Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

GrIT Update: Unexpected Delay

The DuraBase broke, and difficulties towing the sled resulted in a delay for the GrIT team. Photos courtesy of Geoff Phillips

The DuraBase sled broke, and difficulties towing it resulted in a delay for the GrIT team. Photos courtesy of Geoff Phillips

The GrIT operations team was delayed by a broken DuraBase sled, but some spontaneous fixes appear to have put them back on track. GrIT project manager Geoff Phillips explains in the most recent situation report, excerpted below.

There were a few good days and one terrible morning that pushed the crew to the conclusion that the DuraBase sled was slowing them down, as it was the only sled that was too stubborn to allow single heading on Tuesday. After 18 miles of attempting to get the sled warm and “slippery” enough for single heading, the crew decided it was time for a little creative reconfiguring.

The crew repositions the sheets of the good DuraBase.

The crew repositions the sheets of the good DuraBase.

With the Cat 953 sitting on broken and disintegrating sheets of DuraBase and the rest of the sled covered in a few extra tons of snow and ice, the crew dismantled the entire back half of the sled. The Cat conveniently drove itself off and then assisted with off-loading all the Big House steel while the rest of the GrIT crew went back to shoveling off the excess snow that this sled enthusiastically collects in quantity! The Cat was reloaded after rearranging the DuraBase sheets and moving the Big House steel to the spare HMW sheets.

The crew reloads the Cat sans the Big House steel.

The crew reloads the Cat sans the Big House steel.

Aside from looking more presentable, now it should pull better because of improved weight displacement and a significant weight reduction. If this improves efficiency enough to single head—which it should—then it will be time well spent for the schedule and the crew’s sanity.

With this delay, the crew has dropped back to three days behind schedule again. As mentioned earlier, I expect this delay will likely fluctuate a day in either direction until they arrive at Summit next week.

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. 
Follow the SAGE science traverse via their blog. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.