Journal Report Ed Stockard
Hello All, On July 2nd our neighbors at Scott Base hosted their yearly midwinter plunge. "Plunge?" your wondering... basically a hole is cut in the frozen Ross Sea to take a quick dip into. Last December they also had the midsummer plunge and in some years (not this time) they have "plunged" at annual sunset and sunrise. The plunge was postponed for a week due to windchills of below -50F.
Why would anyone do this,... I don't have a clue.. I'm not even sure why I did it (certainly not peer pressure). Nonetheless, about 60 people here on Ross Island got wet and cold on this particular Sunday afternoon. As the day approached, I was undecided about my participation. I thought I might do it but had not set my mind one way or the other. It seemed wise to me not to dwell on the event, and for sure not to boast that I would jump in water that is only 28F.
Sunday rolled around and I rolled the possibilities around in my head and left for Scott Base about 4:00 in the afternoon. I could hear anguished cries as I neared the plunge area. Should I just turn around now I thought. The hole was about 5ft. x 8ft. and had a plank across one end and a ladder at the other end. Two of our NZ neighbors were assisting the slightly crazed (my opinion) individuals stepping into a dark hole of water...very cold water. All participants wore a webbing sling tied onto a rope and held fast by the crew. The warm-up/changing shack was about 50 yards away. I was told the air temperature was near -25 and a slight breeze was blowing. Windchill??
Without surveying the scene too thoroughly I went to the shack and changed.. That is to say I put on the required shoes so as to not cut my feet on the sharp ice. Out at the hole I took off my insulated suit, handed my camera and glasses to a friend, (my brain I left in McMurdo), stepped onto the plank, looked down and took a step forward.
Honest, my first thought was.. "oh, this is salt water"; it seems I hadn't even thought about that. My second thought was to get the heck out of there, and that second thought was right on the heels of the first. Up the ladder, grab a wool blanket and head for that shack... the longest 50 yards I have run in a long time. My hair was freezing up by the time I got there. Lots of cheers from those inside. I didn't hear the ones out at the hole!
Soon after, Scott Base hosted a fine BBQ and everyone who plunged seemed to have their adrenaline levels up or maybe I should say their motors revved. I would like to thank ( not sure why) the Kiwis for putting on a fine event and being the gracious hosts that they are.
Later from, Ed on the Ice