Winter 1961

My Mom and little brother Steve

After an email conversation about the current snow/ice conditions we are currently experiencing (February 21, 2015) I relayed to my friend that I've never been as cold as I am living here; and that's after growing up on Long Island, New York during the very cold and snow bound winters between 1950 and October of 1997 when I left for a much warmer climate in the vacation capitol of Great Lakes Illinois for a quick 9 weeks of training by the U.S. Navy.

My cold weather training started during childhood and continued on at Great Lakes. Later on the training restarted when I was assigned to Keflavik Iceland; the land of fire and ice. Six months of day light followed by six months of darkness, winter comes in and freezes everything and doesn't leave until summer. Summer is measured in hours…

If that wasn't enough while I was assigned to the Cargo Handling and Port Group out of Williamsburg I managed to make 4 or 5 trips to Antarctica to offload and backload the annual resupply ship. Antarctica the only place I saw temperatures of 70 below zero and watched hardened steel break like glass.

But for some reason I've always felt that no place I've been; was as cold as a Virginia winter. It must have something to do with the temperature extremes we see, summer temps in the 100 and then winter temps in the single digits….

All of these pictures are the sole survivors from my first trip to Antarctica in 69-70 summer support. I took these pictures, then developed and printed them. Years later I scanned them and did the best I could to save them.

Click on Thumnails for larger image


EOD setting explosive charges to break the sea ice from the freshwater ice pier. The pier is made from frozen fresh water and straw about ten to fifteen feet thick. Fresh water freezes at 32 degrees F and sea water freezes at 28 degrees F.
The charges detonated. Now the Coast Guard icebreaker can come in and break up the ice in the bay
Looking down on the ice pier (on the right side of the image) the long road to Discovery Hut is visible about mid way up the far hill side. Discovery hut is just out of sight on the left.
Living conditions: the Jamesway hut cousin to the SEA or South East Asia huts from Viet Nam and other tropical places like Diego Garcia; consisted of an insulated blanket thrown over wooden bows above a plywood floor. Surprisingly they were very warm as long we didn't run out of kerosene for the two heaters.
Hut Point, Ross Island, Antarctica: The hut was built in February 1902 during the National Antarctic (Discovery) Expedition of 1901-1904, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott who later found it a valuable advance staging point for journeys on the "Barrier" during his 1910-1913 expedition. It was also used by Sir Ernest Shackleton during the 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition and later by his stranded Ross Sea Party during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917. This building was prefabricated in Australia to an 'outback' design with verandahs on three sides.
These pictures are from my first trip to the "Ice", here we are waiting our turn to board the "Texas Twister" to ride over glacier ice to the pass where we got out and boarded a 21/2 ton truck to make the trip through the pass and into McMurdo.
The pass or the mountains at the edge of the glacier, the air field Wiley field was built on the glacier
The busy international Wiley Field Airport
Strange feeling landing on the ice runway in a C130 on skies; after a 8 hour flight it didn't matter how dangerous it was landing on the ice, you were just glad to get out of that airplane.

I was looking for one thing and found another; everyone has that happen to them. What I found I thought was lost forever. Back in the sixties and seventies, I shot a lot of B&W film and processed it myself printing on the pictures I thought were good. Like all photographers, I made contact sheets and carefully put the negatives into envelopes for saving.

Contact Sheet

Contact sheets are made by taking the negatives and laying the down on the photographic paper with a glass plate on top exposing them to light and then developing the paper. When you're done the print you have is a ready reference of all the negatives from that shoot or roll of film.

Yep every one of the images on the contact sheet is the size of the negative and in this case 35mm film. I'm going to send some of the negatives out and have them processed into prints. However, I decided not to wait, and scanned some of the more interesting ones.

I scanned them at 2400 pixels and then reworked the images as best I could. The scratches and dust spots were on the images when they were scanned and in some images, I couldn't get them all out. Remember the contact sheet was made in 1970 and has been stored since.

What you see below is a series of pictures taken of my then Chief (name with held by poor memory) showing me how to pet a leopard seal. This isn't a very smart thing to do, of course in our case we didn't know how violent these animals could get over nothing; and we annoyed this one enough that she decided to leave. No one was hurt in the encounter.

Lator we discovered we had broken several rules by being out where we were. Not only could you get attacked by a seal but you could fall in a crevasse or a hole the seals chew in the ice to get to the surface. Once in the water you would be a finished off in less than a minute or two. You would never find the hole you fell through to get out before you froze or drowned to death.

Looking at the pictures above you'll see the ones of EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) cutting away the flow ice from the "Ice Pier". While they were busy setting charges we were busy pulling 1 inch diameter wire cables from one dead man to the next to pull the ice pier back together. It seems for some reason it had cracked and no one knew if the cracks went all the way to the bottom of the ice cube that is the pier. It's about 8 foot thick if memory serves me. (but don't take that to the bank). I do remember this day pretty well I was knocked off the fork life when the end of the wire came free of the wooden spool and hit me square in the face.

Our fork lift operator

A view of Hut Point from up on the hill overlooking Winters Quarters Bay.

A view of Scotts hut from the Ice Pier.The pole just to the right of the images center is a dead man. It's called a dead man because its bottom is buried in the ice frozen in place. It does have two little horns on the top because they're also used to moor the ship to the ice pier.

To the right you can see one of the cracks they were worried about and the cables pulled to hold it together. Later on, they poured fresh water in the cracks with straw this would fill and seal the crack. Remember fresh water freezes at 32 degrees F and seawater freezes at 28.

This image has nothing to do with Antarctica, it was taken somewhere in Christchurch, NZ. The U.S. Navy has a base there for outfitting troops headed down south. They also run the airline that carries us to the big white continent. On the way back we aren't all that important so we wind up waiting for several days and get to enjoy the hospitality of New Zealand...

And what about the people... Unfortunately, over the years, my memory hasn't improved; in fact I seem to have forgotten a lot. One of the things that I lost beside my memory are the names of the guys in these pictures, all of them were shipmates. If you see, someone you know let me know. In these pictures we have just disembarked off a C130 aircraft, after 8 hours flight time from Christchurch NZ at Wiley Field. We are waiting on transportation across the Glacier and into McMurdo.

To get to Antarctica via the US Navy, you have to fly to Christchurch New Zealand. Once you get there your outfitted with your arctic gear, mini pocket pants, parka and of course the ever stylish bunny boots. You're also given socks and long underwear and some other stuff you might need. However, the other thing that you get is liberty in NZ which is pretty good. To fly down to Antarctica you get on C130 specially fitted with skis and fly south. After 4 hours in the air, the pilot radios to see what the weather is like at landing field. If the weather isn't good they turn around and fly back to NZ. You get another night of liberty and the next morning your back on the plane and headed south once more. On one trip, south we did this 4 times before we actually made it.

Ok I found these negatives of pictures I took in Christchurch, yes they are 50 years old, and the only reason I've seen them is because of finding a negative/slide scanner and trying to test it. Years ago, I developed all the film I brought back from the Antarctic deployment, however after making a contact sheet I never printed any of the pictures. So I haven't seen them in 50 years, to my surprise they weren't half bad...

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Picture Page 13 Plants & Flowers ANTARCTICA
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