After arriving at Summit Station last week, the GrIT team got to work offloading all the cargo, delivering the drilling fluid and casing to the Antarctic drill test camp, and pumping about 19,500 gallons of fuel into the station's stores. They repacked sleds for the return trip to Thule, rearranging two of the sleds so a tractor bound for NEEM station and one of the Thule tractors will have a hybrid sled. Half of the sled will be set up as an ARCS-style cargo sled, and the other half will have empty sheets of HMW for fuel bladders or miscellaneuous cargo.
Originally GrIT leaders planned to leave three tractors at Summit for next year's effort to relocate NEEM. Instead, the team will drop one tractor at NEEM and bring three back to Thule. One of the machines, Nanoq, needs major repairs.
Despite the mechanical issues, the team reports enjoying the trip and looking forward to the return trip. The Thule-bound crew consists of Pat, Robin, and Galen, all of whom are optimistic they are over the mechanical troubles that plagued the outbound leg. Ben and Erik will depart from the team over the weekend. Erik will head back to Montana to enjoy some well-deserved R&R before rejoining the SPOT (South Pole Overland Traverse) crew in Antarctica. Ben has accepted a job at Summit, which will keep him busy for the remainder of the summer.
The Arctic Research Support and Logistics Program within the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs funds the Greenland Inland Traverse. CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route to Summit Station. The 2014 spring traverse delivers fuel and cargo to Summit Station, continues efforts to optimize mobility, and provides a research platform for Zoe Courville’s NSF-funded scientific research project.
Monitor GrIT and SAGE progress here. Follow the SAGE science traverse via their blog. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.