Letters from Lori Ross

Date: October 15, 1996
From: Lori Ross, Palmer Station

(Lori Ross is one of Carol Vleck's research team, studying the reproductive success of Adelie penguins on Torgersen and other nearby islands. These Journal entries come from a series of letters home to family and friends.)

I have been stuck on station for a week now. It is really frustrating to be able to see the penguins on Torgersen, but not be able to do anything about it. Most of this month has been spent indoors. We have had 6 ice days, 6 wind days, and only 3 boating days since October 1st. I should be an expert on penguins from reading all the reprints I have, but I find myself in a funk where it is hard to concentrate. There is no place to go where I can sit down and read without being interrupted. And it is really easy to go watch a movie that other people are watching or just sit around talking. I have found myself sleeping late because I am hoping that one of these days Terry will have to wake me up to go out. I have been told that since this is the other side of the world, a positive attitude does not work, but a negative one might (notice my cynicism). The past two days have been ice days so at least I could go up the glacier without being blown off.

Last Friday, Terry, Asrun, David and I went up when it was blowing only 5 knots, but the weather changes so fast around here that by the time we got down it had spiked up to 43 knots and was snowing heavily. I couldn't see Asrun and she was only 20 feet in front of me. A few researchers were out on the snowmobile and they had to stop at a flag and wait for it to clear because they couldn't see the next flag. Yesterday was entirely different from that. It was what people down here call a "tan" The sun was shining all day. I knew it could get bright here, but I was just amazed at how bright. Asrun and I went up the glacier and took more pictures of the mountains on Anvers. Then we went down another part of the glacier that goes over to the Kristie Cove area.

This part is much steeper than the normal glacier so I decided to see if I could sled down it. And much to my surprise, I could. In fact I picked up quite a bit of speed and I was just sitting on my gortex pants. I wouldn't want to try it on a real sled! The bad part about going down a really steep hill (the fun part) is trying to go back up. Before Asrun and I attempted this, we took a bunch of pictures of some Giant Petrels that must have been nesting close to the cove. They were flying really close to us and I hope that I captured their size on film. I guess they have a wing span of 3 meters. After this spectacular show of nature we attempted to climb back up the glacier. It actually was not as hard as I thought it would be. I just made sure that I had good footing before I tried to take another step.

After dinner it was still beautiful out so I went out again. This time I went to the backyard to play frisbee with some people. They are all from California so needless to say, they are much better at frisbee than I am. When we all got really hot and sweaty, we went down to the base of the glacier and listened to the ice creak. It sounded like whales singing. Then we hiked up the glacier to watch the sunset. It was even more clear than when Asrun and I went up the first time. The mountains on Anvers were incredible clear and we could see the mainland mountains perfectly. The sun was playing tricks with the ice so that it looked like there were holes in the mountains when really it was just shadows. I wish I could describe better what you can see on a clear day from the top of the glacier. I am sure that the visibility was at least 40 miles. A good ending to a good day.

					Lori Ross

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