Dossin, Ben Toth.

After enduring a series of storms, the GrIT operations and SAGE research teams used a break in the weather on Monday to launch SAGE ahead of GrIT. The GrIT tractors and loads were buried under enormous snow drifts, most of which would need to be hand-excavated to avoid damage, and final preparations would likely take another two days.

The SAGE traverse with their cargo train getting ready to leave Monday morning.

The SAGE traverse with their cargo train getting ready to leave Monday morning.

So, instead of waiting for the GrIT tractors to lead them through the crevasse zone, the SAGE science team started off with PFS’s Galen Dossin driving a Tucker to assist in pulling their heavy load up the long, steep hill between land and the inland ice sheet.

Back at the transition, the GrIT team set to and departed on Wednesday, as GrIT Project Manager Geoff Phillips writes in his latest report, excerpted below.

The GrIT 2014 is officially underway and en route to Summit Station.

The crew consists of three veterans (Pat Smith, Robin Davies, and Galen Dossin) and two South Pole Overland Traverse veterans (Erik Lund and Ben Toth). It is easy to spot who is who by the way they tow their loads. All the sleds will be double-hauled (two tractors per sled) up through the steep crevasse sections but not all the same way. The SPOT guys  prefer to double haul in single file and the GrIT crew prefers side-by-side. Both have advantages and disadvantages and it will be good to see if one proves better for Greenland snow conditions.

 

 

Above: Two approaches to double-hauling cargo: the in-line and the side-by-side 

The GrIT crew mentioned above, along with Brian Buckley and Dave Weimer, worked a flexible schedule through some miserable storms to ensure the traverse kept moving forward. It was a great prep season despite the surprise weather at the end. Thanks to all who helped get us to this point.

This is the back half of the DuraBase cargo sled after half a day of shoveling. The green cylinder cages on the right are 8' tall. The BH steel columns are visible sticking out the far left side. There are more columns on the other side of this sled, and 20' of snow drift between the two. Not much heavy equipment can do to help. All photos Geoff Phillips

This is the back half of the DuraBase cargo sled after half a day of shoveling. The green cylinder cages on the right are 8′ tall. The BH steel columns are visible sticking out the far left side. There are more columns on the other side of this sled, and 20′ of snow drift between the two. Not much heavy equipment can do to help. All photos Geoff Phillips

The Arctic Research Support and Logistics Program within the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs funds the Greenland Inland Traverse. CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route to Summit Station. The 2014 spring traverse delivers fuel and cargo to Summit Station, continues efforts to optimize mobility, and provides a research platform for Zoe Courville’s NSF-funded scientific research project.

Monitor GrIT and SAGE progress here: http://www.datatransport.org/grit/
Follow the SAGE science traverse via their blog: http://coldregionscience.wordpress.com/
For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.

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