I made it up to Mt. Terror today. It was a totally different scene from the other day. It was calm and the snow had become the familiar "styrofoam packed" stuff that has a predicable rheology. We landed after a few passes and only one attempt. The helos have a problem with "contrailing" in these conditions. It can be very dangerous. The craft becomes engulfed in its own contail making visibility impossible at landing. It takes a lot of skill and experience to avoid the situation. It was expertly done. The ship was really steaming on our final approach.
After we landed we still had to climb up an ice sheet to the summit where the gear is, about 200 feet in altitude.The training with the ice ax is really appreciated... such as how to use the ice ax after you fall down a glacier face to save yourself.
It was a peak experience.
We were supposed to be dropped off and the other tech was flying to our "end user". It turned out the "end user" was totally fogged in and they couldn't land so the helo came back and landed for close support. We fixed the stuff we needed to fix but we found a couple other issues that we had to "jury rig". It took us a little longer than best case, but less than plan. The system is working.
In the photo you can see Mt. Erebus in the background. It is about 1000 ft. higher than terror but it is less difficult to land. We have equipment up there too.
When we went to leave, interestingly enough the helo wouldn't start .. Yep. It added a new scenario in my head that I had not originally considered. There is probably no other spot to land another ship up there when the parking place is taken. We all went through some head scratchers as we tried again and we got both engines on the 212 going. A good scenario to consider. We all know it now. Hiking down the hill was obvious... but to where? And how do we get the mechanics and gear to the disabled ship? The ship is definately not going to be safe up there for long the way the weather is around here.
We all had a swearing session at one point on the mountain today, the pilot, techs, everybody. It was probably only -30 up on the mountain. Warm by Terror standards. The altitude effects are immediate; the air is so thin in Antarctica to begin with. Hypoxia is all part of it. Knowing the early signs and pointing them out in your teammates is always a source of entertainment. The swearing is a lot more of a release rather than a dialog.
A lot of people have been to Antarctica. Not many people have been on Mt Terror.