By Jeff Kavanaugh
As I type this, the first trail party of 11 students and staff is skiing across the Taku Glacier, having just finished a refueling break at the base of Juncture Peak (which is located at the confluence of the Southwest Branch and the main trunk of Taku Glacier). They’ll thus arrive at Camp-10 in less than an hour. The second trail party – containing the remaining 21 students and staff – recently radioed in to say that they were making the descent from Nugget Ridge into Death Valley. They will reach the Norris Cache (from where Trail Party One departed this morning) later this evening, and tomorrow morning will follow in the ski tracks of their fellow JIRPers to join us at Camp-10. Once all of the students and staff are reunited, the glacier monitoring surveys and academic lectures will kick into high gear.
In support of the myriad research activities that will take place at Camp-10, this morning Scott McGee (JIRP’s Field Logistics Manager) and I took “Thor”, JIRP’s venerable Alpine II snowmachine, to Camp-18. There we pulled three additional Skandik snow machines out of cold storage. The two of us brought the four machines back to Camp-10 by loading two of the machines onto sleds – an unusual sight, given that each of the towed machines was also towing a sled. Although much of the landscape was shrouded in clouds, the single building of Camp-9 (located at the half-way point between Camps 10 and 18) stood proud during both the outbound and return legs of the trip – and both times appeared to be hovering in cloud above the glacier. The students will get their own view of Camp-9 several weeks from now, during the next camp move.