Getting out of the piston bully the landscape was stunning, and the clear sky allowed us to see all the mountains in the distance, as well as Mt. Erebus, which will dominate my landscape for the next several months. The second thing I noticed was the cold. It was approximately -50 with wind chill, and even with all the gear we wear you could feel it in your bones. Several people got very minor frostbite, and all of us had frozen eye lashes and facial hair. Within seconds of removing my mittens to take pictures I lost all sensation in my fingers, just a normal day here.
The sea ice can be treacherous, and to the untrained eye, quite dangerous. As the ice cracks, water can come to the surface, but due to the extreme temperatures it quickly freezes over, though often only a very thin layer. The gusts of wind caused the snow to drift into the cracks, filling these crevasses to the eye, but if you step into them, or drive over them, you risk a fall. We learned how to identify these hidden dangers, and how to detect just how dangerous they are. We did quite a bit of shoveling and drilling to determine the thickness, and also marked those areas we found which were quite dangerous.
The great excitement of the day came when we heard our seals below the ice. Weddell's are very vocal, and we heard one, a male presumably, calling from the icy waters below. The call is quite an eerie noise, but it proved we were in face in seal country. We presume the seal was excited by the light coming through the newly excavated hole, and may have been calling to others. We now know our camp is in the right place, and hopefully seals will begin to pull out in short order and give birth to their pups.