Into the Valley

Bolek is back! After a few days in University Valley, he is back in the relative comfort of McMurdo. He’s preparing for the trip home, but sent us some pictures from the Valley:

Leaving McMurdo

Departure from McMurdo Station on a Bell 212 helicopter on Jan 22 for University Valley. University Valley is part of a larger area to the West of McMurdo Station known as the Dry Valleys, approximately 1 hour away. Wayne, Alfonso and Dennis had arrived about 1.5 weeks earlier and were almost done acquiring core samples by the time we arrived. We appreciated the fact that camp was already set up when we got there.

The View

This is the view when looking towards the mouth of University Valley from our camp. Radio communication with McMurdo Station was possible thanks to the repeater found on Aztec Mountain (one of the mountains in the background)

Head of the Valley

The head of the valley has a small glacier. The camp was located not far from it, a couple of hundred meters away. The darker areas in the wall are volcanic dolorite rock which is embedded in the sedimentary sandstone layers.

Our Camp in University Valley

The large long tents are the kitchen (left) and work (right) tents and the Scott tent (dome like one) was used as the rest room. Quality time was spent mostly in the kitchen and Scott tents!

Kitchen Tent

The kitchen tent was a bit messy but still a cosy place to have a meal together. Every evening we spoiled ourselves for dinner which included dishes like salmon, steak, burgers, shrimp paella and fruit turnovers for dessert! Water was only used for drinking. Dishes had to be wiped.

Beautiful Day

The IceBreaker drill in action! We drilled mostly in camp but also did some drilling at another location 150 m down the valley which was of scientific interest.

Autonomous Drilling

Drilling was done mostly autonomously, which meant we could monitor the drill from within the work tent.

Coring with the Science Drill

Even though most of the coring was completed by the time the rest of the group arrived, some of us still wanted to have a go at it.

Sling Load, ready for pickup

Pulling down camp involved preparing sling loads for the helicopter to pick up.


Polygons as seen from the helicopter are common in this area. They form because the ice cemented ground is continuously contracting and expanding which causes it to form these shapes. Polygons have been also found at the Phoenix landing site on Mars.

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