Day 18–A Place Frozen In Time

May 31, 2010 8:22pm

Representing Global Green on the Greenland Ice sheet.

We set up camp next to DYE II, and our tent is dwarfed by the five story building. Such a structure, incongruous in this setting, looks part cathedral, part sci-fi movie set. Its dominant feature: a radar dome that defined its purpose. During the cold war, the US army monitored the air for spook ballistic activity. Such structures were built in line–four across Greenland–and all the way into Canada and Alaska. Assignments there must have been bleak due to the temperatures, and the many months of darkness.

Its construction relied on a feat of engineering which have since then been copied on the Antarctica ice sheet. Given that the ice is over two thousand meters in depth, there is no solid ground on which to anchor the structure on. A system was therefore devised that relied on pillars to effectively raise the building at will in the event of sinking due to melting or increased snow and ice conditions.

Upon retiring the premises, the place was abandoned, as if in a rush, and most of its content along with it. Inside has the creepy feeling of a haunted space. The kitchen is still stocked with soft drinks and beer, and cartons of eggs. The bar has half empty and frozen bottles of alcohol. The ashtrays are littered with cigarette butts. There are adult magazines in many of the private quarters. The tool room is still equipped with rusty parts, and many the electronics panels feel they could launch an Apollo mission. The paint is peeling off the walls in strange circular patterns, mostly due to the cold. Overall, it is pretty spooky in there, due at least in part to the fact that the building was built to antiquated code, and between the led paint, the PCBs and the asbestos, the air in this dilapidated environment can only be anything but healthy!

Inside the billiard room at DYE II, we join other expeditions and sign the wall.

The billiards room is interesting: the table is still there but without balls. Adorned on its walls are signatures from visiting expeditions over the years, numerous as they are for this is a common stop over of East/West crossings. We complied and added ours. Without a doubt the coolest feature of the building is the radar dome. The panels of the dome itself are fiberglass, and the sun filtering through, makes this the only warm room in the house. It houses a giant thirty foot rotating radar. We spent a couple of hours investigating, taking in the place that froze in time–literally. Light winds today. We will wait until evening and move then if things pick up.

Last minute update: with frost building inside the tent, and steam coming strong out of our nostrils, the prospect of pulling ourselves from the warmth of our sleeping bags to face nighttime frigid temps and very light winds sounds, well, less than appealing… We will pray for–and dream of–better winds for the morning! We have covered the first, and generally the most unpredictable, 600 kilometers of our mission. 1700 left to go!

One Response to “Day 18–A Place Frozen In Time”

  1. Basile says:

    Funny: the chalks remain for each team that goes there ! Comforting.

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