Dale Andersen's Field Reports

Dale Andersen’s Astrobiology Antarctic Status Report: 11 December 2022: Back at the ALCI Ice Runway and Airbase Facility

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
Dale Andersen
December 11, 2022
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Dale Andersen’s Astrobiology Antarctic Status Report: 11 December 2022: Back at the ALCI Ice Runway and Airbase Facility
The Traverse


Over the last three days we pulled down the camp and completed a few last minute science chores before returning to the ALCI airbase facility.

ALCI had the Prinoth-Everest tracked vehicle and cargo sleds traverse to Untersee on the 9th, arriving at the lake around 8pm. The next morning we pulled down the last two tents and packed gear onto the cargo sleds for transport back to Novo.

Miles, Andre and I then set off on our Lynx Commander snowmobiles while Denis and Adam returned with Everest and the cargo sleds – the last sled has a small passenger cabin mounted to it that was used for thier bumpy, less than luxurious ride back.

Traverse map
Traverse map from Lake Untersee Base Camp North to Novo Station And The ALCI Ice Runway: Airbase Facility — Dale Andersen

Our traverse by snowmobile went quite well and unlike last year when we returned with grey skies and flat light that quickly turned into a blizzard, this year we enjoyed clear, sunny skies with great visiblity and very little wind.

While most of our route crossed over blue-ice (which is slow and hard on the snowmobiles) the route had a reasonable amount of snow along the way making the trip pretty easy. After 5 uneventful hours crossing the crevassed continental ice-sheet between Untersee Oasis and Schirmacher Oasis we arrived at the airbase just before 6 pm. Quickly checking in with the ALCI communications center to let them know of our return, we were assigned a warm hut with bunks where we will berth until flying north to Cape Town in a few days.

Everest, being much slower arrived at 11 pm and after unloading personal gear Denis and Adam joined us in our new home for a good night sleep.

Over the next two and half days we will re-pack and store gear that will remain in Antarctica for use next year, and prepare our personal bags for the trip back to Cape Town and then home. If all goes well, we will be in Cape Town some time on the 14th – we will see how weather and logistics work out but we expect to be back in Cape Town soon and a few days later heading home.

It has been a great field season and we accomplished most of our scientific goals and objectives so everyone is happy. Now we just need to have the samples returned safely and carry out the analyses required to answer the many scientific questions we have regarding the remarkable ecosystem at Untersee.


ps – hope you saw the traverse unfold via the InReach tracking link I sent

Traverse Trip Summary

Topo map of Dale’s traverse north to Novo Station and ALCI Airbase facility

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Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻